Review: Starbucks’ Caramel Flan Latte falls flat

By Angela Hernandez


Personally, I’ve never been a fan of fancy coffees. I could never tell the difference between a latte and an espresso.

I’d much rather brew my own coffee at home and add a supermarket brand of flavored creamer.

Starbucks thought up a new way to experience flan in latte form by debuting a new flavor inspired by Caramel Flan, a favorite dessert in Mexican and Hispanic culture. This caught my interest on many levels — my addiction to coffee, a permanent sweet tooth, and my Hispanic heritage. Flan is a dessert made of sweetened egg custard with a caramel topping. Although flan isn’t one of my favorite desserts, I am a fan of it and hoped the latte would do the wiggly dessert justice.

The popular coffee chain’s new Caramel Flan Latte features espresso with steamed milk, caramel flan-flavored syrup, caramel-infused whipped cream, and a caramel flan drizzle.

The first thing I noticed upon receiving my Caramel Flan Latte was the sweet, caramel aroma of the whipped cream and caramel sauce drizzle. The topping adds noticeable caramel-and-vanilla tones to the flavor of the beverage. However, once all of the whipped cream disappears, the beverage loses most of its appeal.

The caramel flan syrup added to the coffee base seems smothered by the coffee’s actual flavor. Only a slight hint of caramel and vanilla are present toward the end of a sip, once the coffee flavor has faded off the tongue. The entire essence of flan seems to be absent from the beverage; the coffee lacks any trace of custardy flavor. Also for some reason the latte had a nutty type of taste that dries out the mouth, which leads you to take another sip.

The whipped cream was by far the best part of the beverage. The whipped cream has a light caramel flavor to it that’s pretty enjoyable on its own. I wouldn’t mind eating just the whipped cream on its own. It’s not too heavy or rich but tastes pretty good and is essential to the drink’s flavor.

While the Caramel Flan Latte is tasty, there is no real sense that it is supposed to be inspired by the Mexican dessert other than its name. The latte resembles a run-of-the-mill caramel beverage than anything flan-flavored. Though pleasant, the slight caramel-and-vanilla aftertaste provides little incentive to purchase the beverage, since Starbucks already offers other vanilla and caramel drinks. Starbucks’ new Caramel Flan Latte was a letdown but it was a valid attempt at tackling the jiggly desert.

Maybe Starbucks would have better luck with a tres leches type of flavor the next time it wants to turn a Mexican dessert into a beverage.


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