Fizzio is the name for the new line of all natural sodas that Starbucks has begun rolling out to some of their stores this week. There are quite a few Starbucks customers who are looking for non-coffee and tea drinks to go with their afternoon snacks, and sodas are just another alternative to smoothies and the creme-based Frappuccinos – not to mention that they’re an alternative to regular Refreshers and tea lemonades for customers who just like a little carbonation! The sodas are made one at a time in a machine that is similar to a SodaStream, with specialty syrups and are available in three flavors: Spiced Root Beer, Golden Ginger Ale, and Lemon Ale.
I’m a big fan of ginger beer and ginger ale in general because they are generally very refreshing, so that was the first soda I decided to try. It was delicious, with a strong ginger spice and a nice sweetness. I felt that it seemed a bit less sweet than many regular ginger ales, which pushes it go the ginger beer side of the spectrum for me – and that is a good thing. I’ll definitely be putting on my “to-order” list any time I’m looking for a refreshing, fizzy drink to go with a salty snack, even though I know that I’ll still be sticking to coffee most of the time.
Starbucks is rolling out their summer menu this week, and two delicious shaken ice tea lemonades are on the menu: Peach Green Tea Lemonade and Blackberry Mojito Tea Lemonade. The Peach Tea Lemonade debuted last summer, while the blackberry is new for this year. Thanks to a promo for registered Starbucks card holders, I was able to get my hands on both tea lemonades before they hit the main menu. The Blackberry Mojito Tea Lemonade is made with a blackberry syrup, which turns the drink an intense berry color. Unlike the Berry Hibiscus Refresher, which also uses blackberries, there are no chunks of berry floating around in this drink to plug up your straw as you sip.
The blackberry tea lemonade has a green tea base, which is a good way to showcase the berry flavors without overpowering them with a black tea base. It is not too sweet – in fact, I would say it is slightly less sweet than the peach tea lemonade – but has the distinct flavor of juicy berries to it, which makes it satisfying and refreshing. One thing that the drink does not have, however, is any hint of mint. I expected to be able to taste a bit of mint in a drink with “mojito” in the name, but berries definitely dominated. I’m not positive (yet), but this drink is made with Teavana tea and Tevana makes a Blackberry Mojito Tea that could very well serve as the base for this drink. Despite the fact that there really is no mint flavor, the drink is a great alternative to some of the other iced tea lemonades and is a fantastic drink for a summer afternoon.
Mexican chocolate drinks are always some of my favorites. Mexican chocolate is a coarsely ground, bittersweet chocolate that is flavored with cinnamon or other spices to give it a subtly spicy kick and temper the richness of the chocolate. It can be used in many forms, but because it has a strong chocolate taste, it blends exceptionally well with coffee and milk. I often use Mexican chocolates such as Ibarra and Nestle’s Abeulita to make Mexican chocolate coffee drinks, but you can make one much more easily with Coffee-Mate’s Abuelita Mexican Chocolate Creamer, which I picked up at my local grocery store this week. I’m not always a fan of artificially-flavored chocolate creamers and products, but I couldn’t resist the appeal of the Mexican chocolate.
The creamer really surprised me and exceeded my expectations because it tasted like Mexican hot chocolate – or, more accurately, like chocolate milk – straight out of the bottle. It tasted like cream, cinnamon and spice, and while there was a distinct cocoa note to it, it did not taste artificially chocolaty. A splash of it was enough to give my coffee a nice sweetness and a good Mexican chocolate flavor. It was even better when I added a little whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon to the drink. It wasn’t as rich as using real chocolate to make a mocha, of course, but this is a great choice for the chocolate-lover looking for a quick and easy way to spice up their morning or afternoon coffee.
Subway may specialize in sandwiches, but the popular chain also serves up a large breakfast menu and plenty of coffee each day. They’re not known for their coffee, however, especially after the breakfast hours when they make it available but don’t serve much of it to customers. Subway and Keurig have just reached an agreement to put Keurig single cup coffee makers into all of their US and Canada stores. More than half of Subway stores already use Keurig machines to make fresh coffee available at all times of the day. Individual k-cups may be more expensive than a cup of coffee brewed as part of a large batch, but since Subway shops are not typically where people go specifically to get coffee, it might be more cost effective for them because virtually no coffee will go to waste.