Starbucks has released its first new coffee drink of 2017: the Cascara latte. It’s made from the dried fruit of the coffee cherry, which gives the drink a subtle sweet flavor without adding gobs of syrup. And while we’ll look the other way when someone mentions that “cascara” shares the same name as a sacred bark used for its potent laxative effect, we can’t look away at the duds Starbucks has trotted out over the years. RIP “Evening Program,” we barely knew ya. Here now, a ranking of the company’s efforts, from bad to baller. Or, with our majorly unscientific ranking system we’ll call the Flop-O-Meter, 1 equals a Frothy Flop, while 10 is a Hot Hit.
Oh, you don’t remember that time Starbucks tried to be a restaurant? Circadia came about after the, uh hem, coffee experts purchased Circadia Flatbread Oven in 1997. The restaurant version was tested in Seattle and San Francisco, boasting breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails…and laptop rentals? The concept never really took off (and because it was pre-social media, there’s nary a photo to be found) and both restaurants eventually turned into full-fledged Starbucks. Flop-O-Meter: 1
What do you mean coffee and cola don’t taste good together? This Pepsi collaboration in 1994 tanked almost immediately. Flop-O-Meter: 1
Do you eat it or drink it? That could be why Sorbetto never really took off after it was tested in Seattle and California markets in 2008. The failure of this second-rate fruity Frappuccino could also be blamed on the faltering economy and/or the 45 minutes it took baristas to clean the Sorbetto machine every day. Flop-O-Meter: 1
Barista Bar Blender
Who goes to Starbucks to buy a $100 blender? Nobody, which is why the product sells on eBay these days. The recipe books which accompanied each blender were filled with, you guessed it, Starbucks coffee recipes, like smoothies and milkshakes, made with Starbucks ice cream, of course. Flop-O-Meter: 3
Perhaps because nobody could pronounce it (SHAN-tih-koh), the drinking chocolate that debuted in 2005 never found its footing and was considered a total flop by 2006. Or, you know what? Maybe it failed because the petite 6-ounce drink contained a whopping 400 calories and 20 grams of fat. Nah, it’s probably the pronunciation. Flop-O-Meter: 4
Trenta 31oz Cup Size
Nobody needs the Slurpee equivalent of iced coffee. Nobody. But yet, here we are. Flop-O-Meter: 5
While not technically a Starbucks product, the coffee titan acquired the California company in 2011 and now there seems to be Evolution Fresh cold-pressed juices everywhere! Other than water, it’s probably the healthiest drink Starbucks sells. Flop-O-Meter: 6
VIA Ready Brew
Instant coffee that’s portable and not freeze dried? What took you so long, Starbucks? VIA launched around 2009 and quickly became a big hit with coffee drinkers embarrassed to admit they keep Foldgers in their home “for emergencies.” VIA packets are about a buck each, but Starbucks customers learned long ago to keep their cost expectations in check. Flop-O-Meter: 7
Starbucks purchased the Portland, Oregon company from teamaker Steven Smith (co-founder of Stash Tea) in 1999. The first Tazo store opened in Seattle in 2012, eventually transitioning into the Teavana store that stands today. Starbucks still sells Tazo products in grocery stores and big box retailers, such as Target. Flop-O-Meter: 8
In 2012, Starbucks replaced Tazo with this Atlanta-based tea retailer. Now, there are more than 300 retail outlets and even Oprah has given her endorsement with Teavana’s Oprah Chai Tea. It’s pretty much downhill from here. Flop-O-Meter: 8
Popular in Australia, this drink is really what great baristas have always made: two shots of espresso with a free pour of velvety steamed whole milk. It’s this steaming method that makes latte art possible. Still unclear why Starbucks doesn’t make all its drinks this way. Flop-O-Meter: 8
Iced Coffee — Brewed to Personalize
Starbucks really hit a home run with their bottled iced coffee, which can easily be found at most major grocery stores. It’s the perfect item to stock in your fridge when you need coffee RIGHT NOW! Flop-O-Meter: 9
Iced Lemon Pound Cake
You can’t not order this while standing in line for coffee. Flop-O-Meter: 10
Nitro Cold Brew
Introduced in the summer of 2016, this was a no-brainer for Starbucks, which has a knack for latching onto national coffee trends. If you aren’t familiar with nitrogen-infused cold brew, just think of your favorite stout — how rich and creamy it is straight from the tap. A total win for Starbucks. Flop-O-Meter: 10
Cranberry Bliss Bar
You can’t not order this while standing in line for coffee during the holidays. Flop-O-Meter: 10
Starbucks bought the niche Clover Brewing System in 2008, making it possible to brew a single cup of single origin coffee for the masses. A very smart purchase for a company that strives to be relevant. Flop-O-Meter: 10
Pumpkin Spice Latte
People flip out over this drink every season. The PSL debuted in 2003, forever creating a punchline for white girls and yoga pants. Flop-O-Meter: 10
Do we even remember a time before these delicious blended drinks were introduced in 1995? Interesting fact: it wasn’t Starbucks that came up with the name Frappuccino. It was adapted from a cold, slushy drink made via soft-serve machine at Boston’s Coffee Connection, which Starbucks purchased in 1994. Flop-O-Meter: 10
Both Fizzio (handcrafted soda) and Refreshers (fruit juice and green tea extract) seem to be falling off menu boards across the country. While Fizzio struggles to maintain its holding, Refreshers are seeing greater strength as canned versions in many grocery and Starbucks stores.
This newish drink that is a latte and macchiato hybrid has people more confused than the Flat White. Is it a latte or a macchiato, Starbucks? It can’t be both!
Starbucks “Evening Program”
Translation: bars. Back in 2010, someone at Starbucks had the brilliant idea to start serving alcohol and cheese plates in some of their stores. Since Starbucks Lounge sounds like a place to catch a Night Ranger show at your local casino, they refer to this new lineup as part of their “evening program.” But, alas, the Evening Program has met its demise. The company is ending the booze-fest, already halting service at more than 400 of it’s stores.