14 May 2008


I was only going to Starbucks to grab a gift card for an upcoming birthday…

Upon arriving, I learn that Starbucks is releasing a new beverage option on Tuesday, giving customers a choice of adding “+Energy” to their drink of choice. “+Energy” comes in a powder form (like one of those Crystal Light packets some people mix into their bottled water) and is added by the barista. According to the Starbucks website, it contains “a blend of B vitamins, guarana, and ginseng for added energy”. Whatever. It could have said that the energy supplement came from a blend of pig hooves, cat litter, and motor oil. I probably would have tried it out anyway. Energy is energy…and it appears that Starbucks is entering the energy drink market.

Of course, having spent 18 months as a Starbucks employee, I know a few local coffee veterans. One of these old friends was working the counter and was all too happy to facilitate my introduction to “+Energy”. He explained that it was, as advertised, just a powder of additives that were supposed to increase my energy. He mentioned that no one had ordered it yet, but that the store manager had added it to her morning drink and left shortly thereafter feeling violently ill. (The previous anecdote was a literary tool – will it be foreshadowing or a red herring? Read on.)

The news that the additive might actually cause a personal physiological calamity made me more excited to try the stuff. Nothing like an excused afternoon off work…

I ordered an Iced Green Tea +Energy and watched as the miraculous powder was shaken and stirred into place. In the great tradition of baristas looking out for baristas, I was told that the drink was on the house and I left Starbucks as excited as I’ve been in awhile. A free drink – with crazy, trippy, just-might-kill-you additives…? Nice.

Next phase of this experiment: Observation. My tea looked quite a bit “foamier” than usual. And it might have been a touch cloudy, but that also could be completely made up. I mean, how many times had I analyzed the physical characteristics of a Green Tea? I tasted the elixir. And it tasted completely normal. It tasted good.

So, I got on with drinking and gave it time to work.

20 minutes in - a little jittery.
21 minutes in - OK, very jittery.
25 minutes in - does my stomach hurt? I can’t tell. Did I eat lunch? I can’t remember. Where is that ginseng?
35 minutes in - I am doing that thing where I wait for the ice to melt a little and then feebly try to drink the newly-created watered-down remnants of tea.
40 minutes in - let’s end this.

So, my review: I am going to say that this might be worth the $0.50 extra you have to pay. It might as well be tasteless and I do think that there was a little added boost in there. No harm, no foul.

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