As a die-hard Starbucks loyalist, I couldn't have been more excited when I found out that my favorite coffee chain had decided to add not one, not two, but six (!) new flavors of Frappuccino to their menu this summer. To me, the announcement felt like Christmas. Sugary, caffeinated Christmas.
And the best part? The six flavors (which were unveiled on June 8) are Fan Flavors, meaning that they basically took items from the Starbucks "Secret Menu" — a collection of unusual syrup and flavor combinations that yield all sorts of delicious, unexpected concoctions — and made them public to celebrate the Frappuccino's 20th birthday. For a limited time, you can roll into any Starbucks and ask for a Cotton Candy, Cinnamon Roll, Red Velvet, Caramel Cocoa Cluster, Lemon Bar, or Cupcake Frappuccino — without needing to have the recipes memorized (or the confidence to request a Secret Menu item).
As I'm always up for a coffee-related challenge, I decided to taste test all six flavors... while blindfolded. I wanted to see if A. they tasted like what they were supposed to, and B. my Secret Menu-guessing abilities were up to par. Were my taste buds as familiar with the ins and outs of the Secret Menu as I was?
Because I wanted to try the new flavors ASAP, I enlisted the help of my best friend Kim and we headed to a Starbucks in NYC (where I can probably never show my face again). I felt a bit ridiculous asking, "Hey, can I get one of each of the new Frappuccino flavors?", but I did it. I ordered each flavor in a Mini size — which looks adorable BTW, but is actually bigger than you'd expect.
The cashier who took my order laughed a little, but the barista who made the drinks? Well, he didn't seem too thrilled about having to make six blended beverages in a row. Another Starbucks employee, who was in charge of the whipped cream canister, asked me if I wanted whipped cream on the first few Frappuccinos before sensing a pattern. He then said, "You want it on all of them?" My answer? Duh. (OK, I actually said, "Yes, please!")
After taking my handful of beverages to a table (and feeling bad for holding up everyone else's drinks with my order), I put on a blindfold — fine, it was actually a winter scarf — and let the taste-testing begin. To make things fair, Kim handed me each Frappuccino, recorded my responses, and then told me if my guesses were correct only after the entire experiment was finished.
Spoiler alert: It was way harder than I expected. Here's what happened...
Reaction: "It tastes like fake fruity flavor... It's unexpectedly chunky. With some raspberry flavor in there."
My Guess: Red Velvet
Actual Flavor: Red Velvet
Overall Rating (on a scale of 1-5): 3
I wasn't crazy about the chunkiness of this one, even if the chunks were chocolate. Still, I didn't hate it. Perhaps I'd order it again... like, years from now, after I finish digesting all of these drinks.
Reaction: "Oh, this one is really good! I think it's the cupcake... Wait, no! It might be cinnamon... I'm going to go with cinnamon."
My Guess: Cinnamon Roll
Actual Flavor: Cinnamon Roll
Overall Rating: 4.5
Once we finished the entire taste test experiment, this was the one I held on to the longest, before realizing I just couldn't drink any more Frappuccinos that day. But if I hadn't just tried five other flavors, I would've drank the whole thing. So delicious — like a Cinnabon in a cup!
Reaction: "It's got to be the lemon. Yeah, that's definitely lemon."
My Guess: Lemon Bar
Actual Flavor: Lemon Bar
Overall Rating: .5
I couldn't bring myself to give it a 0, but a 1 felt too generous. I love you Starbucks, but this is not your best idea.
Reaction: "I don't even remember what the other flavors are supposed to be... This must be the caramel one."
My Guess: Caramel Cocoa Cluster
Actual Flavor: Cupcake
Overall Rating: 3
It was decent! Less exciting than that limited edition birthday cake Frappuccino though, since there isn't any pink whipped cream involved. (If it's any consolation to you Cupcake lovers, my BFF who helped me with the experiment, liked this flavor best!)
Reaction: "This one tastes like nothing. Unless I just can't taste anything else right now. Did I guess cupcake yet? No, right? OK, so I'm guessing cupcake."
My Guess: Cupcake
Actual Flavor: Cotton Candy
Overall Rating: 4
I didn't love it during the actual taste test (maybe my mouth was numb at that point?). But afterwards, it was one of my favorites. It was sweet, but not overpowering. Once I can look at Frappuccinos again without feeling a pain in my stomach, I will totally buy this!
Reaction: "This one's really good! But I haven't guessed cotton candy yet, so I have no idea what it is. It's definitely not cotton candy. Am I allowed to guess cupcake again?"
My Guess: ???
Actual Flavor: Caramel Cocoa Cluster
Overall Rating: 3
This one is good, but tastes very similar to the Caramel Ribbon Crunch. Which isn't a bad thing... but it's not really revolutionary.
I'm a bit embarrassed-slash-disappointed that I only guessed half of the flavors correctly... I thought I knew Frapps better than that! If I had to pick a favorite, Cinnamon Roll definitely comes in first place. Then I'd choose Cotton Candy or Cupcake. This was pretty surprising, because I expected to like the Red Velvet most. Way to throw me for a loop, Starbs!
After slurping on all these Frappuccinos, my stomach wasn't super happy with me. In other words, I felt semi-nauseous the entire subway ride home. Probably because I had just consumed a ton of sugar in a short time. It's my own fault, really... and honestly, I'd say it was totally worth it.
The bottom line here? These #FanFlavors are fun, but the S'mores Frappuccino is the real deal for me. I'll stick to those for the rest of the summer!