Starbucks Japan has been on an interesting kick this year. They seem determined to put solid starchy chunks in every specialty drink that comes out. This is reminiscent of the pink chocolate flakes on the Sakura Frappuccino, which will come out after the Valentine’s Pretzel Mocha finishes this Friday.
The Tiramisu Frappuccino had cakey bits, the Strawberry Cheesecake Frappuccino had solid bits of crust. The pieces are always small enough to flow through a straw easily, but they’ve had varying levels of success in terms of appeal. From taste to mouth feel, they’ve gotten it very right this year (Crushed Almond Latte) to rather wrong (Crushed Marron Pie). They’ve really outdone themselves with the most recent addition to the line, the Chocolate Pretzel Mocha.
If you’ve ever wanted whole shards of salted snack food in your coffee, this is the drink for you. It starts with a mocha base, both in hot and frappuccino forms. Then whipped cream is topped with a generous sprinkle of salty pretzel bits and a decorative chocolate syrup swirl.
The drink first came out just after Christmas, but they’ve leveled up for Valentine’s Day with the addition of chocolate whipped cream. The chocolate whipped cream actually brings the drink together in a way that regular whip simply didn’t. I had my first one right when they came out, and I didn’t think I would need another.
I gave it another go though, and I’m glad I did. I didn’t think I’d be craving this bizarrity very often, but as I told my friend as we were standing in line, it’s a weird drink, and when I’m in a weird mood it’s perfect.
The chocolate whip also goes nicely with a few of the other beverages. It’s perfect with the hot chocolate, and I hear it’s even nice on a chai latte. I’ve enjoyed the various whip experiments this year as well—the mascarpone whip on the Strawberry Cheesecake tasted like magic, even if the drink was so heavy that it drank like a meal.
The problem with this trend is that sometimes the textural additions tend to lose their crispness, ruining the mouthfeel they strive to achieve. The Tiramisu suffered from this, and if you weren’t careful you could end up with an inch of soggy gunk at the bottom of your drink like cookies left in milk too long. The Crushed Marron Pie had a similar problem, with the flakes of crust starting out strong but quickly dissolving into mush. The almond latte was the best at this by far, as almonds are never in danger of dissolving, but the Pretzel holds up reasonably well.
Overall I think the Frappuccino is stronger than the latte, as the pretzel bits stay crunchy longer. Have you tried it? Which one would you prefer? Can’t wait for the Sakura Latte!