Starbucks has finally snuck its way into the energy drink market with Starbucks Refreshers, a new line of beverages that are sweetened with a blend of fruit juice and natural sweetener Stevia and caffeinated with green coffee extract, a natural (and flavorless) source of caffeine. The Refreshers line includes handcrafted fruity beverages served over ice, on-the-go powdered VIA packets, and a carbonated, canned product.We recently taste tested the Starbucks Refreshers Strawberry Lemonade ($2), Starbucks Refreshers Raspberry Pomegranate ($2), and Starbucks VIA Refreshers Cool Lime ($6). Take a look at what our tasters and the YumSugar editors had to say about Starbucks' latest venture into alternative energizing beverages.
See their ratings — and what we thought — when you read more.
The promise for Starbucks Refreshers Strawberry Lemonade: "The green coffee extract in this new beverage adds an invigorating boost of natural energy, minus the taste of coffee. With sweet strawberry and lemonade, it's the classic flavor you love, but enhanced with a new way to re-energize and fortified with three B vitamins and Vitamin C. And even better, it contains just 60 calories."
What YumSugar thought: This energy drink tastes light and refreshing, as promised, and doesn't have that funny, vitamin-like flavor like other energy beverages on the market.
What our tasters thought: Many diet-soda drinkers thought the beverage had a "crisp, fresh taste with just enough strawberry," adding it was "ideal for pop lovers who want a healthier alternative." And while some praised the "nice fizziness level," still others pulled down the voting average, claiming the beverage was "too reminiscent of Red Bull" and the "pungent, syrupy sweet smell" was overwhelming.
Tasters' rating average:The promise for Starbucks Refreshers Raspberry Pomegranate: "How about a thirst-quenching pick-me-up that combines tangy pomegranate and juicy raspberry with natural energy from green coffee extract?"
What YumSugar thought: The first sip of this beverage tastes authentic like pomegranate and raspberry, but the aftertaste is strange and off-putting. Those who drink diet sodas regularly will think this beverage is light, refreshing, and enjoyably fruity.
What our tasters thought: Unlike other fruity drinks on the market, tasters noted that this one really does taste like raspberry and pomegranate. Many loved the effervescence, but all noted that they could detect the "chemically aftertaste" from the artificial sweetener.
Tasters' rating average:The promise for Starbucks VIA Refreshers Cool Lime: "Cool Lime Starbucks VIA Refreshers Instant Beverage is a breakthrough in instant refreshment and the perfect afternoon pick-me-up. Combining flavors of lime, cucumber and hints of mint with natural energy from green coffee extract, this is a juicy, thirst-quenching treat that tastes nothing like coffee."
What YumSugar thought: The powder was impossible to dissolve, so those drinking it from a straw picked up clumpy, sugary granules. The beverage tasted incredibly artificial, like cheap lime-flavored hard candy, despite the claims that the product's all natural. One sip was enough to convince us to toss out the rest.
What our tasters thought: One taster noted that this drink smelled more like a "verbena fragrance diffuser" than lime, and all of the tasters agreed that this drink didn't get any better once it hit the tongue. Some picked up on the lime flavor, but no one noticed the cucumber or mint.
Tasters' rating average:
Overall thoughts: We recognize that Starbucks is looking to expand its product line to include other caffeinated beverages, but Refreshers left us feeling incredibly confused. To begin, we're not sure who these beverages are geared toward. This compromise doesn't appeal to diet, regular, or natural soda drinkers.
As for locating and buying the actual product, we scoured several Starbucks locations and unsuccessfully rounded up the entire line of flavors. Starbucks employees referred us to 7-Eleven to find some of the flavors, yet this product was not stocked at our neighborhood location. We're wondering why Starbucks doesn't carry all of the flavors in every location.
Finally, the votes were dramatically split for this taste test, so while some may love this beverage, about half will pucker their lips in protest. The VIA on-the-go packet was a complete dud with our tasters but has surprisingly high ratings on the Starbucks website. Those who enjoy fruity, diet beverages as well as carbonated energy drinks will be a fan of the Starbucks Refreshers canned energy drinks. Otherwise, those looking for a caffeine fix should seek their source from good, old-fashioned tea or coffee.