QUICK REVIEW: Starbucks Caramel Flan Frappuccino

Starbucks Caramel Flan Frappuccino

Purchased Price: FREE (Starbucks Card offer)
Size: Tall (12 oz.)
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Wonderful buttery caramel flavor. A delicious way to make your body extra cold during these cold winter months. Caramel-infused whipped cream is tasty and I’d shoot some in my mouth if Starbucks sold it in a can. Creamy. 65 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine. Barista correctly spelled my name.
Cons: Caramel is overwhelming because the flan flavor isn’t noticeable. Coffee flavor is nonexistent. I think I may have gotten a cavity after drinking it. Some might consider it to be too sweet, but alas, such is the Frappuccino. Drinking it too fast gave me brain freeze.

Nutrition Facts: 12 ounces (whole milk) – 280 calories, 90 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 44 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, 8% vitamin A, 10% calcium.

REVIEW: Starbucks Caramel Flan Latte

Starbucks Caramel Flan Latte

Of all the jiggly desserts I’ve experienced, flan has to be my favorite. For those readers who have never had the pleasure of enjoying flan, it’s a bit like Jello’s fancier, wealthy cousin. While Jello’s at a frat party knockin’ back Jägerbombs, flan’s sipping on a glass of Dom Pérignon with the King of Latvia’s nephew.

Flan seems to have its origins in Ancient Rome, where it was often served as a savory dish. The Romans, after eating rodents for lunch and brushing their teeth with their own pee, would gather at the dinner table to enjoy a nice plate of eel flan.

Just recently, Starbucks thought up a new way to experience flan without the addition of eel — in latte form. The popular coffee chain’s new Caramel Flan Latte features espresso with steamed milk, caramel flan-flavored syrup, caramel-infused whipped cream, and a caramel flan drizzle. Will the combination of flavors prove a dud? Or will the result be flantastic?

The first thing I noticed upon receiving my Caramel Flan Latte was the sweet, caramel aroma of the whipped cream and caramel sauce drizzle. The topping adds noticeable caramel and vanilla tones to the flavor of the beverage. However, once all of the whipped cream disappears, the beverage loses much of its appeal.

The caramel flan syrup added to the coffee base seems smothered by the coffee’s actual flavor. Only a slight hint of caramel and vanilla are present toward the end of a sip, once the coffee flavor has faded off the tongue. The entire essence of flan seems to be absent from the beverage; the coffee lacks any trace of custardy, eggy flavor.

To be perfectly honest, the Caramel Flan Latte is quite tasty, but its flavor profile more closely resembles a run-of-the-mill sweetened latte than anything flan flavored. If I tasted this beverage blindly, it would be impossible for me to identify its flavor as anything remotely related to flan. Though pleasant, the slight caramel and vanilla aftertaste provides little incentive to purchase the beverage, as Starbucks already offers a Caramel Macchiato with a more defined and noticeable flavor.

Starbucks’ new Caramel Flan Latte was a letdown. Next time, I’ll be ordering a drink with a more discernible flavor. Until Starbucks chooses to add a pump of eel-flavored syrup to their Caramel Flan Latte, I’ll be skipping the flan-flavored beverages.

(Nutrition Facts – Tall (12 oz. with 2% milk and whipped cream) – 260 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of total fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 31 grams of sugars, and 9 grams of protein.)

Item: Starbucks Caramel Flan Latte
Purchased Price: $3.75
Size: Tall (12 fl oz.)
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Light caramel and vanilla aftertaste. Tasty coffee beverage. The King of Latvia’s nephew.
Cons: Coffee flavor smothers caramel flan flavor. Far from flan-like. The idea of eel-flavored syrup.

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.