REVIEW: Baskin Robbins Caramel Macchiato

Sometime in the early 2000’s Starbucks invented the Caramel Macchiato, confusing coffee consumers and soiling the term macchiato forever.  A word that was once associated with a small espresso drink dotted by freshly steamed foam was transformed into a big cup full of milk caramel, vanilla, and less than 10% actual coffee.  This turn of events in coffee culture made caffeine aficionados angry and baristas of all levels perplexed on what the hell people were trying to order, and as such, everything has been ruined forever.  Arriving approximately 15-20 years late to the trendy party, Baskin Robbins are putting their own spin on the teeny-boppers gateway drug with their flavor of the month for April 2017.  Caramel Macchiato combines coffee ice cream with a salted caramel swirl and real espresso flakes for a flavor that will hopefully leave me sugar AND caffeine high.

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The coffee base is exactly what I look for in this kind of ice cream – smooth and sweet with vanilla undertones and a present but not too intensely bitter coffee flavor.  The taste is very similar to a heavily milked and sugared cup of coffee, which should come as no surprise considering the ingredients used to make ice cream.  It’s mellow enough that it doesn’t smack you in the face but big enough that the flavor doesn’t fade after repeated bites into creamy obscurity.

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The salted caramel swirl seems much less salted than would be ideal, but its signature sweetness stands out against the coffee backdrop and adds some silky texture that is enjoyable and true to the caramel macchiato beverage.  While I do think Baskin Robbins makes a good caramel, especially evident in flavors like Gold Medal Ribbon, I have yet to have a good salted caramel from BR and this scoop isn’t changing that perception.  I also wish there was more of the caramel, because without it in the bites the flavor is much more latte than it is “macchiato”.

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As for the third component of this flavor, the “real espresso flakes” are actually coffee studded chocolate flakes, and don’t lean too heavily on coffee or chocolate flavor with just a touch of bitter cocoa that elevates the espresso vibes without pushing it over the edge.  I was excited when the description said “espresso flakes”, and while these chocolate chips are fine, they don’t really fit the flavor profile, and may have been better replaced by caramel covered espresso beans or something more inventive to capture the caramel macchiato essence more effectively, since this isn’t a mocha flavor.  Despite the unnecessary presence of chocolate this is a pretty tasty cup, and one I might even re-scoop if I find myself near a Baskin later this month.

Rating: 7.5/10
Found at: Baskin Robbins

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REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Mocha Joe Joe’s

The world has never seen a coffee Oreo…until later this year. That’s right, in 2017, thanks to a collaboration with Dunkin Donuts, Nabisco will finally release a coffee flavored Oreo.  Bad news for them, Trader Joe’s has beaten them to the punch via the release of the brand new for this year Mocha Joe Joe’s. With two chocolate wafer cookies sandwiching a vanilla creme studded with ground coffee, Oreo has some heavy competition on their hands.

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Coffee is one of my most cherished and nostalgic smells, and busting into these Joe Joe’s is like unearthing a fresh bag of whole bean espresso.  There’s a full, dark, dominant coffee aroma that will be no stranger to anyone who grinds coffee beans at home, and is a surprising coming so intensely from a $3 box of cookies. The creme filling is smooth, soft, and almost runny with a much softer texture than its Oreo idol. The creme is studded with coffee bean bits that add a little extra crunch but primarily bring a bold coffee flavor that is sharp, bitter, and genuine. The taste is very similar to that of chocolate covered espresso beans and that’s a huge boost over a lot of coffee flavored products I’ve had before.

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As powerful as the coffee flavor is, the cookies do still overall register sweet, with the wafer cookie being a little less dark and bitter than the standard Oreo. There’s enough sugary sweetness in the melty creme and wafer to balance the coffee intensity and I think this cookie will be loved not only by caffeine junkies, but those who appreciate the other element of a mocha – good chocolate. The finish is sweet and smooth enough to accompany a good cup of coffee, tea, or espresso, but dynamic enough that it isn’t just another average tasting Oreo copy cat.

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This is the most excited I’ve been by a cookie so far this year, and it caught me by total surprise.  I love drinking coffee daily but am not as hyped on coffee flavored treats, and these cookies may have converted me.  I’ve always thought Joe Joe’s were of high quality but with this Mocha flavor Trader Joe’s have taken them to another level, achieving the perfect snack-able balance of coffee, chocolate, and delicious that has me excited for other new limited releases in the future.

Rating: 9/10
Found at: Trader Joe’s
Quick Nutrition: 2 cookies – 7g fat – 95mg sodium – 23g carbs – 14g sugar – 1g protein