Starbucks’ Frappuccino Passport Series is inspired by flavors around the world. So it’s fitting that, in order to drink this Chocolate Churro flavored version, I had to travel a distance that measured into the thousands.
It took a whopping 22,860-millimeter trek from my desk upstairs to my kitchen’s fridge downstairs to try the coffee drink. Thankfully, the beverage was refreshing after the journey.
According to my internet friend @CandyHunting, the Passport Series will feature two other flavors — Caramel Flan and Hazelnut Tiramisu. Unfortunately, this one was the only flavor available at my local Target, but I think it’s the most intriguing of the three.
The best way I can describe its flavor is to say it’s sort of like Mexican hot chocolate, but without the steaming temperature or spiciness. It’s a sweet, delicious beverage with the right chocolate and cinnamon balance, but there’s nothing about its taste that makes me think of the churro’s delicious fried dough.
Basically, if Starbucks decides to release this as a non-Passport Series flavor in the future, it could call it cinnamon chocolate or chocolate cinnamon. Or I guess it could continue to be called Chocolate Churro, but that would be a lie.
The sugary coffee beverage also had me scrolling through my computer’s “Drank” photo album because it tastes exactly like another canned or bottled beverage I’ve had several times. Despite giving my scrolling fingers a workout on my trackpad, because I’ve put my mouth around many things, I couldn’t determine what product this tastes like.
Because Starbucks’ Frappuccino Passport Series Chocolate Churro tastes like an unknown coffee drink that I probably enjoy since I’ve had it several times, I must like this Frappuccino. I do, but it’s a little disappointing that this tastes exactly like something else and there’s nothing churro-y about it.
Purchased Price: $3.19 Size: 13.7 fl oz bottle Purchased at: Target Rating: 6 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 bottle) 280 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 45 grams of sugar, 10 grams of protein, and 115 milligrams of caffeine.
My Starbucks card is almost always used to purchase a trenta-sized Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew. No additions. No swapping. All I say are the words “vanilla sweet cream cold brew,” plus the word “please,” and I end up with a massive cup of it that has enough caffeine to make my heart beat like a drum at a heavy metal festival.
So imagine my excitement when I found out Starbucks was offering a bottled version of my preferred drink. I was so hyped about it that I added it to my Amazon Subscribe & Save so that I can experience the coffee drink whenever I want when I’m at home.
Sure, I’ll be a pain in the Starbutt to earn Starbucks Stars for them since I have to jump through hoops that involve uploading receipts. But once the caffeine starts flowing through my bloodstream, I think I’ll be all better.
However, after tasting it, I canceled the Amazon subscription because this bottled Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew is a poor representation of the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew that I get handed to me with my name on it.
Yes, I didn’t expect this bottled version to taste EXACTLY like what I’ve gotten from a barista. But I also didn’t expect it would taste like any other bottled coffee drink.
With a regular Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew drinks, there’s some substance because of the cold brew and cream. It has a noticeable vanilla flavor, and it’s sweet, but that sugariness doesn’t hide the cold brew. But with this bottled version, it’s thin, and it has a flavor I can’t discern from other sweetened bottled iced coffee drinks that also have milk. Basically, it tastes bottled Frappuccino-ish, and that’s not what I want. If I wanted that, I’D JUST BUY A DAMN BOTTLED FRAPPUCCINO! saijo;lop.s
Sorry, the caffeine wore off. And that gibberish at the end was me slamming my keyboard because of my disappointment with this coffee drink and probably caffeine withdrawal.
Purchased Price: $4.79 Size: 11 fl oz Purchased at: Target Rating: 5 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 bottle) 120 calories, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, 13 grams of added sugar, and 4 grams of protein, and 155 milligrams of caffeine.
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
“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
“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
?“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.
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.
Before this assignment, I didn’t actually know that Chobani did more than yogurt. But then I Googled and it turns out that it’s got its hands in a bit of everything. (Okay, well everything dairy-based except ice cream. And cheese. And cottage cheese. Fine, I guess by “everything,” I mean all manner of yogurts, and coffee creamer, and now this. And something called “Chobani Coconut” which is billed as a non-dairy treat. Oh, and oat milk. So… some things that are also non-dairy based.)
Anyway, it’s 2021 and cold brew coffee is still all the rage (I think?) so Chobani figured, why not?
I’m a cold brew novice. It’s not that I’m anti-cold brew, I’ve just always chosen hot coffee. Especially now because it’s winter, and we’ve had multiple days this week where the high was in the single digits; iced anything is a hard sell.
But you know what’s worth the mild discomfort and probably turning the thermostat up a degree? This product.
Chobani introduced four varieties, but I was unable to procure “Pure Black.” So for the sake of this review, we’ll look at the remaining three.
So, I just got through talking about how I love this product, and now I’m going to tell you that I don’t care for this particular version. But, I’m gonna blame the oat milk. See, I don’t even know that I’ve had oat milk prior to this. But something about this just wasn’t doing it for me. The beginning of the drink is decent, but the back end hits you with a sensation that makes me think of slightly tangy chalk. It’s not repulsive, it’s just… unwelcome.
Simply put, this is heavenly. The vanilla is strong, muting the medium roast a tad. The rich coffee undertones are still there, but it’s a little like you maybe accidentally spilled a bit of your vanilla shake into a cup of Joe. (And no, I’m not sure how that might happen either, but play along.) From start to finish, it’s creamy and indulgent, which makes this the first time I’ve described something as such and meant it.
Remember everything I said about the Vanilla Creamer? This is that, only without the vanilla. The coffee flavoring is a bit more noticeable, but not aggressively so. Each drink manages to stay rich while remaining light and silky. While the vanilla one brought forth visions of spilled vanilla milkshakes cascading into coffee cups, this is a little like someone dumping chocolate milk into your coffee. It is, in a word, scrumtrulescent.
The two prohibitive things I could say about Chobani’s foray into cold brew coffee is that it’s not nutritionally great, and I could use a little more caffeine (it has 85 milligrams per serving). While I applaud the simplicity of the ingredients, 170 calories and 22 grams of sugar per 12 ounce serving keep this from being a daily indulgence for me. But is it worth it for a weekend treat? Absolutely.
Purchased Price: $2.99 (on sale) Size: 32 fl oz. Purchased at: Hy-Vee Rating: 9 out of 10 (Sweet Creamer), 9 out of 10 (Vanilla Creamer), 6 out of 10 (Oat Milk) Nutrition Facts: (12 oz.) Sweet Creamer & Vanilla Creamer – 170 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 110 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 22 grams of sugar (including 15 grams of added sugar), and 5 grams of protein. Oat Milk – 110 calories, 6 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 7 grams of sugar (including 7 grams of added sugar), and 2 grams of protein.
In accordance with the present times, Dunkin’ has decided to get a little dark – darker than it’s ever gone before, in fact, with the release of the new Midnight Coffee.
How is it?
I almost always opt for the dark roast when I order my cold brews on the app, but that option seemed to disappear in the past month or so. Thankfully Dunkin’ has decided to go even darker with its new Midnight blend.
I’m just gonna say it – Dunkin’s regular base coffee stinks.
But it is a gateway to a better beverage. If you love it, more power to ya, but I can’t fathom drinking it black. It’s just not that good. 4 out of 10.
To reinforce my opinion, I tried a hot Midnight coffee against Dunkin’s regular roast, and it was (mid)night and day. Of all the crazy sugar bombs Dunkin’ drops monthly, this might be the most important menu addition in years.
Ok, I’m being dramatic. But for a dark roast fan like myself, this is big.
Midnight is a rich, darker blend that leans more towards espresso with big notes of bitter dark chocolate.
I found the taste to be softer and dryer than the standard, with a much more pleasant aftertaste. It made the regular coffee sour in comparison.
Anything else you need to know?
After taking a few sips of the straight black coffees, I added oat milk, which is the G.O.A.T. milk, not be confused with goat milk, which is a goat’s milk.
Again, Midnight was considerably better. The oat milk’s creaminess enhanced the dark chocolate notes slightly and left a chocolate-covered espresso bean flavor in its wake.
Look, I’ll probably never order a hot black Midnight coffee again if I’m honest, but that doesn’t change the fact that Dunkin’ finally has a coffee I would drink black. It’s not hard to mask the flavor of Dunkin’s base roast, but I’m still thrilled it’s added a new starting point to my coffee order.
Dunkin’ better expand Midnight into the iced side of the menu because I see no reason to ever go back. If you’re a dark roast coffee drinker, this is definitely for you.
Purchased Price: $1.87 Size: Small Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: Not available on website.