Starbucks Cacao Blended Protein Cold Brew Review

What sort of thing is this?

Have you ever liked a Starbucks smoothie? Now buried on their menu, at one time you could easily acquire a delicious cup full of either chocolate or strawberry smoothie goodness with a banana blended into it at the world’s most ubiquitous chain coffee house.

Well, what if I told you they repurposed that drink, by shoving in cold brew coffee, swapping the milk for coconut milk, adding their new plant-based protein and…a heaping of date juice. Doesn’t that sound weird?

Yes. It is. It is weird!

My friend Andy recommended these new Protein Smoothie Cold Brew things after trying the Almond one, and I tried the chocolate one first because it sounded better to my brain.

On first sip I was struck with a weird cacophony of flavor sensations. I could detect a little chocolate. A slight grit of protein powder. A hint of banana. A generous date-y sweetness…

And basically no cold brew taste whatsoever.

It was a mystifying, slightly alarming experience. “What am I even drinking here,” I said aloud to the half-empty morning cafe, drawing no ire as everyone stared down their screens.

As I progressed through the drink, the grit of the protein and demolished fruit parts increased, and the taste of the dates remained the strongest in the overall flavor. And not once did I really detect the coffee at all.

It’s like drinking a frappuccino but with less sugar, less fun, and bizarrely, less coffee taste.

And it’s not lacking for amount of coffee in its ingredients either. It has a full-on serving of cold brew customized to your size choice, offering 180mg of caffeine in the grande version I drank.

Even the most over-done of coffee frappuccinos still has a hint of coffee in it right at the back of the profile. This one has none. It’s smoothed and shoved out of the way almost entirely.

If you don’t like the taste of dates, you won’t like this at all. And if you do like the taste of dates, you probably aren’t expecting that taste to come out of your coffee drink. The “Banana Date Fruit Blend” that Starbucks touts on their web site is indeed an impressive new artificial sweetener…but for my palette it might be a little too effective.

I didn’t hate this at all but I don’t think I want to drink one ever again. It’s the definition of not-for-me.

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I do radio voice work by day, and write by day and night. I studied film and production. I love audio, design, and music. Also video games.

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