Friends, frankly, I’m not digging it. There is a not-so-silent war being waged deep in the underbelly of the internet over which is the superior sitcom of the 90s. Both Seinfeld-heads and Friends fans swear by their favorite shows, hurtling endless insults at one another while the more level-headed among us try to explain that it’s possible to like (or dislike) both shows.
To those people, I say, “you’re wrong.” There can only be one, and that one is Seinfeld.
So when I heard that the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf would be celebrating the 25th anniversary of Friends by rolling out a special drink menu to pay homage to that famous coffee-sipping collective of white people, as well as launching a bespoke blend of Central Perk coffee and tea, it felt like they’d officially picked a side. Certainly, Seinfeld was just as deserving of a special menu, right? Had I not already burned my Starbucks bridge two weeks ago, I might have even started a one-man boycott.
Instead, I’ve made it my duty to try every item on Coffee Bean’s new Friends menu. Only I, a committed Seinfeld aficionado, can truly give an unbiased and fair review of the drink lineup. I won’t be swayed by whether I identify as a Ross or a Rachel — I’m a Jerry, dammit. In a loving tribute to Seinfeld, I’ll be ranking today’s drinks by Morning Mist Costanzas. It’s a deep cut Seinfeld reference that die-hard Friends fans won’t understand and also a far better name for a drink than “The Rachel.”
How you doin’?
That’s how the catchphrase goes right? I’m sorry, and this show is funnier than Seinfeld how?
Anyway, the Joey is the most apt of the six Friends drinks — if you showed me a picture of each drink I’d know this one was the Joey. A refreshing Mango Cold Brew Tea with a sweet burst of mango flavoring makes for a refreshing, lightly sweetened drink. The Mango is used sparingly (take note Starbucks) delivering a balanced flavor that fits for the summer.
When I was younger Joey was my favorite character because I thought he had cool hair, and in the 90s, that’s honestly all that mattered (simpler times). Similarly, the Joey tastes like it’s for kids who want to pretend they’re deeper than they are — wake up kids, the drink is just pretty there isn’t anything more to it.
This drink, like its namesake, is trying to skate by on charm.
Something wasn’t making sense to me about the Chandler. It seemed like the only real miss of the group in terms of characterization. I wasn’t detecting any sarcasm, bad quips, or anything that pointed to the character that I apparently am most like, according to a BuzzFeed quiz I took last fall. Then I checked Coffee Bean’s website and realized that the Coffee Bean I went to didn’t give me the Chandler at all, it was just some other drink (Gunther maybe?).
The Chandler is a Caramel Coconut latte, and I feel like it’s the one drink the mixologists, or drink masters, or whatever they’re called over at the Coffee Bean, just threw their hands in the air and shrugged. I’m not sure how this is Chandler, and as a drink, it doesn’t stack up well against the others. Also, go caramel or go coconut, don’t do both.
The flavor is just a little too much, is that the joke? Is Chandler too much? I’m not convinced there’s any link here.
I wouldn’t characterize the drink as bad, but it is sloppy. A solid two from me.
The Ross is a classic flat white, it is literally the most boring of all six drinks, but in that sense, it’s also the most practical. I could see myself ordering a Ross in the morning, afternoon, or at night and it’s the only drink that won’t make you feel guilty. No sugar here other than what’s in the milk. I guess it’s supposed to reflect Ross because he’s the straight-laced boring one, but he’s always been my favorite character. I mean he’s a total nerd who is into dinosaurs, that’s basically me and anyone who has seen more than one Jurassic Park.
Coffee Bean calls this drink sophisticated and sleek, but it’s more like basic and versatile. Though all four of those words could describe Ross Geller if you ask me, a hardcore Seinfeld fan.
It doesn’t feel right giving this drink a two, but it certainly doesn’t deserve a three or a two and a half. Who wants to split a George?
Still, this is better than any drink Starbucks has thought up in the last four years.
The Phoebe is the only Ice Blended drink (what Coffee Bean calls their Frappe) on the entire Friends menu, which instantly sets it apart from the others. It’s definitely the most fun out of the six drinks, with a nice blend of creamy vanilla flavoring, crushed Oreo-styled cookies, and just a hint of coffee. Imagine the Jack in the Box Oreo Cookie Shake, only with a thinner more drinkable consistency, and the added kick of coffee. So in other words, it’s the best cookies and cream beverage out there suited for adults and not you know, children.
I can see the Phoebe being the clear favorite, but unfortunately, it’s not mine. While it’s a little wacky, a little fun (like Phoebe), and graciously makes no mention of “smelly cats” it’s just still a little too sweet for my liking. Coffee Bean says it’ll put a “pep in your step and have you singing just like Phoebe Buffay,” but for me, all it resulted in was a headfirst crash into my bed.
Solid three and if anything I took a whole Morning Mist Costanza off just because it doesn’t speak to me personally. I will say though, out of the entire Friends cast, Phoebe is the one that seems like a fun hang.
One of the few things I know about Monica Geller is that she’s a chef, so I was fully expecting the Monica to be the best tasting and most well-crafted of the entire Friends line — and it did not disappoint. An iced mix of cold brew coffee and dark chocolate, the Monica is the most fragrant of the six, which is hard for an iced drink to do. Both the Ross and Monica greet you with rich and deep coffee and chocolate tones, though the smell is much stronger on the Monica, which is sweetened.
I like that The Ross and the Monica share some similarities considering the characters are siblings. It’s small details like this that make me feel like Coffee Bean actually put thought into these drinks (Chandler aside).
The only thing keeping the Monica from the top spot on this list is that the drink became a little overwhelming about halfway through. If you can’t get enough sweet coffee drinks, this will be your jam but if you’re trying to stay away from sugar, run. Far.
By all accounts, delicious! The Monica should be a mainstay on the Coffee Bean menu and they should keep the name. If you love indulging your sweet tooth and a strong caffeine kick, The Monica is your pick.
The Rachel is an Iced Matcha Latte sweetened with vanilla powder. It’s green because she’s Rachel Green, get it? Coffee Bean has one of the better Matcha blends compared to their fellow chain-coffee competition — refreshing and grassy without being overly sweet, but sweet enough that it isn’t as boring as straight matcha. The Rachel is the most complex and rewarding of the six drinks, and the only drink I fully finished.
While I’d say the Monica has the edge in terms of flavor, enjoyability is a big factor in my book which has led me to declare Rachel, the best Friend.
Right now if you’re a Rachel fan you’re probably feeling really good. Allow me to rain on your parade, the iced matcha green tea latte has been on Coffee Bean’s menu for at least 10 years. How do I know? It was my first job. Still, this IS the best drink out of the six, so if you’re a person who loves Rachel, a character from a show that’s inferior to Seinfeld, then… congratulations!