REVIEW: Starbucks Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte

Starbucks Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte Cup

As we all know, only three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and pumpkin spice season. I wasn’t feeling particularly autumnal as I exited my local Starbucks into the 90-degree heat, but at least with its orangey-brown hue and dense pumpkin spice topping the color of fallen leaves, my Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte looked the part. This is a new offering for Starbucks’ fall menu, but I don’t foresee it becoming a mainstay…

Maybe this is supposed to be obvious from the drink’s name, but I certainly didn’t realize before looking it up, so let me warn you that the base of this beverage is just Starbucks’ regular chai tea latte. The unique “pumpkin cream” factor specifically refers to the cold foam on top; the drink itself doesn’t have anything in it that’s different than the usual. That felt a little unsatisfying to me at first, but hey, pumpkin spice mix is generally a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, and with the exception of nutmeg, all of these ingredients are already present in Starbuck’s chai tea concentrate. (Others include water, black tea, cardamom, black pepper, star anise, sugar, honey, vanilla, and citric acid, if you were wondering). So, it might not be an immediate member of the pumpkin spice nuclear family, but at the very least, Starbucks’ chai tea latte is probably a not-too-distant cousin.

Starbucks Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte pumpkin topping

In any case, the pumpkin cream cold foam and its smattering of seasoning on top was as tasty as I’ve come to expect from Starbucks. It was sweet, rich, and creamy, with an appealing melt-in-your-mouth fluffiness, and the pumpkin spice topping added some nice zest (though mine had a bit too much for my liking, with one particularly saturated mouthful calling to mind that old viral challenge where people would eat a straight spoonful of cinnamon with disastrous results).

The foam topping was substantial enough that it took a few sips for me to even get to the chai, but when I did… well, do you know that feeling when you’re sipping a drink that’s so cold that you can’t actually tell what it tastes like beneath the sensation of coolness? That was the case here; of course, I knew from the velvety texture that I was drinking something meant to be indulgent, but the only immediate way I could describe the taste would just be “cold.” That blandness didn’t ever change, leading to a general feeling that I was just drinking some nicely chilled, very mildly sweet, and quite over-expensive milk. There were occasional flashes of the complex spiciness of chai, but they were more of an aftertaste than the main event they should have been, and ultimately, I would say this drink’s creamy texture was more noticeable than its taste.

So sure, the pumpkin cream cold foam is good, but it’s not a big enough part of this drink’s experience for me to really recommend; once it’s gone, the Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte effectively just becomes a plain chai tea latte, so if that doesn’t entice you, you’re better off getting your fall fix elsewhere.

Purchased Price: $7.35
Size: Grande (medium)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 460 calories, 17 grams of fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 66 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Starbucks Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso

Starbucks Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso Cup

Despite the heat here in the Midwest, Starbucks has its jeans and hoodie on and is ready for fall. Yes, the Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back, but we can’t forget another fall flavor favorite: apple. A new drink on the menu is the Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso.

Does it sound a little familiar to you? Well, neither the apple crisp flavor nor pairing it with Oatmilk is new for Starbucks, as they’ve done it in years past with the Apple Crisp Macchiato in 2021 and the Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato in 2022. But this is the first time it’s been with the popular shaken espresso. And let me tell you, I’m here for it.

Starbucks Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso syrup layer

This drink is smooth. This drink is subtle. This drink is cozy. If you’re not a pumpkin fan but want fall in a cup AND some caffeine, this drink is for you. One thing I’d like to note right off the bat is the apple brown sugar syrup DOES pool at the very bottom of the drink. I highly recommend you give it a quick shake or stir to evenly distribute the flavor.

Starbucks Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso ice

At first sip, it was mellow – not too sweet at all and the apple flavor came in as a nice aftertaste. The flavor of the espresso shots (there are two shots in a tall) is definitely masked by the rest of the drink, so if you’re not super into a strong coffee taste, this is a good drink to try. I love oatmilk in my coffee as it gives a drink a nice creaminess, and I definitely experienced that here. I’ve mentioned before that I can be a slow sipper of iced beverages, so over the course of the two hours or so I had this, the flavor held up.

I’m always a little surprised when the price of a tall creeps up over $5, but this one is worth it. It’s a great fall drink I will be getting again.

Purchased Price: $5.45
Size: Tall
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 130 calories, 3.5 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 15 grams of total sugars, 1 gram of protein, and 170 milligrams of caffeine.

REVIEW: Starbucks Summer Remix Iced Chai Tea Latte with Matcha Cream Cold Foam

I’ve been having a rough go with the Starbucks app lately. It’s completely my fault, but I just can’t seem to grasp its payment options. It’s like my brain resets after every order I successfully get through. I had a few bucks left on a gift card, and while ordering a cold brew, I somehow managed to refill said gift card with $50. I should know how to use the app by now, but I always seem to mess this up.

Long story short, I had to go back and forth with Starbucks customer service to get my money back, but every single time I opened the app to check if my balance was clear, I noticed something – the new “Summer Remix” *insert air horn blast here* Iced Chai Tea Latte with Matcha Cream Cold Foam.

While the fact it was an “app exclusive” was a little daunting to me, an apparently 97-year-old tech-challenged man, I knew I had to try that two-toned beauty, even if it meant yet again messing up the payment.

I’m not exactly a stranger to chai, but I’ve somehow never gotten it from Starbucks. If I’m there, I want coffee. That being said, I might start getting chai, because man, this latte hit the spot. You might tell me your local coffee spot does chai better, but I really liked how smooth and sweet Starbucks made it. Actually, if I’m being honest, it may have been a tad too sweet, but it worked because of the nice nutty, not quite gingery, almost nutmeg heavy eggnog-like flavor to it.

That alone would have been just fine, but the matcha cold foam is what sets this apart. I really like matcha, but sometimes I think it tastes like straight-up dirt. This did not taste like dirt. I don’t know if matcha cream cold foam has always been around at Starbucks, but it was a revelation to me. It was as if they took some green tea ice cream and threw it in a milk frother.

The texture was as good as any whipped cream I can recall having in a long time, and it added a nice little green tea offset to the black tea chai. It was the best of both worlds. Also, unlike Dunkin’s cold foam, this matcha fluff had legs. It lasted the entire length of the drink. I was able to take a sip, then lift the straw and get a hit of foam every time. That’s unprecedented. If this was sold in cans, I’d stay stocked up and probably take a few rips a day from the nozzle.

I loved it, and kept coming back to thinking that the whole thing tasted like a light eggnog-based latte, while somehow not making me think of winter. Does that make sense? It’s as if they translated eggnog into a cool summer drink.

I’m a big fan. It’s pretty expensive even for Starbucks, so maybe I shoulda just let the $50 ride, because I can definitely see myself getting this latte a few more times before the summer is out.

Purchased Price: $4.95 + 1.25 for the foam. (She had to ring it up separately b/c as mentioned, I’m bad with the app)
Size: Small
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Not available due to this being an existing drink with customizations.

REVIEW: Starbucks Summer Remix Chocolate Cream Cold Brew with Caramel Syrup in a Caramel Lined Cup

It turns out remixes aren’t just for songs. Starbucks is jumping on the remix bandwagon as summer winds down with three remix beverages. These are cold drink customer favorites with a twist, and one in the lineup is the Chocolate Cream Cold Brew with Caramel Syrup in a Caramel Lined Cup.

Chocolate. Caramel. Cold Foam. What more could you want? The existing Chocolate Cream Cold Brew swaps its vanilla syrup for caramel, and, as the name suggests, your friendly barista will line the cup with caramel sauce for an even bigger flavor punch.

Let me start with this: I love caramel and I love chocolate. I thought the caramel addition was nice but not a wow-factor. Because the chocolate is only in the cold foam, the caramel flavor muted it a bit. But that being said, the flavors paired well together, and it felt like I was drinking a Twix or a Snickers – something with that ingredient combination. The smell of the caramel was very apparent, and you’re paying for it too. In my area, the Chocolate Cream Cold Brew is $5.25 for a grande, and the remix added another $0.60 to the total. Just like the other cold brews in the Starbucks’ lineup, this one is smooth and the cold foam is creamy. I had no issues with the cold foam melting into my drink – it definitely stayed intact, which is a huge win for me.

One thing to note: Despite being advertised as available in the app, I had trouble finding it in mine. Turns out there wasn’t a specific pre-loaded beverage for these remixes; rather, I had to use this link. Find the remix drink you’d like at that link on your mobile device, and click the link when you get to the “Customers can order this beverage in the Starbucks app here.” That took me right to my Starbucks app, where the customizations came up automatically in my app cart. Then from there, it was easy to order.

The other thing to note is that you can create this remix version at any time by simply using the customize feature in the app. If you change the pumps of vanilla to caramel and add the syrup to line the cup, that’s all you need to create this all year round.

Purchased Price: $5.85
Size: Grande
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Not available due to this being an existing drink with customizations.

REVIEW: Starbucks Frozen Lemonade Refreshers

Summer is here, and so are new cold drinks at Starbucks. A look back through my last several months of Starbucks reviews reminded me that most of the newly released Starbucks drinks have been coffee-based, but the three new items on the menu this season are made using the Starbucks Refreshers. The coffee chain has introduced three frozen lemonades: Pineapple Passionfruit, Mango Dragonfruit, and Strawberry Acai. I tried the first two for some initial thoughts.

The Frozen Pineapple Passionfruit Lemonade Starbucks Refresher Beverage (that’s a mouthful!) is the Pineapple Passionfruit Refresher blended with strawberry puree, lemonade, and a scoop of diced dried pineapple. Similarly, the Frozen Mango Dragonfruit Starbucks Refresher Beverage uses the Mango Dragonfruit Refresher base with – you guessed it – lemonade and dried dragonfruit pieces. While these drinks had some similarities, you’ll soon find interesting differences, too. More on that below.

Pineapple Passionfruit is very tart, and the pineapple overshadows any taste of passionfruit. The pineapple also masked the strawberry puree. I am a big pineapple fan, so this didn’t bother me too much. But what I would have liked was more presence of the lemonade. Since this is billed as a frozen lemonade, you’d think it would be more prominent. But I felt this tasted like they had blended the Refresher base itself.

The Mango Dragonfruit was similar in that it tasted JUST like the Refresher with a lack of lemonade. I liked that it was smooth, wasn’t overly sweet, and the strawberry puree meshed nicely here. (Hence a slight increase in rating for this one over the other.)

I find it easiest to lay out the rest of my thoughts in a list:

  1. DO NOT mobile order this drink if you’re not going to pick it up within a few minutes of them making it. While I tried my beverages, I saw a Pineapple Passionfruit waiting on the mobile order table, and you could see the separation of the frozen concoction. You’d be stirring that bad boy up and potentially even sticking it in the freezer unless you want it super liquidy. Interestingly enough, as I sipped, the Mango Dragonfruit did not separate in the same way the Pineapple Passionfruit did. I never had to stir that one up, but I did with the Pineapple Passionfruit. I can only chalk it up to the different Refresher bases, as everything else is so similar. (Another reason for the slightly higher rating for Mango Dragonfruit.)
  2. I recommend getting a straw – or bringing your own reusable straw – for these. Since it’s frozen, I had difficulty sipping it through the small hole in the cup lid.
  3. Personally, I wouldn’t go any bigger than a grande on this one. I think a venti would cause some serious brain freeze.
  4. These frozen lemonades feel like a fun non-alcoholic cocktail from an exotic resort. They are a nice option for folks to have if they’re only tea or Refresher drinkers.

All in all, I liked both of these, but I don’t think they’re Starbucks’ best brainchild. A nice, fun, and tasty drink if you’re a Refresher fan, but if you never get a chance to try one, I promise you’ll be OK too.

Purchased Price: $5.45 each
Size: Grande
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Pineapple Passionfruit), 7 out of 10 (Mango Dragonfruit)
Nutrition Facts: Frozen Pineapple Passionfruit Lemonade – 160 calories, 0 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 15 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 33 grams of total sugars, 0 grams of protein, and 50 milligrams of caffeine. Frozen Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade – 150 calories, 0 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 15 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 33 grams of total sugars, 1 gram of protein, and 45 milligrams of caffeine.