We Tried Starbucks' 2024 Summer Menu And The New Boba-Inspired Refreshers Are The Sweet Standouts

As the dainty days of spring turn to the hot and muggy days of summer, a cold bottle of water isn't always enough to cool you to your core. Starbucks is releasing a trio of ice-cold concoctions on May 7 to help combat that hot sun as part of its summer 2024 lineup.

The three Summer-Berry Refreshers lean into summer fruits' sweet, juicy taste. Each bright blue beverage comprises a multi-berry base with a layer of luscious raspberry-flavored pearls for some added whimsy. In addition to those three cold drinks, the chain is releasing a pair of food items for the 2024 summer season — the Pineapple Cloud Cake and Orange Cream Cake Pop — and relaunching its White Chocolate Macadamia Cream Cold Brew for the summertime, as well.

I was able to sample each new Starbucks summer menu item before the release and have all the details about the 2024 lineup. If you're curious about how these offerings stand up to the, read on as I present my review of the new Starbucks summertime menu.

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

What is the new Starbucks summer lineup?

When it comes to the beverage portion of the Starbucks summer menu, it's all in the name. After all, the new Summer-Berry Starbucks Refreshers are a collection of berry-forward iced drinks designed for maximum refreshment. The new lineup consists of three drinks: Summer-Berry, Summer-Berry Lemonade, and Summer Skies. Though slight variations exist between each version (which I'll address momentarily), all three drinks have the same blueberry, blackberry, and raspberry flavor base paired with a green coffee extract.

In exciting news for boba tea enthusiasts, the summer refreshers lineup is also home to a new flavor and texture innovation from Starbucks: raspberry pearls. The raspberry pearls are similar to boba pearls and provide juicy hits of raspberry flavor. Each Summer-Berry Refreshers will come with a scoop of raspberry pearls and a big straw to slurp up as many as possible in every sip.

Starbucks is also relaunching its previously popular White Chocolate Macadamia Cream Cold Brew as a limited-time seasonal offering, along with a pair of complementary food items. The Pineapple Cloud Cake comes with pineapple cream, pineapple spread, and real fruit pieces inside a light cake, while the Orange Cream Cake Pop features an orange cream cake with buttercream that's dipped in white chocolate and then designed to resemble an orange slice.

Where to find the Starbucks summer lineup

The Summer-Berry Refreshers are available at all Starbucks locations nationwide starting Tuesday, May 7 — just in time for the spring heat to transition into a summer swelter. Similarly to the newly released Starbucks Spicy Refreshers, the Summer-Berry Refreshers (and the chain's entire summer menu) will also be sold at every Starbucks location throughout the U.S. for as long as supplies last. With that in mind, the raspberry pearls will likely be the first ingredient to run out at most stores, so if you want to experience that burst of raspberry goodness, you'll have to find them before they might just disappear.

Of course, the same logic applies to anyone interested in the White Chocolate Macadamia Cream Cold Brew, the pineapple cake, or the orange cake pop. If any of the 2024 summer menu items from Starbucks sounds appealing to you — and how could they not? — you will have to check your local menu.

Taste test: Summer-Berry Refreshers

Before I could even sip the Summer-Berry Refreshers, I had to take a good look. After all, it's blue — not just tinted blue, but a frozen blue-raspberry ice-pop type of blue. The layer of raspberry pearls at the bottom of the cup is a fun touch, adding something bright to an otherwise slightly intimidating-looking drink. I'd recommend giving it a few good swirls before taking that first sip to allow the raspberry pearls to mix around a little and ensure you get at least one in your straw with each sip.

The sweet, berry-forward base of the drink comes through immediately, and it's on the verge of being an absolute sugar bomb. Thankfully, just when you think the syrupy, cloying sweetness is too much to handle, you bite into one of those bouncy raspberry pearls for a burst of sour, fruity flavor, and everything balances out for a well-rounded sip. The texture of the raspberry pearls isn't quite as firm as a traditional boba pearl, making it easy to pop when it hits your tongue.

On that note, if you can request an extra scoop of raspberry pearls in this drink, do it. This beverage would be an overly sugary flop without that added pop of sweet-and-sour juice.

Taste test: Summer-Berry Lemonade Refreshers

Like the Summer-Berry Refreshers, the Summer-Berry Lemonade Refreshers have a triple berry base and raspberry pearls. However, as the name suggests, this one is shaken with lemonade instead of water. This leads to a lighter, less sports-drink-blue-colored beverage that's also more refreshing.

The lemonade is the real hero here. It adds the right amount of acid to contrast the sweet, syrupy fruit base. While the raspberry pearls were necessary for the standard Summer-Berry Refreshers, the lemonade does a lot of that work in this drink. The acidity from the lemonade is exactly what it craves; it's balanced and cooling without leaving your teeth aching.

The raspberry pearls are a bonus, providing a pop of bright sour raspberry flavor to a drink that screams summer. To ensure this beverage doesn't get too watered down and is easier to mix on your own, ask your barista to only fill the cup halfway with ice. For the best consistency, make sure you stir the lemonade well with the berry refresher base before sipping.

Taste test: Summer Skies

Starbucks could have added another sweet, iridescent blue drink to round out the Summer-Berry Refreshers lineup. But it took a casual left turn with the Summer Skies — and for that, I'm grateful. The Summer Skies starts like the other two (with a sweet berry base and raspberry pearls) but is finished with non-dairy coconut milk. Aesthetically, this drink is far more appealing than the rest of the Summer-Berry Refreshers lineup with a light blue tone reminiscent of a clear sky on a perfect summer day.

From a flavor perspective, Summer Skies is a cut above the rest of the Summer-Berry Refreshers and provides another option for non-dairy Starbucks fans. The coconut milk is creamy and smooth, toning down the sweetness of the berry base for a rich and slightly nutty sip that's more balanced flavor-wise.

Surprisingly enough, though the raspberry pearls are a fun addition for added texture and a sour burst, I would be just as happy if they weren't included in this drink. After all, I don't necessarily want or need a boba-like component when I'm craving something sweet and refreshing to satisfy my afternoon caffeine fix without the added heaviness of dairy milk.

Taste test: White Chocolate Macadamia Cream Cold Brew

While not part of the Summer-Berry Refresher menu, the White Chocolate Macadamia Cream Cold Brew is a gift to Starbucks cold brew and cold foam lovers nationwide. It features Starbucks cold brew shaken with macadamia nut syrup that's then topped with white chocolate macadamia cream cold foam and white chocolate macadamia nut cookie crumbles. 

This drink clearly ticks all the right boxes for someone looking for a more decadent and exciting coffee beverage this summer. While the macadamia nut syrup and sweet cold foam almost seem like too much here, this drink is shockingly balanced with sweet, salty, and nutty notes. Using cold foam instead of milk makes this a far lighter beverage — one that's ideal for a cold afternoon drink when the sun is at its strongest, and the thought of a heavy, milky drink is the last thing you want.

The cookie crumbles on top are an excellent addition, as well, but I wish the baristas were as generous with the crumbles as they are with the caramel drizzle on the standard Starbucks caramel macchiato drink. That textural contrast is a nice touch; I just wish there had been more.

Taste test: Pineapple Cloud Cake and Orange Cream Cake Pop

Starbucks is tapping into the fruits of summer this year, especially with its latest bakery additions. The Pineapple Cloud Cake is a single-serving confection topped with pineapple chunks and cream. The flavors are enjoyable; layering different textures makes for a perfectly balanced bite with just the right amount of juicy pineapple flavor. However, the cake is extremely dense, more like a boulder than a cloud. If this cake were lighter and had more of an angel food cake consistency, I would find it more of an ideal summer delight. 

For a more handheld treat, the Orange Cream Cake Pop is perfect for those who need to satisfy their sweet cravings on the go. The orange cream cake is mixed with buttercream, then dipped in white chocolate icing and finished with an orange slice design piped with white icing. The citrus flavor is very present. It brought me back to the frozen orange confections from the ice cream truck at my neighborhood pool when the cold, syrupy cream would drip down my fingers (as I tried desperately to finish the treat before it became a melted mess). I devoured this cake pop with the same joy, savoring each orange-filled bite as I channeled the feeling of those endless summers of my childhood. 

How do the new Summer-Berry Starbucks Refreshers compare to the Spicy Lemonade Refreshers?

The Summer-Berry Refreshers lineup is something of a continuation of Starbucks' recent spring release, the Spicy Lemonade Refreshers, which provides a good point of comparison. Both are meant to be icy and cooling. However, while the Spicy Lemonade Refreshers focus more on mixing sugar and spice, the Summer-Berry Refreshers are most definitely mixing sugar and more sugar.

Aesthetically, the Spicy Lemonade Refreshers come off as far less aggressive than the Summer-Berry Refreshers, with red, orange, and peachy-colored lemonades as opposed to the same color blue as "Avatar" movie characters. That said, the flavors of the Summer-Berry Refreshers end up being less of a flavor leap than that of the spicy options; someone craving a sweet respite from the heat may be more willing to drink a neon-blue beverage, knowing it will be easy to drink than something with a serious spice factor.

Those brave enough to mix their sweet with some heat should consider the Spicy Lemonade Refresher options. As someone who prefers their liquid whimsy to be slightly less abrasive, the Summer Skies is my favorite of the newest lineup. 

Is the Summer-Berry Refreshers lineup worth it?

Starbucks is really good at keeping its loyal fans constantly on their toes. There's really no predicting what will come next from Starbucks, but what we do know is that this newest lineup is more for sugar lovers than anyone else. If that's you, consider yourself belonging to the Summer-Berry Refreshers lineup's core demographic. Not all Starbucks drinks are created equal, however.

The Summer-Berry Refreshers is by far the sweetest and least appealing of the bunch, but as I went down the line, I did find myself enjoying each one more than the last. The Summer-Berry Lemonade is an upgrade from the straight Summer-Berry, introducing the right amount of acidity from the lemonade to make this a well-balanced and more refreshing sip rather than a drinkable toothache. The new Starbucks summer menu items were unique, though they often leaned too heavily toward sweetness without many refreshing elements.

The Summer Skies, however, is where Starbucks nailed it, and it is the most worthwhile drink in the lineup. It's unconventional and fun to look at, but more importantly, it's the only one worthy of the Refreshers name. For a tasty and thirst-quenching summer beverage, we say reach for the Summer Skies and leave the rest of the Summer-Berry Refreshers lineup to chill.