REVIEW: Starbucks Shaken Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade

Starbucks Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade

Starbucks’ new Shaken Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade can’t decide what it wants to be. Is it iced tea? No. Is it green tea? No. Is it a peach drink? No. Is it lemonade? No. It’s all of these.

Well, I’ve got news for you, Starbucks. You can’t just combine a bunch of drinks together and expect anyone but your hipster clientele to purchase it. A good beverage takes a considerable amount of forethought. Who do you think you are? Arnold Palmer?

Since you insist on combining all of these drinks, I have high expectations for your concoction. This Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade better be superior to each of its individual components.

As I entered my local Starbucks, the throng of hipsters seated throughout the store looked up from their MacBooks and stared. (They can smell fear. They know I’m not one of them!) Ignoring their death-glares, I approached the counter and placed my order for a tall Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade. Amidst the acoustic/indie/jazz music playing over the speakers, I watched the barista expertly shake together green tea, lemonade, peach syrup, and ice. (Perhaps Starbucks is now training their employees with Shake Weights.)

The first thing I noticed upon receiving my beverage was its color. Aside from having an unnecessarily long name, the Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade has a yellow-orange hue to it, reminiscent of watered down apple juice.

Starbucks Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade Closeup

Its flavor starts out slightly floral, soon evolving into the taste of a common, plain green tea. The lemonade provides a light sweetness, not the overwhelming acidity which many lemonades possess. Unfortunately, I found the taste to be somewhat disappointing. I expected the peach syrup to provide a strong fruity flavor, but the peach remains a subtle addition to the beverage; the green tea and lemonade combination drowns out the peach flavoring.

Although the beverage is pleasant, it falls short of being spectacular. Its flavors might blend without clashing, but their combination seems largely unmemorable. It’s mediocre at best; I’ve purchased canned half-and-half iced tea lemonade drinks that taste superior for much less of a price.

Furthermore, a stronger peach flavor was needed for the addition of the peach syrup to be seen as worthwhile. For these reasons, I can’t say I’ll be purchasing the Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade again. Starbucks has added yet another drink to their menu which fails to impress.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 oz (tall) – 100 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugars, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Starbucks Shaken Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade
Purchased Price: $2.55
Size: Tall (12 oz)
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Lightly sweet, not acidic. Flavors blend without clashing. Baristas using Shake Weights.
Cons: Peach taste is lost to green tea and lemonade flavors. Not memorable. Being stared down by hipsters.

REVIEW: Starbucks Refreshers (Cool Lime and Very Berry Hibiscus)

Starbucks Refreshers (Cool Lime and Very Berry Hibiscus)

Sometimes I get tired. Usually it’s a couple hours after lunch when I swiftly enter that mid-afternoon slump that brings my forehead perilously close to smashing into my keyboard. While it would be great to receive daily energy injections at the 3:00 hour, I don’t think most corporate health insurance policies include the administration of intravenous jump juice.

Most people go for a coffee run when they feel sluggish. However, unlike my overly-caffeinated colleagues, I don’t drink coffee. So what’s a java-free girl to do? Simple. Be only slightly unconventional and ingest the latest branded “naturally” caffeinated beverage from one of our nation’s largest peddlers of liquid vim and vigor.

Starbucks has introduced their new Starbucks Refreshers – fruity iced drinks laced with the “natural energy” of Green Coffee Extract (capitalization is theirs) from unroasted Arabica coffee beans. There’s no real flavor to speak of from this Green Coffee Extract, but as I quickly discovered, it packs a punch. After sampling these Refreshers, I definitely felt a bit perkier… That is to say, I was jauntily strolling through the office hallways, smiling broadly and cheerfully vocalizing like the Trololo guy. I was curious about this wonderful ingredient that had put some pep in my step, so I read up on Green Coffee Extract. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that the extract from unroasted coffee beans can inhibit fat absorption in lab mice. So if I transform into a lab mouse while drinking a Starbucks Refresher, I can eat all the cheese I want! Yaaahhhhhh yaya-yaaaaaahhhh…!

There are two flavors of handcrafted beverages available in Starbucks cafes: Cool Lime and Very Berry Hibiscus.

According to the Starbucks website, Cool Lime is “real fruit juice, mint and a lime slice shaken with Green Coffee Extract for a boost of natural energy, served over ice.” The taste of lime was dominant, but I couldn’t taste the mint. The Cool Lime Refresher did otherwise live up to its name, for it was quite refreshing. And cool. In fact, this is what a summer drink should be. Light and citrus-y, but not too sweet. I don’t know if one lime slice is supposed to be the standard because I received two slices the first time I ordered it, but the limes were a great addition to the overall flavor profile. The Cool Lime Refresher also didn’t taste artificial like some other mixed fruit drinks tend to taste, and I think that the use of real fruit helped.

On the other hand, Starbucks claims that the Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher is “handcrafted with whole blackberries” and contains a “hint of hibiscus.” I couldn’t really see any whole blackberries in my drink, just crushed ones. I don’t know if it’s because they were muddled at the bottom of the cup with the Green Coffee Extract or what, but it clearly states that they should be whole. By “whole blackberries,” they must mean “once whole blackberries.” And by “hint of hibiscus,” they must mean “unheeded suggestion of hibiscus” because I couldn’t taste any hibiscus. Maybe I don’t know what hibiscus really tastes like… I mean, what does a flower with natural diuretic properties taste like? Mild panic in 20 minutes when you can’t find the bathroom? Anyway, this Very Berry Hibiscus drink wasn’t Very Anything. More like Sorta-Maybe Berry Hibiscus.

Similar to the Cool Lime Refresher, the Starbucks website claims the Very Berry Refresher is made with “real fruit juice and whole blackberries shaken with Green Coffee Extract for a boost of natural energy, served over ice.” The fruit juice tasted a little diluted, despite its bold appearance, and even though it was served chilled, it didn’t really seem like a summer drink to me. For a Refresher, it was not very refreshing.

Of the two new Starbucks Refreshers, you can probably tell by what I’ve written here (and by looking at the photo taken from a later trip) which one I liked best. The Cool Lime Refresher is the lightweight, summery drink with the appropriate flavor and appearance you’d most appreciate on a hot summer day. The Very Berry Hibiscus tries too hard to fit in with the summer vibe and instead comes off as the sort of drink you’d have to order back in the house because it’s not going anywhere dressed like that.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 fluid ounces – Cool Lime – 40 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 0.9% Vitamin C, and 45 milligrams of caffeine. Very Berry Hibiscus – 60 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 0.9% Vitamin C, and 45 milligrams of caffeine.)

Item: Starbucks Refreshers (Cool Lime and Very Berry Hibiscus)
Purchased Price: $2.95
Size: 12 oz
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Cool Lime)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Very Berry Hibiscus)
Pros: Cool Lime Refresher lives up to its name. Green Coffee Extract inhibits fat absorption in lab mice. Real lime slices. Eduard Khil-like happiness and mirth.
Cons: Very Berry Hibiscus isn’t Very Anything. The 3:00 Slump. Hibiscus is a natural diuretic. Couldn’t taste the Cool Lime Refresher’s mint flavor.

REVIEW: Starbucks Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino

Starbucks Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino-WM

I adhere to a lot of the unofficial guidelines for being a proper yuppy 20-something. I own a half dozen cardigans and am beginning to curate a “crazy” sock collection. I have business cards but only use them to try to win free lunches. I spend more time complaining about my deteriorating metabolism than actually figuring out how to adjust my dietary and drinking habits. And of course, I keep a Starbucks rewards card that automatically re-loads when my balance falls below $10.

Despite going to Starbucks a couple times each week to fulfill my yuppy responsibilities, I don’t think I’ve purchased a Frappuccino since my teenage years, when I would hang out at Starbucks to feel more grown-up. Back then, the Orange Mocha Frappuccino was a completely fictional drink, and I could reference Zoolander quotes all the time without getting weird looks. (My last realtor wasn’t amused when I said, “the apartment has to be at least” three times bigger than this!”)

I do have fond memories of those pre-yuppy, Frappuccino-drinking days, so I had high hopes for the newest version, the Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino. To make sure that I was judging the new Frappuccino on the right scale and not against, say, my usual Starbucks order (grande skim latte, no sugar, extra espresso shot if my first meeting of the day is before 9:00 am), I purchased a regular mocha Frappuccino to remind myself what these types of drinks taste like. And I was reminded that these types of drinks taste really good. If it weren’t for that stupid metabolism, I would totally start ordering these again.

Given that I apparently have the exact palate of my 16-year-old self, I would say that the Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino was better than the regular one, but really not by very much. The barista added three scoops of cookie crumbles and three pumps of chocolate mocha sauce to my drink. I think the crumbles were of some kind of Oreo-esque chocolate cookie, but it was honestly hard to tell what flavor they were because the taste of the mocha syrup was so much stronger. At first, the crumbles were underwhelming in their contribution to texture, too, since they were blended down to the exact same size as the ice. As the ice began to melt, however, the cookie crumbles allowed the Frappuccino to retain some crunchiness. Even then, the crunchiness was a little too close to graininess for my liking.

Starbucks Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino Closeup-WM

The real positive differentiator for the new Frappuccino was the chocolate whipped cream on top. Its hint of chocolaty sweetness made it more interesting than regular whipped cream, yet it remained much milder than the rich mocha flavor of the drink itself and acted as a nice change of pace.

Since the whipped cream was the part I liked best, I guess I should recommend that you forgo the extra cost of a specialty Frappuccino and just order any Starbucks drink with chocolate whipped cream instead of regular. Then again, all Frappuccinos are half-off from now until May 13 from 3 to 5 pm, so this is as good a time as any to try the Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino for yourself. Just be careful of the hordes of yuppies – our sock/cardigan combos might get too crazy for you to handle.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – 470 calories, 18 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 76 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 69 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.)

Item: Starbucks Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino
Price: $4.95
Size: Grande/16 ounces
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Regular mocha Frappuccinos are already good. Cookie crumbles added some crunchiness. Chocolate whipped cream was mildly sweet and a nice change of pace for the drink itself. Half-off Frappuccinos this week. Zoolander quotes.
Cons: Cookie crumbles didn’t add any taste. Crunchiness was too close to graininess. Lots of sugar and fat. Having the same palate as 16-year-old me. My metabolism. Complaining about my metabolism.

REVIEW: Starbucks VIA Caramel Iced Coffee

Starbucks VIA Caramel Flavored Iced Coffee

I feel sorry for the Starbucks baristas out there who have to deal with complex drink orders from insane customers. They say the customer is always right, but those who order an iced ristretto 5-shot grande with 5/8 decaf, six ice cubes, 2-pumps sugar free caramel, 4-pumps caramel, soy, whole milk, extra whip, 12 Splenda, double cupped, and hand stirred to a temperature of 43 degrees have got to be wrong.

Do they feel like their complex order somehow makes them some kind of Starbucks alchemist?

Or are they trying to impress the people behind them in line with the fact that they know how to order something at Starbucks?

Or do they enjoy being a barista puppeteer, making Starbucks employees do their bidding with their purse strings?

You know what, Starbucks baristas? I’m your break from the batty bastards and bitches who order elaborate beverages, because from now on, when I roll into a Starbucks, I’m only there to either use the restroom, steal napkins, be creepy, or to pick up a pack of your new Starbucks VIA Caramel Iced Coffee, all of which don’t involve you lifting any of your well-worked fingers. I’m your coffee break, your latte lull, your ristretto recess, your half-caf hiatus, your Venti vacation, and your Asian persuasion.

Each packet of Starbucks VIA Caramel Iced Coffee is made up of microgrounded 100 percent natural roasted arabica beans, a little bit of caramel flavor, and cane sugar. This powdery partnership produces a Grande of iced coffee goodness, if you’re willing to do all of the following: measure 16 ounces of water, rip off the packet top, pour the contents of the packet into the 16 ounces of water, and then stir it until the powder dissolves.

Or if you have children, you can dress them up in a green Starbucks apron, tell them you’re “playing Starbucks,” and make them do all the work.

After tearing open a packet of Starbucks VIA Caramel Iced Coffee, it farts out a strong caramel aroma. That caramel aroma is also present after the powder is mixed with water. When I drink it, it starts off with a nice caramel flavor, which quickly gives way to the bitterness of the coffee. However, thanks to the caramel flavoring, I’m finding it much easier to drink than regular Starbucks VIA Iced Coffee, which I usually sweeten with either a little more sugar or chocolate syrup.

I really enjoyed the regular Starbucks VIA Iced Coffee, but I have to say I prefer this caramel version more. Adding a little vanilla soy milk makes it even better, although the caramel iced coffee already has 24 grams of sugar, so adding soy milk gives it a little more. While that may sound sweet, it’s not as sweet as I am for giving Starbucks baristas a quick breve breather from impossible drink orders by not ordering anything and just picking up a 5-pack of Starbucks VIA Caramel Iced Coffee.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 packet – 50 calories, 0 grams of fat, 20 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Starbucks VIA Caramel Iced Coffee
Price: $5.95
Size: 5 pack
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: Better tasting and easier to drink than regular Starbuck VIA Iced Coffee. Easy to make. Great with a little vanilla soy milk. Makes a Grande of iced coffee. Cheaper than ordering the same drink from Starbucks. Giving baristas a break from making complex drink orders from douchebags. Nice energy pick-me-up.
Cons: Might have too much sugar for those who care about consuming too much sugar. You have to stir or shake it yourself, unless you have children who can do it for you. Waiting in line behind someone who orders complex Starbucks drinks. At home, you have no access to the Starbucks bar.

REVIEW: Starbucks Coffee Ice Cream

Starbucks Coffee Ice Cream

As a place that is known for its calorie-filled coffee concoctions, I wasn’t surprised that Starbucks has their own line of calorie-filled coffee ice cream concoctions, although these pints of ice cream can’t be bought in one of the dozens of Starbucks locations within a 10 miles radius of you.

The new Starbucks Ice Cream line replaces the old Starbucks Ice Cream line made by Dreyer’s and features milk and cream that’s free from recombinant bovine growth hormones (rBGH). It comes in four different flavors and I chose the plain ol’ coffee flavor because I wasn’t feeling very adventurous at the time of purchase to try any of the other flavors — caramel macchiato, mocha frappuccino and java chip frappuccino — all of which are apparently brought to us by the letter O.

The Starbucks Coffee Ice Cream is made up of coffee and espresso ice creams. If you look closely at it you can see the swirls the two ice creams make and if you listen very carefully to the ice cream you might be able to hear the sounds of jazz or easy listening music playing, just like you’re sitting in a Starbucks location.

To be honest, I’ve consumed more water out of a rusty pipe than Starbucks coffee (although some people might say they taste the same), so I can’t tell you if the ice cream tastes similar to its insulated cupped brethren. But I do know that I’ve had better tasting coffee ice cream. While it has an adequate coffee flavor, it isn’t as creamy or as rich as other coffee ice cream I’ve had in the past, like the Haagen Dazs Coffee ice cream. Perhaps the use of espresso ice cream is the reason for that or maybe the it’s the “Starbucks Coffee Concentrate” that’s listed among the ice cream’s ingredients, which sounds like something Starbucks should start selling in a cup — straight up.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 210 calories, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A and 10% calcium.)

Item: Starbucks Coffee Ice Cream
Price: $3.99 (on sale)
Size: One Pint
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Decent tasting. Made with milk and cream that’s free from recombinant bovine growth hormones (rBGH). It’s size is one pint, unlike Haagen Dazs. The number of Starbucks locations.
Cons: Not as creamy or rich as other coffee ice cream I’ve had. Drinking out of a rusty pipe. Falling asleep to the music played in a Starbucks. Starbucks Coffee Concentrate sounds scary. The number of Starbucks locations.