Review: Starbucks Doubleshot Energy+Coffee Coffee

Let me share a little story with you. My grandfather was a coffee salesman, going from shop to storefront peddling Chase & Sanborn in their distinctive tins. Because of that, there was coffee all around their household. However, something interesting happened to my extended family at that point. It’s like sides were drawn down the center, with an equal number of “coffee lovers” and “coffee haters” opposing each other. And this is how coffee is viewed in my family.

Starbucks Doubleshot Energy+Coffee Coffee

My marriage is the same way. My wife loves coffee. Me, not a fan. Don’t get me wrong, I really love the scent of coffee, but have never bought into the taste or the seeming addiction that most folks seem to have to java. Thus I was at a crossroads when it came time to review Starbucks Doubleshot Energy+Coffee: Coffee flavor ready-to-drink beverage. I’m not a coffee expert, just a beverage enthusiast. So I’ve decided to provide that perspective in this overview. I’m sure you’ll be able to find more detailed analysis and coffee snobbery elsewhere on the ‘net if you so choose! :)

Starbucks introduced their ready-to-drink (or RTD as the industry likes to call it) beverages back in 1994 with their bottled Frappuccino products. This was done as part of a partnership with PepsiCo via a joint venture they called the North American Coffee Partnership. In case you are wondering why Pepsi hasn’t gotten more into the coffee or coffee/energy world (at least with their own brand name), this is most likely why… they are already in bed with Starbucks. The partnership actually seems to be doing quite well. Back in 2006, the Pepsi/Starbucks combo owned 90% of the RTD coffee market, per the folks at Beverage Digest. The joint venture followed up their Frappunccino rollout with the canned Doubleshot product, which was basically a creamy, cold version of espresso.

Then in June 2008 came the product line we’re reviewing today, Doubleshot Energy+Coffee. While they are RTD coffee products, this lineup would seem to also match up against Monster’s Java line, Rockstar Roasted, and Full Throttle’s Coffee offerings. The Doubleshot Energy+Coffee line features coffee (duh!) with additional inclusion of B-vitamins, guarana, and ginseng. According to December 2008 stats out of Information Resources, Inc., Starbucks owns 3 out of 5 of the top sales spots in this category. These drinks are available at convenience, drug, and food stores across the country, with two of the flavors (Mocha & Vanilla) also available at Starbucks locations.

We tried the original Coffee flavor, which comes in a 15 oz. can (same size as the typical 16 oz. energy drink cans, but obviously with less product inside). The can features a brown color scheme with a prominent Starbucks logo on the top third of the front panel, supported by diagonal streaks of light brown accenting the look. The rim of the beverage is silver and denotes the flavor (“Coffee”) while also highlighting the additional supplements (Guarana, Ginseng, B Vitamins). This follows a pattern that Pepsi also used on their Amp Energy lineup. Per the can labeling, this is positioned as a “Premium Energy Coffee Drink”.

Upon opening the can, you can see a light brownish, somewhat thick liquid inside, resembling coffee with cream added. The scent is sweet, obviously hinting at coffee. There was no bitter aroma. As for the taste, again, please remember that I’m not a coffee drinker. But this was actually pretty good! It’s very sweet, which is probably what appealed to me. The drink is not carbonated. There was definitely a coffee taste present, but it was tampered by the creaminess found in the rest of the beverage, creating an overall smooth experience. Now I don’t know enough about coffee to tell you if this was weak/strong or dark/light. All I do know is that this beverage seemed to provide a comforting taste with a coffeeish experience that didn’t make me want to run like normal coffee does.

My wife, who is the coffee drinker in our family, delighted in the taste. She remarked that it did seem to taste very much like Starbucks’ bottled Frappuccino drink. The overall taste was pleasant, but she did note it was very sweet. She is a person who likes both cream and sugar in her coffee, so I can see how this fit with her experience better. Overall, she liked the drink and would welcome another. This was in stark contrast to the experience she had with the now-discontinued Coca-Cola Blak debacle.

As for the “energy” element of this beverage, I did notice a slight “buzz” prompted by the inclusion of stuff usually found in energy drinks. Starbucks Doubleshot Energy+Coffee Coffee contains 146 mg. of caffeine, which breaks down to 9.7 mg/oz., on par with leading energy drinks — Red Bull (9.64 mg/oz.) and Monster (10.00 mg/oz.)

If your day is looking bad and you decide that you need to ingest this entire can to keep going, be aware that you’ll be taking on 210 calories, 170 mg of sodium, 26 g of sugars, and 2.5 g of fat. When you take a look at the inclusion of nutritional supplements, this 15 oz. can contains 325 mg of ginseng, 90 mg of guarana, 1800 mg of taurine, 450 mg of carnitine, 2000 mg of maltodextrin, and 180 mg of inositol.

A full ingredient list is as follows:

Starbucks Doubleshot Energy+Coffee Coffee
Starbucks® Coffee (water, coffee), reduced fat milk, skim milk, sugar, natural flavor, maltodextrin, dextrose, taurine, cellulose gel, L-carnitine, panax ginseng root extract, cellulose gum, inositol, sodium ascorbate (Vitamin C), guarana (paullinia cupana) seed extract, calcium phosphate, niacinamide, sucralose, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), tricalcium phosphate, caramel color, pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), riboflavin, Vitamin A palmitate, cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12), Vitamin D3

Overall, this Coffee flavor of Starbucks Doubleshot Energy+Coffee was actually quite good. Even I liked it, and I hate coffee! It’s rather sweet and creamy, while loaded with a ton of calories, so enjoy in moderation. However, if you are looking for a coffee-like buzz along with the pick-me-up associated with an energy drink, then this is the beverage for you!

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Full Disclosure: This beverage was provided compliments of Starbucks and PepsiCo