Non-makeup review: Starbucks Blonde Roast & Special K Coffee House Breakfast Shakes

The products in this review were received as review samples. All opinions in this post are my own.

A change of pace today, just in case you’re bored of makeup (yeah right!). BzzAgent recently sent me two products to try for free in exchange for my honest feedback about them, and if you guys have lifestyles anything like mine, they’re both pretty worth considering.

First up we have Special K Coffee House Breakfast Shakes. I was sent two full-sized bottles, one in Mocha and one in Vanilla Cappucino. According to my BzzAgent press kit, these shakes are “less than 200 calories, each serving includes 10g of protein and 5g of fiber. They also provide nearly 1/3rd of the daily value of key vitamins & minerals often lacking in women’s diets.” They also have 5g of fat per serving.

I was really excited to try these, because their cousins, Special K Breakfast Shakes in French Vanilla, are my go-to breakfast every morning.  I’m one of those people who aims to minimize the time between when I get up and when I’m at my desk in the office (the better to get home while it’s still light out!), and I never want to sit down to a knife-and-fork type breakfast. But if I don’t get some protein into me first thing, I’ll be starving within an hour. The shakes are perfect for me, because I just grab one out of the fridge and toss it into my car’s cupholder, then drink it during my morning commute. By the time I get to the office, I’m fueled up and good to go for a few hours.

The Coffee House shakes have the same benefits as my good old French Vanilla shakes, but with the added kick of coffee, both in flavor and in caffeine content. These guys will give you 65mg of caffeine per shake, which is about as much as a moderate cup of coffee. I can’t say I noticed any difference in my alertness level after drinking these, but hey, it can’t hurt! As far as flavors, well…I still prefer my French Vanilla. There’s something kind of muddy about the flavors in the Coffee House shakes. I suspect it has to do with the added caffeine; caffeine is bitter, which means when you add it to something, you need to adjust the other flavors in the thing to cover it up. I’m not sure Special K has that quite down yet. Nevertheless, these shakes did their job adequately and I’d buy them again if the store had run out of French Vanilla.

Next up, we have Starbucks Veranda Blend Blonde Roast. I got these in K-cup form to use in my Keurig brewer. Now, I’ll tell you right off that I’m one of those wussy coffee drinkers who prefers their coffee flavored and sugared into oblivion. So while a blonde roast definitely appealed to me, because the kind of dark roast Starbucks usually does is not my style, I still wasn’t too optimistic about it turning out to be a thing I love.

But much to my surprise, I’m a big fan of the new Veranda Blend Blonde Roast! It grew on me slowly as I worked my way through the box. My first cup had me thinking, “Hm, I guess this isn’t too bad, for plain coffee”, but by the time I got to the last K-cup, I was choosing Veranda Blend over my flavored coffee every day. With a liberal amount of sugar added (of course – you can lead me to coffee, but you can’t make me drink it without sugar!),  the Veranda Blend tastes…gentle. It almost tastes like the coffee flavor that you would get from coffee ice cream or coffee liqueur – not bitter, not kick-you-in-the-face, just a pleasant “hello, you are drinking coffee. Isn’t it nice?” taste.

The only problem I have with these Starbucks K-cups, in fact, is the price. Starbucks coffee always carries a premium compared to the cost of other coffees, and these cups are no different. So while I really like the taste, it’s a bit of a cringey moment for me in the store when I’m trying to decide between $10 for 10 Starbucks K-cups, or $10 for 12 or 15 of another brand’s cups. I haven’t made the leap to buying my own box of Veranda Blend yet, for this reason, but I suspect it will happen eventually – somehow, drinking the “regular” Veranda Blend made me feel more adult than drinking my usual “chocolate glazed donut”-flavored (yes, really) coffee.