REVIEW: Dunkin’ White Hazelnut Bark Coffee

White chocolate peppermint bark is something that I’ve always associated with the holiday season, but white hazelnut bark I’d never heard of before — and want to try as soon as possible, now that I’ve been made aware of its existence. Until I’m able to track some down, though, I figure the next best thing is to sample it in beverage form via Dunkin’s new White Hazelnut Bark Coffee, part of its hotly anticipated new winter 2024 menu. (Or, because of the season, should I say coldly anticipated? … Okay, fine, that was an awful pun. Please don’t pelt me with snowballs.)

According to Dunkin’s latest press release, this new flavor is inspired by an earlier (and still available) seasonal offering, the Toasted White Chocolate Swirl. I dug a little deeper, searching up Dunkin’s lengthy Allergen and Ingredient Table online, and noted that in addition to that swirl, this coffee also includes cream and “hazelnut flavor.” It is available both hot and iced; I generally enjoy, and surely will eventually try, both, but opted for iced for this review as I think that format is more conducive to clear, distinct flavors, as opposed to hot beverages where they are more likely to muddle together or be overshadowed by the tongue-tingling temperature.

I expected this to be a more white-chocolate-forward drink with hints of hazelnut, but I had the opposite experience: the first flavor that came through was distinctly nutty. Don’t get me wrong, this coffee is certainly sweet and creamy too, but so are sugar and cream, so I wasn’t sure which part of that profile screamed “white chocolate” specifically. And while I absolutely love white chocolate, even I must admit that it’s not the most distinctive beverage flavor, so it makes sense that the hazelnut component would be more dominant.

A common complaint about these dessert-based limited edition flavors is that they are too sweet. Did I find that to be the case here? No… but I was also content with the sugar level of the Ice Spice Munchkin Drink (which was, in a word, ludicrous), so maybe take my opinion with a grain of salt… or a grain of sugar… or several tablespoons of sugar…

In any case, I enjoyed the White Hazelnut Bark Coffee. I just can’t say it was the most unique experience. Regrettably, I also can’t say I prefer it to its predecessor, the Toasted White Chocolate Signature Latte. I have to reiterate that it was a yummy pick-me-up that tasted exactly how it was supposed to. But it was just a little underwhelming — and I can’t in good conscience give a higher score to a product whose most memorable quality was teaching me about a different product I’d rather consume.

Speaking of, now that I’m sufficiently caffeinated, it’s time to hunt down some proper white hazelnut bark!

Purchased Price: $3.91
Size: Small
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 170 calories, 6 grams of fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Spiced Cookie Coffee

If you’re ready to trade in your pumpkin spice for less squash-themed offerings, Dunkin’s holiday menu is here, and perhaps the least flashy item on it is the new Spiced Cookie Coffee. Available hot or iced, it’s made with a short list of coffee, brown sugar cookie syrup, vanilla syrup, and oat milk. After my recent run-in with the Ice Spice Munchkin Drink, I was ready to scale back and have a coffee that wasn’t buried in whipped cream, caramel, and donuts. Dunkin’ says this one “captures the essence of freshly baked oatmeal cookies in a cup,” which sounds pretty straightforward and cozy. Sometimes you don’t need all the sleigh bells and whistles, you just want your coffee with a hint of holiday cheer.

I went the hot route for my first take on the Spiced Cookie Coffee, thinking it would be best suited to drawing out the flavors of what I assumed would be warming spices. It smelled pleasantly sweet, with brown sugar and buttery notes dominating. After a couple sips, I could definitely taste how this mimics a cookie, mostly due to the brown sugar, vanilla, and buttery flavors. But I think there might be some confusion about what exactly this is supposed to taste like. Around the holidays, “spiced” tends to evoke thoughts of things like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, etc.. When I think of oatmeal cookies, the only spice I usually associate them with is cinnamon, which I’m not convinced is even present here. Maybe Oatmeal Cookie Coffee sounded like too boring of a name?

I liked the flavor and found the level of sweetness enjoyable, not over-the-top. As someone who doesn’t typically drink oat milk, I had no issues with it here. It brought some creamy and nutty qualities to the mix. The coffee itself gets a bit lost, but my only real complaint is that I was expecting more spice. Without it, this drink lacks the holiday vibe I was anticipating.

Being an equal opportunist, I gave this a second go with the iced version. If I thought the holiday spirit was slightly missing from the first one, it’s totally undetectable here. The coffee is more prominent, but gone are the brown sugar, vanilla, and butter notes that put this in the cookie category. The oat milk seems to be a detriment; instead of being creamy, this just tastes watered down. If I didn’t know this was supposed to be flavored like something, I would guess it was just mediocre regular iced coffee.

If you can overlook the missing spice identity crisis this beverage has, the hot version is a nice treat that might remind you of a simple but tasty oatmeal cookie. If you go iced, though, know that what you’re getting won’t be reminiscent of a snack you’d leave for Santa – unless you’re the kind of jerk that leaves him a bowl of unflavored oatmeal.

Purchased Price: (hot) $3.74, (iced) $3.65
Size: Medium
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Hot), 5 out of 10 (Iced)
Nutrition Facts: Hot – 130 calories, 0.5 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of total carbs, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein. Iced – 130 calories, 0.5 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of total carbs, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Loaded Hash Browns

I don’t start thinking about Christmas until coffee shops tell me to start thinking about Christmas.

If I walk into a random store on November 1st and see Christmas decorations? Bah, Humbug! Now, if I walk into Dunkin’ and see its Christmas menu is out, Mariah Carey and her golden pipes appear like an apparition out of thin air, and we dance like no one is watching.

I’ve been asked to leave three Dunkin’ locations and two Starbucks already this month, but I never argued, and they always asked nicely. It must be that holiday spirit Dunkin’ is bringing to the table with festive flavorings such as peppermint, spiced cookie, toasted white chocolate, and, of course, everyone’s favorite yuletide treat… Loaded Hash Browns.

Ok, that’s not exactly a Christmas staple, but if Dunkin’ says it is, who am I to argue? Potatoes, meat, and cheese are kinda Christmassy, and Uncle Kev always gets loaded at the family Christmas party.

Loaded Hash Browns will henceforth be a holiday season tradition. You got a problem with that? Take it up with Dunkin’. Not me. I clearly don’t like confrontation, but I do like these Loaded Hash Browns. I like them a lot, actually.

Your opinion will probably depend on how much you enjoy Dunkin’s hash browns. I think they’re a great little snack to counter their sugary treats, and any time I take advantage of a “Free Coffee with Purchase” deal, I usually order hash browns.

Loaded Hash Browns consist of said hash browns doused with (not much) jalapeño queso and topped with crumbled bacon.

I really enjoy Dunkin’s hash browns because they always have a little zestiness to them. The bacon is actually pretty flavorful as well, and while the jalapeño doesn’t exactly pop much, it does kick that proprietary zest up twofold. That said, these really aren’t spicy at all.

I’ve eaten this three times since its release, and each time the hash browns and bacon have been crisped to perfection. Getting consistently good bacon at any fast food place is rare, so it’s one of the big reasons I’ve kept going back.

On the flip side, the cheese sauce has been pretty lacking each time. That might bother some people, but I actually think it’s the perfect amount. You get a consistently crispy bite from hash brown one to hash brown nine. Dunkin’ advertises nine, but I got ten once. It was a Christmas miracle!

It’s not all perfection though. This little cup of browns is one of the saltiest things I’ve eaten in a while, and I chugged a shaker of salt for dinner last week.

At four bucks, I don’t consider this the best deal in the world, but you get a decent amount of bacon, and it’s a perfect “hold me over” snack that pairs well with a sweet drink. I kinda hope Dunkin’ goes even more “loaded” with the next iteration and crack an egg in there. Maybe that’ll be a Christmas ’24 thing.

My one major complaint is that I didn’t get a Christmas-themed cup once. If that happens again, I’m getting kicked out of another Dunkin’.

Purchased Price: $3.99
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 340 calories, 22 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 mg of cholesterol, 1240 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Ice Spice Munchkins Drink

Have you ever wondered what’s better than having your cake and eating it too? Dunkin’ is here with your answer: having your cake donut, blending it with frozen coffee, covering it with caramel and whipped cream, and drinking it through a straw. That’s right, Dunkin’ has teamed up with rapper Ice Spice for a new Fall beverage, the Ice Spice Munchkins Drink, and the name says it all. It’s an icy, pumpkin-spicy, super-sweet concoction with pumpkin munchkins blended right in. If you’re not familiar, Ice Spice has a handful of Billboard Hot 100 hits this year, and the tie-in stems from her fans being called munchkins, a reference to her song “Munch (Feelin’ U).”

The drink is frozen coffee (cream, liquid sugar, coffee syrup, and ice) blended with pumpkin munchkins donut holes, served in a caramel drizzled cup that’s topped with whipped cream, more caramel, and a sprinkle of pumpkin spice. Before you go saying it’s weird or gross that the donuts are smashed up in the mix, let’s consider the fact that people throw things like spinach, bananas, ice, and milk together in a blender and call it a smoothie. This is a smoothie for the junk food crowd, and I won’t knock it until I try it.

My drink appeared to be missing any sort of obvious caramel sauce lining the cup, and thank goodness because it was apparent from my first sip that this thing was already plenty sweet. The dusting on top has nice brown sugar and cinnamon notes, but these will be completely lost unless you take off the lid and try it by itself because everything coming up through the straw is so saccharine it becomes one-dimensional. Or two-dimensional, if you count soggy donut crumbs as a dimension.

I originally found the drink’s thickness alright, kind of like a milkshake – albeit one with ice chunks – and the donut crumbles not totally out of place. It has some pumpkin/fall flavor, but the coffee is entirely undetectable and the main flavor notes are cream and sugar with bursts of caramel. It’s too sweet to drink very quickly and doesn’t improve as it sits.

Looking at a spoonful of the mixture evokes an image of what you’d get if you stirred pumpkin puree into whipped cream, and the texture is sort of like a soggy graham cracker. Not more than a few sips in, I was regretting my decision to get a medium.

I have to give Dunkin’ credit for a sort of clever idea for a collaboration (a.k.a. cashing in on a celebrity and the pairing at least making some sense), but it’s too cloying for me. With the absence of any coffee flavor, it’s layer upon layer of sweet things that scream for balance but is only met with wet donuts. Sorry, Ice Spice and Dunkin’, I’m not feelin’ you.

Purchased Price: $4.79
Size: Medium
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (medium) 830 calories, 39 grams of total fat, 22 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 105 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium, 115 grams of total carbs, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 102 grams of total sugar (96 grams of added sugars), and 7 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Wraps Chorizo & Egg

I owe Dunkin’ a bit of an apology.

Last year when it changed its app’s rewards program, I threw a full-blown hissy fit. “What do you mean I won’t ‘earn’ free coffees as often as I used to?! Wahhh, I’m a big fat entitled baby!” – real quote.

Ya know what, though? I’ve actually grown to like the new rewards. Every month when Dunkin’ releases something new, there’s usually a nice deal or two to be had within the app. Without said deals, I probably wouldn’t be trying and enjoying half of its new menu items.

Case in point – the new Chorizo & Egg Wrap. I may have skipped this one if not for this month’s offer. I got a $3 wrap with the purchase of a drink I was already getting. That’s not the BEST deal ever, but it worked on me. I’ve long been a fan of Dunkin’s line of Wake-up Wraps, so I figured this one couldn’t be too bad.

I figured…

It turns out it’s kinda bad.

The idea of chorizo being on Dunkin’s menu probably should have been my first red flag, but I assumed it does breakfast sausage, so how different can it be? Oh, it be different.

When I unwrapped the Chorizo and Egg Wrap, it looked like a giant Cheez-It, or rather a brittle, red, dusty dry brick. When I bit in, it was all of those words, but thankfully did not taste like a brick. Instead, it tasted like quite the opposite, pure lukewarm slop.

Along with cubes of scrambled egg, there are chunks of rubbery chorizo, roasted veggies of which I couldn’t even register, a few beans, and a “dose” of some kind of (Mexican?) cheese sauce. On paper, that doesn’t sound bad at all, but no single ingredient really stood out. The egg got swallowed up, and the rest just blended together into an unpleasant mix of mildly spicy – I gotta use the word again – slop. I like my chorizo more crumbled and way crispier.

Now I’ll be fair, the spice was nice. There’s just enough there that it won’t derail your morning. I imagine it came mostly from the chorizo and the cheese. Either way that zesty flavor was almost enough to get a passing grade, but nothing else landed.

The cheese, oily sausage balls, and mushed-up veggies just made for a wet mess that, to be fair, somehow stayed within the walls of the red pepper wrap that I genuinely didn’t like. It’s more of a sandwich wrap than a soft taco or burrito. Those may seem similar, but this should’ve absolutely been served in a soft tortilla.

So yeah, this is the first misfire I’ve had from Dunkin’ in some time. I’d compare it to a sausage Pillsbury Toaster Scramble, but worse. Without the app deal, I would’ve never spent five bucks on this. I kinda wish I didn’t spend three. I’m gonna have to rescind my apology. I want the old reward system back! In conclusion, wahhhh, I’m still a big fat entitled baby.

Purchased Price: $3.00 ($4.99 regular price)
Rating: 3 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 410 calories, 21 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 140 mg of cholesterol, 1010 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 20 grams of protein.