REVIEW: Starbucks Frappuccino with a Splash of Cold Brew

Starbucks Frappuccino with Cold Brew  Salted Dark Chocolate and Toasted White Chocolate

What are Starbucks Frappuccino with Cold Brew?

Bottled beverages that mostly contain brewed Starbucks coffee with a splash of Starbucks cold brew coffee, reduced fat milk, skim milk, and sugar. The line debuted with three flavors — Salted Dark Chocolate, Toasted White Chocolate, and Caramelized Vanilla Honey. The review below is for the first two.

How are they?

The good news is that they taste like bottled Starbucks Frappuccino, which is perfectly fine because I happen to like the line as a whole.

However, the flavors are so nondescript among other ready-to-drink Starbucks beverages that I could secretly pour the Toasted White Chocolate one into a bottle of Starbucks Mocha White Chocolate Frappuccino or a can of Starbucks Vanilla Doubleshot Energy and the Salted Dark Chocolate one in a bottle of Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino or a can of Starbucks Mocha Vanilla Doubleshot Energy, then hand it to you, and you wouldn’t know any better after taking a sip.

I notice a slight saltiness with the dark chocolate one, but I can’t tell there’s cold brew in either flavor. But we have no idea how much a “splash of cold brew” is. It doesn’t sound like much, though.

Even though these are creamy, sweet, and delicious bottled coffee beverages, I find these Starbucks Frappuccinos with Cold Brew to be dumb. What? I’m dumb? No, you’re dumb, Starbucks Frappuccinos with Cold Brew.

A “splash of cold brew” in a beverage that already contains coffee sounds like adding a splash of tap water to seltzer. There’s a difference between the two, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. If it had only cold brew, then that would be significant.

Is there anything else you need to know?

If I didn’t know PepsiCo makes these and that the PepsiCo Beverage Facts website exists, I might’ve had a hard time finding out how much caffeine these have, which is 95 milligrams in each one. The glass bottles don’t mention anywhere this critical information that caffeine-needy minds want to know.

Conclusion:

If you’re a regular bottled Starbucks Frappuccino beverage drinker, you’ll enjoy these. But if you’re expecting something different from what you’ve been already drinking, these may disappoint you.

Purchased Price: $2.63 each
Size: 13.7 fl. oz. bottles
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Salted Dark Chocolate)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Toasted White Chocolate)
Nutrition Facts: (1 bottle) Salted Dark Chocolate – 260 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 270 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 43 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of protein. Toasted White Chocolate – 290 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 44 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Monster Energy Ultra Paradise

Monster Energy Ultra Paradise

What is Monster Energy Ultra Paradise?

Monster Energy just released “Paradise” as the newest addition to its sugar-free Ultra line of energy drinks. According to the back of the can, Monster Ultra Paradise delivers “Pure, Crisp, Invigorating Island Flavors.” The question is, what exactly is an island flavor?

Monster Energy Ultra Paradise 2

How is it?

I’m a frequent consumer of Monster Ultra, so I know the flavors can be difficult to place. Sure, Ultra Red kind of tastes like fruit punch, and Ultra Sunrise tastes vaguely orangish, but what flavor is Ultra Blue? Ultra Zero? Ultra Paradise at least gives us a hint that it’ll be tropically flavored.

Monster Energy Ultra Paradise 3

Upon opening, Ultra Paradise is a hazy light green color. The island flavor is… nondescript. Pineapple, maybe? Or maybe Pina Colada? Is the green color supposed to be a hint? It’s definitely tropical, but I still have no idea what that means exactly. You could tell me it was passion fruit flavored, and I’d believe you. (Full disclosure: those weird purple Starburst are the complete extent of my experience with passion fruit.)

Is there anything else you need to know?

Some varieties of Monster Ultra can be too sweet for my tastes, so I appreciate this one keeps it more subdued. It allows the citric acid tang to add a bit of a kick, which is appreciated when I’m looking for a pick-me-up.

Conclusion:

When imbibing a caffeinated beverage, I’m mostly interested in its pharmacological effect. Most of the time that means coffee, but if I’m at a convenience store of questionable quality, with a pot of coffee that’s been there longer than the clerk, I may reach for an energy drink instead. Monster always gets the job done with 140 milligrams of caffeine, and Paradise fits in well with the rest of the Ultra options.

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 16 fl. oz. can
Purchased at: Festival Foods
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 160 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 gram of protein, 100% Niacin, 100% Vitamin B6, 100%, Vitamin B12, 100% Vitamin B5, and 140 mg of caffeine.

Click here to read our previous energy drink reviews.

REVIEW: Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola

Orange Vanilla Coca Cola

What is Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola?

As the first new flavor of Classic Coca-Cola to be released stateside in over ten years, Orange Vanilla Coke sets itself apart by combining smooth vanilla and bright orange flavors with the cola’s nostalgic original blend.

How is it?

Let me set the record straight here: no flavor of Coca-Cola is terrible. The worst variation of Coke is still arguably better than anything Pepsi has ever put out. Even so, I can’t say this variation is unforgettable in the same way that some of Coke’s other products are.

Despite the drink’s creamsicle-like aroma, I thought the notes of orange and vanilla fell a bit flat on the flavor end of things. Although I could faintly detect both of them while downing my first bottle, they were no match against Coca-Cola’s distinct taste, and I felt they blended into the soda’s background a little too much for them to be the only thing setting this drink apart from Coke’s other offerings.

Orange Vanilla Coca Cola in Glass

The best way I can describe the flavor imbalance here is that it’s kind of like if you drank a glass of Orange Fanta and neglected to rinse out your cup before refilling it with Coke. You can still taste the Fanta, but it’s not the focus of what’s now in the cup, and it clearly tastes like something that wasn’t an original part of the soda.

Is there anything else you should know?

Although adding orange and vanilla to Coca-Cola sounds simple, the company spared no expense in testing this product before adding it into its official lineup. After being successfully test-marketed in Canada last summer, it’s been stuck in R&D to fine-tune its flavor and advertising campaign before hitting American shelves just in time for March Madness.

Conclusion:

While Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola isn’t going to rock the soda industry, it’s a decent enough addition to Coke’s family of Classics. I recommend giving it a shot if you happen to come across a bottle but don’t go out of your way to track one down.

Purchased Price: $3.33
Size: 6 16.9 oz. bottles
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (16.9 oz) 200 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of sodium, 55 grams of total carbohydrates, 55 grams of total sugars, 55 grams of added sugars, 0 grams of protein, and 0 grams of dietary fiber.

REVIEW: TruMoo After Dark Mexican Style Chocolate Milk

TruMoo After Dark Mexican Style Chocolate Milk

What is TruMoo After Dark Mexican Style Chocolate Milk?

It’s part of TruMoo’s decadent line of flavored milk that has a name that I only say using a seductive whisper.

The line also includes Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel and Vanilla & Chai Spice. This spicy flavor is dark chocolate milk with notes of cinnamon and a kick of chili pepper. The dairy base is whole milk, and it’s sweetened with real cane sugar.

How is it?

The chocolate and cinnamon in the ultra-pasteurized milk help create a delicious treat that the artificial growth hormone-free cows used to provide the base of the beverage would be proud of. Unfortunately, the ingredients list doesn’t contain cinnamon. Instead, it’s under “Natural Flavors.” But, the milk’s tastiness helps me turn a blind eye to that.

TruMoo After Dark Mexican Style Chocolate Milk Closeup

As for the burn one would expect with Mexican-style chocolate, it’s there and it happens on the back of my throat. Most of the time it occurs after the first sip, but other times it takes a second sip for the spiciness to hit. To me, it isn’t intense. It’s below a hot cinnamon candy. But if you’re sensitive to spicy foods, definitely avoid it.

Is there anything else you need to know?

TruMoo After Dark Mexican Style Chocolate Milk Pour

If you avoid carrageenan, this is not a beverage for you. But speaking of liquid thickeners, maybe it’s just me but, I found this flavored milk to be thicker than others I’ve had. Along with the seaweed extract, the milk also has cellulose gum to help thicken it. There’s also cellulose fiber, which after a lazy Google search, I still don’t know what it does. Is it another thickener? Maybe one of the food scientists in the audience can educate me.

Also, I’m a little sad this doesn’t come in a half gallon size.

Conclusion:

I like TruMoo’s After Dark Mexican Style Chocolate Milk. I also like TruMoo’s decision to branch out into flavors that seem more mature and creative than what TruMoo is mostly known for, which is adding food dyes to vanilla flavored milk.

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 1 quart
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup) 230 calories, 8 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Java Monster Swiss Chocolate

Java Monster Swiss Chocolate

What is the Java Monster Swiss Chocolate?

It promises “the taste of Swiss chocolate paired with premium coffee and cream and supercharged with our Monster Energy Blend.” It’s currently a Dollar General exclusive flavor.

How is it?

Java Monster Swiss Chocolate 2

When poured, the color is the same as heavily creamed coffee, with a scent to match. The java flavor is strong without being overpowering. It’s not as tooth-cracklingly sweet as some other pre-made coffee beverages I’ve had, though it still has a “syrupy” character.

As a regular energy drink consumer, I’m on the lookout for that medicinal energy drink aftertaste, the one that makes it seem like the manufacturer crushed up a multivitamin into your drink. I detect some, but it’s so small that it could easily be a sense memory of the hundreds of other energy drinks I’ve had.

Java Monster Swiss Chocolate 3

The chocolate flavor is very slight. I don’t want to alarm you, but it’s possible the chocolate element in this beverage actually has no connection at all to Switzerland, and “Swiss” was added to the name in an attempt to brand the product as more exotic and exciting than it really is. Shocking, I know. There’s so little of it here that I don’t think it deserves top billing, naming-wise.

Is there anything else you need to know?

I usually drink my coffee hot, so I was curious what would happen if I heated this in the microwave for a few seconds. I’m secretly hoping the added thermal energy will have some strange alchemical effect and transmute the Monster Energy Blend into a Jekyll/Hyde concoction, allowing me to unleash the beast within.

Alas, the beast must remain chained, as heating only has the effect of making it hotter. If anything, the heat distracts from the already very slight Monster Energy Blend flavor, turning this into a plain hot cup of joe.

Conclusion:

Java Monster Swiss Chocolate delivers a decent coffee flavor with a slight chocolate note. It’s not bad but doesn’t separate itself from a hundred other options.

Purchased Price: $2.10
Size: 15 fl. oz.
Purchased at: Dollar General
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 210 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 440 milligrams of sodium, 500 milligrams of potassium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 35 of sugar, and 8 grams of protein.

QUICK REVIEW: Coca-Cola Clear (Japan)

Coke Clr

What is Coca-Cola Clear?

I’m in Japan – the mecca of novelty junk food! Of course, I sought out some new and quirky offerings. Coca-Cola has introduced a colorless version of its signature pop – trailing a quarter of a century behind Pepsi in the clear soda arms race. Without all that pesky caramel-y cola, it’s billed as lemon-flavored and is a zero-calorie drink. It is currently only available in Japan.

How is it?

Right out of the bottle, the aroma veers away from the usual Coke. It’s milder with a low-level citrus smell.

Coke Clr 2

I was expecting something with a strong lemon taste, ala Sprite or 7Up, but this was subtler – like squeezing a lemon wedge into your already-sweet seltzer water and adding a dash of cola. Despite the lemon base, it was identifiable as a Coke derivative and had the same sweeteness level, but was lighter and brighter than regular Coca-Cola. It didn’t have the neon citrus feel of other sodas.

While not unpleasant, Coca-Cola Clear failed to establish its own flavor personality. Hence, it’s easier to describe what it ISN’T – it’s not cola, it’s not un-cola. Because of this vagueness of character, I wondered why this? Why now? Is 2018 the right time just because Coke hadn’t done it yet?

Coke Clr 3

Is there anything else you need to know?

Be prepared for the pop. The Coke products I sampled in Japan were packaged in a way that caused the initial rush of gasses out of the bottles to be downright explosive. My travel companion and I startled each other all week with the loud cracks of Coke bottles opening.

Conclusion:

Overall, an OK lightly lemon soda, but as Dr. Ian Malcolm would say – Coca-Cola scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should. Try it if you’re a hardcore noveltyist, but only one bottle.

Purchased Price: 48 yen (approx. 69 cents US)
Size: 500 ml bottle (17 oz.)
Purchased at: MEGA Don Quijote Shibuya, Tokyo
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (100 ml) 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of total sugars and 0 grams of protein.