Starbucks released its summer menu early this year and our editor decided it would be a good idea for someone to test all the drinks. In a single day. He was then kind enough to volunteer me for the gig. Now, five caffeinated sugar bombs later, it’s seeming less like a reward for my genius and more like he was trying to deliver me to the hands of death.
In recent years, the release of new Starbucks Frappucino has garnered nothing but disdain from the media. This is not without basis. Generally speaking, drinks like the Unicorn or Crystal Ball Frappuccino seem like little more than eye candy to help decorate your Instagram feed, not actual drinks meant to be enjoyed.
I’m here to report that the pendulum might be swinging back to drinkability. Of the five drinks I tasted, only one feels like its pandering to social media. Still, the sugar that has come to define this brand even more than caffeine is very much intact in this flight of newbies. Here they are, ranked inconsistently because I’m jacked up on caffeine and can’t decide on a clear ranking system. DEAL WITH IT.
Cold Brew with Salted Cream Cold Foam
Starbucks likes to position their new Cold Brew with Salted Cream Cold Foam as a simpler, less-indulgent option but at 230 calories and 23 grams of sugar, it isn’t really that at all. Utilizing Starbucks’ signature cold brew coffee, the Salted Cream is sweetened with a touch of caramel and topped with a salty and thick chilled foam. It is… unremarkable.
This feels like cold brew for cold brew drinkers who don’t want to commit to the intensity of actual cold brew coffee — think I’ve used the word “cold brew” too many times? Well, when you’ve had this much cold brew you can’t really help yourself okay?! Look, this drink has 185 milligrams of caffeine, I am absolutely wired folks!
What You Could Have Instead:
At 23g of sugar, you might as well have eight Starburst Fruit Chews and a 16 oz glass of straight Matcha Tea. The Matcha Tea will supply you with about 140 mg of caffeine — just 45 mg short of the Starbucks Cold Brew — and won’t cause you to crash a couple of hours later. And you don’t even have to eat all eight starburst because that’s kind of insane. Grab a fun size pack, and you’re looking at a way more health-conscious decision.
The Verdict: Bland. One out of five Ed Sheeran’s singing that song he sang in Game of Thrones that grown adults freaked out about way too hard. Is this really even a “new” drink, Starbucks? You just added some salt, caramel, and foam to your cold brew coffee.