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We tried Starbucks’ new cloud macchiatos and they’re disgusting

We tried Starbucks’ new cloud macchiatos and they’re disgusting
Photograph: Will Gleason

“Well. That’s one of them.”

The Starbucks barista sighed, returned to the back counter, picked up an ingredient list and got to work on the second cloud macchiato I ordered. (Clearly, this was a new menu item.) I had stopped by my local Starbucks to try the recently-introduced drink option that the company is hoping will fill the frap-shaped hole in many a customer’s heart as they move away from the Frappuccino. Honestly, they might want to stay put.

The cloud macchiato comes in iced and hot varieties, though the big marketing push is behind the iced option. There are two available flavors: caramel and cinnamon, which would more accurately be described as “Liquid Werther’s Original” and “Iced Chaotic Evil." 

The “cloud” that hovers over the brown sugar water at the base like a syrupy embodiment of chronic depression is made with egg-white powder. The drink was inspired by a Spanish drink called leche merengada or “merengue milk” and the company was hoping to replicate a meringue-like texture with the new foam. In the drinks I ordered, it remained separate from the espresso for just a few minutes before it all mixed together. Its appearance looked pretty similar to an old, boring Frappuccino. Partly cloudy, at best.

The iced caramel cloud macchiato was the definitely the safer option. If you’ve ever wondered what an apple feels like when it’s dipped into a vat of bubbling liquid to give it a thick, caramel coating, you’ll want to give it a try. My body felt like a Milky Way for a solid hour after I guzzled the sugary, slightly tangy drink, but it was a least drinkable. The cinnamon variety, on the other hand, should only be consumed if you’re atoning for a dark and unspeakable sin. The flavors all seemed to conflict with one another: sweet and bitter, sharp and smooth, watery and creamy. If the caramel drink was a puffy, smothering cumulonimbus, this was a lightning-riddled thunder cloud. I could only handle about four sips.

All in all, probably a better option to stick to the sunnier portions of the Starbucks menu.