Starbucks is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, and has rolled out a whole variety of new products this spring in celebration of that milestone. I was fortunate enough to attend the launch for the whole new lineup – both drinks and pastries – and got to try everything out just as they were released. The launch of these products actually marks the first time that Starbucks has done a global launch of new items, releasing everything to all of their stores world wide at the same time (although different areas/countries may have slightly different pastries according to local tastes).
The headliner is the Starbucks Tribute Blend, a bold coffee that is a post-roast blend of four different beans and is one of Starbucks best coffees to date. The blend includes aged Sumatra (my favorite), sun-dried Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea and Colombia beans. The coffees in the mix were chosen primarily for the way the combined into one well-balanced brew, but were also chosen because they represent the diversity of Starbucks coffee beans from different parts of the world.
The new drink release is the Cocoa Cappuccino, available both hot and iced. This drink is a cappuccino made with bittersweet chocolate syrup and packs a much stronger chocolate and coffee punch to it than, say, a regular mocha does. The iced cappuccino is a completely new menu option, made with espresso shots, chocolate sauce and cold milk over ice, topped with freshly steamed foam. The hot version is absolutely delicious, with a great balance of espresso and bittersweet chocolate. They’re promoting the low-calorie aspect of this drink (150 calories in a tall with 2% milk), but I’d get it if had double that.
The Starbucks Petites are a permanent addition to the menu, a series of eight under-200-calorie treats that come in at low prices (2/$2.50) and in small sizes for those looking for a lighter or smaller sweet with their coffee. The lineup includes three cake pops – Tiramisu, Birthday Cake and Rocky Road – Lemon Bars, Salty Caramel Bars, Mini Red Velvet Whoopie Pies, Mini Carrot Cupcakes and Mini Peanut Butter Cupcakes. In fairness, everything was good. The whoopie pies were not too sweet and were still very satisfing. The cupcakes were moist and tender. The cake pops were sweet, but perfectly sized (loved the dark chocolate rocky road). I have to say that my favorite was the Salty Caramel Bar, with a great combination of chocolate, pretzels, pecans and salted caramel on a shortbread crust. This is one I’ll try to recreate at home.
In short, everything is good – especially the Tribute blend. And if you visit a Starbucks between 2 and 5 pm on March 10-12, you’ll get to try a petit snack for free! Be sure to try a cup of Tribute while you’re there. Or don’t, because it’s a limited release and I’m not kidding when I say I’m glad there will be more for me.