My wife has recently set up a Starbucks outlet at a local college and it is already a big hit with students and staff as they queue throughout the day for a range of coffees, teas and soft drinks, both to drink-in and to take-away. Customers expect the full range of coffees to be available, as they are in most high street coffee shops - a latte with skimmed milk to a double expresso to a Mocha with chocolate syrup. There is plenty of choice to cater for everyone's preference.

What a surprise then, to read in the press this week that Starbucks is launching a Guinness-flavoured coffee. It seems that the coffee chain has created a 'Dark Barrel Latte' that tastes like the iconic Irish beer, Guinness. If you are a bit of a coffee snob, as I am, you might want to look the other way– a coffee that tastes like Guinness? What the comedian Peter Kay said about the concept of ‘garlic-bread’ shadows in comparison to the thought of ‘Guinness coffee’.

The coffee giant is well known for offering twists on coffee, including spiced pumpkin and gingerbread lattes during the  winter, but a beer-flavoured beverage must be a bridge-to-far!. The Dark Barrel Latte, according to news reports, appears to be available in only a handful of test markets in the US, including stores in Ohio and Florida, but could presumably be rolled out to more locations if it proves popular. What the US has now – the UK will have next. Well, we already have Guinness-flavoured crisps!

For purists concerned about their alcohol intake, Starbucks promises that the coffee actually contains no trace of the iconic Irish beer: the drink is made with flavoured syrup that is designed to taste like stout, and is topped with whipped cream and a dark caramel sauce. An information leaflet published by Starbucks reads: "Inspired by the rise of craft beers, Dark Barrel brings together savory toasty malt and chocolaty tastes topped with sweet dark caramel drizzle. This sophisticated combination offers a delicious complexity that builds with every sip." 

That’s great marketing by Starbucks and a ploy to challenge other coffee chains to come up with a ‘new coffee’ – maybe we will see a Smirnoff-flavoured iced-coffee called, ‘Martini Mocha’ or a Budweiser coffee called, ‘American Express O’.   

I read that there has been a mixed reaction to the new drink from US coffee drinkers so far. One Twitter user praised the drink, describing it as”cozy but not sweet – like a bonfire on a chilly autumn night.”- Very poetic! However, others were less impressed, with one drinker comparing it to "malt vinegar".

 What do you think?


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