REVIEW: Starbucks Violet Drink

Starbucks Violet Drink

My wife and stepdaughter are local thespians and recently appeared in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, surely the only Broadway musical to begin as a grade school Easter pageant. The show includes a number introducing the titular wardrobe piece, a catchy tune detailing all TWENTY-NINE colors used in the robe, including everyone’s favorites: ochre, fawn, russet, and mauve!

Maybe Starbucks should seek a partnership with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice because a Fawn Drink and Russet Drink would be awesome. But for now we have the viral Pink Drink, fashion-forward Ombre Pink Drink, and the new Violet Drink. Lady Gaga, no stranger to the charms of ALW, has teamed with the Seattle behemoth on the “Cups of Kindness” campaign, which the new beverage is a part of.

Starbucks Violet Drink 3

The drink is a simple combo of Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher, coconut milk, freeze-dried blackberries, and ice. The liquid components and ice were combined in a cocktail shaker, while I patiently tried to avoid making an obligatory Bond joke. (Special thanks go out to the People’s Plaza Starbucks staff, who took my odd questions in stride and allowed me to traverse the drive-thru without an order to snap shots of the drink signage that wasn’t inside the store).

Starbucks Violet Drink 4

The faded hue of the drink certainly fits the billing. The texture was smooth with a light mouthfeel, and the taste is sweet in the right ways — balanced and not overwhelmingly so. This is a nice upgrade on the Refresher itself, which I always found to be overly tart and a little jarring as a result.

The drink was certainly fresh-tasting, and reminded me of a melted smoothie or Orange Julius variant, but better than either one. The flavor is not complex. It’s really a one-note berry flavor, with only a vague floral indication in the background. Despite that, I never got sick or bored of the drink and finished it quicker than many other LTO Starbucks offerings.

Starbucks Violet Drink 2

I strongly suggest that you do not eat the freeze-dried blackberries on their own (while realizing that in our meta-culture you surely will do as such following my warning). They largely clumped together in a foamy portion of the beverage and only mildly defrosted, crunching like Pop Rocks in my mouth without the summer berry goodness you would desire.

I typically think of non-coffee drinks at Starbucks falling into two categories: for the non-coffee drinker who went with a friend to Starbucks, or a way to avoid caffeine in the later hours of the day. But because the drink is built using the Refreshers, which are caffeinated due to green coffee extract, that theory runs drier than Joseph’s manipulative interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dream. Is this drink for you? If you’re dreaming in violet, Donny Osmond predicts you’ll love this.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – 110 calories, 25 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, and 45 milligrams of caffeine.)

Purchased Price: $5.75
Size: Trenta
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Sippable sweetness. Higher quality than your typical smoothie. Dreaming in pastels. More refreshing than then Refreshers line. Colorful Canadian fun!
Cons: Caffeinated non-coffee beverages at SBUX. Blackberries defrosting slower than the polar ice cap. Millennials that think camo, rainbow, and plaid are colors.

REVIEW: Starbucks Matcha Lemonade

Starbucks Matcha Lemonade

Starbucks’ Matcha Lemonade looks like water from a pond that has too much nitrogen and phosphorus causing excessive algae growth. But does it suck as much as algae blooms suck out the oxygen from ponds? Let’s find out.

Science reference! High five!

According to Starbucks, the Matcha Lemonade combines finely ground Teavana matcha green tea and lemonade, shaken, not stirred, with ice.

I do the matcha-cha every so often by eating matcha ice cream, Kit Kat from Japan, Jamba Juice smoothies, and lattes. But combining the green tea’s bitter flavor with sour and sweet lemonade, creating a Matchalf & Matchalf, doesn’t seem like a good match-a to me. Sorry.

But I do like matcha green tea flavored products. And I do like lemonade. So I should like this combination, right?

Starbucks Matcha Lemonade 2

Well, it doesn’t suck as much as algae blooms suck out the oxygen from bodies of water. But it also doesn’t make me want to pay a medium $500 to do a seance to speak to Arnold Palmer’s ghost to tell him this tea and lemonade mashup is better than his.

With all the matcha products I’ve had in the past, they’ve been made with either dairy or chocolate, which help cut through the tea’s bitterness. But the lemonade doesn’t quite do the same here. I get a sweetness from the lemonade, but unlike a Half & Half where there a balance, this leans more towards the tea and I don’t taste the lemonade. It’s pretty much sweet matcha water.

Now this reads like I’m putting down the beverage, but there was a part of me that enjoyed it. I didn’t spit it out or dump it down the drain. But I’m not going to proclaim it to be My Summer Beverage of 2017. It’s weird, but sometimes weird is good. And the weird part of me enjoyed this. But I don’t think it’ll appeal to most taste buds.

(Nutrition Facts – Grande/16 oz. – 120 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein, and 80 milligrams of caffeine.)

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: Grande
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: A part of me enjoyed it, but that’s probably because of my love of matcha. Doesn’t suck as much as algae blooms sucks out oxygen from bodies of water. Science reference!
Cons: Won’t appeal to most taste buds. Lemonade doesn’t really shine. Looks like algae in a cup.

REVIEW: Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino

Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino

The Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino ingredient that most intrigued me was the “cooling mint sugar crystals.”

The wording gave me flashbacks of the flavor crystals in Ice Breakers chewing gum and how they would make my mouth feel as if I just had a heavy make out session with Jack Frost.

The mint sugar crystals are part of two blended layers that also feature extra dark cocoa, coffee, milk, and ice. In between those two is a layer of whipped cream. And on top of all that there’s more whipped cream and dark cocoa powder.

Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino 2

As I sipped on the blended beverage that’s significantly less Instagram-able than the Unicorn Frappuccino, I could feel a cooling sensation building up in my mouth. Hello, Jack! But then I realized something. Is it the cooling mint sugar crystals or the cooling ice crystals causing that? My mouth wasn’t sure.

Now you’re probably thinking dark cocoa + mint = Thin Mints (or Keebler Grasshoppers, whatever floats your boat), which is an almost accurate description of this Frappuccino’s flavor and probably the only words I needed to type for this review. It’s similar enough that I feel as if the green Starbucks logo on the cup should be replaced with the green Girl Scouts logo.

Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino 3

But the mint and its cooling is faint, which disappoints me because I thought it would be stronger. It’s not at a level that makes you think you’ve brushed your teeth or popped a York Peppermint Patty into your mouth or consumed EVERYTHING in a mojito. So I guess you could say the mint was thin.

Sorry.

Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino 4

Although the mint is lighter than I would’ve liked, it still an enjoyable vessel of sugar. The use of dark cocoa powder prevents the drink from being overly sweet. I mean, it’s still quite sweet, after all it’s a Frappusweetno with two applications of whipped cream. But it wasn’t the cloying overload I’ve experienced with others.

Overall, the Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino is great treat to have at midnight, mid-day, or whenever your local Starbucks is open.

(Nutrition Facts – 470 calories, 25 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 57 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 52 grams of sugar, 6 grams of protein, and 80 milligrams of caffeine.)

Purchased Price: $5.45
Size: Grande
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like a Thin Mint (or Keebler Grasshopper). Great vessel for sugar. Not overly sweet like other Frappuccinos. Not as Instagram-able as the Unicorn Frappuccino.
Cons: Cooling mint sugar crystals aren’t that minty or cooling. Not as Instagram-able as the Unicorn Frappuccino.

REVIEW: Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino

I thought it was a late stage April Fool’s Day joke, like the Rainbow Drink or possibly a foreign exclusive since only they get the cool, wacky Starbucks drinks. Take a moment to Google “American Cherry Pie Frappuccino” that is available only in Japan, (sigh) of course.

Once the Unicorn Frappuccino finally became official, though, my mind started racing. Would it be made with the tears of unicorns? Has Starbucks finally figured out how to manufacture eternal euphoria? So many questions, but one thing was clear – I absolutely needed this in my life.

The drink is marketed to play up its mythical nature rather than provide too many specifics on its actual composition. I’m glad they didn’t go low budget, though, when sourcing their rainbows as the in-store menu informed me it’s made with only the finest ones. I’ve had cheap rainbows before and they were not very good (very dull in color and lacking intense flavor).

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino 2

The drink’s actual contents are a crème Frappuccino with mango syrup, a sour-flavored interior drizzle and sour-dusted whipped cream. I couldn’t taste an iota of mango flavor, but I did get intense vanilla and sour notes. It’s as if little extremities of sour patch kids had invaded my vanilla milkshake.

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino 3

I do applaud Starbucks for thinking outside the box with its creative claims that it changes color and flavor when you stir, although, execution wise, the color transition was very, very subtle and there didn’t seem to be enough of the blue sauce in my drink for it to completely change flavors.

The nutrition facts are frightening since a Venti supposedly contains 76 grams of sugar and 500 calories, but as only a rare treat, they are somewhat understandable. I was very concerned this meant it would be a sugar bomb that was so overly sweet and heavy it would be rendered nearly undrinkable. However, I was pleasantly surprised that it was instead both creamy and pretty delicious.

Overall, though, while this was a gimmicky drink through and through, Starbucks hit it out of the park on creativity and marketing. Seeing the hysteria ensue makes me wonder if it will be destined for a yearly reemergence. I just hope they push the envelope even further, like with a special iridescent straw that would glisten majestically like a horn, which I WOULD CAMP OUT FOR THE DEBUT OF.

Oh and your move, Starbucks Japan.

(Nutrition Facts – Venti – 500 calories, 18 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 310 milligrams of sodium, 79 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 76 grams of sugar and 7 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.45
Size: Venti
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: A domestic Starbucks drink that for once can make international outposts jealous. Not a revolting sugar bomb. Flavor that’s like the offspring of a vanilla milkshake and a sour patch kid. Destined for McRib-like limited edition runs.
Cons: Low budget rainbow sourcing. Nutrition facts that I wish were mythical. No glistening iridescent straw. So-so execution of flavor/color changing nature.

REVIEW: Starbucks Pink Drink

Starbucks Pink Drink

You know what’s awesome?

Secret menu items.

You know what’s not awesome?

Ordering a secret menu item and the employee not knowing what you are talking about.

However, when a secret menu item is then elevated to the main menu it’s like the best of both worlds. A special, kind of exclusive treat that you don’t have to worry about acquiring. That’s exactly what has happened with Starbucks’ new Pink Drink. It contains their strawberry acai refresher mixed with coconut milk and strawberries and is now officially available.

Since its moniker is simply a color, I was very hesitant to see the drink in person as I didn’t want to be let down if it wasn’t enough pink enough. I was definitely hoping for execution more like the fantastic colored ketchup of yesteryear and less like the recent underwhelming naturally colored Froot Loops. The color didn’t disappoint, though, as it was a lovely pastel pink with nice pops of red from the strawberries.

Starbucks Pink Drink 2

The strawberries get a passing grade, probably a C or so if I was a grade school teacher. They are freeze-dried so make sure you let them soak a bit in the drink. Otherwise, they are crunchy and dry which means the flavor is a bit subdued. They are much better with some moisture in them as they provide a nice blast of tartness.

Even though it is advertised to be acai flavored with accents of passion fruit the only flavor I could taste is that of the main one, strawberry, and it comes through very nicely. The drink isn’t a sugar bomb either. It has a creamy nature but is still incredibly refreshing. It’s again the best of both worlds!

It reminded me of a light strawberry milk or even better yet Yoo-hoo’s strawberry drink in a fancier, lighter, and fresher version. I’m not usually a straight coconut milk fan but here it made for the perfect base for the refresher without being too overpowering.

With this drink being promoted to the official menu and being pretty darn good, I wonder if any other of the colored drinks that blew up Instagram last year will make the jump as well. Since it’s my favorite color and there has been an immense void in this segment for years (R.I.P. Pepsi Blue), fingers crossed for the blue one!

(Nutrition Facts – Grande (16 oz) – 140 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.85
Size: Venti
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Creamy and refreshing strawberry flavor. Secret menu items getting a promotion. Fondly remembering childhood food.
Cons: Strawberries that are better suited for space travel. Unnoticeable passion fruit and acai flavors.

REVIEW: Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa

Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa

I used to call Starbucks’ Peppermint Mocha a holiday in a cup. Well, move over, Mocha, there’s a new drink in town and I’m obsessed. One sip of the Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa and I was instantly transported in front of a fire with holiday decorations surrounding me and an overwhelming feeling of coziness.

The first thing I love about this drink is the fact that even though it’s hot cocoa, you’re getting white chocolate. You guys, I love white chocolate but sometimes I forget it’s even a thing thanks to its more popular brother. The second thing I love is how smooth this goes down. It’s definitely a drink for sipping and not chugging due to the sweetness. But that’s okay, because I wanted it to last as long as possible.

The snickerdoodle flavor comes in the form of cinnamon dolce syrup plus the cinnamon sugar on top of the whipped cream (Pro tip: Do NOT skip the whipped cream.) One thing I noticed right away is that the cinnamon is apparent at first sip, hitting you right away with the flavor. And bonus: The flavor stayed throughout the whole drink. You know how sometimes it seems as though a syrup wasn’t mixed all the way through? And you only find it right on the top or all the way at the bottom? Yeah, not the case here. Full on snickerdoodle in every sip.

Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa 2

My one gripe was that the hot cocoa was warm, but not piping hot – a problem that could be easily solved by asking for the drink extra hot. (I also ordered the drink when it was -876 degrees outside. Okay, I’m exaggerating. It was 28. But regardless, that was my mistake not to order extra hot for extreme warmth.) It was hot enough to melt the whipped cream into the liquid as I drank, creating an almost eggnog-like color by the time I was almost done.

I’m really hoping Starbucks keeps this one well into the winter and not just the holidays, because it’s a slam dunk. If you don’t think it tastes like one of your Aunt Lisa’s snickerdoodles, the ones where you typically shove about five in your mouth because Mom’s not looking, then you need to come find me and we’ll have a chat.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 oz – 310 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 38 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.25
Size: 12 oz. (tall)
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: All the white chocolate. Cinnamon is natural tasting and all-around awesome, making the drink true to its snickerdoodle name.
Cons: Whipped cream melted a little faster than I would have liked. But if that’s the only con I have, then we’re doing pretty well.