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Starbucks Killed the Frappuccino

Starbucks Killed the Frappuccino

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Published by Natasha Phillips
A review of the new Frappuccino base and why it may not be healthier than its first generation counterparts.
A review of the new Frappuccino base and why it may not be healthier than its first generation counterparts.

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Categories:Types, Reviews
Published by: Natasha Phillips on Jun 21, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Starbucks Killed the Frappuccino
2011 will be remembered by Frappuccino lovers everywhere as an annus horribilis with manyalready showing their distaste, as they vote with their purses.Starbucks
 Last year its UK arm suffered a loss of £34.2m as aresult of several unfortunate commercial obstacles within the corporation but at the same time,Starbucks UK also enjoyed a 5% increase in sales in October with total sales rising by 2% overall. TheUS operation is also enjoying something of a financial boost under the renewed leadership of the Starbucks founder, Howard Schultz, who left the company only to return to its helm three years ago.His vision for the future? To manoeuvre Starbucks away from its widely perceived corporate image,  back to a more holistic brand by, for example, incorporating healthier ingredients into theirproducts.Bucking a trend then, (horrible pun, had to be done), is sometimes the answer to an ailing companysuffering from heavy losses, but sometimes a corporate detox can leave your consumers cold. Thelatest move to modernise the brand has seen the introduction of the However-You-Want-It-
;an iced coffee drink which you can customise and build more freely than theFrappuccinos of yore by virtue of keeping the dr
ink’s base, well, basic.
The new Frappuccino base, the liquid staple used to build up the drink, was introduced in May and ispart of the shakeup to make Starbucks healthier; but its reception has been mixed. The old blend,anti globalisation campaigners and nutritionists argued, was bad for our bodies, tainted by a glut of glucose syrup and long-
life milk as well as flavouring that wasn’t one hundred percent natural. So,
Starbucks decided to lift the lid on the iced beverage and rebuild it for the better. The result is ablend which is free of many of the old, less than savoury ingredients and without pre-added milk andcoffee to allow for a more customised and personal drink, but is it really any healthier?Cue the very efficient and helpful customer service team for Starbucks UK, who upon request verykindly divulged the ingredients list for both the old and the new Frappuccino blends (neither of which is readily available on any Starbucks website). Upon comparing the two, it is clear that severalof the offending ingredients
from the ‘
lassic’ version
have been removed, but the new blends forboth the coffee Frappuccino and its lighter option raise some very serious questions about thesincerity with which Mr Schultz has been going about re-shaping his company.The old base for the Classic Frappuccino, as per Starbucks
own records is made up of the followingraw materials:
Skimmed milk (long life), sugar, cream, dried glucose syrup, non-fat milk solids, fructose,natural and artificial flavours, salt, cocoa powder, stabilisers (E401, E339) and sodiumcaseinate.The new base contains:
Sugar, water, flavouring, salt, xantham gum, potassium sorbate, citric acid. (The lighterversion, interestingly, contains exactly the same ingredients but with two additions:carrageenan and maltodextrin).
So what’s the problem? Well, upon closer inspection of the new and improved versions of the
Frappucino bases, a few things stand out as being rather odd. The first is that the new base is
described as containing flavouring but it’s not clear whether that flavouring is all natural
(and eventhen natural flavouring can be a misleading term in relation to its healthiness) and the second andarguably the most concerning, is the inclusion of xantham gum. A food additive designed to thicken
any substance it’s mixed with, it’
s produced through a fermentation process involving glucose,sucrose or lactose (glucose being one of the vilified offenders found in the original blend). At thispoint, you would be excused for thinking the new blend might just be a variation on a nutritionallydubious theme,
but there’s more to it than that.
Xantham Gum is derived from a wide range of common allergens including corn, wheat, soy and dairy.
It’s also considered to be a highly effective
laxative, even in small quantities and can readily cause intestinal bloating and diarrhoea.
The light version also sits uncomfortably with Mr Schultz’s vision of 
a cleaner, greener Starbucks. Thetwo ingredients which transform a regular Frappuccino base into a light one have also attractedcontroversy in the past. Hitting the 
 radar in 1998,Carrageenan courted infamy for almost five years
when it’s potentially harmful
side effects wereconsidered in a medical review but the additive was later exonerated in a 2003 report by the JECFA.Maltodextrin on the other hand, continues to raise questions about its suitability for humanconsumption. Used to sweeten foodstuffs and a familiar face within the diabetic community, it is ano-go for celiacs, people who suffer from coeliac disease (a digestive disorder affecting around 3million people in the United States and a growing concern here in the UK) and causes the digestivesystem to relax which not only makes it lazy after a period of time but also tricks your body intocraving junk food, which requires less effort to digest. And if diabetics thought it was safe to drinkthe lighter Frappuccino, think again; despite the presence of Maltodextrin, sugar is still added to thedrink. The calorie content of both these wunderkinds also does not vary a great deal in relation totheir first generation counterparts. It is also not clear what the new coffee mixture, which is nowadded on top of the base rather than pre-mixed in with it, is made of but as it needs to betransported far and wide it is highly unlikely that the coffee is fresh, either.In fairness to Starbucks and to Mr Schultz, the above ingredients are used by companies all over theworld in the mass production of food and the second generation Frappuccinos are an effort to offera healthier alternative to their predecessors, yet the lack of transparency in relation to the
beverage’s contents, especially when considering the arguably controversial ingredients which may
have a direct impact
on the health of some of their customers, isn’t acceptable for a company that
prides itself on its corporate social responsibility.  Quite apart from the ethical issues, there is the issue of the taste of the drink itself. Whilst the newbase was tried and tested for two years in three states across America, before rolling it out (Austin,Tampa, and Dallas) the company did not seek to sample the concoction here in the UK (and perhapsother countries). And here in Britain, there has been an outcry. At this stage, I should probablyconfess that I am, or rather I was, a hardcore Frappuccino drinker
(it takes a ‘special’ type of person
to be able to drink said iced marvel in deepest midwinter) and whilst some people love their earlymorning espresso and others their tincture of tea, for people like me, a cryogenically coldFrappuccino in the morning was nothing short of a liquid opiate. So when the new base came and Iwas left with a bitter aftertaste (overpowered, nevertheless, by a devastatingly synthetic blandness),

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Mary Kate added this note
Is the coffee base as close to calorie free/carb free as espresso/regular brewed coffee? And people need to lay off starbucks. As a former emplyee of 7 years I've never worked for a better company, gained so many integral skills, or managed better baristas. The company is far better than all the huge corporations I know about. When I left I had stock from '99 & don't forget benefits for P/T people

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