7/10/2012 03:10:00 PM

Taste-Test: Starbucks New Refreshers Energy Drinks

Today, Starbucks' new Refreshers line of energy drinks debuted worldwide, available in two made-to-order flavors - Very Berry Hibiscus and Cool Lime. Naturally, we were feeling just adventurous enough to meander downstairs directly next door to our office and check them out. It's the least we could do, folks. Based on taste and sight alone, we were a bit perplexed as to what the actual ingredients of these drinks are - we knew there was some fruit juice involved (the REAL pieces of lime and berries in these drinks was the tip-off), plus some kind of mysterious caffeine-based 'energy component' which flavor-wise, could not be discerned as either coffee or tea. Well, miraculously, after reading the press release, we got to the bottom of it. Here's what's in these things: "The drinks are made with coffee extract from unroasted arabica beans, which gives the natural boost of caffeine in a juice-based drink." A-ha. Just curious - how exactly do you 'extract' anything from a bunch of unroasted beans - is it like an olive oil press situation? Where's Ted Allen when you need him!

Anyway, onto the drinks: after watching the barista shake up the drinks with ice in an actual cocktail shaker, the Very Berry Hibiscus was first on deck. In our own experience, hibiscus is a very tricky flavor to pull off and would probably be considered an acquired taste for the vast majority of the American public. Non-shockingly, this drink did not pull it off  - there was wayyy too much hibiscus going on overshadowing any notes of berry. The drink essentially tastes like licking a maple syrup candle and/or sipping on some hot brewed potpourri. As for the Cool Lime - this might have had a chance if it weren't for the unappealing aftertaste/initial aroma of a strange coffee essence (which again, came off smelling like a maple syrup candle). We were hoping for it to taste something like un-spiked margarita mix, but alas, the lime was very difficult to detect between all the sugar and vague coffee flavor going on in there. Le sigh.

In addition to these flavors, some coffee houses as well as grocery stories will also carry the ready-to-drink version of Refreshers, available in flavors that include Raspberry Pomegranate, Strawberry Lemonade and Orange Melon. Kids, if you're looking for a tasty summer energy drink, make yourself an great big old pot of sun tea and call it a day.


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