Ariana Grande is the face of Starbuck’s “Cloud Macchiato.” It’s synergy made in marketing heaven: Grande loves cloud emojis, is one of the biggest pop stars on the planet and has millions of young fans who presumably love sugar and caffeine in equal measure. Starbucks is a multi-billion dollar company in need of young consumers with an affinity for sweet drinks and an insatiable appetite to post said sweet things to Instagram, when they’re photogenic, to entice more young consumers with affinities for sweet drinks.
It’s a logical partnership, and one that worked on me — I just needed to see Ariana and Starbucks tweeting at each other to know, deep down, that I was going to drink that cloud. As I waited at the closest Starbucks for the two tall beverages to arrive, curiosity and skepticism began to creep in. Would these taste like Max Martin beats, break-up anthems or soulful appropriation? Grande certainly secured the bag, but how much of her heart is invested in the cloud concoction? Does Ariana make her own coffee? Below is a review of the drinks, which were judged based on the same criteria: flavor profile, mouthfeel, wow factor, quality of caffeine high and Grandeness.
Introducing new Iced Cloud Macchiatos in Caramel and Cinnamon. So light and fluffy they’re basically a cloud in a cup. 🌬☁️#CloudMacchiato
*Cloud foam contains egg whites pic.twitter.com/TyiAGKgGQO
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) March 5, 2019
Iced Cloud Macchiato (Caramel)
The Iced Cloud Macchiato is like a ticking time bomb of sweetness and, eventually, doom. There is a surplus of wow — it lands like an effervescent punch on first sip — which is both the drink’s appeal and its downfall. The signature characteristic, the cold foam, looks wonderful. On an aesthetic level, I was thrilled as it left the barista’s hand and hit the counter. I had the most beautiful drink in the whole place. But in walking back to my office to drink the cloudy macchiato at my desk, the consistency began to crumble under the weight of the caramel resting atop the drink. Once I began to drink it, it became clear that the airy substance has the same texture as beer foam, without the advantages of alcohol. The drink is marketed as a “cloud in a cup,” but after the first few sips feels like a brick in the stomach. Its saving grace is the bitter espresso, which doesn’t taste great but cuts the searing sweetness of the rest of the drink. Also, the caffeine buzz is intense, and provides a sustained, numbing headache.
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Iced Cloud Macchiato (Cinnamon)
The cinnamon version of the Ice Cloud Macchiato wasn’t much different from its caramel brother. The dash of cinnamon made the entire thing taste like aromatic ash, but the absence of sickeningly sweet caramel thankfully made it a more mellow affair. Who the cinnamon version of this drink is for isn’t immediately apparent to me. I did not need to order two of these to understand the Cloud Macchiato, and drinking both was a mistake that made my afternoon more uncomfortable than it had to be.
In conclusion, I don’t love these drinks but I wouldn’t say no to another Iced Cloud Macchiato. So, I guess, the $10 I spent on a review no one asked me to write couldn’t have been a total waste.