I consider myself a late adopter of “hot, caffeinated beverages.” I didn’t become a regular coffee drinker until my early 30s, and never had an espresso until a couple of years later.
This is probably why I’m not generally one to opt for coffee, mocha, or espresso-flavored inclusions to my other foods or beverages. Mocha turkey sandwich? Pass. Coffee-rubbed pepperoni on my pizza? No thank you.
One exception to the “dear coffee, please do not mate with my other food” rule are sweets. Coffee — and its coffee-adjacent friends — lend themselves quite naturally to things like cakes, pies, and ice creams. And because a milkshake is but ice cream and milk, it only makes sense that one might infuse it with a caffeinated beverage.
Enter Sonic’s new Espresso Shake. According to Sonic’s website, its shake blends vanilla ice cream with “original cold brew iced coffee,” which, okay, I know I’ve established I’m a novice when it comes to hot go-go juice, but aren’t “coffee” and “espresso” two different things? I mean, espresso is coffee, but it’s generally made in a different way and is a far more concentrated substance. But I guess like me, maybe Sonic doesn’t have an espresso machine, and so here we are.
Sonic’s shakes, for the uninitiated, are usually pretty consistent with their viscosity. They’re somewhere between “sucking this hard on the straw hurts my cheeks” and “this is a bit too runny to warrant a spoon.” In other words, optimal milkshake consistency. What is also consistently good is Sonic’s ice cream, which is perfectly creamy and perfectly sweet.
Now that brings us to the flavoring. If Sonic has an issue with frozen drink construction, this is it. With my first taste, my thought was, “Oh, hey, I like this.” The espresso flavor was much milder than I’d been anticipating, though certainly present. (And after reading on the website how they make it, I guess maybe now I know why it was so muted.) My second and third sips were fairly similar, but the fourth left me wondering, “Wait, what happened to the slight coffee taste?” It had disappeared, and I was left with nothing more than a creamy vanilla milkshake.
This went on for a few more sips from the straw, and then, boom, another coffee pocket. Now, I understand that I might not get a blob of banana in every drink of a banana shake, but how Sonic can make a liquid add-in so hit or miss is perplexing. It would have been almost impressive, really, had it not been so disappointing. I wanted more coffee taste, not less.
Perhaps making the milkshake with coffee ice cream would have upped the wow factor. (Or, for that matter, given it a wow factor.) Maybe I should have gone with the Oreo Espresso Shake because don’t Oreo pieces make most things more palatable? As it stands, I’m not sure I’d order the Espresso Shake again — not with so many other Sonic shake options at my disposal.
Purchased Price: $3.19
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Unavailable on Sonic’s website
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