Starbucks Expands Handcrafted Soda Test to Atlanta & Austin; Nashville Starbucks Testing the Cold Foam Mocha.

by Melody on June 29, 2013

Ginger Ale 2Handcrafted Starbucks sodas, including root beer and ginger ale, now offered in select stores in Atlanta, and Austin:

In June this year, Starbucks entered its second phase of testing carbonated beverages, including their own proprietary handcrafted root beer and ginger ale.  The new test includes a limited number of stores in Atlanta and in Austin, Texas.

The first handcrafted soda test was this past April, and limited to a small number of Starbucks stores just north of Seattle.

Several readers emailed me their photos from the handcrafted soda test.  All I can say is that I wish this would go national.  This is a great idea.  Take a look at these photos!

IMG_4083 Sign for handcrafted soda in Austin TX Starbucks from customer JFCarbonator for the handcrafted soda at Starbucks test June 2013

photo 3-1 Cold Foam Mocha Test in Nashville StarbucksA limited number of Starbucks in Nashville are now testing a “Cold Foam Mocha.”

A small number of Starbucks stores in Nashville, Tennessee, are testing an all-new beverage called the “Cold Foam Mocha.”  This test began around June 25th.  I have to admit, when I heard the name of the test, I pictured something like the Iced Cocoa Cappuccino beverage which was offered about four years ago, but I guessed wrong.

As I understand it, a special “cold foam” is prepared in advance in whipped cream canisters.  Shots of espresso are poured into milk steam pitchers with the right amount of ice in it, and then the espresso is stirred.  Then the cold espresso is poured over the “cold foam” in the cup.  In other words, it seems as though the steps might be this.  Place correct amount of cold foam into plastic cup. and add in the right amount of mocha (or white mocha).  Place the right amount of ice into milk steaming pitchers.  Add shots and stir a little, and then pour over the cold foam.

To be honest, I’m having a lot of difficulty imaging what this tastes like.  This is one of those drinks where I wonder how did someone come up with this!

photo 2 - A cold foam mocha June 2013 Nashville Starbucks

If by any chance you have tried the Starbucks Cold Foam Mocha, I would love to hear your thoughts!  (Or any thoughts you might have on these test beverages).

Please keep in mind that Starbucks tests many more beverages than what actually makes it to a final, national launch.  Don’t hold your breath that these drinks are coming to a store near you – these truly are in the testing phase.

 

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth June 30, 2013 at 1:43 am

The cold foam mocha reminds me of an espresso fredo type drink. I’ve never had one, but I remember a customer ordering one years ago and I had no idea what she was talking about. I had to research when I got home.
I really hope the sodas go national. I don’t drink soda except for special occasions when there is a really good root beer available and I would love to try the starbucks version. Exciting!

Organic Fair Trade Dave June 30, 2013 at 5:31 pm

The construction of the Cold Foam Mocha sounds a lot like an undertow. In order to create the layered effect the espresso needs to have water added so mixing the shots with ice makes sense. Illy started offering a drink that looks a lot like the Cold Foam Mocha last year at its cafes. Illy’s drink is called the Illycrema Trio. I have never tried the Illycrema Trio nor the Starbucks Cold Foam Mocha so the two drinks might be very different. I am simply stating that the drinks look similar and the descriptions are similar. Perhaps this was Starbucks’ inspiration?

Melody June 30, 2013 at 5:54 pm

That’s it – This drink sounds like it would taste a bit like an undertow! By the way, I believe the shots are mixed with the iced, but the ice is held back when poured into the cup. ?? I got an email from a partner in this market (no comment here, just an email) who explained that the drink is supposed to served unstirred. Unstirred, it sounds a bit more like an undertow. Whatever it is, the email stated that the baristas are having to do a lot of explaining to customers what it is. I can see why!

Organic Fair Trade Dave June 30, 2013 at 6:45 pm

I didn’t notice the first time but in looking at the Cold Foam Mocha again I noticed the label states “sub mocha”. So, now I am wondering what the actual recipe is if mocha is being used as a substitution in a Cold Foam MOCHA…

I’m with you, I am having trouble imaging what it would taste like because undertows are meant to knocked back swiftly so the layers can still mix in your mouth before you actually swallow. But drinking the Cold Foam Mocha through a straw just seems like a mouthful of mocha sauce before you ever get to the espresso or foam. That said, I would love to try it just to see if and how it works.

Sam July 1, 2013 at 7:20 am

I bought a cold foam mocha. It’s made by layering chocolate syrup on the bottom, then a layer of the cold foam stuff from a whipped cream charger. Then espresso is added to ice, and stirred in a separate container. The chilled espresso is poured through the foam, and the glass has no ice in it. It’s about half foam. flavor wise it is very similar to a regular mocha. The foam itself is very light. It’s definitely milk based but must have a bunch of stabilizers in it because the bubbles don’t go away and it does not really mix with the coffee and chocolate. It isn’t like whipped cream or steamed milk foam. definitely an interesting drink but it clearly took longer for the barista to make and it’s really not all that different than an iced mocha other than visually

purple1 July 1, 2013 at 7:22 am

I still have mixed feelings about soda being introduced and I hardly see customers buying the Izzy soda. I still am curious too about how they decide what test markets to try these new items?

Melody July 1, 2013 at 7:23 am

@Sam – Thanks for the comment – totally interesting. This “cold foam” is kind of weird that the bubbles don’t go away. I wonder what is in it. Somehow, I don’t see this drink making it to a nationwide launch, but you never know with Starbucks. Thanks again for sharing your experience with the drink.

Kristi July 1, 2013 at 7:35 am

I ordered the Cold Foam Mocha this morning having no idea what to expect. My first observation is that it took a significant amount of time to construct. I was going through the drive-thru and I definitely caused some traffic backup. I have ordered some variation of an iced latte as my go-to drink for a while now, but this definitely was different for me. The barista at the window, clearly aware that this was a different sor t of drink described it as a “coffee float” and while I think his description is accurate, I find the beverage to be quite appealing. I would definitely order it again, but I may go inside just to avoid the traffic backup caused by the number of steps involved in crafting the drink.

Melody July 1, 2013 at 7:37 am

@Purple1 – I still love the soda idea. What a great option. Starbucks has a standard “test” pathway — It kind of goes like this (with variation!)

a) Someone has an idea at the Starbucks headquarters and works on a drink or concept in R & D
b) the drink or concept is launched at a very small number of Starbucks stores in WA state – usually Snohomish County, for the earliest testing.
c) if it does well in that early preliminary testing, it moves on to larger city testing. Cold beverages often go to warm cities like Austin, San Diego, Atlanta, and a few other places. Denver gets a few tests too.
d) if Starbucks is not ready for the larger testing in Austin, San Diego, Atlanta, there is sometimes another short phase of testing in northern California BEFORE the big cities – Austin, San Diego, Atlanta
At this point, a year to two years has gone by. If the drink makes it through all of that, it might go to national launch – assuming that the business side of Starbucks still believes that it has solid profit margins

The Pink Lime Frozt is perfect example of this:

http://www.starbucksmelody.com/2012/05/13/starbucks-again-tests-the-frozts-pink-lime-frozt-and-coconut-lime-frozt/

I think it might have been tested in Snohomish County but I didn’t catch it there.
Then went to Folsom, California and few northern California cities – just a few, limited number of stores and districts.
Then went to Atlanta, San Diego, San Jose, and Dallas, one year later for the larger round of testing.
Then it never made it to national launch.

The other pattern is to try beverages on international markets and then launch them here, or move beverages to international markets from the US – Such as with the “Apple Crumble” latte and Frappucino. And hot beverages get tested in all kinds of places it seems.

purple1 July 1, 2013 at 7:42 am

Thank you Melody for a detailed explanation of the testing process. Very interesting. BTW how was your road trip? Welcome back home to what I hear is quite a heat wave!

Teresa July 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Just Had The Cold Foam Mocha. IT Was Awesome.

Artur July 1, 2013 at 3:37 pm

I don’t really understand how this “cold foam” is made. Just like whipped cream using chargers, but with milk instead of cream?

Devin July 1, 2013 at 4:14 pm

The cold foam sort of resembles the result of using breve instead of heavy whipping cream in the whip canisters (had a partner make an entire batch of these on accident recent, oops). It sort of just melted into a foamy mess due to the lower fat content of the breve.

Patsy Burnette July 2, 2013 at 5:10 am

@Devin hasn’t every new partner made an entire batch of those? lol

I’m really interested in the cold foam process, especially what the recipe is and how the whipped cream chargers are involved!

Kenny July 3, 2013 at 11:23 am

Melody – Just a note to say your blog was featured in a “Newsy” report about the sodas!

http://www.newsy.com/videos/quiet-starbucks-soft-drink-test-making-noise/

Dee July 12, 2013 at 12:59 am

I accidently tried the cold foam mocha and happened on this site while doing a search to find out more about the drink. I’m hopelessly addicted. How do I contact the department that does product launches and let them know how much I like it?

Melody July 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm

@Dee – There isn’t an easy way to reach actual Starbucks corporate partners. If it is any reassurance to you, I hear they read these comments often! ;-) You could call Customer Service and ask them to pass on your feedback. ?

Thank you for weighing in on the cold foam mocha! I so wish I could try it!

crema_the_crop July 15, 2013 at 4:46 pm

We need to find a partner who works at a cold foam test store and figure out how this stuff is made……I wanna try!!

crema_the_crop July 15, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Also, what is that contraption in the other photo? I’m assuming it’s the carbonation machine? Any ideas on who manufactures it? I assumed we would end up getting “chargeable” iSi soda siphons…that thing looks too fancy and fragile!

ElwynWolf July 18, 2013 at 9:23 am

I tired the cold foam for the first time yesterday and I loved it. I had the white chocolate mocha. :) Yes it is like an iced mocha BUT without the ice. and I personally enjoy this… I feel like I get more drink this way. I drank it two ways one using the straw in an up down motion to get all the layers and then I mixed it all up. The drink tastes different both ways and while mixing it is easier to drink, drinking the layers with the straw is pretty good.
To sum it up, I like this drink a lot and yes it might have taken a bit longer to prepare but I prefer it to the iced mocha. Lack of ice makes all the difference.

Taylor July 22, 2013 at 6:40 am

I ordered the Cold Foam Mocha today and I have to say, I’m having a really hard time getting through it.

First of all, the picture of it is exactly how it looks upon ordering, which is always a plus. The problem is that when you take your first sip, you are inundated with chocolate. If you’ve ever eaten Moose Tracks ice cream, it tastes like you’re eating the fudgey chocolate layers only, but in drink form.

Since that was the issue, I mixed the foam in with the chocolate layer and it was better, until it started to settle again, however I’m right back to overpowering chocolate. Now it just tastes like I’m eating chocolate covered espresso beans.

The fact that it claims it’s only 160 calories for a grande bothers me as well. I feel like I’m drinking something a helluva lot more decadent.

This would be a good end of the day or if you’re craving something super sweet, treat. Definitely don’t make the mistake of ordering it first thing in the morning.

Margaret July 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm

I’m a partner in the atlanta test market for the “handcrafted sodas”. I know for a fact no partner wants this to go national. It takes FOREVER to make these things. And if you have a busy store, you should be making a drink every 30 seconds or so…a ginger ale takes 45 seconds just to carbonate (thats not including the prep to put the liquid in and to finish it up). And this article doesn’t mention that we can carbonate pretty much anything. The new Valincia Orange refesher tastes like cheap orange soda. We get a lot of very berry refershers and passon tea carbonated. Its not good enough to warent all the extra effort.

jenn August 1, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I’ve had a cold foam mocha every day since it was released. I’ve actually taken to just having double shots of espresso with my cold foam on top. I was just told that it is disappearing on Friday and I am devestated. This is hands down my favorite drink from Starbucks.

The “whip” is not whipped cream but lowfat milk I believe. The process is exactly as described and absolutely delicious.

I don’t likle my drinks too sweet, so I only have one pump of the mocha. But I absolutely believe in the 160 calories. All from the mocha!

Carla August 28, 2013 at 10:25 am

I had one of these in Franklin Tennessee….it was AMAZING…not too milky, not watered down and super thick chocolatey taste.
It was ice free and creamy cold…a great mix of texture and flavor.

What's His Face October 9, 2013 at 11:34 pm

On topic of a cold mocha… I didn’t realize today, that you had to specific if you wanted your white chocolate mocha to be hot or cold. Every time I order one, it’s always hot, but today, I got an iced one, by far the worst thing I’ve every drank, a complete waste of my money. I’m not asking for a refund, but it would be nice, if unless you ask for iced coffee, it shouldn’t be iced….

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