Starbucks Natural Fusions Review and a Coffee-Banana Smoothie Recipe

by Kelly on September 21, 2010

I have a bit of a caffeine addiction.  I can be often seen heading into work, bleary eyed with a large Diet Coke from McDonalds (Yes, it is weird.  I only get the soda.  No food.  I think their machine mixes it best.) or an iced latte from Starbucks.

Starbucks Natural Flavor Fusions

So when the friendly folks at Starbucks asked if I’d like to sample their new line of flavored coffees, Starbucks Natural Fusions it didn’t take me more than a moment to accept.  Their new line just launched with vanilla, caramel, and cinnamon flavored coffees . I loved the sound of these coffees because while it might not be popular to admit in foodie circles, I love flavored coffee.  And since I left behind Polcari’s, my favorite place to buy coffee in Boston, I’ve been looking for a new alternative.  I sampled the coffees hot, iced, and in my favorite coffee-based smoothie recipe to see how they would hold up.

So how did they do?  Cinnamon (not pictured above) was by far my favorite and won me over from the first sip.  For this flavor, the coffee beans are blended with ground cinnamon, orange peel, ground nutmeg, and Indian sarsaparilla root.  The result is a coffee that is deliciously full-flavored and reminded me a lot of the cinnamon dolce syrup they use in their cafes.  I love that that when I went to smell coffee I immediately got a balanced hit of the earthiness of the beans with the spicy cinnamon.  The taste was just as pleasing.  The cinnamon in it was pleasantly strong, but not so much so that it overpowered the other ingredients.  It also had a little inherent sweetness so I find myself using less sugar than I might otherwise.  The flavors also shown through even when mixed with milk and sugar or incorporated into a smoothie (recipe follows).  Overall this was the best cinnamon coffee I’ve ever tried, which is quite a compliment given that Polcari’s Viennese Cinnamon was always my favorite.

Sadly, Vanilla and Caramel were another story.  They weren’t bad, per se, but the flavors were pretty soft.  They each had a quiet sweetness, but nothing that would make you stop and take notice, especially when milk and sugar were added.  That said, it probably didn’t help that I tasted, and loved, the cinnamon first so my expectations were pretty high.  Since every palate is a little different you could always try them to see for yourself.  My parents also sampled them and seemed to like them more than I did, but we all agreed that cinnamon was the best.

Regardless of what kind of coffee you keep on hand,  I recommend you use your leftovers to make this smoothie.  (Though I did love the cinnamon coffee in this recipe because it complemented the other flavors nicely and brought a richness without having to use a lot of ingredients.)  I freeze the coffee into cubes and then blend it with low fat milk and banana for a deliciously icy hit of coffee and fruit. The banana adds a nice froth and sweetness so less sugar is necessary.

Coffee-Banana Smoothie
Serves 1

Ingredients:

-5 frozen coffee cubes (coffee frozen overnight or until solid in a standard ice cube tray)
-1 medium banana
-1 tablespoon sugar
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 cup low fat milk

Method:

Puree all ingredients together in the blender until smooth. Serve immediately.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen September 21, 2010 at 8:25 am

You just made me want a fountain Diet Coke. REALLY REALLY BADLY. 😉

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Sues September 21, 2010 at 8:59 am

I love Polcari’s! And I’ve been dying to try these Starbucks coffees because I really enjoy flavored coffee, but I’m not a fan of flavored syrups. I especially love cinnamon coffee 🙂

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Lauren September 21, 2010 at 9:21 am

I’m so glad you reminded me of these naturally-flavored coffees! I love the aroma of flavored coffee, but usually dislike the artificial taste. I will definitely be picking up a few packages to sample.

The smoothie sounds delicious :).

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Kelly September 21, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Sues – I love it too. I so miss that place! One of the guys who runs it was related to a fomer co-worker of mine so everytime I went in there was lots of chit cat. These definitely fit the bill for natural flavor without a flavored syrup. I also love it because then you can control the sweetness while still getting a ton of flavor.

Lauren – Happy to give the reminder. 🙂 If you couldn’t tell from my review, I’d definitely start with the cinnamon first.

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Cara September 21, 2010 at 2:13 pm

haha, I feel the same way about flavored coffees – love them, but ashamed to admit that to other foodies! Cinnamon coffee is one of my favorite flavors so I’ll have to pick some up!

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Juliana September 21, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Will definitely try the coffee banana smoothie since we always have bananas at home 🙂 Looks yummie!

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Shannon September 21, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Mmm, not a coffee fan, but great use in the smoothie! voted for you 🙂

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Jen September 22, 2010 at 6:22 pm

thanks for the tip! I usually frequent Peet’s (even though I’m a Seattle native — heresy!), but I’ll have to stop by and pick up some cinnamon coffee at SBs.
I love cinnamon anything, and love making homemade chai (black tea + cinnamon stick + cardamom + cloves + black peppercorns…), but I never thought to combine it with coffee

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Kelly September 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Jen – It’s definitely just as good with coffee as with tea. I will say though, I am not 100% sure if it’s sold in Starbucks. I’ve only seen it at my local Target.

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Kerstin September 26, 2010 at 3:11 pm

What a great smoothie addition! I’ll be on the lookout for the cinnamon 🙂

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