I Ordered the Starbucks Protein Blended Cold Brew. Here’s What I Thought!

This is NOT your average cold brew...

When heard that Starbucks was introducing the Protein Blended Cold Brew, I was immediately interested. (It’s almost as exciting as the release date for this year’s Pumpkin Spice Lattes!) I’m always trying to add more protein to my diet—and what better way than to get more energy from my morning coffee?

The new beverages are offered in Almond and Cacao, and boast over 10 grams of protein with less calories than a Clif bar. Plus, it’s plant-based! It sounded too good to be true. I rushed to the nearest Starbucks to see for myself.

Ordering the Starbucks Protein Blended Cold Brew

I approached the counter at my local Starbucks and requested both flavors of the drink. Since I’d be ordering two, I asked if the barista could keep them small—but for now, it’s only available in the grande size. Each one was $5.95, substantially more than my average coffee run. Plus, it took more than five minutes for the barista to measure out all the obscure ingredients and blend everything together. After so much time and money invested in the mysterious new Protein Blended Cold Brew, my expectations were high. It better be good, I thought!

How the Drinks Look

As soon as I got home, I peeled the lids off of both drinks and took a peek. From the top, they looked almost identical—the darker shade of the almond flavor is barely perceptible, especially with a ring of foam gathering around the edge of both plastic cups as the drinks slowly melted.

The cacao one appeared foamier and grittier, with flecks of cacao powder visible in thick waves that barely moved when I dropped the green straw down into the cold brew, watching it gradually sink like quicksand. The almond one had a slightly thicker appearance, more like almond butter.

They both looked delicious—and neither looked anything like my typical cold brew. I couldn’t wait to take a sip.

Starbucks cacao protein blended cold brewStarbucks

Flavor #1: Cacao

I decided to try the lighter-colored drink first, anxious to see if it had the same chocolate taste as a mocha. The first thing I noticed was the texture as it hit my tongue, which was unlike anything else I’ve ever had from Starbucks. It wasn’t quite thick enough to feel like a milkshake, but it wasn’t as light and airy as a Frappuccino either. Instead, it was like a smoothie—but much grittier.

The blend felt like sand on my tongue, but despite the strange mouthfeel, the taste itself wasn’t bad. There was a strong flavor of cold brew, which wasn’t surprising. However, the chocolate flavor wasn’t as rich and dark as I’d anticipated. Instead, it had the artificial sweetness of Cocoa Puffs.

I took a couple more sips. I actually sort of liked the way the coffee mixed with the underlying flavor of banana. It didn’t make me want to go on a run like the protein-packed name suggests! This drink was gooey with sweetness—a little too sugary for anyone expecting a pre-workout boost. (But these protein-packed snacks would be perfect!)

Starbucks almond protein blended cold brewStarbucks

Flavor #2: Almond

Next, I dove into the darker of the two drinks. Since I hadn’t loved the fake-tasting cacao flavor, I had a feeling this one could win me over. I expected the rich and nutty taste of almond butter, but I was again surprised!

This Protein Blended Cold Brew delivered the same notes of coffee as the first one I tried, but without the mask of the cacao, the banana flavor was unleashed. In fact, it tasted like a banana smoothie! I was left wondering if the almond milk and almond butter that Starbucks advertised were actually in there… or if this was just the “plain” version of the first drink I’d tried.

Psst… Here’s what’s actually in your favorite Starbucks drinks.

New blended protein drinksTaste of Home

The Verdict

I was personally not a fan of the gritty texture and heavy banana flavor, which seemed out of place in a coffee drink. It was also pretty pricey.

However, after drinking only a few sips of both, I could agree that both drinks were filling. If you’re running out the door without grabbing breakfast, this is definitely a blended beverage that will keep you from feeling hungry until lunch. If you love bananas, give it a go. (And try these recipes, too!)

Starbucks Copycat Recipes You Can Make at Home
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Emma B. Kumer
Emma Kumer is a marathon-runner, magazine-writer, and graphic design addict. She was a digital editorial intern for Taste of Home Magazine for Summer 2017. She is also a junior in Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.