Review: Starbucks' Brand-New Menu Items Bring The Energy And Some Snacks

Summer is upon us and coffee chains are abuzz with the release of the latest seasonal flavors. Starbucks is doing things a little differently this year. In addition to Starbucks' summer specials, the company is kicking off the season with a series of all-new permanent menu items, set to release on Tuesday, June 25. The cafe giant was sure to check an array of boxes with these novel offerings. The new permanent items will include additions to the coffee and tea menus, the pastry case, and the sandwich selection. Mashed got the invite to sample some of the goods ahead of the official launch, and we're here to give you the exclusive scoop on what Starbucks has in store.

Among Starbucks' new menu items are a pair of Iced Energy drinks available in Melon Burst or Tropical Citrus flavors, an Egg, Pesto and Mozzarella Sandwich, a Blueberry Streusel Muffin, and a Vanilla Sweet Cream nondairy creamer (Starbucks' first ever), that can be served as a cold foam or even in a Frappuccino. Mashed went to a Starbucks in New York City to taste these items. We also got some details about what's in them, how they're prepared, and the ways in which some of the items can be customized. Here's what you should know. Prices are accurate as of publication and dependent on location, and can vary based on customizations.

Iced Energy Beverages give Starbucks' iced teas a facelift

Starbucks Iced Energy drinks aren't seasonal, but you could've fooled us. The duo of beverages are permanent menu items, yet both flavors give off a summery vibe. Starbucks Iced Energy combines a can of sparkling, fruit-flavored energy drink with Starbucks iced tea. Melon Burst Iced Energy is made with Passion Tango Tea and Tropical Citrus Iced Energy is based with green tea. Both are sugar-free and only sold in Starbucks' venti size so that the entire can of sparkling energy drink can fit inside.

The effervescence pairs well with both flavors, but the Tropical Citrus and green tea combo was our favorite. Its tropical designation comes through by way of a pronounced passionfruit flavor. It's a tasty complement to the iced green tea and doesn't finish overly sweet thanks to the citrus element (although we couldn't quite figure out which citrus fruits were present). We enjoyed the mocktail-esque notion to this drink, but iced tea purists might not be able to taste the green tea enough.

Tropical Citrus Iced Energy contains 205 milligrams of caffeine — about the same amount as a Starbucks grande Cold Brew. It will also be available as a Frappuccino, but blending changes the flavor profile (and the nutrition content — a Venti only has 5 calories and not much else). Pick up a Venti Tropical Citrus Iced Energy drink for $5.75.

Melon Burst Iced Energy has a mellower flavor than its tropical counterpart

While Tropical Citrus Iced Energy's flavor matches the name, Melon Burst's delicate nature belies its description. This drink is not bursting with melon and the mentioned inclusion of cucumber was hard to pick up, but it does have a pleasant taste. Even with the understated approach to melon, Starbucks Iced Passion Tango Tea's floral notes are more disguised than enhanced by the fruit flavoring.

We sampled the Melon Burst and Tropical Citrus flavors side-by-side to really get a sense of their similarities and differences. In both beverages, the taste of sparkling energy drinks is stronger than the tea accompanying it. If you prefer a botanical-inspired iced tea drink over a bolder fruit flavor, you might prefer Melon Burst Iced Energy. Either way, the sparkling energy aspect takes center stage.

One important thing to note is that the caffeine content of Melon Burst Iced Energy is different from that of the Tropical Citrus Iced Energy beverage. Melon Burst Iced Energy contains 180 milligrams of caffeine, slightly less than Tropical Citrus' 205 milligrams, because the Iced Passion Tango Tea is herbal. A Venti size Melon Burst Iced Energy contains 10 calories costs $5.75.

Egg, Pesto and Mozzarella Sandwich is subtle and unexpected

We can't recall a memorable chain breakfast sandwich featuring pesto, egg, and mozzarella cheese, but Starbucks might be onto something. All of Starbucks' breakfast sandwiches arrive at the store prepackaged and are heated in the cafe's convection oven. If you require a scratch-made touch to your breakfast this isn't it, but for a quick bite, this is worth a try.

The egg frittata is made from cage-free eggs and sandwiched between an onion and cheddar bun. Atop the egg are the mozzarella and a spread of pesto — a blend of basil and kale, and it's a good choice of condiment. It balances well with the mild mozzarella and slightly salty egg frittata. The sharpness of onion and cheddar baked into the top of the ciabatta-like roll rounds out the bite and makes it more interesting.

The sandwich contains 390 calories, 16 grams of fat, and 21 grams of protein, making it a fairly satiating option. Due to the pre-processed nature of the components, the sodium count is high, accounting for over 30% of your daily intake. Additionally, the saturated fat levels are also fairly high, at 6 grams per portion. Still, for a tasty and filling sandwich, it's an easy fix. We nearly finished the whole sandwich during the tasting after only intending to take a few bites. Try it yourself for $5.25. 

A Blueberry Streusel muffin sweetens things up

In the grand tradition of chain eatery menu revamps, Starbucks is discontinuing current menu items to make room for the new additions. Such is the case for the new Blueberry Streusel muffin, which will take the place of the blueberry muffin Starbucks serves now. The Blueberry Streusel muffin's main departure from a regular blueberry muffin is exactly what it sounds like. Crunchy, sugary crumbles of cinnamon streusel coat the muffin top instead of the sugar granule finish on Starbucks' now-discontinued version. Starbucks' Blueberry Streusel muffin was sweet — but we're not complaining.

By adding the cinnamon streusel, the new blueberry muffin starts off tasting like a coffee cake, and becomes more muffin-like once the top is through. Was it the muffin to end all muffins? No, but it tasted good. The nutrition facts for the Starbucks Blueberry Streusel Muffin are pretty similar to the chain's other muffins, though slightly higher than the standard blueberry muffin without streusel. This sweet treat contains 370 calories, 18 grams of fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 330 milligrams of sodium, and 47 grams of carbs (27 of which are sugar). It is a breakfast pastry after all. Pick one up on the go for $3.45 and enjoy it with your coffee.

Nondairy cold foam is versatile, except for the sugar content

Cold foam has been something of a game changer for Starbucks since its introduction in 2018. The biggest limitation to cold foam's mass appeal has been the fact that Starbucks didn't sell a dairy-free alternative — but that's changing. The new Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew finally gives customers with dairy restrictions a chance to ride the vanilla sweet cream wave. It's definitely a step up from the banalities of iced coffee with soy milk.

Starbucks' Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam's rich, fluffy texture is perfect as a float for iced coffee and espresso drinks, and achieving this in non-dairy form involves a mixture of soy and oat milk. By combining the two, the dairy-free vanilla sweet cream benefits from oat milk's thicker texture and soy milk's foaming capabilities. As we sipped the new Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew, it was quickly evident that combining oat and soy milks got the texture to the right place. The hint of vanilla also feels well-balanced to the other components of the drink, which keeps the flavor from tasting too artificial.

Starbucks' Nondairy Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam Cold Brew is a tasty choice. A Grande serving contains 100 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 13 grams of sugar and costs $5.25. It might be dairy-free now, but Vanilla Sweet Cream does not come in a sugar-free version. Alternatively, try a Grande Nondairy Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam Nitro Cold Brew for $5.75.

Final impressions

Personal taste always factors into how new menu items are received, and it will be interesting to see what customers will think of Starbucks' most recent creations. From our point of view, most of the new menu items feel aligned to what's trending in the food and beverage world. Sugar-free and dairy-free options bring versatility to the Starbucks menu — yet each comes with its own constraints. We enjoyed both flavors of Starbucks Iced Energy, but the added cost that comes with only being able to order it in a venti size might vex some people. Similarly, the effort Starbucks put into crafting a non-dairy Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam is clear, but you can't get vanilla sweet cream without adding sugar.

For Starbucks, a focus on food has always felt secondary to its beverage selection. Between the two new food items we tried, the Egg, Pesto, and Mozzarella Sandwich left a better impression than the bordering-on-basic Blueberry Streusel muffin. Adding a meat-free breakfast sandwich with well-balanced flavors from the pesto and mix of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses is interesting without being too out there, and we would gladly eat this item again.