REVIEW: Starbucks Cold & Crafted Coffee Drinks

Starbucks Cold  Crafted Coffee Drinks Bottles

Even though Starbucks first brought cold brew coffee to its cafe menu in 2015, it seems to have really exploded in recent years. Cold brew coffee is, as the title would suggest, brewed in cold water (usually 24-48 hrs) as opposed to the more traditional, heated way. This process makes the coffee less acidic and gives it a much more smooth, sweet flavor profile. So it makes sense that Starbucks would want to expand its ready-to-drink (RTD) offerings to include more cold brew options.

Interestingly, the newest trio isn’t its first attempt at RTD cold brew. A few years back, it introduced an RTD Cold Brew in a very odd looking brown bottle. I remember buying it and thinking that, at a glance, it might be mistaken for a Red Stripe beer.

Coming in Coffee Sweetened Black, Coffee + Splash of Milk & Vanilla, and Coffee + Splash of Milk & Mocha, the Cold & Crafted line offers fairly standard flavor options. I imagine if these prove popular, we might see them get the seasonal treatment (PSL or Peppermint Mocha) later in the year. For now, let’s take a look at what is currently available.

Coffee Sweetened Black

Starbucks Cold  Crafted Coffee Drinks Black

“Super-smooth Starbucks coffee. Sweetened to perfection.”

Of the flavors, this was the one I was most interested in. While I enjoy my fluffy coffee drinks, the bottled versions sometimes err on the side of way too sweet. However, I was hoping the use of cold brew over iced coffee might make the flavor more balanced. As to be expected with the simple black sweetened black coffee, it came as advertised. The smooth richness of the cold brew was complemented by the sugar. It was a perfect amount of sweetness that didn’t overpower the drink.

Of the three, it ended up being my favorite. I could absolutely see myself grabbing this at a gas station for a quick pick me up.

Purchased Price: $2.28
Size: 11 fl oz bottle
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutritional Facts: (11oz bottle) 50 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, 1 grams of protein, and 135 milligrams of caffeine.

Coffee + Splash of Milk & Vanilla

Starbucks Cold  Crafted Coffee Drinks Vanilla

“Super-smooth Starbucks coffee. Just-right vanilla flavor. Plus a splash of milk”

The dark horse of the three, I found the vanilla variety to be quite delicious. Generally speaking, I rarely have vanilla-flavored coffee drinks. Not out of a strong dislike, but the artificial vanilla flavoring sometimes is just too overpowering. Luckily, in this case, it was just enough to add to the coffee without taking over. The vanilla had a very mild profile that works well with the full-bodied cold brew. The addition of the milk served to make it a well-rounded drink.

Some bottled drinks go overboard to try and cover the coffee flavor, but all the elements in this one worked very well.

Purchased Price: $2.28
Size: 11 fl oz bottle
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutritional Facts: (11oz bottle) 90 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, and 125 milligrams of caffeine.

Coffee + Splash of Milk & Mocha

Starbucks Cold  Crafted Coffee Drinks Mocha
?“Super-smooth Starbucks coffee. Just-right mocha flavor. Plus a splash of milk.”

While all three were quite good, the Mocha one was easily the weakest of the trio. I thought I’d like it more than the vanilla since mocha tends to be my go-to when getting flavor in my coffee, but it just wasn’t quite right.

Unlike the Vanilla, where the addition of the vanilla and milk to the coffee made for a level drinking experience, the elements in this one stand out in a weird way. Upon the first sip, the coffee and milk are strong with the mocha coming in last. The mocha has a more artificial flavor than I’m used to in Starbucks drinks. It was a little one-note and, as best I can say, “chocolate-ish.”

It would be a fine way to get a quick caffeine boost in a pinch, but if I have a choice of the Sweetened Black or Vanilla, I’m going for those before the Mocha.

Purchased Price: $2.28
Size: 11 fl oz bottle
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutritional Facts: (11oz bottle) 90 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, and 125 milligrams of caffeine.

Overall, I think these are a solid showing for Starbucks trying to bring cold brew to a wider audience. While they won’t ever compete with that handcrafted goodness you get going to a Starbucks, they are absolutely worth having on hand for those mornings when you are rushed or even lazy Sundays when you just want to sip some coffee goodness with minimal work. Hopefully, they do well enough to get seasonal flavorings.

Starbucks Cold  Crafted Coffee Drinks Voltron

Oh, and if you are wondering if I mixed them together to create a Voltron of Starbucks Cold Brew, yes…yes, I did. Would I recommend it? Not necessarily. Would I potentially pour all three into a 32-ounce cup to sip while driving long distances? Yet to be seen.

3 thoughts to “REVIEW: Starbucks Cold & Crafted Coffee Drinks”

  1. I’ve always disliked the flavor profile of Starbucks mocha. It isn’t chocolatey at all, it’s altogether its own thing. Now their white mocha on the other hand… it’s ultra-sweet but I could drink that all day.

  2. Big fan of RTD coffee beverages (well, just a huge, lifetime fan of coffee, period) of all types/flavors/brands/etc…so will definitely have to find and try these, at some point.

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