Review: Starbuck’s “Sunset” Caramel Espresso Granita

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I caught word of Starbucks’ new granita offering and was immediately curious. I like ice. I like coffee. I like added sugar. The Caramel Espresso Granita was the one that particularly caught my eye because I don’t really eff with non-caffeinated drinks when I go to Starbucks (which is like 4x a year because I have a Nespresso, more on that some other time).

Here’s how the drink describes itself: “A scoop of lightly-sweetened, finely-shaved ice topped with bold espresso shots, a splash of cream and finished with caramel drizzle.”

That sounds as pretty as it is tasty!

I finally picked one up today before a long commute that I knew was going to take a combo of caffeine and sugar to enjoy. (I, for whatever reason, did not realize “sunset” meant you had to get it after 3 p.m. My initial exposure to the drink did not involve such telegraphic messaging as what is shown above. This time constriction seems odd but it worked out for me, I guess.)

I was almost immediately disappointed by this drink. It wasn’t quite frozen or icy, like I had expected. I wanted a shock of black coffee ice swirling with white cream and caramel. Instead I had a beige mess that looked like this:

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The taste and texture was somewhere in between a Frappuccino and a regular iced latte, but somehow more disappointing than both. Each sip tasted slightly different: some way too bland, some way too sweet. It melted incredibly quickly into an even more bland mess.

Inspired by the original drink, I actually made some coffee granita at home a few weeks ago. I basically just made a cup of coffee in my Nespresso, poured it into a tupperware, let it cool, stuck it in the freezer and then whipped it with a fork every half hour or so. That concoction was way more exciting than what I got from Starbucks. Plus I could add whipped cream at home, plus some coffee syrup, to make a more differentiated drink that was way healthier than what Starbucks offered.

Let’s compare the two:

Starbuck’s Caramel Espresso Granita $4.26 (after taxes)

-160 calories

-8 Weight Watchers points (That’s a lot. Consider that a 4-piece nugget from McDonald’s is only 5.)

-A soppy mess that you can’t eat with a spoon

Homemade Granita Using Coffee, Whipped Cream and Sugar-Free Caramel Syrup (>$1)

-> 30 calories

-1 Weight Watchers point

-A texturally interesting drink that you can eat with a spoon in front of the T.V

My advice? Skip this sugary drink and make your own coffee granita at home. Sorry Starbucks! I so wanted to like this drink. Next time reduce the sugar and calories and hand it out with a spoon and we can talk.

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