Doesn’t this photo look delicious? Just look at that creamy swirl and the beads of condensation on that mason jar. And that creamy swirl is actually dairy-free coconut milk! As a lactose-intolerant coffee drinker, I was super excited about the Toasted Coconut Cold Brew, a limited-edition offering from Starbucks.
But I’m here to warn you that Starbucks is the king of the bait-and-switch. They roll out new drinks constantly, advertising them with beautiful photos like this. If you’re like me, you get sucked into the fantasy and you order it. And then what you get is exactly like every other drink on their tired old menu: bitter, burnt-tasting coffee in a plastic cup.
Now, of course, I knew my drink wasn’t coming out in a mason jar. There’s only one place I know of that serves to-go drinks in glass jars and that’s Bearology, a boba tea kiosk in the Westfield Santa Anita Mall. (They recycle the jars if you bring back the empties and give you a discount if you order another drink.)
But I’d be willing to overlook the sad plastic Starbucks cup if the drink lived up to its promise. When I read “Toasted Coconut,” I imagined a roasted flavor akin to the marshmallow in a s’more. But it had no such flavor. After I got home, I looked up the drink online to figure out what went wrong. Here’s how it’s described.
The key word is “sweetened.” When I read the ingredients list, I realized that the purported toasted coconut flavor comes from “toasted coconut syrup,” which I did not have in my drink because I asked the barista to make mine unsweetened. She failed to mention that without the syrup it would just be a plain old iced coffee.
And Starbucks iced coffee (like all Starbucks coffee) tastes bitter, like it sat on the burner too long before they chilled it. It’s supposedly “cold brew,” meaning it was never brewed hot, but if that’s true I don’t see what the point of cold-brew is. It’s just as bad.
As for the “float of coconutmilk,” that is blatant false advertising. There was no “float.” As you can see from the photo above, the iced coffee just came out with coconut milk mixed in and nothing floating on top. Plus, there was no coconut flavor whatsoever. Again, that might’ve been because the flavor comes from the syrup, but good coconut milk should taste like coconuts.
What really annoys me is that I wouldn’t have ordered this drink if I knew it would taste exactly like Starbucks regular iced coffee. I am a sucker for novelty and advertising. Well, you know what they say: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Or as The Who put it, won’t get fooled again!