WHAT IS IT: Starbucks’ new “Fan Flavor” Frappuccinos for summer: Cotton Candy, Caramel Cocoa Cluster, Cupcake, Red Velvet Cake, Cinnamon Roll and Lemon Bar
WHO TRIED IT: The adventurous, coffee-loving PEOPLE staff
WHY WE DID IT: How could we NOT try a cotton candy Frappuccino?!
Staff Taste Tester: Mark Marino
“Once he reaches adulthood, there are certain things a man should never be seen doing in public. Like skipping. Blowing bubbles (both the soap and gum varieties). Eating cotton candy.
So I have to admit that while I still love the flavor of the fluffy stuff, I was a bit embarrassed to order Starbucks’ new Cotton Candy Frappuccino. Sweet, pink, syrupy—it just seems like something that should be sipped by 12-year-old girls, Taylor Swift and her squad or depressed clowns drowning their sorrows.
But in the name of research, I placed my order, sheepishly keeping my head down as the barista prepped the pretty drink. When he asked if I wanted whipped cream on top, I scoffed.
‘Of course! And don’t be stingy!’
Minutes later, he handed me a plastic cup filled with what looked like frosty Pepto-Bismol but, as the barista noted, “It actually smells like cotton candy!” And indeed it did.
But did this mixture of raspberry syrup and vanilla bean syrup actually taste like the big-top treat? Wellllll … this is where things get sticky.
On the first sip, it did remind me of cotton candy. But on the second sip, it seemed more like a fruity Slush Puppie (grown men should avoid drinking these in public too). By the third sip, I only detected raspberry and vanilla. Fourth sip, cotton candy again. By the fifth sip, I got a tummy ache (a phrase grown men should definitely never say in public).
Ultimately, this Frappuccino tastes fine, but I think it’s more raspberries and cream than cotton candy. Would I order it again? Only if I were going out drinking with really sad clowns.”
CARAMEL COCOA CLUSTER
Staff Taste Tester: Kate Hogan
“I figured I had the easy assignment, because chocolate + caramel + coffee = win. But sadly this missed the mark for me (though the fact that I was having it at 9 a.m. probably affected that, too; this is better suited as a sugary, caffeine-filled afternoon pick-me-up). It tasted predominantly like caramel — a coworker who tried a sip got a whole glob of caramel syrup, which I’m glad I missed — and not at all like cocoa, which was sad news for this chocolate lover. Hearing reviews of the rest, it’s probably one of the better of the six new flavors, but I’d still proceed with caution: as someone with a sweet tooth who eats pretty much anything, I only got about one-third of the way through this before I had to toss it. Sorry, Starbucks — I still love your cold brew!”
Staff Taste Tester: Maria Yagoda
“What makes a cupcake? Is it the sprinkles? Is it the sense of whimsy? Is it the snark with which bored hipsters decry them? Whatever it is that encapsulates a cupcake’s essence, the Starbucks cupcake frappucino does not have. There is nothing playful or cupcake-y about this watered-down vanilla milkshake except for the pound of whipped cream, which I’ll eat off just about anything (or anyone). But not even all the whipped cream in the world can mask the sadness of a cupcake-inspired product that doesn’t deliver on its promises. To be fair: watered-down vanilla milkshakes are still palatable, even tasty. But I’d rather lick an icing-covered candle than sip this frap any day.”
RED VELVET CAKE
Staff Taste Tester: Stephanie Emma Pfeffer
“The Red Velvet Cake Frap tastes like a cold, mushy raspberry truffle slurped through a straw. Don’t expect anything even remotely reminiscent of real red velvet cake. There’s no depth, no true cocoa flavor, no hint of cream cheese frosting. I really WANTED to like it but could not get past the faux-verpowering raspberry sweetness—it actually reminded me of the terrible, chocolate-covered raspberry jelly candies my family is forced to eat at Passover in place of leavened desserts. As for the the chocolate crumbles? Forget crunchy bites of goodness—these were like a mouthful of sand on a fake raspberry beach. At least there was whipped cream on top.”
Staff Taste Tester: Diana Pearl
“I ordered the Cinnamon Roll Frappucino with visions of a frosted Cinnabon in my head. Realistically, I expected a classic vanilla frappucino with a dash of cinnamon flavor. What I got, however, was neither. Instead, this take on Starbucks’ classic drink was light on the roll, and heavy on the cinnamon. Initially, a sip was pleasing enough, but after a second or two, I got a mouthful of spice — and bitterness. After further research, I discovered that the harsher aftertaste was due to two pumps of white mocha syrup and Frappucino roast coffee. And, as someone with a distaste for both chocolate and coffee (shocking, I know), that really ruined the Cinnamon Roll frappucino experience for me.
However, I did hand the drink off to two coffee-guzzling, chocolate-loving co-workers, and after a few sips, it was met with mixed reactions. One thought it was just too cinnamon-y, and tasted like nothing more than cinnamon syrup. The other enjoyed it, likening the taste to a slice of french toast. Moral of the story? If you’re going to order the Cinnamon Roll frappuncino, you better love cinnamon. And chocolate. And coffee.”
Taste Tester: Ben Trivett
“Not being a fan of sweets, I was definitely interested to try the least sweet sounding of the new frappe flavors. After getting lucky and not having to wait in the usual disaster of a line at Starbucks, I ordered my lemon bar Frappe and waited as they blended up an early morning treat. As it was delivered, I wasn’t super impressed by the appearance: It didn’t read lemon at all. It just looked like any other white or vanilla frozen drink. The first sip was definitely the best as I got a nice bit of whipped cream and cookie topping. Everything below that was a watered-down version of what someone who’s never tried a lemon bar would think a lemon bar tastes like. The flavor was very diluted and genuinely unsatisfying. I gave the frappe a good mix to get some of the whipped cream mixed in hoping it would add a little substance but no luck. At least it wasn’t sweet!”