Category Archives: Starbucks test products

Starbucks products in testing phase

Cane Sugar Cola at Starbucks? Move over Fizzio Root Beer!

In select Atlanta and Houston Starbucks, you can order Cane Sugar Cola. It’s being tested as part of the Fizzio lineup of drinks, which includes Root Beer, Lemon Ale, and Ginger Ale.

A reader in Houston sent me a couple of photos of his Cane Sugar Cola:

2 - 1 - Cane Sugar Cola - Houston Texas - 14 October 20142-1 Cane Sugar Cola - Houston Texas - October 2014The Houston reader sent me his review of the new Cane Sugar Cola at Starbucks:

The Cane cola was sweet, but not overly so. Like the other Fizzio beverages, a more natural-tasting soda with plenty of effervescence.”

You might be wondering what’s in this new test-product Starbucks Cane Sugar Cola? A barista in a test store told me that the packaging describes it as a “Naturally flavored” and that the first ingredients are water, sugar, and brown sugar. There is a small amount of caffeine in the Cane Sugar Cola, which comes Green Coffee Extract. This is the same Starbucks Green Coffee Extract which is found in the Refreshers beverages.

As with every test beverage, I always have to warn that Starbucks tests many more products and beverages than what makes it to a national launch. And rumor has it that the Cane Sugar Cola has low sales. :(

So what do you think? Sounds delicious!

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A Quick Look at Starbucks Tests: Golden Maple Latte, Dark Barrel Latte and more.

Starbucks has a lot of test items going on right now. I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few of these limited test items.

image golden mapleGolden Maple Latte – If you’re in Orlando, Florida or Cleveland, Ohio, you might find the “Golden Maple Latte”. Starbucks has offered Maple Lattes in years gone by, and frequently offers a seasonal Maple Latte in Canada. We’ll have to see how this version of the Maple Latte does!

You can see that the Golden Maple Latte is on the upper right corner of the “daily offerings” board picture.

Dark Barrel Latte – It’s been all over the news that Starbucks is testing a beverage that is a beer-inspired flavor. Sounds odd to me! I’ve heard this drink is available in Jacksonville, Florida.

image-2 signageThe Ice Cream plus Espresso test is currently only available at a tiny number of San Francisco Starbucks locations.

I would love to try this. I might have to take a quick trip to San Francisco soon!

Cane Sugar Cola test- I actually don’t know much about this test, but I believe it’s available in stores with Fizzio machines in Atlanta and Houston.

Last but not least, whenever I write about tests, I always have to give the caveat that Starbucks tests many more beverages and products than actually make it to a national launch. Don’t hold your breath for any of these tests to come to your neighborhood store. For example, if you go back just a few years ago in time, the Starbucks Pink Lime Frozt actually went through multiple rounds of testing before Starbucks gave it the axe, never to be seen again. You can still make something that resembles a Pink Lime Frozt at Starbucks: Passion Tea, Creme Base, and Lime Refresher mix, all in a blender! No wonder it didn’t make it. ;)

If I had to make wild guesses on what test has a future, I’d say that the Coconut Milk test has promise. But I’ve learn the hard way it’s difficult to second guess Starbucks!

As always, do not re-use images without my express permission. A huge thank you to the many readers who send me emails with images and information!

And you know, one needs a little self-promotion to be successful, so I’ll again suggest you read Tales of the Siren while enjoying your Golden Maple Latte!

Feel free to talk about in Starbucks test item in the comments!


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The Adorable “Mini” (10 ounce) Frappuccino.

1 - 1  - untitled Kurt's mini pictureStarbucks is testing a “mini” size Frappuccino. This is actually the second round of testing, as there was a very small San Diego test of the mini Frappuccino this past summer. Select Starbucks locations in Houston and Denver offer this new size.

Unlike other Frappuccinos, it appears, as far as I can see, a little less customizable than others. At least the booklet, which introduces customers to this new item, seems to suggest that you have a limited list of flavors/ recipes to choose from. I’d like to hear from others what their experiences have been with this new tiny Frappuccino.

It’s so cute! Yes, I want this test to succeed! There have been many times when I feel like a “tall” size (12 ounces) is too much Frappuccino for me.

I asked readers (via Facebook) to send me their photos of the mini Frappuccino test, and much to my surprise, I received multiple emails.

So what do you think? Would you order a mini Frappuccino?

By the way, this is not the first time that Starbucks has experimented with cold cups that are smaller than 12 ounces. I’ve heard it said that Starbucks Japan has such a demand for small sizes that that market routinely offers a short cold drink cup. Many years ago, the failed Sorbetto test item was served in a 10 ounce Starbucks.

Edit: I’ve seen people ask “why” would Starbucks do this. I think the “why” is fascinating. Let me throw this out there: 1) A 10-ounce Frappuccino responds to customer demand for a smaller size 2) Additional resources are hardly needed – you’re not adding new ingredients, just a size. 3) Creates a beverage at a slightly lower price point. 4) The lower price point potentially creates ‘trial’ – customers order something they wouldn’t normally, and then later think, “Next time I have to order the larger size”! Creates new Frappuccinos customers. 5) Potentially, from a marketing standpoint, this is competitive price point with value menus and similar drinks available at other large chains. 6) Potentially trains customers to order from the menu – since these are less customizable, customers who are introduced to these drinks are lured in by standard recipes. This in turn is a little easier for partners – fewer drink remakes due to customization. 7) Potentially appeals to customers who want a smaller size for children. No more splitting a Venti in two.

It’s pretty brilliant marketing.

image menu1 - 1 - untitled Kurt's frappuccino1 - 1- photo 1 Kelsey's mini Frappuccino1 - 1 - IMAG2229 front of mini booklet1 - 1- IMAG2231 Mini booklet Inside of booklet

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Quietly Testing Cold Brewed Coffee.

Bar Sign copyStarbucks is currently quietly testing iced cold brewed coffee. It’s a very small test in one district (in the Boston area) and the test is only slated to run for a few weeks. Partners are brewing core Ethiopia in a Toddy-system for cold brewing coffee. When it runs out for the day, they put stickers on the in-store signage saying that it’s out for the day. Like most traditional cold brew methods, it takes 24 hours to brew the coffee. As many people know, the New England region of the United States tends to have higher iced coffee sales than the rest of the country.

I mention this test largely because I’d love to see it expanded. I love a great cold brewed coffee. I’ve even featured cold brewed coffee recipes on this blog before. I’m a little pessimistic about the test expanding: One large limitation is that it’s hard to scale. You can’t quickly re-brew the coffee. Nonetheless, I see cold brewed coffee as part of an elevated coffee experience. I’ve often mentioned that it would be interesting for Clover – Reserve stores and/or Evenings store to have elevated coffee offerings, and this could be part of that. I’m thinking out loud here, but the bottom line is that this is an interesting test. I’m crossing my fingers, despite that I’m pessimistic about the test’s expansion. The person who wrote me said that their iced cold brewed coffee is doing very well. She’s hearing from customers that they love it.

If you like reading about Starbucks tests, click through this category here. Please keep in mind, Starbucks is constantly testing things and they’ll test many more things than what actually makes it to a national product lunch.

Would you want a cold brewed iced coffee at Starbucks?

DOB copy


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Chips, Crisps and a big Starbucks/ La Boulange Potato Chips Conversation.

Currently, as part of the lunch food test happening right now in select locations, some Starbucks stores offer a new kind of potato chips. A La Boulange version of potato chips is available in the lunch test locations.

Just as a reminder, the current nationally-offered potato chips at Starbucks comes in two flavors: Smokey Sweet Barbecue and Perfectly Salted. Usually, you’ll find these two flavors of chips in a  basket, somewhere close to the pastry case:

IMAG1254 Current potato chips - 84th and Aurora Starbucks - BBQ and salted - 26Jul14Phoenix, Arizona Starbucks offer three flavors of La Boulange potato chips. (1) Cracked Pepper Popped Potato Crisps, (2) Smoked Barbecue Potato Chips and (3) Sea Salt Potato Chips:

Phoenix Chips Test 3 Flavors July 2014Popped cracked pepper crispsI’ve heard it said that the standard potato chips (the first photo in this article) sell quite well at Starbucks. It’s interesting that they’re testing revamping them. The test locations which offer the three La Boulange flavors, do not offer the Starbucks popcorn.

I myself have a weakness for a great potato chip. I’ve heard it said that potato chips are a platform to put salt and butter into your body, but every now and then, I’ll gladly indulge in that. Interestingly, when I visited the Palo Alto La Boulange Cafe store in May this year, I only saw these “Provencal” potato chips available.

IMAG0691 Provincal chips La Boulange May 2014The Provencal La Boulange Potato Chips were delicious. They were very much a classic potato chip – they tasted fried, with a light dusting of salt. I noticed that they weren’t too heavily salted.

Do you have a favorite potato chips? Some people take their potato chips very seriously! Have you tried any of these in this article? Which was your favorite?

Feel free to discuss any Starbucks food-related topic in this thread.

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Starbucks Testing New Lunch Sandwiches. (Grilled cheese coming soon everywhere).

2 - 1 - New lunch menu chalk boardStarbucks wants you to swing by for lunch. In order to entice lunch-goers, Starbucks is testing out several new sandwiches in roughly 178 stores, between two cities. If you’re in Phoenix, Arizona, or Richmond, Virginia, you might find these new lunch options.

This Bloomberg news article does a thorough job of covering this lunch test, and lists new items and prices. It mentions that Starbucks hopes to launch new lunch sandwiches nationwide by 2015.

In late March, the test began in Phoenix and has been extended through the summer. Richmond starting testing these items in May. A StarbucksMelody reader sent me a few pictures of the lunch items. I was pretty touched that there was a beef brisket sandwich with my name on it just waiting for me to pick it up in Phoenix! I sure hope someone else got to enjoy it! ;)

2 - 1 - BBQ sandwich box

Notice that the lunch test includes a variety of sauces as options too – pesto and ketchup! The menu says they’re complimentary with “any warmed sandwich.” Now and then, I’ll see idea threads on request ketchup for breakfast sandwiches. This test gives Starbucks the chance to track ketchup use too (assuming that baristas are entering ketchup in the register every single time so that Starbucks can really track which sandwiches customers want to put ketchup on).

This lunch test includes the “Old-Fashioned Grilled Cheese” sandwich which has been a popular item, so I hear. The Old-Fashioned Grilled Cheese Sandwich is scheduled for national launch on June 24, 2014. It’s white cheddar, yellow cheddar, and mozzarella  on multi-grain toast.

Here are just a few more photos: What sounds good to you?

2 - 1 - Lunch menu grab-and-go food2 - 1 - Lunch test in Arizona food menu2 - 1 - Lunch test arizona pastry case shows off lunch sandwiches2





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The Small Starbucks Snack Food Test: Gluten Free snacks.

2 - 1 - IMAG0782 Seaweed snack chips gluten free Chili Lime and Sea Salt chipsI discovered that Starbucks has a small snack food test going on. In hit and miss areas of California, you’ll find three pre-packaged snack food items, all of which are not available in Starbucks stores nationwide.

The three snack food items are all labeled gluten free. It appears to me that these are being tested to trying and provide some new options for customers following a gluten free diet.

The three items are as follows:

1) “That’s It.”  brand snack bars. There are two different flavors. One is apple – mango and the other is apple – blueberry. They appear to be small bars made by a California-based company specializing in fruit bars that are GMO free and gluten free. More information is at

2) Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups. I’ve have been told that there is a milk chocolate version found in some Starbucks, but I have not seen those yet. The peanut butter cups are organic. For more information, here’s their website.

3) Ocean’s Halo brand seaweed chips. There are two flavors available at Starbucks stores – Chili Lime and Sea Salt. I was digging through their website at and somewhere saw that two percent of their profits go to good-cause organizations involved in protecting the ocean.

If you’ve had the chance to try these snacks, let me know what you think! I always find these small tests pretty interesting and thought you’d like it too. Feel free to weigh in on anything related to these snacks or gluten free options at Starbucks.

IMAG0786 That's it snack bars 22 - 1 - IMAG0771 Justin's peanut butter cup

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Starbucks is Testing Coconut Milk.

IMAG0416 Sign Now Serving Coconut Milk 3 may 2014 PortlandStarbucks is currently testing Coconut Milk as an alternative milk option. Portland, Oregon customers and Cleveland, Ohio customers will likely find coconut milk available as an option for the beverages, whether hot or cold. The charge for coconut milk is the same as whatever your local soy upcharge is. (Prices can vary a little from region to region). For most people, this will mean a sixty cent upcharge to order a coconut milk beverage.

This is actually the second round of Starbucks testing coconut milk. About six months ago. Starbucks did a very small test of coconut milk in San Diego, California and Everett, Washington. The fact that the test has expanded to a larger area is very promising!

I had the chance to try the coconut milk at a Starbucks in Portland. I should make it clear, I don’t normally order (or drink) any non dairy milks, and don’t even find myself enticed by soy, almond, or coconut milk. I completely understand that lots of people want (or need) to drink a non-dairy milk, but I’m not in that group of customers. I wouldn’t order a coconut milk latte twice. It’s watery and it’s hard to foam to beautiful foam. For some reason, it comes out a lot more bubbly. Several partners in the Portland store I visited mentioned that the coconut milk has been very popular in Frappuccinos – I tried that too and liked it much better than in a latte.

The current coconut milk test is slated to end September 1, 2014.

If you enjoy reading about various Starbucks test beverages and products, click through this category here. Please keep in mind, Starbucks tests many more things than actually make it to a national launch.

(Edit on September 4, 2014: Coconut milk continues to be offered in select cities. The test has performed well enough that Starbucks extended it at least through this fall and winter seasons.)

IMAG0412 Side by Side Lattes Regular Milk and Coconut Milk 3 May 2014 Portland

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This Sounds Delish: The Layered Frappuccino AKA The Maui, Copacabana, and South Beach.

2 - 1 - Layered Frappuccino 2 copyStarbucks is testing something pretty unique: It’s a layered Frappuccino. The bottom layer is a semi-frozen fruit, such as pineapple, mango, or mixed berry, the middle layer is a fruity-mousse layer, and the last layer is a blended Coffee Frappuccino with Coconut Syrup blended in.  The whipped cream is citrus infused. This is a very small test in only a handful of stores in San Diego County. Still, it looks so intriguing that I want to shine a spotlight on it.

There are three test flavors of this new Frappuccino: The Maui Pineapple Paradise, the Copacobana Berry Breeze, and the South Beach Mango Passion.

The test began on April 29, 2014, and will run into the summer.

One thing about this beverage, right off the bat, it looks like it would be some work to construct. I certainly don’t know if that’s true or not, but since only the top one-third of the drink is blended, it looks like it might take more steps to put this Frappuccino together.

If you’ve tried this Frappuccino or have any thoughts on it, please weigh in.

Thank you to the reader who sent in these great images!

If you like reading about things Starbucks tests, there are many more of these kinds of articles here.

Edit on May 8, 2014: Following very strong interest via Facebook and emails, I’m including the address of the Starbucks location featured in this article: 635 Saturn Blvd., San Diego, California.

2 - 1 - Layered Frappuccino signage 29 April 2014 Chula Vista copy2 - 1 - Layered Frappuccino signage 29 April 2014 Chula Vista-2 copy2 - 1 - Layered Frappuccino3


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Single Origin Espresso Test at Starbucks. Try Colombia in your Latte!

photo-10 - Espresso Test March 2014Starbucks is testing offering single-origin espresso for handcrafted espresso beverages. Customers who want an elevated espresso experience can order their espresso beverage with Colombia Nariño Supremo instead of the core Starbucks Espresso Roast.

There are three areas of the country currently testing the single origin espresso: Portland, Oregon; Columbus, Ohio; and areas of Riverside county and inland Southern California. Customers are charged fifty cents for purchasing the single-origin espresso. I’ve heard from people who’ve tried this that their espresso beverage is amazing with the Colombia coffee.

This isn’t the first time that Starbucks has experimented with offering different espresso options for handcrafted drinks. The Starbucks UK/Ireland region has been offering single-origin espresso options for handcrafted drinks for about one year now.

Starbucks Colombia Nariño Supremo will be available in stores as a whole bean coffee on April 1, 2014. You can already order it now at

What do you think? Have you had the chance to try a single-origin coffee as your espresso shots? If you like reading about Starbucks test beverages and lattes, click here.

photo 3 copycolombia on StarbucksStore

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