Not only is it cherry blossom-flavoured, it’s also the first time Starbucks has ever released a drink with crunchy Japanese rice cracker pieces.
The time of year that all sakura-loving Starbucks fans have been waiting for has finally arrived in Japan. The pink-flecked cherry blossom cups have appeared again, bringing with them this year’s delicious sakura offerings from the global coffeehouse chain: the Sakura Blossom Cream Frappuccino with Crispy Swirl (570-650 yen [US$4.90-$5.60]) and the Sakura Blossom Cream Latte (430-550 yen).
Released on 15 February, our Japanese-language reporter Masami was one of the first in line to try the new drinks, and she was more than eager to give us her take on the luscious new sakura-based offerings. Starting off with the icy cold Frappuccino, the first thing that stood out was the beautiful pink colour of the shaved chocolate “petals” that sat atop the whipped cream topping.
Diving in with a heaped spoonful, the flavours here were an intense blend of Japanese and western styles, thanks to the creamy, yet slightly tart sakura base, which was a perfect compliment to the sweeter maple sauce-flavoured whipped cream. The “crispy swirl” element was a first for Starbucks, as it incorporated small, round pieces of pink-coloured roasted Japanese rice crackers throughout the whole drink, which provided a delicious crunch to the otherwise creamy beverage, making it a lot of fun to drink.
The hot Sakura Blossom Cream Latte was equally beautiful in appearance. Like the Frappuccino, it had the same pink chocolate and rice cracker topping, but unlike the cold version, the crunchy rice cracker pieces weren’t dispersed throughout the whole beverage, so you get to enjoy more of the smooth, creamy sakura flavour in the body of the drink.
Creamier than the Frappuccino, the sakura flavour was slightly more pronounced in the hot version, due to the fact that the cherry-blossom flavoured chocolate flakes melt slowly into the liquid as it’s being drunk.
While the flavour of the two drinks paid homage to the floral element of Japan’s iconic springtime flower in a different way to last year’s fruit-based, strawberry-imbued lineup, the petals on the cups appeared to be more similar in style to the pretty versions seen on the 2015 series of caramel-blended sakura drinks.
This year, the drinks come with a coaster to let customers know that they can access a QR code to receive an original “Sakura Snap” photo frame to use when sharing photos of the drink with friends and followers online.
The Sakura Blossom Cream Frappuccino with Crispy Swirl and the Sakura Blossom Cream Latte will only be available until 14 March, so be sure to stop by Starbucks for a taste of Japanese springtime before the lineup disappears for another year!
[ Read in Japanese ]