My usual Starbucks order is a hot, pitch-black, four-shot Americano, because I’m a no-nonsense broad with a need for speed and a cool leather jacket to match. I like coffee that’s straight to the point and harsh as the day is long, with nary a cutesy thing about it. But even though I’m not one to go gaga over festive Frappuccinos or insane “secret menu” custom drinks, I am a sucker for fall and its perfect cool-leather-jacket weather. In this nippy upcoming season of unbridled warm-beverage enthusiasm, it’s impossible to resist Starbucks’ cinnamon-dusted siren song.
This fall, a brand-new seasonal drink gets to play second fiddle to the Pumpkin Spice Latte: the Apple Crisp Macchiato. According to Starbucks’ fancy-pants description, it features “layered flavors of apple and brown sugar melding like the filling of a gooey apple pie in harmony with espresso, steamed milk, and a caramelized-spiced apple drizzle for a nostalgic autumn pick-me-up,” with the tartness of “sweet red apples grounded in delicate brown sugar,” and finished with a drizzle made of “apple juice, apple puree, cinnamon, and nutmeg nestled on steamed milk foam.” As an everyday coffee option, this description would leave me slightly aghast, but as a liquid dessert? Sure, I’ll consume this beverage by the gallon.
I knew that Starbucks’ Apple Crisp Macchiato would be outstanding, because this is the company that single-handedly turned us into a pumpkin-spice-crazed society, and it knows better than to disappoint a customer base that’s desperate for seasonal whimsy. And boy oh boy, did the ’Bucks deliver: picture a rich, buttery caramel apple dipped in dark chocolate, but drinkable.
Despite the way it tastes, there is no actual chocolate in this drink; it’s an illusion created by the Apple Crisp Macchiato’s two shots of espresso. If you’re a baker or otherwise versed cocoa craft, you probably know that espresso does a bang-up job of making chocolate taste even more chocolatey. Those dark coffee notes and the woody warmth of cinnamon ground the sweetness of the brown sugar, keeping this seasonal symphony surprisingly far from the line dividing “sweet” and “cloying.”
For a black-coffee-swillin’ gal such as myself, the Apple Crisp Macchiato is as good as any festive fall beverage can be: a warm, cozy balancing act that never veers too far in any one direction. Maybe in a few years, the Pumpkin Spice Latte will be the one playing second fiddle to this drink throughout cool leather jacket season.