Pumpkin spice lattes are a staple at Starbucks in the fall, but they’re so popular that almost everyone is trying to put one out there to grab the attention of pumpkin spice fans. McDonalds has just introduced a Pumpkin Spice Latte to their menu, a drink that will be offered for a limited time during the fall. I admit that I was curious and made a mental note to pick one up the next time I was driving by a McDonald’s and felt like having a cup of coffee.
When I finally got around to trying one a few days ago, I found that the drink captured the idea of pumpkin spice very well, and that it had a nice spiciness where I could easily taste cinnamon and cloves. I expected it to be very sweet, but the pumpkin spice syrup didn’t cover up the flavor of the coffee. Surprisingly, I actually thought it was less sweet than the Starbucks version – although it is also slightly less spicy than the Starbucks PSL and definitely isn’t quite as rich seeming, either.
Overall, I liked it and would definitely drive through to get one again. It is less filling than the Starbucks version (probably because it has slightly fewer calories and less fat) and will definitely hit the spot when I want to warm up with a little spice on a cool fall day.
This week, Starbucks launched their newest Refresher drink, a Valencia Orange Refresher. I remember that years ago, Starbucks had a Valencia Orange syrup that was used in mocha drinks as a staple in their stores. When I first heard about the new Refresher, I wondered if it meant that the Valencia orange syrup would be making a comeback. It doesn’t. The Refresher is made with a orange juice and green coffee extract concentrate (much like the other Refreshers), so it isn’t ideal for making mochas. It is, however, a very refreshing addition to the Refreshers lineup.
The drink has a strong sweet-tart orange flavor that reminds me a little bit of Tang – but in a good way. It has a little more punch to it than the lime refresher and isn’t quite as sweet as the hibiscus, putting it right in the middle as a drink that is both sweet and refreshing. I can attest to the fact that it is a great drink to have after a workout and I am definitely a fan. You can’t combine this with mocha, but you can combine the Refreshers base with their iced teas and Valencia Orange goes very well with Passion and Green tea if you’re looking for a little variety.
The caramel sauce that Starbucks uses to finish off drinks like the caramel macchiato is addicitive, and one of the most popular requests in caramel drinks is for extra caramel (or even extra, extra, extra caramel). The newest seasonal offering from Starbucks is the Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino, a drink designed for the people who like to ask for extra caramel in their frappuccinos. I’m partially kidding, because the drink doesn’t really use all that much extra caramel, but there is some extra in there and it has a lot of caramel flavor, so it should definitely do the trick for caramel fans.
The Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino is a caramel frappuccino that has caramel sauce blended right into it (the usual caramel frappuccino doesn’t). It is poured into a cup that is lined with a generous drizzle of “dark caramel sauce,” and topped with whipped cream, caramel drizzle and crunchy caramel topping.
It sounds over-the-top – and it is, but in a good way. The drink has a really good caramel flavor and, thanks to the burnt sugar notes in the “dark caramel” sauce, it has a flavor that is reminiscent of dulce de leche or creme brulee, and the crunchy toffee-like bits on top are absurdly addicting. It’s sweet, but you can still taste the coffee in there, so it actually has a pretty nice balance of flavors and will hit the spot when you want something sweet and cold on a hot day.
I am a big fan of the Iced Tea Lemonades at Starbucks when the weather gets warm, since they’re just sweet enough and very refreshing. Sometimes I get black, but often I get the Green Tea Lemonade, which has a very mellow flavor to it. It was fantastic with the melon syrup that Starbucks offered a few seasons ago, and when I saw that one of my local stores was promoting an Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade, I knew that I had to give it a try.
The drink is made the same way as the green tea lemonade, but is sweetened with peach syrup. The baristas led me to believe that you can’t get an unsweetened peach tea for that reason (but I only get them sweetened, so that wasn’t a problem for me). The peach syrup has a very mild flavor that adds nice peach notes to the tea without making it too sweet or too peachy. You can still taste the green tea, but the lasting after taste is all peach. Delicious.
This drink hasn’t been rolled out to all Starbucks stores yet, and I’m not entirely sure when it will be, but it is definitely in more stores than it was in its initial test run. If you see it, give it a try. I’ll be drinking many more in the hopes that they keep this one on the menu long-term.