Review: Nestle Aguas Frescas – Horchata, Jamaica, and Tamarindo

We recently looked at Coba’s Aguas Frescas lineup, which came in 4 flavors. Last summer, Nestle rolled out 3 aguas frescas flavors of their own “in select markets” across the United States. Fortunately, Chicago was one of them, so let’s take a look at Nestle Aguas Frescas Horchata, Nestle Aguas Frescas Jamaica, and Nestle Aguas Frescas Tamarindo.

Nestle Aguas Frescas

Being a Hispanic-oriented beverage, Nestle launched their Aguas Frescas last June not only here, but also in other markets that would relate to its origins: Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, San Francisco/San Jose, San Antonio, Fresno, Sacramento, San Diego, and McAllen, TX.

Nestle Aguas Frescas Billboard
Billboard in Chicago

Unlike Coba’s entry, Nestle went more mainstream with their package design, portraying their drinks in a more standardized bottle shape and over-the-shelf design. You won’t find much in the way of “Hispanic origins” or taquerias on the label, other than the “Aguas Frescas” name itself.

While they are all part of the same selection, there is a difference in bottle design among the flavors. We found each of Nestle’s lineup at local convenience stores offered at the same pricepoint. However, it should be noted that the Horchata flavor comes in a label-wrapped 14 oz bottle, while both Jamaica and Tamarindo come in larger 20 oz bottles with a standard “label band” design to the packaging.

Nestle Aguas Frescas Horchata
Horchata is often a combination of some sort of milk (sometimes from rice), cinnamon, sugar, and other flavors. Nestle’s entry uses sweetened condensed milk. As mentioned, unlike the other two Aguas Frescas offerings from Nestle, you can’t actually see the color of this beverage through the plastic bottle. The entire unit is covered in a shrinkwrapped label portraying a light tan and milky substance. When you actually see the drink itslef, it’s more milky white in color, with just a hint of tan (i.e. the portrayed color in the label is far more attractive).

Nestle Aguas Frescas Horchata

We’ve reviewed other ready-to-drink horchatas in the past, and Nestle’s seems to stack up pretty well. It’s very sweet, but the cinnamon and nutty flavor could use a little more strength. Texture was smooth and milky. Overall, the flavor was somewhat bland when compared to authentic horchata, but for a bottled version, not bad!

Ingredients: Water, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and less than 2% of rice flour, natural flavors, calcium carbonate, garageenan, gellan gum, and cinnamon. A 14 oz. bottle contains 230 calories, 60 mg sodium, and 48 g carbs (40 g sugars).

Nestle Aguas Frescas Jamaica
Next up is the hibiscus flavor, a cranberry-colored beverage in a 20 oz. clear bottle. There’s a slight fruity scent when you remove the cap. As for the flavor, it’s pretty solid on the front end, but the sweet hibiscus flavor is diluted. Far more watered-down than Coba’s Jamaica. The taste is good, but it just doesn’t last. Unfortunate, since it would seem like all the elements were in place, including sugar, but it was not to be. The drink is still refreshing and unique, but lacking overall.

Nestle Aguas Frescas Jamaica

Ingredients: Water, sugar, hibiscus (extract), and less than 2% of natural flavor, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), and citric acid. A 20 oz. bottle contains 210 calories, 0 mg sodium, and 53 g carbs (46 g sugars). It also contains your daily supply of Vitamin C!

Nestle Aguas Frescas Tamarindo
The use of tamarind is popular in aguas frescas drinks, so it’s not a surprise that Nestle included this flavor. The color is very cloudy, sort of a yellow/apricot look, with just a hint of scent that most closely aligned with mango, in my opinion. Like the other flavors in this lineup, Tamarindo is quite sweet. If you’ve never experienced tamarind, it’s somewhat hard to describe the flavor, because it tends to dabble in sweet as well as tart. When compared to Coba’s Tamarindo, Nestle’s came up a bit bland in taste. Lots of sweetness, and in a way, somewhat syrupy and not as clean as others we’ve tasted. Still, it’s a unique flavor that does offer a good does of refreshment.

Nestle Aguas Frescas Tamarindo

Ingredients: Water, sugar, tamarind puree, and less than 2% of gellan gum, natural flavor, citric acid, pectin, and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). A 20 oz. bottle contains 250 calories, 10 mg sodium, and 62 g carbs (57 g sugars). Like the Jamaica flavor, Tamarindo contains your daily supply of Vitamin C.

We applaud Nestle for bringing this unique flavors to a broader market, and there seems to definitely be a growing market for ready-to-drink aguas frescas. Still, these entries feel a bit too corporate and mass-produced, rather than authentically-flavored. They are great entry points for those curious about aguas frescas, but in no way represent the best flavor experience to be found in the sub-genre.

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