Now that I’ve made friends with just about every employee at my local Starbucks, they shoot straight with me about which drinks are going to taste good and which are going to taste bad. And when I asked about the new Cinnamon Caramel Cream Nitro Cold Brew, I was told it “tastes like shit.” As I have often said, I love the employees at Starbucks and they deserve every bit of tip they can get.
I had to look up what a nitro cold brew even is, and to my knowledge, it’s just a more powerful version of a cold brew with more caffeine. Nitro cold brews are steeped in coffee beans and infused with nitrogen. According to Cook’s Illustrated, infusing the coffee with nitrogen gives it a “luxurious mouthfeel,” and while those aren’t my two favorite words, I like the idea of drinking something with a rich, opulent texture. I decided to give the new cold brew a try, despite its early reviews.
What does Starbucks’ Cinnamon Caramel Cream Nitro Cold Brew taste like?
Man, they weren’t kidding. The Cinnamon Caramel Cream Nitro Cold Brew tastes acrid, yet somehow also bland. The only flavors I detect are the horribly fake, syrupy caramel that comes from the Starbucks pumps, plus dry cinnamon, bitter cold brew, and cream without any dairy notes to it. The cream bothers me more than anything, as it’s watery and doesn’t taste full of fat as cream should.
I wondered what exactly Starbucks was going for here. A press release describes the new drink this way:
“Taking inspiration from salted caramels and gooey sticky buns, the new Cinnamon Caramel Cream Nitro Cold Brew is a lovely balance of decadent baking flavors with a delicate and creamy cold foam topping that seamlessly blends into the coffee with each sip,” said Erin Marinan, Starbucks beverage developer. “This velvety smooth Nitro Cold Brew provides customers with a fresh take on the fan-favorite caramel flavor.”
This tastes neither of salted caramels nor gooey sticky buns. There is no salt. There is no buttery, pleasantly spiced cinnamon flavors that you see in a gooey sticky bun. This is a drink that began with a strong concept, bolstered by some excellent marketing copy, and then fell completely on its face. It happens.
The circumstances that would have to arise in order for me to try the Starbucks Cinnamon Caramel Cream Nitro Cold Brew again
Maybe I’d order the Cinnamon Caramel Cream Nitro Cold Brew without cinnamon and nitro? There’s really no saving this drink in its current form, and it’s not going to be around very long. That’s just how things go with the seasonal menu. Sometimes Starbucks hits a homer—the Pistachio Cream Cold Brew rocked—and sometimes its beverages would have benefitted from more time in the lab.