We Tried Starbucks' New Pistachio Cream Cold Brew. It Will Chase Your Winter Blues Away

The holiday season and January is in full swing, but the winter weather will be around for a while. This means that while Starbucks' seasonal holiday drinks are on their way out, the brand's line of winter drinks are coming in. This year, Starbucks brings a new twist to the pistachio coffee flavor, which first started appearing on menus in 2021 (via Starbucks). Historically, Starbucks has offered pistachio drinks as one of its traditional lattes, hot or iced, or as a Frappuccino. With the rise in popularity of cold brew, though, Starbucks saw an opening, and for the first time, it will be offering a Pistachio Cream Cold Brew.

Cold brew has seen a massive spike in sales over the past few years (via PR News Wire), so it is no wonder Starbucks has been expanding its seasonal beverage offerings to this favorite item. We wanted to know, though, is this drink just a way to hop on the iced coffee train, or is it actually worth the plunge for this cold winter beverage?

What's in the Pistachio Cream Cold Brew?

The Pistachio Cream Cold Brew starts with a base of Starbucks signature cold brew coffee (via Starbucks). Starbucks cold brew coffee is made on a daily basis using a custom blend of beans. Then, the grounds are steeped in cold water for 20 hours to create the smooth cold brew we all know and love.

From there, Starbucks adds vanilla syrup to the base. But it's the topping that really sets the Pistachio Cream Cold Brew apart from other similar drinks. Starbucks adds a layer of pistachio flavored sweet cream above the vanilla cold brew base. Finally, Starbucks tops it all off with a salted brown butter sprinkle topping. The salted brown butter topping and the pistachio flavors are carryovers from the Pistachio latte predecessor (via Starbucks).

To make all the components, Starbucks uses a long list of ingredients. The cold brew is made using coffee, but the pistachio sweet cream incorporates a lot of elements to create the signature silky smooth texture. Its components include a host of sugars, preservatives, and thickeners. The pistachio sauce that is in it though does contain actual pistachio butter to give it a rather subtle flavor. The company claims this flavor profile is "the perfect flavor to follow the holidays and carry us through the winter season." We shall see if it lives up to the hype.

What is the price and availabillity of this new coffee drink?

The Pistachio Cream Cold Brew is available starting Tuesday, January 3rd, as part of Starbucks' winter menu (via Starbucks). All the winter menu items will be available for a limited time and only while supplies last. This means that the exact timeframe may vary from store to store. So if you want one, the sooner, the better. The drink is available nationwide, along with the other winter menu items.

Prices for Starbucks menu items do vary based on location. In our area, the prices start at $4.75 for a tall and then increase to $5.25 for a grande, $5.45 for a venti, and for those who need a serious caffeine kick, $5.75 for a trenta. These prices are comparable to other Starbucks cold brew foam beverages, such as the Chocolate Cream Cold Brew and the Irish Cream Cold Brew and come in slightly cheaper than a Pistachio Latte.

How it compares to other similar Starbucks drinks

As we mentioned, the pricing of this item is similar to that of other comparable items from Starbucks, so it is really the flavor that sets it apart. As of 2023, Starbucks offers seven different types of cold brew (via Starbucks). They all start with a Starbucks signature cold brew coffee base. From there, the flavors added to both the coffee and the topping vary. For example, the Chocolate Cream Cold Brew is made with vanilla syrup like the Pistachio Cream but is topped with a chocolate cream cold foam. The Salted Caramel Cream Cold Brew is sweetened with Caramel and topped with caramel cold foam.

For the plainest option, Starbucks sells an unsweetened untopped cold brew, the same cold brew used as the base for the Pistachio Cream Cold Brew. Even this base, though, is different from other offerings. For example, an Iced Americano, which is made from espresso topped with water and poured over ice (via Starbucks), an Iced Coffee which is made using heat brewed coffee, poured over ice and often sweetened (via Starbucks), and an Iced Espresso is made by pouring a shot of espresso over ice. All of these methods create slightly different cold coffee profiles.

The item with the most similarity would appear to be the Iced Pistachio Latte. But this option uses milk and espresso to create the base and pistachio sauce to sweeten the coffee before topping it with the salted brown butter topping (via Starbucks).

The Pistachio Cream Cold Brew is a seriously sweet treat

For those who love the Pistachio Latte but are hoping for something a bit lighter, the Pistachio Cold Brew might be the way to go. It is well known that Starbucks drinks can pack a lot of sugar into each serving, and the winter drinks are no different. A grande Pistachio Cold Brew comes in at 250 calories and 32 grams of sugar (via Starbucks). This is slightly less on both fronts than the iced latte relative of the same size. However, candy bars such as Snickers have just as many calories and actually have slightly less sugar than this drink (via Snickers). This is not to discourage consumers from enjoying a Pistachio Cream Cold Brew, but it may be something to keep in mind.

Without the flavors and toppings, a Starbucks Cold Brew Coffee only has five calories and does not contain any sugar (via Starbucks). And if you are looking for a way to make your drink a little lighter, there are still more options. In that case, Starbucks suggests a few different methods, including ordering a smaller size, reducing the amount of syrup, or swapping for sugar-free vanilla syrup.

Should the Pistachio Cream Cold Brew be your next Starbucks order?

Now it is time for the most important factor — how the drink tastes. Starbucks has described the drink as "warm" and "cozy" despite being an iced drink; honestly, in our experience, we found that to be true. The drink is icy cold. However, the flavors and a wintery touch bring warmth and life to the beverage.

The foam is sweet and very slightly nutty. The coffee is the smooth flavor we have come to expect from Starbucks cold brew, without the acid of an iced coffee. The vanilla syrup adds a lovely aroma and mellow floral note to the base, which pairs well with the cream and makes the coffee base even less bitter than traditional coffee. The brown butter topping, though, is the star, both sweet and salty, and bringing the warm winter magic to the drink.

The good news is that you will likely still like this drink even if you are not a big fan of pistachio. If we had a complaint, though, it would be that the brown butter topping becomes the prominent flavor because of the subtlety of the taste. We tried the foam on its own, and once mixed in with the rest of the beverage, both ways, the prominent flavor was the sweet and highlighted with the salted brown butter toppings. Brown butter on its own gives off a nutty and earthy flavor, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish it from the pistachio flavor in the foam.