Review: Starbucks' New Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso Stands Out For Its Sweet Yet Robust Flavor

As the festive season concludes, the decorations come down, and holiday merchandise sells out, Starbucks transitions into the new year with a refreshed winter menu. Among the latest offerings is the Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso, a shaken drink of oat milk, blonde espresso, hazelnut syrup, and ice. This new drink complements the existing Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso, providing espresso fans with another convenient choice.

Starbucks is also enhancing the customer experience by simplifying the use of personal tumblers and making it especially convenient for drive-thru and mobile app orders. Customers can now easily use their own cups by notifying the barista when ordering and presenting the cup at the window or in-store pick-up point. This environmentally friendly option comes with perks: a $0.10 discount and 25 bonus Starbucks stars. The Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso, thoroughly mixed and without cold foam, is particularly well-suited for these tumblers, ensuring a consistent flavor from the first sip to the last.

Some recommendations are based on first-hand impressions of promotional materials and products provided by the manufacturer/distributor/etc.

What is the Starbucks' Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso?

The line of shaken espresso drinks at Starbucks draws inspiration from an Italian beverage known as a shakerato. The core concept involves shaking espresso with a bit of sweetener over ice, resulting in a frothy, foamy drink. Starbucks builds upon this idea by incorporating unique sweeteners and, in many variations, oat milk. This method of shaking the espresso with sweeteners ensures thorough mixing and cooling. The baristas then top the drink with oat milk or your chosen milk. We've noticed that if the oat milk isn't shaken properly before being added, it can lead to a speckled appearance in the drink with tiny oat milk dots floating in the cup. The quality of Starbucks drinks often depends on the baristas' adherence to the recipe and their training.

A notable difference between Starbucks' shaken espresso line and the Italian shakerato is in the straining process. In Italy, the shakerato is strained to offer a chilled beverage without ice, whereas Starbucks serves its version with ice. This distinction makes the shakerato a stronger drink than the shaken espressos available at Starbucks in the U.S.

Where to find Starbucks' new drink

Starbucks' latest shaken espresso drink is now available at local Starbucks stores across the United States. Interestingly, this new addition to the menu doesn't introduce any novel ingredients; everything used in this drink is already available at Starbucks. This means that savvy customers familiar with how to customize drinks and order secret menu items could have technically ordered this shaken espresso concoction even before it officially became part of the post-New Year's menu. 

The lack of new ingredients might make you wonder about the rationale behind making this drink a permanent fixture on the menu, yet that is exactly what Starbucks has done. It now sits alongside the brown sugar shaken espresso and the iced shaken espresso as a staple offering.

Admittedly, we often have a bit of trepidation when trying out a new drink at Starbucks. The fear of getting too attached to a seasonal item is real for fans, as the disappointment of a favorite drink being discontinued can be quite disheartening. However, with this drink becoming a permanent menu item, there's no need to worry.

How much does this shaken espresso cost?

The new Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso at Starbucks is available in the traditional size options: tall, grande, and venti. For those considering the cost, a tall is priced at $5.95, the slightly larger grande at $6.45, and the venti, the largest size, at $6.75.

Each size comes with a specific espresso and syrup composition. In a tall, you'll receive two shots of Starbucks' blonde roast espresso, known for its lighter and slightly sweeter profile compared to the signature espresso, along with one pump of rich hazelnut syrup. The grande ups the ante with three shots of the same blonde roast espresso and two pumps of hazelnut syrup, offering a more robust flavor. If your day needs more of a caffeine kick, the venti size includes four shots of espresso and is complemented by three pumps of syrup, balancing the espresso's boldness with the sweetness of hazelnut.

Taste-testing the newest Starbucks' drink

Starbucks extended an invitation for us to sample its latest addition to the permanent menu, the Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso. As fans of other shaken espresso offerings, we were curious to see how the hazelnut variant would stack up. Our first impression was the notable sweetness of the hazelnut. Unlike some drinks where the oat milk flavor can be masked by sweeteners, here it was distinctly present, contributing to the overall taste profile. The use of blonde espresso instead of the signature variety lent the drink a more mellow character.

However, we encountered a minor issue with the presentation. The drink had flaky bits, a common occurrence with oat milk or coconut milk if not shaken thoroughly before being added. While this didn't detract from the flavor, it did affect the visual appeal. Such inconsistencies are not uncommon with certain Starbucks beverages, and it's an aspect we've learned to expect from time to time.

Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso vs. Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso

To our surprise, we found the Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso to be sweeter than the Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso, another iced oat milk drink Starbucks offers. Initially, we anticipated the opposite, considering that the brown sugar variant is based directly on a sweetener. This highlights the unique formulation of the hazelnut syrup.

What's more, the role of oat milk in each drink is quite different. In the brown sugar shaken espresso, the milk seems to blend more seamlessly into the background, allowing the brown sugar flavor to take center stage. Conversely, in the hazelnut shaken espresso, the milk's presence is more pronounced with a strong oat milk flavor.

When it comes to price and caffeine content, these two drinks are identical. Both use blonde espresso, lending similar smoothness in texture and taste. This similarity in base ingredients ensures a consistent quality across both offerings. Fans of the Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso might find the Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso equally appealing.

Is Starbucks' new shaken espresso worth it?

For those already fond of Starbucks' line of shaken espresso drinks and looking to diversify their usual order, giving the hazelnut oat milk shaken espresso a try is certainly a worthwhile venture. This drink stands out with its distinct hazelnut flavor blended with the creamy texture of oat milk and the mellow yet distinct taste of blonde espresso. It's a refreshing alternative within the shaken espresso family, offering a new twist while retaining what makes these drinks popular.

However, for customers who prefer less coffee-centric beverages, such as the Frappuccino range, this shaken espresso might not align with their tastes. The shaken espresso drinks have a robust coffee flavor. The espresso component is the star of the show, delivering a strong and unmistakable coffee experience that may not appeal to those with a milder coffee preference.

If you're a hazelnut fan, but espresso's intense flavor isn't quite your cup of coffee, you might want to consider the hazelnut Frappuccino instead. This option offers hazelnut's rich, nutty taste in a more blended and dessert-like beverage.