The new However-You-Want-It-Frappuccino launches in downtown Seattle on April 19th! It’s the total reinvention of the Starbucks Frappuccino. Suddenly you can now order anything from a soy milk Frappuccino to a breve milk Frappuccino, if that’s what you want.  Starbucks tested these new Frappuccinos for about two years, and now finally is launching them.  The Starbucks Frappuccino is truly an incredibly iconic drink, so tinkering with this beverage IS a risky move.  Starbucks boasts that 40 million customers each week cycle through Starbucks, and we know from real-world experience for many of these customers the only reason to go to Starbucks is for the Frappuccino.

I’ve had the chance to try the new Frappuccino, both as the vanilla bean version and as the coffee base, and for me I was totally happy with the new Frappuccino. I thought the flavor somehow really does taste fresher and that the consistency was better. However, I’m not the type of customer getting a daily Frappuccino, so I’m not the customer who will take one sip and be alarmed at the change in recipe.

One might ask ‘why?’ would Starbucks change the Frappuccino.  There had been many complaints of no non-dairy Frappuccinos, and so I suspect Starbucks ultimately wanted to give every customer some flexibility with his or her drink.  It is my understanding that when this was in the testing phase, it was sometimes called the “Fresh Frappuccino” or the “Custom Blended Frappuccino”.

One of the earlier Starbucks announcements about the Frappuccino is here in the blogs:

This April 19th soft-launch date for downtown Seattle, as far as I know, is not the official nationwide launch date of this new Frappuccino.  However, many cities have already switched over to the new version of the drink, and downtown Seattle begins serving the new version on Monday, April 19, 2010.


Allow me to back up, just in case readers are completely confused by this post. A little background: One upon a time, well over a decade ago (and closer to 15+ years ago) Starbucks created an addictive cold coffee drink with Italian Roast coffee (brewed double strength, meaning double the amount of grounds normally used for one batch, and chilled in tubs in a refrigerator), ice, sweetener, some milk, and a blender. The drink became the Frappuccino. Shortly after it gained great popularity, Starbucks discovered a way to make it easier on the stores: They sent to stores a carton of Frappuccino base in a carton, and a instant coffee powder. If the customer ordered a basic coffee Frappuccino, it was just these two components in a blender with some ice. That version of the Frappuccino –the two component version of the basic coffee Frappuccino — is the version that millions of customers grew to fall in love with. The obvious disadvantage of the two component Frappuccino is that there was no way to customize the milk options (since the milk was part of Frappuccino in the carton) nor could you do anything to adjust the coffee strength.

The new However-You-Want-It-Frappuccino is essentially a three component Frappuccino. The base has changed drastically. No longer is it one basic base in a carton that cannot be adjusted to the customer’s liking.  The new version of the Frappuccino still has some sort of a instant coffee powder, but the base is drastically different and has a little sweetness to it and does not include the milk component.  Now the milk component is separate in the blender, a freshly poured milk option selected by the customer. The base is still a liquid and contains some sort of emulsifiers to provide the beverage with the correct texture and consistency.

So that concludes the “background” story to the Frappuccino,albeit probably a grossly oversimplified version of the Frappuccino story. The Frappuccino was born in the stores with Italian Roast coffee, later was simplified with a two component process that became wildly popular, and now has a more flexible process with a new base and the milk option being a separate choice for the customer to decide upon.


The new However-You-Want-It-Frappuccino even has its own twitter voice!  You can talk directly with a Frappuccino. 😉  Here’s the twitter profile:

The reaction to the new Frappuccino has been mixed:  It seems as though people either hate it or love it. There is now a whirlwind of threads at about the new version of the drink.

Here are just a few threads from MyStarbucksIdea:

About six months ago I wrote a blog entry about my own first experience with the new Frappuccino.  I visited one of the regions where it was tested:

Southlake Texas – A test Frappuccino

^ It’s odd looking back at what I wrote six months ago. I liked the Frappuccino and described as “definitely good” though worried about changing a beverage which essentially is the cornerstone of a lot of sales.  I hope that most people who are unhappy with the new Frappuccino can go back to their baristas and figure out how to tweak the drink to make it taste to their liking.  This is the great advantage of the drink:  If you need more coffee flavor, the barista can add it.  If you need more sweetener, that can be adjusted too.

I have heard from other Starbucks-related web sites that if a barista has to pump more coffee into the drink than the standard drink recipe calls for, the customer will be charged.  I believe that it is forty cents for extra coffee Frappuccino syrup.  Although perhaps I can understand the increased price, I think that will cause a second round of confusion and consternation at Starbucks.  Customers are visually only watching a barista do something that looks like a “pump” of syrup or sauce, and in the customer’s mind, there is no extra charge for more chai or mocha in a beverage (where the recipe already calls for the sauce) thus some customers will be surprised to find another 40 cent charge to their drink.  We’ll just have to see how that goes.

So my upshot: The new drink is two thumbs up!  Better texture, better flavor, and a genuinely fresher taste.

So how do you like the new Frappuccino? This is it: Anything at all about the new Frappuccino is fair game to talk about in this thread.