Good News! … and tasty, too

Starbucks_01_0708foto: Local reporter Brittney Ferguson, Alexandria Gazette Packet, adds ice before blending a Banana Chocolate Vivanno

On a day when at dawn, I read about fear of inflation, the worst performance ever of the dollar against the Euro, and ongoing dismal news on oil prices and the abyss that is our country’s official environmental policy … and yes, rising food costs … I managed to find good news.

Starbucks has a new drink … that tastes good and is healthy for you: the Vivanno Nourishing Blends. They rolled out today two flavors: Orange Mango Banana and Banana Chocolate. As part of the press gathering at the S. Union St location in Alexandria, we got to go behind the line and put on the green apron (washed my hands properly first) and make one of the drinks. With a orange mango puree from Naked Juice (to the first line), some 2% milk (to the second line), 3 scoops of a whey protein and fiber powder, a whole banana and a pre-measured scoop of ice … I was ready to whirl. And I did not make the rookie mistake of leaving the sound lid up for a potential explosion of product (the lid also holds the top in place). What was thrilling is that the one I made was sold to a customer. SO does that make me a healthy barista.

The beverage is lighter than those smoothies that weigh a ton and are so heavy in mass … these come in the grande size only (16 oz.) and the measurements all work toward blending with the single banana. The drink is only 250 calories, with the powder it’s got 16g. protein, 2 g. fat and no artificial sweeteners. It’s a perfect mid-morning and afternoon snack/beverage. With the banana the potassium is is 400 mg. and the dietary fiber is 5 g. The favorite of the group was the chocolate flavor version … it has 270 calories and the protein gets bumped to 21 g. All that said it can be a non-guilty pleasure.

I wanted to see what’s going on with this iced-coffee push. Using a coffee that’s been blended to stand up to ice and cold — the double-strength coffee dilutes with the melting ice to make a drink that is refreshing and still has coffee characteristics. A creature of habit, I haven’t experimented much with Starbucks bean blend, but you might look for the Gazebo blend that was released today (it’s only a summer edition) and from a first taste it shows bold, aromatic qualities and a lively coffee taste.

To make at home … you need a bold blend that will not lose its flavor over ice. The Gazebo is a good start. Brew it double strength (1 cup coffee to 3 cups water) and then add 3 cups ice to the pot to start the cooling. Fill a glass halfway with ice and pour the coffee over it. I liked mine. It tasted like cold coffee, not some diluted trickery.

Yes, today turned out to be a good news day. I can go on my walk now — four more miles, I say.

About the Author

Michael Birchenall is Editor and Publisher of Foodservice Monthly, a regional trade publication covering the foodservice industry of the Mid-Atlantic (DE, DC, MD, VA). Foodservice Monthly has been recognized as the Restaurant Association of Maryland's Allied Industry Member of the Year and by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington as the Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year.

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