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Starbucks Natural Fusions Review and a Coffee-Banana Smoothie Recipe

Posted Sep 21 2010 4:13am

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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