How to describe Starbucks’ new Cold Foam? It’s looks like the head on a Guinness beer, but it doesn’t dissipate and dissolve into the rest of the drink. It has a similar mouthfeel to the marshmallow topping of a key lime pie, but it’s easily sip-able. And it has a name that evokes the villain of a Michael Crichton sci-fi novel, but it actually tastes pretty good.
Cold Foam is Starbucks’ newest addition to its drink menu. It’s made from whipped milk, but it’s not exactly a coffee creamer. It’s designed to sit atop a cold beverage without instantly vanishing (a la typical cappuccino foam from steamed milk), and gives customers the option to adorn their iced-cappuccinos with something other than whipped cream or, well, hot foam.
The new menu item is part of Starbucks’ effort to capitalize on a larger trend, as iced coffee has exploded in popularity. Soon, the coffee giant aims to bring in half its sales from cold beverages. But while the company has been an innovation powerhouse in many arenas (hello #PSL), it hasn’t had the same breakout success in recent years with cold beverages. Unless you count the Unicorn Frappuccino. Which, to be clear, we do not.
Enter Cold Foam, just in time for summer. The foam is created by putting milk in a blender, using a process that ensures it doesn’t get too hot. In some drinks, the substance is then sweetened with Cascara, which is the recently trendy dried fruit of the coffee plant (the coffee bean is the seed).
To start out, on April 17, Starbucks will be featuring three different Cold Foam drinks: the Cold Foam Cascara Nitro Cold Brew, Cold Foam Starbucks Blonde Iced Cappuccino, and the Cold Foam Cascara Cold Brew. The foam topping will be available as an add-on for any cold beverage.
So how was it? As someone who takes a lot of milk in their coffee, it was a little frustrating to have the foam sit on top and not blend in with the rest of the drink. But Cold Foam does taste good (see video above for a candid take). The ability to get a hit of curiously frothy cream along with a taste of cold brew is refreshing. And in the Starbucks Reserve shop where we sampled it, hands already shaking from caffeine tremors, your correspondents kept going back for more.