REVIEW: Starbucks Serious Strawberry Frappuccino

Starbucks Serious Strawberry Frappuccino

I generally can’t take anything with the adjective “serious” in it, seriously. But that’s the beauty of Starbucks’ new Serious Strawberry Frappuccino Blended Beverage. Strawberry is a fun, summer flavor, but this drink is so good that you should take it seriously.

We know Starbucks has a track-record for creating awesome fruit-flavored summer beverages, but I didn’t see this one coming! I thought at least the tasty mango pineapple flavor from last summer would be back, but I actually saw it as the lead at its Hong Kong and Taipei locations instead.

Either way, I’m not complaining. This new flavor makes more sense as it stays in the theme of R&D refreshing core flavors we already know and love. Although, truth be told the old Strawberries & Crème flavor never appealed to me, but Serious Strawberry’s botanical infusion and puree definitely did.

Speaking of the old flavor, Serious Strawberry means business as it replaces said old flavor completely, unlike the other new flavors. So, it’s particularly surprising that it’s not denoted with “Blended Crème” per Starbucks’ typical non-caffeinated nomenclature.

When picking up my drink, I got a kick out of the barista announcing, “Serious Strawberry for Tiffany!” It sounded so silly that I had my own Bart Simpson Anita Bath tee-hee-hee moment. But, that’s part of the charm – that moment can’t be replicated with a Misto or Matcha Latte.

Starbucks Serious Strawberry Frappuccino 2

I noticed it was a little more liquid-y than expected. I enjoyed my beverage indoors, but I could see this melting very quickly in the heat if it were consumed outdoors. It was a fleeting thought as I was immediately distracted by the pretty pink and white resembling the pink marble trend all over Instagram right now. I was also pleased to see real strawberry seeds in the swirls of puree because it sparked hope that it wouldn’t be artificial tasting.

Starbucks Serious Strawberry Frappuccino 3

My mind was blown from the first sip. The flavor was like if I stuck my straw in a juicy strawberry; there were some sips that were tangier than others and some sweeter like eating the fruit itself. The nuance was in part from the botanical infusion of apples, licorice root, hibiscus, rose hips, and lemongrass.

Starbucks Serious Strawberry Frappuccino 4

But, the botanicals also contributed to what I misread at first as a slightly artificial aftertaste. However, as I continued drinking I knew that it wasn’t at all like an artificial/powdered strawberry milk flavoring. The vanilla whipped cream rounded out this classic combination of berries and dairy.

With all these seriously stellar summer flavor launches, it’s going to be a tough act for Starbucks to follow in the fall.

(Nutrition Facts – Tall 12 fl oz – 260 calories, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 36 grams of sugars, 3 grams of protein and 0 milligrams of caffeine.)

Purchased Price: $4.45
Size: Tall
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like a drinking a strawberry – some sips are tarngier and some sips are sweeter. Still Instagrammable like pink marble. No caffeine (if you’re looking for a non-caffeinated option).
Cons: A bit more liquid-y than usual (may melt faster in the summer heat). Not seeing the value in the fancy botanical infusion – just created a bit of tastebud confusion as I mistook it for a slight artificial taste at first

QUICK REVIEW: Starbucks Ultra Caramel Frappuccino

Starbucks Ultra Caramel Frappuccino

What is it?

Starbucks’ new Ultra Caramel Frappuccino launched with the Triple Mocha Frappuccino to kick off Frappuccino season. I straight up asked the barista what the difference was between the Ultra Caramel and original version. Not really selling it – he stated that it was a different caramel and whipped cream.

But it was so much more than that –- the caramel is a new dark caramel sauce, the new whipped cream is infused with cold brew (!!!), and it’s created in layers so that all the good stuff is distributed nicely throughout the drink.

How is it?


When I was in middle school, I used to drink a Venti Caramel Frappuccino with extra caramel every single summer day. A little bit gross, I know. So, the Ultra Caramel is like the upgraded adult version. I enjoy the smokier dark caramel sauce and the additional caffeine and coffee flavor from the cold brew whipped cream. The blended coffee is a good backdrop, but a bit icy per usual.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Starbucks Ultra Caramel Frappuccino 2

Starbucks needs to package this delicious cold brew whipped cream and sell it, please. But, you can add this topping to any drink for 50 cents extra. Also, Ultra is not replacing the original Caramel or Mocha flavors. But, the Ultra version will run you $0.80 more (than the original) for a Tall, $0.50 more for a Grande and Venti.


Hello Frappuccino season! The new Ultra Caramel is a great way to kick it off.

Purchased Price: $4.75
Size: Tall (12 fl oz.)
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 350 calories, 17 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 44 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, and 70 milligrams of caffeine..

REVIEW: Starbucks Christmas Tree Frappuccino

Starbucks Christmas Tree Frappuccino

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Baristas are selling me Fraps while misspelling my name at cashiers!

I must mumble, because per usual, my Starbucks cup said “Ben.” That’s ok though because nothing could break my holiday spirit, for today I was trying the new Christmas Tree Frappuccino that looks exactly like a Christmas tree!

Well, kinda like a Christmas tree, I guess?

Look, I know how advertising works. I wasn’t expecting my drink to look like Rockefeller Center, but then again, I also wasn’t expecting Charlie Brown.

The whipped cream looks more lime than pine, and when you think about it, the entire premise is flawed. In theory, the whipped cream portion represents the iconic image of a Christmas tree, so said tree would be like five feet of trunk, and one foot of branches! More like, “Bark, the herald angels sing.” Right?


Fine. ‘Tis not the season for petty whining, so I’ll just let it go, let it go, let it go. (Sung to the tune of “Let it Snow,” not that Frozen song, although I guess that works too. You decide!)

Starbucks Christmas Tree Frappuccino 2

The whipped cream gets its green color due to a matcha infusion, which I’ll be honest, I barely noticed. The topping was drizzled with caramel as well as candied cranberry “ornaments,” so I tasted those more than the actual cream. I mainly order Caramel Fraps, so the whipped cream tasted like it usually does on those.

Starbucks Christmas Tree Frappuccino 3

Phantom matcha aside, the caramel was delicious as always. The cranberry pieces added a nice little crunch element. There’s a freeze-dried strawberry tree topper that did its job because it was the “star” of the show. I enjoyed it.

I made sure to leave plenty of toppings so they could mix in with the Mocha Peppermint Frap.

I finally took a big gulp and O Tannenbaum was it good! That chocolate mint goodness had me singing Ave Barista.

If I had to equate the flavor to something familiar, it tasted like a liquid Andes mint. It wasn’t quite mint chocolate chip ice cream like you’d expect. There’s not much flavor discrepancy when combining chocolate and mint, but I still say this leans more towards an Andes.

I mixed the toppings in, and they got a little swallowed up. Subtle caramel fought through the mint a couple times, and the cranberry bits provided a fun crunch, but the flavors kinda disappeared into the dark abyss.

I also think there may have been too much ice because it tasted watered down about halfway in. The mocha and peppermint dulled and never lived up to the first couple sips.

In the end, it may not have been exactly what I wanted, but I still appreciated it. I’d like to call “bah humbug” on the $5 price, but I’ll leave you on a positive note. Merry Christmas.

(Nutrition Facts – 420 calories, 21 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 50 grams of sugar, 6 grams of protein, and 15 milligrams of caffeine.)

Purchased Price: $5.08
Size: Tall
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Mocha and Peppermint are a winning duo. Freeze dried strawberry was kinda brilliant. Caramel drizzle never fails. Fun overall concept. Candied Cranberry ornaments were a great addition.
Cons: As far as looks go, it’s the thought that counts. Pretty expensive. Didn’t pick up the matcha. Flavors got watered down. Ave Maria isn’t a Christmas song. I did not intend for the Frozen song to get stuck in your head. “Ben.”

REVIEW: Starbucks Toffee Almondmilk Hot Cocoa

Starbucks Toffee Almondmilk Hot Cocoa

It’s been Christmas season for me since Starbucks released their holiday drinks and cups on November 1st. Yes, I’ve been blasting Christmas music for a solid month now.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to get another holiday surprise when Starbucks released a new festive hot chocolate – Toffee Almondmilk Hot Cocoa. It joins Peppermint, Snickerdoodle, and Salted Caramel on the seasonal hot cocoa menu this season.

While they all sound fantastic, Toffee Almondmilk Hot Cocoa (steamed almondmilk with mocha sauce and toffee nut syrup, finished with whipped cream and Caramel Brulée topping) is the star in this lineup because it’s the first Holiday drink that prominently features almond milk. This means it can be vegan and non-dairy when ordered without the whipped cream — no substitutions are needed like with other Holiday drinks.

But that’s not all when you order now (said in my best infomercial voice), you don’t have to pay extra for the almond milk! It’s usually 60 cents more to substitute drinks with almond milk at Starbucks, but this drink costs the same as all the others! Winning!

In full disclosure, I’m not vegan or lactose intolerant. I eat all meats and drink whole milk, but I do have vegetarian days. I believe the term du jour is “flexitarian.” Oui oui!

Now on to the good good.

When I first received my drink, it looked like a whipped cream wonderland speckled with brown sugar crystals (the Caramel Brulée topping). Naturally, I plucked one off and tried it. It was just sugary and feels like the candy that gets stuck in your teeth – nowhere near as bad as say a Butterfinger though. Its flavor was fine on its own.

I particularly enjoyed my first sip because of the temperature contrast with the cool whipped cream and warm drink. I immediately tasted the chocolate from the mocha sauce, but didn’t really pick up on the distinct toffee nut. I could tell there was a subtle “je ne sais quoi” but I took a blind taste test, I wouldn’t be able to say that it was toffee nut. But as I continued drinking, I almost forgot it was an almond milk hot chocolate. I was amazed and surprised by its richness.

Starbucks Toffee Almondmilk Hot Cocoa 2

But, I didn’t love the topping with the drink. When I did get some of the topping in my sip, I didn’t enjoy that it was large enough to require chewing. It also threw the sweetness balance off because the drink itself wasn’t overly sweet or artificial tasting despite the four pumps of sauce and syrup. But the topping pushed it over the sugar edge. I actually liked it better without it.

As whole milk’s #1 fan, I’m overall very impressed by Starbucks’ execution with almond milk (except for their decision to make almondmilk one word). I also love that Starbucks is being extra inclusive this holiday season; this new release is great for vegans and non-vegans alike. It’s officially been added to my Starbucks holiday drink rotation!

(Nutrition Facts – Grande – 280 calories, 14 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 240 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 28 grams of total sugars, 4 grams of protein, and 15 mg of caffeine.)

Purchased Price: $3.75
Size: Grande
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: It’s vegan and non-dairy when ordered without whipped cream. No additional cost for almond milk = winning! Surprisingly rich for almond milk.
Cons: Toffee nut, who? Caramel Brulée topping is gratuitous.

REVIEW: Starbucks Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

Starbucks Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

I frequent Starbucks a little too often. (Mom, if you’re reading this, Starbucks gift cards are a very acceptable Christmas gift). I also am a sucker for the holiday and/or limited edition drinks, like Starbucks’ new Toasted White Chocolate Mocha.

The beverage includes espresso, caramelized white chocolate, whipped cream, and candied cranberry sugar. When I received my hot drink, I was super pleased that what I got DID look like the promotional picture.

There’s plenty of whipped cream (although it was sunken in due to the heat of the drink when I took off the lid) and cranberry sugar that, in my opinion, kind of looked like bacon bits. (Hey Starbucks, there’s an idea! A drink with bacon? This would have done wonders for the Maple Pecan latte that was released this fall. The drink fell flat for me, and bacon would have seriously enhanced it with the maple. I end my rant.)

The first sips of the drink were mostly whipped cream, which is never a bad thing. Once I got to the actual drink, I was definitely a fan. I didn’t taste too much of the “toasted” flavor, but the white chocolate was strong and delicious. While there is espresso, I didn’t taste any coffee – I felt like I was drinking a fancy white hot chocolate.

This is definitely a fun “dessert” drink or mid-afternoon pick-me-up (I’m plotting it for a Black Friday sugar rush), but don’t count on it for your morning caffeine jolt. It DOES contain caffeine, but it just wasn’t too noticeable for me. I usually avoid caffeine after 5 p.m. so I can get to sleep like a normal person at night, but I had this at 7 p.m. and my 10 p.m. bedtime wasn’t a problem.

Starbucks Toasted White Chocolate Mocha 2

Back to the candied cranberry sugar — this was the most unnecessary part of the drink. Not only did I not taste any cranberry flavor, once the fruit bits got soggy, their texture was too soft and chewy. Because cranberry isn’t in the name of the drink, I think you could do without it.

I drank the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha over the course of an hour, and the flavor and temperature held strong. One key takeaway is although this is a sugar bomb – 41 grams in a tall! – it’s not overly sweet. Perfect for sipping and shopping, if you ask me.

Starbucks, another well-done holiday drink. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next. (cough, bacon, cough.)

(Nutrition Facts – 12 oz – 330 calories, 12 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 41 grams of sugar, 11 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.25
Size: Tall (12 oz.)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Strong white chocolate flavor. Didn’t keep me up all night.
Cons: Bacon bit-looking cranberry sugar on top that just wasn’t necessary.

Click here to read our previous Starbucks reviews.