Should You Try Starbucks’ Salted Caramel Mocha?

Picture this: it’s a hot day in early September, warm enough that you’re still wearing shorts instead of jeans. A breeze blows gently across your face as you head to class, stepping on a fallen leaf here and there. That’s when you see it: the sign proclaiming that “Pumpkin Spice is Back!” That’s when you realize it is officially fall. While pumpkin spice lattes have become a beloved staple of many people’s fall experience, if they’re not your favorite, you do have another option this season: the salted caramel mocha.

Starbucks’ salted caramel mocha comes in three standard variations: iced, hot, or a frappe. While I’m not opposed to the idea of a PSL, I’m also not in love with them, so I was excited to try a new fall flavor.

The first version of the salted caramel mocha that I had was the frappe. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it going in, because I generally love mocha-based frappes (java chip is my go-to) and I find the caramel-based frappes too sweet. However, the salt and mocha flavors provided enough of a balance that I didn’t find the caramel to be overwhelming. It was still a little too sweet for me, which, as someone with a self-proclaimed sweet tooth, means a lot. The salt and caramel drizzle they put on top of the whipped cream was my favorite part. However, they did misspell my name on the cup (Gabriel instead of Gabrielle, a regular issue), which was a little disappointing.

The next version I tried was iced. Two of my favorite Starbucks drinks are the iced mocha and iced caramel macchiato, so I was most excited to try this one. It technically comes with whipped cream, but I decided against it because I generally only get whipped cream on frappes. Because of this, I didn’t get the salt or caramel drizzle that the frappe had. It ended up tasting like it was just an iced mocha, and beyond that, the chocolate flavor was a little overpowering, and the taste of the actual coffee was very underwhelming. However, I did get to use my new metal straw while drinking this (save the turtles!) which was exciting, plus they get a bonus point for actually spelling my name right on the cup.

The final version I tried was the traditional hot version. Honestly, I was least excited to try this one; I’m not usually a fan of hot coffee. But this was by far my favorite of the three drinks. It had an even taste split between the mocha, salt, and caramel flavors. It did somewhat remind me of just a caramel hot chocolate, but I wouldn’t consider that a bad thing. This drink tastes like fall, and I loved it. Of the three, it’s the only one I’m likely to order again (I’d rather just stick to my typical java chip frappes and iced caramel macchiatos in the other two categories).

Any of the salted caramel mochas are definitely worth a try at least once, especially if you’re not a fan of pumpkin spice. I’d personally only order the hot one again, but it’s definitely worth figuring out your own favorite. Seasonal flavors are one of my favorite things about Starbucks, and salted caramel mocha is a great addition to this year’s fall flavors.

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