Starbucks is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the national launch of their iconic Frappuccinos this week with a limited edition Birthday Cake Frappuccino, which is a perfect idea to mark the occasion. It’s one of a series of limited edition (sometimes one day or one weekend only) drinks that Starbucks has been playing around with the past couple of months. The frappuccino is made with a vanilla bean base and flavored with hazelnut syrup. There is no coffee in it, but you could have coffee added to it, if you like a little coffee with your cake. The drink is topped with a fluffy cloud of pink raspberry whipped cream.
Since the weather here in LA has been hot this week, it gave me the perfect opportunity to give one of these drinks a try. Though I usually prefer my frappuccinos with coffee, I stuck with the coffee-free version this time around. The drink does not taste like cake to me, however it is quite tasty. The flavors of vanilla bean and hazelnut balance each other well and the overall drink is quite delicious. The raspberry whipped cream might have been my favorite part, as it had a distinct berry flavor and really worked with the other ingredients. I preferred to have the whipped cream on its own, but the whole thing starts to take on a berry shortcake feeling if you stir it in with your straw.
The flavor will only be available through the end of the weekend, so you might want to plan to drop in and give it a try sooner than later if this flavor combination appeals to you!
This week, Starbucks added a new drink to their seasonal spring menu: the Tiramisu Latte. This latte joins the Caramel Flan Latte, which is making a comeback from last year, as part of a line of dessert-inspired drinks good for providing a little indulgence as winter drags on. Of course, for those readers out in Southern Californa enjoying summer temperatures in February, the drinks are also available in Frappuccino format.
The Tiramisu Latte was test marketed last year. It primarily received good reviews from tasters and sounded like a natural fit for a coffee drink, since tiramisu is an espresso-spiked dessert in the first place! The drink is served simply topped with a swirl of whipped cream, unless you request otherwise, and has no special garnish. I, of course, opted to keep the whipped cream on mine because of the whipped cream layer that usually tops a traditional tiramisu. The drink was not overly sweet and had the flavors of cinnamon, cocoa and even a dairy-hint of mascarpone cheese. It did evoke the flavor of a tiramisu, as I could still taste the coffee underneath the other flavors, and the only thing it was really missing out on was the texture of the Italian classic.
I would have preferred to taste a bit more of a dramatic espresso flavor, but I say that as someone who is generous with the coffee when I am making tiramisu myself. That means that I’ll be ordering an extra short the next time that I get one of these drinks. I would also get an affogato-style shot on the frappuccino version to intensify the coffee in a similar way.
Several months ago, I heard that McDonalds was bringing their coffee to retail stores. I didn’t hear much about it after that, though it was not a surprising move since competitors like Dunkin’ Donuts are already selling coffee in that space. I recently saw McCafe K-Cups in my local grocery store and picked up a pack to give them a try. The K-cup version of McCafe coffee makes a lot more sense to me than packaged ground beans, since McDonalds coffee is all about convenience.
The French Roast packaging is attractive and the k-cups have a fluted shape to them that makes them instantly recognizable by feel, even if you thrown them into a box filled with other k-cups. The coffee is a medium bodied coffee with some nice chocolate and cocoa notes, as well as a hint of citrus, and a very smooth finish. It isn’t an extremely complex coffee, but it is very drinkable and I would say it is better than the last time I got coffee from the McDonald’s drive-thru. It is also definitely better than many of other mid-range k-cup brands that I’ve tried, so I was pretty pleased with it overall. The McCafe line offers a range of both dark and light coffees. I personally wouldn’t want a coffee much lighter than this, but I think that these k-cups could be a nice crowd-pleasing option to add to your coffee lineup.
For the past few days, Starbucks took one of their “secret menu” items and made it a little less secret. If you follow them on Instagram or Facebook, you probably would have seen that the Candy Cane Frappuccino was just $3 after 2pm all weekend long. This Frappuccino, like the Franken Frappuccino is a drink that was created and named by some inventive Starbucks fans, then spread through word of mouth until it was common enough that most baristas had heard of it, though it wasn’t an “official” recipe. Thanks to the recent promotion, it’s a lot more standard and you should be able to easily order it any time this holiday season.
The Candy Cane Frappuccino is a vanilla bean frappuccino with peppermint syrup added to it. The drink is creamy, with a great blend of vanilla and peppermint flavors. There is just enough mint to make it refreshing, without overwhelming the vanilla base of the drink. It is really a great drink if you enjoy mint in any way. The only downside is that it doesn’t contain any caffeine. Fortunately, it’s very good with a shot of espresso added. It’s delicious if you’re looking for something minty and sweet that is an alternative to a richer chocolate drink, and it is one of my new holiday favorites.