Serious Eats: Drinks

We Try Starbucks Discoveries Iced Caffe Mocha and Caramel Macchiato

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[Photo: Maggie Hoffman]

If you crave a sweet coffee drink during a slow work afternoon, part of the fun may be getting a little fresh air and walking to your nearby coffeeshop. But if you can't leave your desk, having your afternoon pick-me-up in the office fridge makes a little more sense. Starbucks recently released a new lineup of carton-sized drinks available in the chilled sections of grocery stores including Safeway and Target, inspired by their iced espresso drinks.

We wondered what the difference was between these and the glass-bottle Frappuccinos you can already buy at the grocery store. Turns out that these carton-packaged 'Discoveries' are made with espresso, rather than the brewed coffee that appears in the bottled Frappuccino lineup. The run around $5 for a 1.49 liter container.

So, how'd they fare?

The Caramel Macchiato is certainly sweet, but actually retains decent coffee flavor, which grounds the sweetness the way the coffee in coffee ice cream does. After each sip, you're left with a milky coffee flavor that has enough bitterness to keep you from feeling like you've just been drinking a milkshake. The caramel flavors frame the coffee and the whole thing works especially well on ice. The resealable container comes in handy here: this is the kind of thing we like to sip in, say, 2 or 3-ounce servings, not a whole big to-go cup.

The Caffe Mocha formulation was less of a success. We would have predicted that we'd enjoy this one more than anything caramel-flavored, but somehow the chocolate flavor in this drink sticks out oddly; more like Hershey's syrup than actual chocolate, and a bit like the milk that your Cocoa Puffs soaked in. (Hey, maybe you're into that. We won't judge!) It might make more sense to just mix up your favorite chocolate milk with a little espresso or cold-brew coffee.

Have you spotted these drinks at your local grocery store and given them a try? What did you think?

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