Starbucks Unveils Iced Energy Drinks, But The Real Winner Is...

As we see every season, Starbucks is adding some new drinks and dishes to the menu. They are the Melon Burst Iced Energy and Tropical Citrus Iced Energy iced tea drinks, and two bakery breakfast items: an Egg, Pesto and Mozzarella Sandwich, and a Blueberry Streusel Muffin that revamps and replaces the existing blueberry muffin.

Quite a list, but this summer comes with a small twist: Everything on offer from Starbucks this summer is now a permanent addition to offerings you can order. That means if you find your new favorite beverage in the debuting energy drinks, you can still get them in December (perhaps to go with your peppermint espresso). What's more, you can customize both new flavors with the tea and add-ins of your choice (excluding any coffee drinks, but even if you could, bleh, fruit juice with coffee) so that it can become a winter warmer rather than an iced refreshment.

It's worth noting that the one limited-time offering you can only get this summer is a new iced coffee blend with a caramel swirl — and that is app-exclusive. If you want to try it, you can't just walk up to the counter. You'll have to download the Starbucks app to order it. Sadly, I didn't get to try this one. But I sampled all of the permanent additions last week, and here are my thoughts about what you should try first.

Availability of Starbucks' new menu

The new Starbucks menu items are available today, June 25, in all locations, and will remain on the menu permanently. The big stars are the new energy drinks, a sort of a bubbly, extra caffeinated Arnold Palmer deluxe, mingling sparkling fruit flavors with iced tea in a sugar-free setting. Offering about the same caffeine as a grande cold brew, they're a great way to get your buzz up on a hot summer morning without consuming sugar. Also, if you just don't want coffee breath, here's your go-to order. These are solid orders for the start of a road trip to the beach, but go to the bathroom before you get in the car, because these come in venti only, owing to the cans of sparkling fruit infusion used to make half the recipe.

In addition to these drinks and food, there's a new add-on topper: a nondairy, vanilla sweet cream cold foam that can be added to any drink. But should it be? That's the first question to examine.

Taste test: Starbucks nondairy, vanilla sweet cream cold foam

While it's not a standalone menu item, Starbucks is also debuting a nondairy, vanilla sweet "cream" cold foam, made with soy and oat milk, which you can add to any drink. Big news for vegans as well as any Instagram folks who want to post video of the cascading textures sinking to the drink in a dramatic display of gravity. I do love me some vegan options, and have been taking my coffee black at home since most nondairy creamers aren't worth it, in my opinion.

That said, I don't think this one will change my mind. It's pretty, it adds nice fluff, and the flavor's light and sweet, but it's so thin, it's hard to get any of it off the top like a solid latte. It also sinks fast, and once it's in the drink, it's only going to tilt the flavor's axis a nominal amount. It's not replicating any part of a nice shot of half-and-half, so you're just getting some processed sugar and fat for minimal payoff. Skip it unless you're one of those folks making your rent posting #ColdFoamEating TikToks, because we live in a bizarre future.

Taste test: Starbucks Melon Burst Energy

I went back and forth on Starbucks Melon Burst Energy. It's pinkish red, and, according to Starbucks, includes flavors like hibiscus, apple, licorice, and lemongrass. At the same time, its bubble-gum flavor, no doubt owing to the passionfruit interacting with the melon, is pleasantly anchored by the former's earthy tones, along with those lying at the bottom of cucumber. Between that tension of so-fruity and mild by design, there's the fizziness of the drink adding to the chaos. It ends on a big tea flourish, though, and that was nice again.

All in all, I'd call this good enough to put an exclamation point on, but not inspiring enough to order. It was chaotically refreshing, and didn't leave a sweet glug of sugar on the palate like refined sugar would have done, nor the odd metallic flavor of artificial sweeteners. Although it's possible that the latter was simply buried under everything going on, I assume the sweetener is stevia.

Final verdict: I'd get cranked on its caffeine, but I can't lie to myself that all the textures and flavors come together. It's more successful of an experiment than you'd expect, even so. Surprisingly, the cucumber might be the hero of this family, stabilizing everything enough to keep it together for $5.75 with 10 calories and 180 milligrams of caffiene.

Taste test: Starbucks Tropical Citrus Iced Energy

Now we're talking. Green tea's earthiness pairs with that of more passionfruit, whose own sweet and tart notes play off of the citrus herein. As with the melon, it's an unrevealed slice of nature, but it tastes real enough to say it's probably not merely citrus-inspired. Not quite calamansi or tangerine or orange, this one remains a mystery. Yuzu 2024, am I right?

As before, a huge green tea finale takes this one home, this time much more successfully. Going from sparkles to such a serene flavor is a trip, but hey, everyone deserves a chance to get weird, and summer's the right time for it. You do you, green tea.

While anyone can order this energy drink, there is an app-exclusive upgrade that lets you add strawberry purée (without the purée, it comes in at 5 calories, no sugar, and 205 milligrams of caffiene). I didn't get to sample it this way, but I could see some nice strawberry pulp lending extra flavor and texture to this. Like I said, it's already weird, but it works. Might as well add in a beloved summer fruit. Though what kind of app downloads or data harvesting these app-exclusive deals are meant to encourage is a market move beyond my ability to conjecture. Anyway! Tropical Citrus Iced Energy: the drink of your Starbucks summer for $5.75.

Taste test: Starbucks Egg, Pesto, and Mozzarella Sandwich

I have to admit, I did not expect great things from the vegetarian Egg, Pesto, and Mozzarella Sandwich. Egg can bring out a certain vinegary quality to both mozz and pesto that's hit or miss. As much as I love a great pesto, it's not a subtle flavor, and egg has a mild taste whose fattiness often easily emphasizes what it's paired with. I figured this would have a can't-lose of a classic egg sandwich with satisfyingly chewy cheese, somewhat diminished by tanginess. Boy, was I wrong.

This wasn't just the best thing I ate in the tasting, it was the best thing I ate all day. The toasted cheddar and onion bread wasn't a traditional focaccia, being denser and thinner, but still served up a familiar chew and flavor. If you order seven-cheese bread at Subway, you'd probably get this sandwich for the bread alone to see it done better. Inside the flavors performed excellently with each other, as the cheddar, parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses sang in chorus. It hit more like a breakfast pizza with a deeply satisfying protein boost thanks to its cage-free egg, 390 calories, 21 grams of protein, and 36 grams of carbs for $5.25. I'm dreaming of one even as I write this up.

Taste test: Starbucks Blueberry Streusel Muffin

If you're a fan of the previous blueberry muffin sold at Starbucks, we have some sad news for you. The king is dead; long live the king. Starbucks Blueberry Streusel Muffin replaces it immediately, as in, today, right now, sorry you didn't stock up over the weekend. That said, if you liked the old one, you'll likely be just as happy with this. The cinnamon streusel swirl is more subtle than you might expect from such a potent spice, leaving room for notes of vanilla to come forward. The blueberry is also subtler than you'd expect, making this almost as much of a vanilla muffin with notes of cinnamon and blueberry as it could fairly call those two titular.

Texturally, it's very tender and moist, but without exploding crumbs as usually happens when the batter cooks up this loosely. Credit the exterior, which has a light, shallow crispiness, meaning, there isn't a deep substrate of loose, airy cake. Instead, it's just a great spring to the crumb through and through. High marks here.

Acing its bread, but lacking the explosive burst of berry a muffin like this needs, it's an A+ baked good with B- category characteristics containing 370 calories, 5 grams of protein, 27 grams of sugar, 47 grams of carbs, and 18 grams of fat for $3.45. If the blueberry or cinnamon had been laced through the base flavor stronger to dominate, this would have been a recommendation. You'll like it with your coffee, but as berry muffins go, it lacks the intensity needed to succeed.

What's worth buying from Starbucks new 2024 summer menu items?

Absolutely get your hands around the Egg, Pesto, and Mozzarella Sandwich. I know what I'll be ordering on airport layovers from now on — historically the likeliest place to find me in line at Starbucks — since this is a great breakfast item sturdy enough for dinner. It's the MVP of the new menu. You won't get too full finishing it, but you will feel fueled up. And isn't that the best way to have a summer adventure? If you're reading this in winter, simply add a warm Blueberry Streusel Muffin to your order and enjoy both.

While the Tropical Citrus Iced Energy isn't exactly the perfect pairing to the egg sandwich, it's definitely the better match among the new energy drinks, and the better of the two regardless. With these in your hands, you'll be a happy camper, hiker, beachgoer, or just a hungry office worker chilling in the A/C while you wait for your Starbucks-adjacent, off-brand Kirkland Signature Egg Bites to cook up in the microwave, dreaming of that Starbucks Reserve happy hour martini awaiting you.