Expert coffee connoisseurs can identify the layers to a brew: the origin of the bean, the flavor notes and the brewing process. Lucky for you, I am anything but a coffee expert, but I can break things down pretty concise: good or bad. Now while my coffee palette isn’t exactly refined and manicured, I can tell you if Starbucks’ new Pistachio Latte is worth your money and time waiting in the drive-thru.
There’s nothing quite like a good latte. The milk froth, the bite of espresso and the pop of flavor from an added pump. It is truly a drink made to perfection, but does it hold up at Starbucks? The new year menu has brought the Pistachio Latte to all locations and it certainly caught my eye as an avid latte drinker. A standard grande (medium) size includes two espresso shots, four pumps of pistachio sauce, steamed two percent milk and salted brown butter topping. Based on these ingredients, I’m a bit doubtful. It could be the lackluster and nauseating use of the word “sauce,” or it may be the brown butter topping. These just don’t seem like flavors that define a sweet, salty coffee drink.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge pistachio girl. Gelato, muffins, a garnish; Pistachios are truly a versatile and celebrated food in my life. As a passionate pistachio advocate, let it be known I will review this drink very carefully. Might I add, there are a few milk alternatives at Starbucks available, but this drink is not vegan and I can’t say for sure it’s gluten-free. The contents of the pistachio sauce contain non-vegan ingredients, so unfortunately, it’s not the most customizable drink.
I am really not into hot drinks, let me first say. I only have an occasional hot latte when the weather and time of year suits. That being said, it was a rainy and wet day at the time of this review, so I figure I would have to cater to both sides. Some say good and evil, while others say, iced latte and hot latte. I ordered the hot latte with no customizations, just exactly how it’s advertised on the Starbucks website. My initial thought was, “Where’s the smell?” Usually, I find that with hot drinks, you can almost always smell the contents of your cup. Not even the slightest aroma of pistachios and sweetness came (and to answer your question, no I thankfully don’t have coronavirus). I can only describe the foam as being a copy of the salted sweet cream that I usually order on top of my cold brew. Sweet and salty, pretty simple and nothing new, but why fix what’s not broken, right?
Honestly, the pistachio flavors came through, I can’t lie. After the foam and it’s very familiar taste, the light notes of pistachio and warmth came forward. It was honestly, OK. While there was a slight uniqueness to the pistachio taste, it just tasted like a standard winter drink from Starbucks. If you asked me to decipher between any Christmas hot drink on the menu and this, I really couldn’t. In short, nothing special and it doesn’t really give spring, light flavors as they describe. I’ll give it a five out of 10.
This is when things seemed exciting. Just as I set down my hot latte, I was ready to be wowed by what would be my personal choice: iced. There was no cold foam or foam on top, so right away this drink sat better with me. The brown butter topping seems like a last-ditch effort to preserve flavor. Like the hot, I made no customizations on this drink, I just ordered it as advertised and iced. May I just say, It was very underwhelming. I almost didn’t taste flavoring. It just tasted like a bold iced latte, mostly bitter from the espresso and light from the milk. It’s not that it was bad, but it’s just not worth the extra money in flavoring to justify itself. It did not serve one speck of pistachio and was really just an iced hazelnut latte. It’s just not that special.
Of course, it should be noted that I got these drinks from one Starbucks location, so it could differ between baristas and location. I don’t think this was a barista-error, rather just a bad drink idea. Starbucks, you have failed me, as both a fan of pistachios and a fan of lattes. Spring at Starbucks is out, so I guess it looks like I have a lot of Dunkin’ in the future.