REVIEW: Starbucks Cotton Candy Crème Frappuccino

Starbucks Cotton Candy Cre?me Frappuccino

Do you love food hacks? Do you hate baristas giving you annoyed and/or confused looks? Well, I have got big news for you! Starbucks has released six “new” flavors of its trademarked frozen treat straight from the super secret menu! From June 16th to the 30th, they are asking customers to vote for their favorite – Are you ready for the Frappuccino Flav-Off?!

The new offerings are in celebration of the Frappuccino’s 20th anniversary. Wow, 20 years! To think, in just one year’s time our little Frap will be legally able to mix itself with whiskey! Where does the time go?

At first I thought the ad said Starbucks was turning 20, and it blew my mind for a good half hour. According to Google, there is a Starbucks every 17 square feet on planet Earth. Antarctica has 46 of ‘em. There’s a Starbucks inside of the White House. Malia works there…

But we’re not here to discuss our supreme overlords at the Starbucks Corporation, or my inability to read, we’re here to review just one of the many delicious, refreshing, energizing, expensive Starbucks menu items.

Of all the new choices, the flavor that caught my eye most was Cotton Candy. Besides Lemon Bar, I felt like I could already imagine what the other flavors tasted like – Cinnamon Roll, Caramel Cocoa Cluster, Cupcake, and Red Velvet. Those are more Starbucks’ speed. I had to go with the odd ball of the bunch.

As you can see it’s probably the brightest and most flamboyant drink Starbucks currently offers. If I were them I would market it with the old saying “Pink is the new black.” Is pink still the new black or did orange steal pink’s thunder? To Google I go! … Google told me to go outside.

My first sip definitely put me in mind of classic cotton candy flavor. It reminded me of the cotton candy popsicles I used to buy from the ice cream man as a kid, sans the candy cigarette side dish. Unfortunately, as I sipped on, the cotton candy flavor faded quickly.

According to menu hackers and Starbucks alike, the flavor derives from mixing raspberry and vanilla bean syrup (I watched my barista mix those with half a cup of milk and tons of ice.) While I did definitely taste raspberry, as the ice melted and diluted the flavor, it almost tasted like melted strawberry – not raspberry – ice cream. I would say it was like a weak strawberry shake. It got worse as I went along. I’d say drink it fast, but we all know how that ends.

I did get a cotton candy-ish scent, but the stubborn whipped cream refused to really let it blast through. Actually, on that topic, as with most Frappuccinos, I found myself enjoying the whipped cream as much as the drink itself. It has always been the perfect complement to the frozen mix, and it blended well in this instance. If given the choice, always say yes to whipped cream.

Starbucks Cotton Candy Cre?me Frappuccino 2

The consistency was more Slurpee or Slush Puppy than the usual Frap… but that could be thanks to the glacier my barista added to the blender. It wasn’t as thick as the last Frap I had, and despite ordering the smallest size it still went down pretty heavy – which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. I wasn’t really anticipating a meal replacement, but I got one anyway. If you opt for a Grande, Venti, or Trenta, you may not have to eat again.

Just in case you were wondering, I felt I should inform you this Frap has no hint whatsoever of Starbucks’s famous elixir. There is no coffee mixed in. You’re not gonna get your caffeine fix, although the sugar overload will probably make up for it.

So all in all, this is a one-time try. I mentioned earlier that the pink caught my eye and I probably knew how the others tasted, but maybe there’s no need to fix what isn’t broken. Still, melted strawberry ice cream with a hint of raspberry and vanilla is a pretty good taste profile, and if you’re looking for a change of pace, I guess it can’t hurt to buy it once.

I’m going to be very curious to see how this fares in the Frappuccino Flav-Off. Something tells me it’s going to be a contender, but ultimately lose out.

Back to the secret menu with you, cotton candy.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 fluid ounces – 280 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 42 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, and 0 milligrams of caffeine.)

Item: Starbucks Cotton Candy Crème Frappuccino
Purchased Price: $3.95
Size: 12 oz.
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Cotton Candy flavor (albeit brief). Ice Cream Man memories. Whipped cream. Filling. Vibrant color.
Cons: It’s “Vin” not “Ben.” Ice overload. Maybe too filling. Menu hack confusion. Unemployed Sasha. Cigarettes marketed to kids. “_____ is the new black.”

REVIEW: Starbucks Birthday Cake Frappuccino

Starbucks Birthday Cake Frappuccino

Happy 20th Birthday, Starbucks Frappuccino!

And I’m sorry to everyone, including myself, who feels old after reading the previous sentence.

Yup, the Starbucks Frappuccino has been around for 20 years. And, as Oreo and Pop-Tarts have taught us, the appropriate way to celebrate a significant birthday of a sugary treat is to come out with a birthday cake flavored version of it.

I’m also sorry to everyone who’s reading this review because the Starbucks Birthday Cake Frappuccino was for sale only between March 26-30. But, who knows, it could come back every year for the Frappuccino’s birthday. Or during Howard Schultz’s birthday. Or when the Starbucks Siren sings the Happy Birthday song.

The limited time blended beverage combined a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino (vanilla bean, milk, and ice) with hazelnut syrup and is topped with a raspberry-infused whipped cream. The pink whipped cream and the beverage’s white color brought up one question in my mind.

Will this be sold in Asia as the Hello Kitty Frappuccino that comes with a red bow-shaped crazy straw?

Even though the raspberry whipped cream came between my nose and the Vanilla Bean Frappuccino base, the blended drink smelled like vanilla ice cream when I took a sniff through the hole in the Starbucks cup’s dome lid. The raspberry whipped cream didn’t have a noticeable aroma, but it did have a light, sweet raspberry flavor.

Starbucks Birthday Cake Frappuccino Raspberry Whipped Cream

The combination of vanilla, hazelnut, and raspberry doesn’t sound like it would taste like cake, but, holy crap, it did taste like a heavily frosted cake. So much so that it made me wish I had stuck a lit candle into it so I could blow it out before drinking it. The vanilla syrup and raspberry whipped cream brought out the cake frosting flavor while the hazelnut helped imitate the cakeiness in the drink. I didn’t get to drink it until after a car ride home and pictures were taken, but the consistency of the blended beverage was still slightly icy.

Just like the Vanilla Bean Frappuccino, there’s no coffee in the Birthday Cake Frappuccino. So the only jolt of energy you’d get from it would be from the dozens of grams of sugar it contains. Then you’ll crash as hard as an 8-year-old at a birthday party about an hour after the cake was served.

The Birthday Cake Frappuccino was delightful and I think everyone who has a sweet tooth should try…oh wait. That’s right. As I mentioned near the beginning of this review, it’s no longer being offered. However, don’t fret, my sugary friends. If you want something close, minus the raspberry whipped cream, you can order yourself something off the secret Starbucks menu — the Cake Batter Frappuccino. Just get a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino with a couple of pumps of hazelnut syrup, drink, and wait for the sugar crash.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website, but here’s the nutrition facts for a Grande Vanilla Bean Creme Frappuccino with whole milk and whipped cream – 400 calories, 140 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 59 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 57 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Item: Starbucks Birthday Cake Frappuccino
Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: Grande (16 oz.)
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: It’s surprising vanilla, hazelnut, and raspberry ends up tastes like cake. Matches Hello Kitty outfits. SUGAR! SUGAR! SUGAR!
Cons: No caffeine. Available for only a few days. Learning the Frappuccino is 20 years old makes me feel old. Sugar crash.

REVIEW: Starbucks Spiced Root Beer Fizzio Hand-Crafted Soda

Starbucks Spiced Root Beer Fizzio Hand-Crafted Soda

I am fascinated by transformations. From The Wolf Man to Teen Wolf, I love to watch things slowly take on new forms. Especially if it involves becoming a wolf. I’m highly interested in one steady conversion in particular.

Over the past five years, Starbucks has undergone a metamorphosis from a somewhat upscale coffee bar into your run-of-the-mill fast food chain. Granted, it’s a “high-end” version of a fast food chain, but they cover all the basics. Instead of cheeseburgers, they prepare paninis. Instead of milkshakes, they offer a plethora of creamy iced beverages and Frappuccinos. Instead of Egg McMuffins, they hawk wraps and sandwiches with slow-roasted ham and Fontiago cheese. Instead of donuts, they sell scones and Mallorca sweet bread. I’m waiting for some hoity-toity French fries – maybe fingerling potatoes with rosemary and garlic?

The latest Starbucks item to fulfill their fast food roots initiative is the Fizzio™ Hand-Crafted Soda. Starbucks has introduced three new carbonated drinks — Spiced Root Beer, Golden Ginger Ale, and Lemon Ale.

I suppose the Golden Ginger Ale is for later when you’re puking your guts out after having whatever the hell Lemon Ale is supposed to be. (NOTE: The Starbucks press release says that Lemon Ale is “a refreshing, citrus-forward blend of real lemon juice with hints of apricot and ginger.” That ridiculous phrase “citrus-forward” sounds like a marketing term dreamed up by someone who doesn’t understand words anymore.) Anyway, I decided to go with the Spiced Root Beer. Frankly, to me, that flavor seemed to be the one closest to its origins as a diner staple.

After ordering the new drink, I watched a barista pull a carton labeled “Root Beer” from the mini-fridge and pour a small amount into my 12-ounce cup. Then she added ice. So… about that “hand-crafted” business… I don’t know what constitutes hand-crafting except for the fact that the barista had to pour the root beer base into a pitcher in order to make my drink. I wasn’t expecting much, but the phrase “hand-crafted” creates the image of careful measurements, stirring, and taste-testing. Or at least shaking something. Nah. In this case, hand-crafting just means pouring into a blender.

I have no idea what the barista did next, outside of pulling out a magic wand and hollering “Expecto Bubbletronum,” but my drink arrived appropriately sparkling. Apparently, the bubbles were created using a new Starbucks-trademarked contraption called The Fizzio™ machine. Basically, the machine carbonates any drink, so you can walk in and ask for a cold, fizzy whatever for an extra 50 cents.

Unfortunately, bubbles couldn’t save the Fizzio™ Spiced Root Beer from being a mostly bland and underwhelming beverage experience. According to the Starbucks website, the Spiced Root Beer flavor presents “the nostalgic taste of classic root beer with a deliciously unexpected twist – cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and star anise add a flavorful kick to this soda.”

Besides the fact that Star Anise sounds like the latest discovery in the Andromeda Galaxy, the use of these interesting spices is your proof that it’s the hoity-toity version of a regular old root beer. In reality, instead of a flavorful kick, it tastes more like a feeble nudge with an outstretched toe. The Fizzio™ Spiced Root Beer tastes like a watered-down version of regular old root beer, but that could be because it’s not full of high fructose corn syrup.

It was certainly spicy, but the flavor was more reminiscent of cinnamon gum — Kind of a delicate spiciness with just a hint of sweetness to balance it. It was an okay drink, but nothing I’d run back to Starbucks to get. I suppose that this is part of the transformation process. When you begin to change into something else, part of you dies forever. I would hope that if I began a metamorphosis, I would change into something that might go well with rum.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 fl oz. – 80 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 22 grams of sugar, 2% Calcium.).)

Item: Starbucks Spiced Root Beer Fizzio™ Hand-Crafted Soda
Purchased Price: $2.55
Size: 12 fl oz.
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Spiced with interesting spices. Bubbly. One of three new flavors. Lycanthropy.
Cons: A bland experience™. Hand-crafted = pouring into a blender. Getting nudged with a toe. “Citrus-forward.”

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.