Starbucks thinks iced coffee has a big future, so the global coffee giant will add two new, innovative drinks to their "Cold Bar" menu this summer: the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew and the Nitro Cold Brew.
Being one of those extremely rare coffee lovers who only enjoys their coffee cold and black, I was very eager to taste what's in store for the future of iced coffee, so we visited Starbucks to check the drinks out.
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At a spacious Starbucks on Spring Street in SoHo, we met Mackenzie Karr, a coffee education specialist. After I finished telling Karr that her job title would make her an extremely cool contestant on The Bachelor, she led us through our tasting and discussed the unique flavors, differences and crafts of the iced beverages.
To understand just how different the new drinks were from the existing Cold Bar menu items, we kicked off the tasting with some traditional Starbucks iced coffee. From there, we moved on to the Starbucks Cold Brew, which was much smoother than the more acidic iced coffee, and had a subtly sweet flavor.
Then came the main events.
Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew
The main difference between the regular slow-steeped Cold Brew and the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew is, well, the cream of course. Karr explained that the cream was specifically created to compliment the cold brew and offers customers a "complete" drink — no need for extra milk or sugar.
The cream was definitely a refreshing break from my usual cup of plain black coffee, and as a little bonus, it's made in-house daily.
Nitro Cold Brew
The Nitro Cold Brew is simply regular Starbucks Cold Brew infused with nitrogen. Yep, you read that right. Cold brew and nitrogen, what a time to be alive.
In a press release, Starbucks referred to this as the drink that "will redefine the way you think about cold coffee," and after trying it I can't say I disagree.
According the Starbucks, the nitrogen is infused into the coffee much like carbonation in your favorite sodas and carbonated drinks. However, the nitrogen bubbles are much smaller than carbonation, which gives the Cold Brew a smooth texture rather than a bubbly one, along with a distinct creamy sweetness. For this reason, the Nitro Cold Brew is served unsweetened.
After the coffee was infused and released cold from the tap, the nitrogen prompted a cascading effect and formed a thin layer of foam on top as it settled. Starbucks has described the Nitro as having the "texture and body you'd expect from a draught beer," and I will admit that after seeing it in person I had to remind myself once or twice that a cold beer was not in fact sitting before me in a coffee shop.
When Starbucks introduced their iced coffee in 1986, it had a long and successful run before their Cold Brew debuted nationwide last summer. According to the chain, these two new beverages are, "just the beginning of the kind of innovation Starbucks is bringing to cold coffee."
Hear that coffee lovers? There's more to come.
The Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew will be available in stores in the U.S. and Canada beginning May 31 and the Nitro Cold Brew will be available at over 500 Starbucks locations by the end of summer.
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