Thursday, August 15, 2019

Frozen Yogurt at Pinkberry

Update Review #8: 2019 Visits

I've learned my lesson at Pink Berry.  The only flavor I really should get is Original tart, I should load it with fruit, and perhaps some nuts and (if daytime) chocolate crunchy thing, accept that this is a healthier version of a frozen treat than I normally go for, and I should give up on everything else.

I know this, but still opted to try the Strawberry Pinkbees (since, Ice Cream > Frozen Yogurt, in my world).  It was icy for ice cream, and I don't even like strawberry ice cream in the first place.  So, big meh for me.
Mango & Original, Side By Side, Small
with Mango Popping Boba, Strawberries, Blueberries, Candied Pecans, Rainbow Sprinkles.
For my flavor, I did get a side by side instead of just Original, choosing to have Mango as well.  I tried a sample of the mango, and liked the fruity nature, although it was quite sweet.  I thought that having it with the Original would help tame it (really, I'd want them swirled, but they weren't on the same machine).  The mango ... well, it was still just too sweet, and I grew very "sweeted out" after a few bites.  Maybe a little would be nice, but, it was just too much sweet for me, which I know is odd, as I'm all about the sweets usually.

The Original was pretty standard Pink Berry - tart but still fairly sweet, kinda icy, definitely froyo and not ice cream, but, if you are wanting, and expecting, this style, it is good for what it is.

The fruit was the star as always, both the strawberries and blueberries were ripe, juicy, flavorful, and fresh.  Minus a bit of a point though for stems still being on the blueberries.

The mango boba added too much sweet given the sweet mango base, so that was a bit of a failure for me, and I wished they weren't so generously applied as a result.  Normally something I like, and I do always like the bursting quality, but, when I was already wanting less sweet, they certainly took away from the experience for me.

I liked the candied pecans for crunch, but they weren't anything particularly special.  Same with the sprinkles.

The small size was far bigger than I remembered, quite a generous serve, and was nicely loaded with toppings.  I'd get the tiny next time, actually.

Overall, it was fine, again, for a healthy tart creation.  I again tell my future self though: just get the Original.

Update Review #7: 2018 Visits

March 2018 Visit

Oh Pinkberry.  I just ... don't understand.  I've reviewed it many times before (see below) and, besides the peanut butter they had way back when they opened in SF in 2012, it just always fails to impress.  There really is such better froyo out there!

But, I'm still a member of their rewards program, and thus, I do sometimes get free ones.  I keep trying, just for those.  I've concluded something though.  Unless there is a flavor I actually like, the best move is just the original, loaded up with fruit.  The fruit always is actually good, and, while boring, and still not creamy, the original flavor is a decent base.  Not really my general style, which is why its taken me so long to conclude this, but, it really is what I should do.  Next time.
Small Side-by-Side with Toppings: Chocolate Pinkbees, Original Yogurt. $5.99.
As always at my location, the flavor selection was lackluster.

Tart original, pomegranate, and meyer lemon.  Mango sorbet.  Chocolate hazelnut froyo.  Chocolate Pinkbees (ice cream).

The chocolate Pinkbees was new to me, and, although I don't generally want chocolate ice cream, I tried it.  It was ... meh.  Better than the very icy chocolate froyo, but, not super creamy premium chocolate ice cream.  It is lowfat after all.  And I didn't end up caring for the chocolate flavor itself either.  Doh.

"Original: one-of-a-kind taste that is refreshing, light and craveable with the perfect balance of sweet and tart".

I also went with Original yogurt, done as a side by side, since I knew it wouldn't combine well, and since every other flavor was tart, I didn't really have a choice if I wanted to try the ice cream.  The Original was fine, slightly tart, slightly sweet.  Not very creamy though, clearly "froyo" in the sense that makes people look down on it.

For toppings on the Original side, I opted for fruit, finally taking my own advice to stop getting all the candy and things that looked good, and just get fruit which actually generally *is* good.  I went with kiwi and mango, as the strawberries looked a bit sad.  Both were, well, good.  Juicy, ripe, flavorful.  They went well with the Original flavor.  

So that side was a quasi-success.  Still not something I'd crave, but I was happy to finish it.

The other side was ... very sad.  I didn't care for the flavor of the ice cream, so that was one strike.  My toppings also weren't great.  I wanted nuts for crunch, so I went for pecans, that looked slightly caramelized.  I couldn't taste them, very, very masked by the strong chocolate flavor.  I'm willing to try them again on a more neutral flavor, but, they were lost here.

My other topping was horrible.  I asked what it was, and was told "cinnamon".  I said, "cinnamon granola?", as it looked granola-esque.  "No", was the curt reply, "that is granola" (pointing at the plain granola).  I tried again, "cinnamon crumble?"  "No, its just cinnamon".  Um ... ok?  It clearly wasn't just cinnamon.  So I got it.  I like crumble things?  It was some kind of cinnamon crumble, but it did not add the texture, nor flavor, I was looking for.  It was like sand throughout.  Gritty.  Horrible.  And the flavor wasn't good either.  It really ruined that side for me, and even as I tried to scrape it off, it infiltrated.

For my final topping, I asked what sauces they had.  "Caramel" was one of the answers, so I opted for that.  I was surprised when she picked up the squeeze bottle of "dulce de leche", and squeezed it on, clearly annoyed to be doing so, as it didn't exactly flow easily.  It was ... fine, but covered in the horrible sand-cinnamon.

Lesson learned.  Original with fruit.  Give up on the others!

August 2018 Visit - Logan Airport, Terminal C

I arrived off a flight, totally unsatisfied, and craving ... something, anything.  Except it was 9:30pm, and everywhere was closing.  I seem to have literally just missed them all by mere minutes.  Lights were being flicked off, staff were still there picking up, as I went running up to each and every place I picked out.

After my heart was broken at Wahlburgers, I rushed around the corner saying to myself, "Well, FINE, I'll just get a big huge froyo for dinner!", only to see the Pinkberry lights off, and the staff member walking away with all the serving tongs.

Nooooo ...  

I still approached, and said "You are closed, right?"  The staff member smiled, said nah, and asked what I wanted.  

My options were not exciting though, once I had a second to read the menu:  the standard lineup of Original, Pomegranate, and Chocolate Hazelnut, that every Pinkberry seems to always have, and none of which I really like.  No more Pinkbees real ice cream, and instead just the Coconut Milk Coconut that I never really like that much.  Green Tea Lemonade, caffeinated, so out cuz it was night.  And the seasonal special: banana bread.  Eh.

I asked to sample the seasonal flavor, and she didn't mind, even offering if I wanted to sample anything else.  And when I was indecisive about which flavors to order (since, to be honest, I didn't really like any of them, but I still wanted something), she even offered, not by my asking, to make me one with all three of my choices!  They normally only do side-by-side.  She said she'd never tried it before, but would totally do it.

She was kinda awesome, even if she led me astray with one of my topping choices, strongly encouraging me to get the cookie dough, her absolute favorite.
Small Side-by-Side-by-Side with Toppings: Original, Banana Bread, Coconut Milk Coconut, with Kiwi, Blueberries, Candied Pecans, Yogurt Chips, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
The three I went for were the Original (since I know that one is at least decent with fruit, but is a very tart flavor, and not the style of creamy froyo I prefer), the Banana Bread (it was the only non-tart option, and it wasn't awful, just, not great), and the Coconut Milk Coconut (always too much on its own, but I hoped it would balance with the others).  Basically, all mediocre choices, and I hoped they would combine together to be better.  Which, they sorta did.

The original was as it always is, tart, icier style, not that creamy.  And, good with fruit.  Exactly what I expected.

The banana bread I sampled first, and it was certainly a banana flavor, and you need to like banana flavor to like this, and was too much to imagine a full bowl of it, but, it was much creamier than the others, and sweeter, so it was nice to have in the bowl.  It went best with the non-fruit toppings.

And the coconut milk coconut, even more icy than the original, way too strong coconut, just too much on its own, best tempered with the original, but still not one I actually like.  Nice with the blueberries, but again, too strong.  I need to not get it again.

The fruit was all great as always, kiwi and blueberries, both very fresh, ripe, flavorful.  Pinkberry does a consistently good job with fruit.  Maybe I should have gotten strawberries and mangos too, but I wanted to mix it up.

The yogurt chips were fine, but I always wish they were white chocolate.  Nice from some texture.  Same with the candied nuts, good texture, and hey, protein, right?

The cookie dough I added really because she told me to, telling me about how it was her favorite, how she's on a diet but eats two balls of it per shift (as in, 2 tiny pieces), so, I got it.  They were the most unremarkable cookie dough bits ever!  Tiny, much smaller than most places, and I didn't really taste cookie dough, no butteriness, etc.  Eh.  Would not get these again.

So overall, it was all fine, decent choices given the options, and at least it was something to eat at 10pm, but, eh.

Other flavors sampled:
  • Cookies & Cream (nonfat, sweet): "A chocolatey yogurt made by blending real cookie pieces into the yogurt." Tasting notes:  Meh.  Yes, chocolately but not chocolate, creamy but clearly not "ice cream".  Nothing very redeeming about it.
  • Green Tea Lemonade (tart): "The vibrant new Green Tea Lemonade is a summertime sensation with its delicious taste and refreshing flavor that goes so well with fresh pineapple and mango, we're calling it A Perfect Matcha!"  Tasting notes: This is a limited summer special, and, it was listed on the sign as "A Perfect Matcha", so I expected, well, matcha.  I was pretty taken back when the yogurt sample was 1) not really green, 2) tart, and 3) tasted like lemon.  I looked up, confused.  "Oh yeah, its very lemonade flavored, right?", said the server.  I'm glad they changed the marketing on this to "Green Tea Lemonade" from "Matcha", because, I can't be the only one who was expecting something entirely different!  I can't really evaluate this one, as icy, tart, and fruity was not what I wanted ... I wanted bitter creamy matcha!
  • Meyer Lemon: "A new, fresh squeezed flavor just in time for spring". Tasting Notes: This was almost good, but even though it was a tart yogurt, it was too sweet for me.  I know that is hard to explain really, but, it was too sweet somehow.  Also, icy/grainy.
  • Pomegranate (tart): It had been a few years since I tried this, so I gave it a try to see if perhaps my taste had changed.  Nope.  Still way too tart and just not a flavor I enjoy in any way.
  • Milk Chocolate Crunch (Luxe Topping, $0.50/scoop): I took one bite of this, and was instantly sad.  Hazelnut.  I tasted hazelnuts.  I know people love chocolate and hazelnut, but, I do not.  And this was called "milk chocolate crunch" ... not "chocolate hazelnut crunch"!  I thought that my brain might be just be playing tricks on me, but, alas, when I looked up the ingredients online later, it was confirmed.  Hazelnuts, and almonds, both in the ingredient list than cocoa even.  Sigh.  And, it probably doesn't need saying that this wasn't exactly great quality chocolate base, the first ingredient is vegetable oil, followed by sugar.  I'm really sad they do not carry the peanut butter nor lemon crunch any more, as I loved those, and only tried this one hoping it would be like those.
  • Mochi: Very standard little mochi.  Soft, pliable, fresh, but just mochi.

Update Review #6: July & September 2017

My local Pinkberry has the lamest flavors. Always. They had peanut butter, and other good ones, back when they opened, but in the past few years, I've been really disappointed. Pinkberry makes good flavors, I just don't understand why my shop never has any of the sweet interesting flavors.

This year, I visited for my annual free birthday treat, and was met with yet another disappointing flavor lineup.  2 sweet, 2 tart, and 2 non-dairy: Tart Original and Pomegranate, sweetChocolate Hazelnut and Blueberry Muffin, and non-dairy Coconut Milk Coconut and Just Fruit Tropical Mango.

The first three they always have.  Original is just boring.  The pomegranate is always too tart.  The chocolate hazelnut always fails to impress.  Boo to those.

I tried the other three.  Meh to mango sorbet.  The "Blueberry Muffin" I had tried once before, but still gave it another try.  It did indeed taste somewhat like a muffin, but it was also too tart, and also icy.  The coconut milk based coconut flavor was ok, so I opted to do a side-by-side with the lackluster chocolate hazelnut.  They seemed like they would go together well.

My creation wasn't very good.
Chocolate Hazelnut & Coconut Side-by-Side. Almond Roca, Candied Pecans, Dark Chocolate Chips, Fresh Kiwi.  Small.  $5.25.
Chocolate Hazelnut
"Decadent and sweet chocolate with a hint of hazelnut from real Nutella"

I got the chocolate hazelnut mostly because I didn't like anything else.  This one at least is decently creamy, unlike every other flavor that is always icy.  But, I never really taste the hazelnut, and the chocolate isn't that intense.  Meh.

Coconut Milk Coconut
"Made with real coconut milk."

This was decent in a small sample cup, but, it was extremely overwhelming in a real portion.  Way too strong of coconut flavor.  I like coconut, but this I didn't like.  Even as it melted, even when combined with the chocolate, I just didn't like it.  Too intense, with a strange mouthfeel.  They do add "coconut flavor" to the coconut milk base, whatever that means ...

My toppings also weren't very successful.

On the chocolate side, I had almond roca and mini dark chocolate chips.  The crushed almond roca was even disappointing, and that is one I normally like.   It normally has bigger bits and this was kinda just powder.  The little dark chocolate chips weren't particularly flavorful, not nearly as deep a flavor as the dark chocolate curls they used to have a Pinkberry.

On the coconut side, I opted to try the candied pecans, which were sweet and crunchy, and actually good, and the fresh cut kiwi, which was the best part of my entire treat.  The kiwi really was ripe and tasty ... all 4.5 nibbles I had of it.

Note to self: just get the boring original and load it up with the fresh fruit.  The fruit really does seem to be the best thing at Pinkberry.

My treat was free as a birthday reward, but normally this is >$5, which seems crazy.

[ No Photo ]
Other Flavors

Blueberry Muffin Frozen Yogurt (Summer 2017 Seasonal)."Cool down without heating up the oven with our sweet new blueberry muffin favor."

For summer, Pinkberry introduced a new flavor, and new topping to go along with it, Blueberry Muffin froyo, with blueberry muffin crumbles.

I tried it, but, I wasn't impressed.  Why was it "Blueberry Muffin"?  It just tasted fruity and tart.  It was fine I guess, but not muffin-like, and not particularly interesting.

Just Fruit Tropical Mango (non-dairy).
"Real tropical mango and pineapple that tastes like sunshine."

I didn't taste the sunshine, sorry.  But it wasn't wasn't very mango-y, because of all the other tropical fruits mixed in.  It turned out to be a mix of mango, banana puree, white grape juice, pineapple juice, and pear juice, lots of fillers in addition to the mango.  I don't like sorbet, but tried it because I have liked the mango froyo before.  Sadly, no, this was just sorbet, very icy.

Review #5, August 2016

Pinkberry has expanded beyond basic tart and sweet frozen yogurt.  They now offer a number of dairy-free flavors, and, finally, soft serve ice cream.  For dairy free, you can pick from "Just Fruit" flavors (strawberry, peach passion, or tropical mango) or you can opt for a coconut milk base (available in regular coconut or salted caramel flavors).  Ice cream comes in only one flavor "milk", is low-fat, and not available in San Francisco.

In fact, the San Francisco shop flavors continue to disappoint me.  When I went to redeem my birthday freebie, I was again faced with no flavors I wanted.  My choices were the standard tart, pomegranate, blood orange, and chocolate hazelnut that they always have, plus peach and the plain coconut milk based one.  I tried 4 flavors before I settled on two, but, honestly, I didn't want any of these flavors.  Why does our store never carry the good ones anymore?
Pomegranate Froyo and Coconut Milk Coconut Side-By-Side, With Cookie Dough, Cheesecake, Almond Roca, and . Small.
Even though I didn't really like them, I opted for Pomegranate and Coconut Milk Coconut, because the others were just way too sweet.  The coconut milk flavor was dairy-free.  In retrospect, I really should have considered the Original flavor.  Oops.

The pomegranate was slightly fruity, and very sweet.  Rather icy and not very smooth.  I know people love Pinkberry, but, there is much creamier froyo out there (like Yoppi, or my favorite local Prima Cafe).  As it melted, it got even worse, it separated into liquid and ice.  Meh.

The coconut milk flavor was about the same consistency, but was very rich.  Extremely coconut flavored.  It was a bit much, really.  It was also sweet.  I had hoped this would tame the sweet pomegranate, but it didn't.  I don't think I'd get it again, as it as just too much coconut for me.

For toppings, I went a bit crazy.  I had to rule out all fruit toppings since they had watermelon, which was sad, since the mangos and blueberries looked great.  I couldn't risk it.

I decided to get a bunch of toppings that I'd never had before, just to really mix it up.  And since I was saddened by the froyo flavors themselves, I decided to go big on toppings, hoping they'd jazz up the lackluster flavors.

So, I started with the most decadent option: cheesecake cubes.  They were awful! Cubes of mushy warm cheesecake, coated in some graham crumbles.  I tried a few, and discarded the rest.  Would certainly never get again.

The cookie dough balls were better, but not remarkable.  At least they weren't gross like the Baskin-Robbins ones?

Next up came almond roca, standard chocolate toffee crumbles, sweet, crunchy, fine.

My final topping you can't see here, but it was little pink balls.  I honestly had no idea what it was, I think she said they were pomegranate blueberry crunch balls?  They added great crunch, but were otherwise flavorless.

So, overall, not really great.  My toppings, besides the cheesecake, were all fine, but I wouldn't really recommend any of them.  And I didn't really care for the froyo itself.

I also sampled a few others:
  • Blood Orange: "Exquisite and succulent tart citrus with a zing".  Just like last year when I tried a sample, it was crazy sweet.  I honestly don't understand how they take a tart thing like citrus and make it so sweet.  I did not like this at all.
  • Peach: "Everything Is Peachy! light and succulent taste of a fresh harvested peach".  This is a summer flavor, and, we'll, it too was too sweet.  The peach was lost in the sugar.
A few months prior, I was on the East Coast, and got to sample the ice milk ice cream, when Ojan's niece couldn't finish hers, and I couldn't let it go to waste.  It tasted … well, like milk.  I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not.  Better than the froyo, but, compared to other soft serve ice cream, not as good.

Review #4, August 2013 and 2014

Many businesses give out freebies for your birthday, but usually they are chain restaurants, or fast food joints, and aren't really things I want (although, I've of course checked out many of them!).  This year, when my birthday rolled around, there was one freebie I was really looking forward to: Pinkberry!

Since I've reviewed them several times already, I'll skip the general details, and focus only on my experience on this particular visit.

The staff was friendly enough, happy to let me sample a few flavors first (in fact, the first question I was asked wasn't "What would you like?", but instead, "Would you like to try any flavors?").  And the cashier even wished me a Happy Birthday (always a great touch!).  And it was a beautiful sunny day, and I enjoyed the fact that they had outside seating.

My froyo was great, and I'll certainly be back again.

August 2013

Peanut Butter Froyo topped with Dark Chocolate Curls and Almond Roca, Mango Froyo topped with Blueberries and Mochi.  Small.  $4.95.
For my flavors I decided on two that I have always loved: Peanut Butter and Mango.  Of course, those flavors do not go together at all, so I had them side by side rather than swirled, and ate them separately.  My last few bites did have a little bit of each in them, as they had melted somewhat at that point, and ... yeah, mango and peanut butter just do not go together :)  But, I honestly don't know how I'd pick just one, so side by side it is!  I love that Pinkberry lets you have any two flavors you want in this way.

Peanut butter is the most decadent of their flavors.  While some are low-fat or non-fat, the peanut butter is definitely not.  They use real peanuts, which, yup, contain fat.  I'm certain that using real nuts is what makes it so delicious.  It is creamy and just so peanut buttery.  Always one of my favorite peanut butter froyos anywhere.

I love a chocolate and peanut butter combo, so I wanted chocolate based toppings on that side.  I had many choices, including milk or dark chocolate shavings, chocolate crunch balls, brownie bites, crushed cookies, chocolate granola, mini chocolate chips, or almond roca.  I have gone with the almond roca on many other occasions, and liked it, so I went for it again.  This time however, I didn't love it.  It was ok, I mean, it is chocolate covered toffee and ground up almonds, totally delicious, but it actually just seemed a bit too sweet to me.  The real winner on my peanut butter froyo was the dark chocolate shavings.  I was shocked by how much I liked them.  The chocolate was actually really good, slightly bitter, and the size of the shavings made them really fun to eat, added a bit of a crunch, and were big enough to really taste against the peanut butter froyo.  I'd certainly get the chocolate shavings again.  Surprising how the most simple seeming topping can be the best!

Mango is another one of their froyo flavors that I've gotten many times, although I've usually paired it with something more appropriate, like lychee.  I knew it wouldn't go with the peanut butter, but I didn't care.   I wanted a fruity tart option too!  And it was.  Not as creamy as the peanut butter, but still fairly smooth, nicely tart, and with strong mango flavor.  It was a refreshing contrast to the richer peanut butter.

With the fruity froyo, I wanted a light, fruit topping.  I've had such mixed experiences with the Pinkberry fruit toppings, ranging from underripe mangos to amazingly delicious raspberries, but generally the fruit is good, although not remarkable.  It all looked ripe and fairly fresh, so I took a gamble and went for blueberries.  They were as expected - not mushy, ripe, but not extraordinary.  Good enough, and I'd get this again.

I was a bit stumped on what to pick for my final topping.  I could go for another fruit, as the strawberries and raspberries both looked good, and would pair nicely.  I could add something crunchy, as there were plentiful choices, ranging from all sorts of nuts (caramelized almonds, slivered almonds, mixed nuts) to several varieties of granola.  But instead my eyes were drawn to the mochi.  The last time I had mochi on my froyo, I said I wouldn't get it again.  But I really liked the flavor combination of the sliced fresh mango and mochi when I used them as toppings on the Greek yogurt, and since I was having mango froyo, I thought it would go well.  Like all other occasions, the mochi was good.  Soft, glutenous, a tiny bit sweet.  And like before, I liked the mango and rice flavors together, reminding me of mango sticky rice.  But ... I still don't think mochi is a very good froyo topping.  I'm not sure what it is about it, I just do not like the soft mochi with the soft froyo.  I mostly pushed the mochi aside, and ate them at the end, in a pool of mango flavored melty goodness.

I also sampled the green tea frozen yogurt.  It was very creamy, but didn't have a strong enough green tea taste for my liking.

I'm still always shocked by the price of Pinkberry.  With no toppings a small is $3.50; with toppings $4.95.  Their stuff is quality for sure, but it always seems steep.  Of course, this was my birthday freebie, so I'm not complaining.

August 2014

Another year, another free birthday froyo!  The very first warmish day in the month around my birthday I headed straight to Pinkberry to redeem my freebee.  I was really looking forward to this, and hoped to get peanut butter.  But alas, my choices were fairly lame: chocolate hazelnut, which I've never liked and pomegranate which I wasn't interested in, neither of which I even bothered to try.  The promising sounding Vanilla Latte had a decent coffee flavor, but was incredibly icy.  I'm glad I sampled it first, because I wouldn't have wanted a whole cup of it.  Strawberry Banana was another sweet and not tart option, and it had pretty good flavor ... except that I don't actually like strawberry froyo or ice cream.  Thus, I was left with only the two tart options: pineapple and original.  I considered coming back another day instead, but, it was sunny, and I wanted froyo!
Small Tart and Pineapple Tart Side By Side with Strawberries, Strawberry Popping Boba, White Chocolate Chips, Almonds.
The pineapple was tart yet sweet.  I liked the flavor, except that it was actually a bit too sweet.  Both the pineapple and the original froyo were fairly icy, not as bad as the vanilla latte one I sampled, but far icier and less creamy than I remembered.  The consistency was disappointing.

For a fruit topping, I went for strawberries.  I thought strawberries and pineapple sounded good together, and it looked like the most ripe option.  The berries were good, sweet, fresh, pretty good.  I decided to continue the strawberry theme and also added strawberry popping boba (the other option was mango flavored).  They were pretty standard, sweet.

I wanted some crunch, but didn't want granola, so my only choice was slivered almonds, the only nuts available.  They were unremarkable.  Still, good for a crunch.

The final topping I picked was white chocolate chips, mostly just to have something sweet and a bit creamy.  Which is exactly what they were.

Overall, this was fairly successful in terms of the ingredients I picked working well together, but it failed to impress.  I actually liked the plain tart better than the pineapple once I had the toppings involved, because the sweeter pineapple yogurt was too sweet with all the sweet toppings.  I wouldn't get this exact creation again.

Review #3, April 2014

You know I like frozen treats, particularly on a warm, sunny day.  And, although it is a chain, I do like Pinkberry.  Sure, it isn't my number one pick for froyo in San Francisco (that honor goes to Prima Cafe), but it is creamy, reliable, and they have a great selection of toppings.

Pinkberry always carries 6 flavors, and they rotate regularly.  I wasn't very excited when I saw the 6 flavor options of the day.  My absolute favorite, peanut butter, was not available.  For tart flavors, they had classic tart, pomegranate, key lime, and mango.  For sweet, only chocolate hazelnut and chocolate chip cookie.

Hmm.  I briefly considered not getting anything, but it was a beautiful day, and I really wanted froyo!

As always, the Pinkberry staff were more than happy to let me sample things.  Rather than asking what I'd like, the first thing I was asked was, "can I get some samples for you?"  I wasn't really in the mood for tart froyo, so I asked to try the chocolate chip cookie, and the key lime, just out of curiosity, even though I rarely like anything key lime.  As I pondered a moment, the helpful worker asked if I like Nutella.  I said, sure, who doesn't.  She eagerly brought me a sample of the chocolate hazelnut, saying it was much better than the chocolate chip in her opinion.  I'd had it before and didn't love it then, so I would have never asked to sample it, but humored her and tried it.

Both the chocolate chip cookie and the chocolate hazelnut are not fat free, and thus, are clearly creamier than the fat free counterparts.  The creaminess and consistency are perfect, but the chocolate hazelnut didn't have much flavor.  And the chocolate chip cookie I just really didn't like.  I can't say what it was exactly, but the flavor just wasn't good.  And reminded me nothing of a chocolate chip cookie.

So, even though I wasn't in the mood for it, I went tart flavors ... with toppings of course.
Small Key Lime and Mango Side By Side with Toppings.  $4.95.
Shockingly, after trying the sample, I decided to get key lime.  Definitely the first key lime thing I've enjoyed in a long time.  I also decided to get my old tart standby, mango.  The key lime and mango were on the same machine, so I was offered the choice of a swirl, or a side by side.  Just in case I decided that the key lime wasn't too my liking, or, if the mango turned out to not be delicious that day, I did them side by side, but I think they would be fine as a swirl too.

The mango was fruity and sweet, just a bit tart.  It actually was a bit too sweet for me, at least, given my topping choices (more on that in a minute).  The key lime however was really tart, and I liked it.

Neither of these were as creamy as the versions with fat, but they weren't icy, and are probably the creamiest of any fat free froyo I've tried.  Very good consistency.

And then, it was time for toppings.  Pinkberry has a rule that you can get as many toppings as fit in your container.  Always such an overwhelming offer for me!

Now, a reasonable adult would get their tart, fruity froyo topped with wholesome things like fresh fruit, granola, perhaps some sliced nuts.  And Pinkberry offers all of these things.  One can craft quite a healthy treat for themselves.  And the fruit did all look good, freshly sliced, and would pair perfectly with the tart yogurt.

But ... I didn't get for any of those things, and instead picked all the ridiculous ones.  I kinda laughed when I saw my completed froyo, as I'm sure it resembled one ordered more often by a child.

  • Fruity Bears: I remembered loving these once before , so I made them my first pick.  They are rather hidden in the photo, peeking out below the boba.  I only received four of them.  As before, I loved them.  The flavor is just so intense, very fruity, and they are the perfect level of chewiness.  I wish I knew what brand they were, because I'd really love to eat more of these, just as gummy bears, sans froyo.  I don't particularly like gummy candy in my froyo, so I always let them fall to the side, and eat at the end.  It is kinda perfect, you have that moment of "oh man, it is my dessert gone already?  I want more!" and you then get to enjoy a pile of gummy candy as a second treat.  Perfect!
  • Sugarpova Smitten Sour Mini: Speaking of gummy candy, Pinkberry just introduced several new types of gummy toppings, by Sugarpova.  The "Smitten Sour Mini" are little ribbons, which weren't nearly as sour as I wanted them to be.  I didn't get these on my froyo, but when I asked how sour they were, I was immediately given a sample.  I'm glad I didn't pick them.
  • Sugarpova Flirty Mini: I did get the other Sugarpova offering, the "Flirty Mini".  These were little lips, in assorted flavors, two layers, with a cream bottom.  I didn't try them before I added them, but if I had, I wouldn't have ordered them.  They were too chewy for my liking.  The lemon flavor I really didn't like.  The strawberry was a nice flavor, and the cream bottom complimented it well in the strawberries-n-cream sort of way.  Like the bears, I received four of them, which you can see, cream side up, right near my spoon.
  • Strawberry Popping Boba: For my "fruit" selection, I went for popping boba.  Sure, they aren't actually made with fruit, but they had sweet strawberry flavor, and were kinda fun to eat.  They were too sweet though, at least in the quantity given.  Unlike the gummy candies, my server was quite generous with the boba, and there was far more of it than I wanted. I probably wouldn't get these again.
  • Yogurt Chips: I have no idea why I added yogurt chips.  Last time I had them, I thought they were useless.  I thought the same this time.  They added no flavor.  They are the perfect size though, and provide a good textural component, but, meh, no flavor.  Maybe I should try the mini chocolate chips next time.  I really don't want to get these again.
  • Fruity Pebbles: And finally, I wanted something with crunch to it.  I mentioned this thought outloud, and the server making my creation helpfully suggested granola or sliced nuts.  Instead I got ... Fruity Pebbles.  Now, I've never had Fruity Pebbles in my life.  Not as cereal, certainly not as a froyo topping.  I think whenever I go to Pinkberry, I have a moment of total weirdness where I can't make up my mind, and just call out whichever topping I see next.  And in this case, it was Fruity Pebbles.  They did indeed add a great crunch.  And, the quantity given seemed right.  But ... soooooo sweet.  With the mango in particular, they were just too sweet.  I guess if I were really in the mood for sweet I'd get them again, as the crunch and size were perfect, but not really right for this creation.
So, I sorta failed on selecting my toppings.  I probably would have liked my froyo more with fresh fruit, like mango, strawberries, or blueberries.  Perhaps some mochi.  Coconut flakes would go well with the mango.  Nuts are always good.  And who doesn't want chocolate shavings?  But instead, I had a pile of candy and sugar.  I still liked it, don't get me wrong, but ... not ideal.  As always though, those fruity bears really impressed me.  Best gummy bears ever :)

Pinkberry does make incredibly creamy froyo, but their prices are what keep me away.  $4.95 for a small with toppings?  It wasn't THAT big.

Review #2, November 2012

A few weeks ago, I posted about Pinkberry, my second favorite froyo place in San Francisco.  I wasn't planning to go back so soon, but they just launched a new rewards app to replace their physical rewards cards, and to get everyone using it, they pre-load it with a free small with toppings!  You know I can't resist freebies, but particularly not at a place I know I like.  I also installed the Pinkberry app on Ojan's phone, and dragged him there with me a few days later to split another one.  So good.

It hadn't been that long since I'd last visited, but they already had several new flavors.  Of course I had to try them.  The staff were again very friendly, helpful, and eager.  Such a happy place to visit.

I still prefer self serve models, but I do appreciate that they let you pick two flavors even in a small, so you can be indecisive like me.  And the same with toppings, you can get 4-5 different ones, or as they say, "as many fit comfortably in the cup".
Lychee and Peanut Butter Yogurts with raspberries, mochi, chocolate covered pretzels, almond roca.  Small.  $4.95.
As always, I had a hard time making up my mind, so I went for my two favorite flavors, even though they totally didn't go together at all.  Which is fine, because they swirl them side by side.  I also wanted all the toppings, so narrowing down to four was hard.  They made it somewhat easier by not allowing any of the luxe toppings for the freebie.

Lychee was a new flavor for me, and I loved it.  It was sweet, but also quite tart, and just really tasty.  I'm not sure I would have known it was lychee, but I really liked the sweet and tart contrast.  On that side, I had mochi and raspberries.  The mochi was soft, not old or stale, but fairly unremarkable.  It was just plain mochi.  He gave a lot of it.  I probably wouldn't get it again.  The raspberries were the suggestion of the server, and seemed fresh, quality, and flavorful.  They were indeed a great pairing with the lychee.  But there were only 3 of them.  I would have certainly preferred more of them and less of the mochi!

The other flavor I picked was my old favorite: peanut butter.  Probably my all time favorite frozen yogurt flavor at most places, but Pinkberry does a particularly good job with making it creamy and flavorful.  On that side I had almond roca, which like before had a good crunch and went well with the peanut butter, and some tiny chocolate covered pretzels.  Like the raspberries, I only received 3 of them.  I guess that is the magic number for countable toppings.  They were a somewhat strange thing to put on frozen yogurt.  Tiny, but still a little big to eat comfortably.  And they did taste a little stale.  I liked the chocolate coating with the peanut butter yogurt though, and the salt and crunch from the pretzel were nice.  I probably wouldn't get them again though.

I certainly enjoyed my yogurt, but I couldn't help but think that $4.95 was a pretty hefty price for a fairly small yogurt.  Yes, it had toppings, but still.  I guess that is the going rate for froyo these days though.

[ Not Pictured ]
Mango and Lychee Swirl with Yogurt Chips, Raspberries, and a Waffle Cookie. 

This was a winning combination.  They were both very flavorful, tart yet sweet, and the two fruity flavors went together really well.  The lychee helped balance out the almost overwhelming mango.

Since I was impressed with the raspberries on my previous visit, I went for them again.  They were again fresh, slightly tart, and good, although ... one seemed frozen.  Do they actually use frozen fruit?

I also picked the yogurt chips, little tiny white chips that were a bit sweet, but mostly flavorless.  I would not get these again, as they added a little texture, but little else.

And at the last minute, I also had her add on a waffle cookie.  I think I got jealous when I saw the person next to me getting a waffle cone.  I'd had the waffle cookie on my first visit, and wasn't all that impressed with it, and felt the same way this time.  It really is just a little chunk of waffle cone, not stale exactly, but not fresh tasting.  I think I'd skip this in the future.

[ Not Pictured ]
Mango and Lychee Swirl with Raspberries, Organic Fruity Bears, and Chocolate Chips.

I again liked both of these flavors.  Tart, fruity, pretty good.  I think I would actually prefer to not have them swirled, as they are each very flavorful on their own, and swirling them somewhat cancelled out the flavors.

The raspberries were again about the same.  Better than you'd expect for out of season berries, but not particularly amazing.  The chocolate chips were semisweet chocolate, and added something good to crunch on.  The fruity bears were a big surprise, they were really good!  Perfectly chewy, really fruity and flavorful, quite good.  I don't actually like gummy candy in my froyo, and pushed them off to the side to enjoy at the end, and I'm glad I did.  I'd gladly just eat these on their own!

[ Not Pictured ]

  • Cookies and Cream: Delicious!  Really creamy, and almost tasted like soy milk (in a good way).
  • Gingerbread: Well, it tasted like gingerbread.  Which it turns out, I don't really want in my froyo.
  • Mango: Such a strong mango flavor.  Very tart.  Tons of flavor here, I think a full cup of it would be too much, but a small portion was delicious.
  • Pomegranate: This had a subtle pomegranate flavor, a good tartness.  I would consider getting it again, but I tend to like other flavors more.

Original Review, September 2012

I posted a few weeks ago about my favorite frozen yogurt in San Francisco: Prima Cafe.  They are a tiny, local place, not even known for their yogurt.  It seems strange, but my second favorite place falls on the far other side of the spectrum ... the nationwide chain, Pinkberry.

They only recently opened a Pinkberry in San Francisco, and I attended the big launch event, where they were sampling many flavors.  When I went back for a regular visit, the first thing they did was offer to let me try all of them (which I didn't do, I knew I wanted the peanut butter!).  They were still new at the time, perhaps that is why they were doing that?  It seemed very generous!  Again, perhaps because they are new, but the staff seem very friendly and enthusiastic.

Anyway, their frozen yogurt is particularly creamy, and they have a slew of interesting toppings.  I greatly prefer self-serve models where I can control the size of my creation and put the toppings on how I want them, but for a full serve place, they are my favorite.

As always, multiple tastings are denoted inside brackets.
Small peanut butter and original with peanut butter crunch, lemon cookie crunch, milk chocolate crunch, almond roca, and a waffle cookie.
Frozen Yogurt:
  • Chocolate: Very intense chocolate, but not a style I like.  [ Very rich, very chocolatey, but I don’t like it.]
  • Chocolate Hazelnut: Very creamy, nice hazelnut tones, tastes like nutella, pretty good.
  • Coconut: Nicely tart, great coconut flavor, nice consistency. [ Some coconut flavor, good consistency, ok ]
  • Hot Chocolate: Very creamy, not as intense in its chocolatey-ness.  Not sure what was hot chocolate about it, the picture had marshmallows?
  • Mango: Very nicely tart, creamy, good mango flavor.  [ Great tartness and creamyness, really good ] [ Tart but sweet, good mango flavor, very good ] [ Very tart, creamy, good flavor ]
  • Original: Nice tartness, fairly creamy, very good for this type of yogurt. [ Nice tart, nice creamy ] [ Nicely tart, pretty good for this type of flavor, slightly icy ]
  • Peanut butter: Creamy, soo much peanut butter flavor, awesome.  [ Soo much peanut butter flavor, really good. ] [ Creamy, rich, decandent, really good ] [ Creamy, rich, good flavor ]
  • Peppermint: Icy, decent flavor.
  • Strawberry: Kinda sweet, creamy, not my favorite.  [ Sweet and creamy, but not very distinctly strawberry, meh ] [ Tart, ok strawberry flavor, not great. ]
  • Lemon Cookie Crunch: One of the "luxe" toppings, a liquid with crunchy bits.  Very lemony, sweet, good with plain tart yogurt.
  • Milk Chocolate Crunch: Another "luxe" topping, basically chocolate sauce with crunchy bits.  Sweet, with a light chocolate flavor, great with peanut butter yogurt.  Crunch was nice texture, but I didn’t care for the crunchy stuff itself that much.
  • Peanut Butter Crunch: And another of the "luxe" toppings, a peanut butter sauce with crunchies.  It did not have much peanut butter flavor, but again had a nice crunch.
  • Almond Roca: Great crunch, yum, great with pb flavor yogurt.
  • Waffle Cookie.  Just a chunk of waffle cone, but kinda fun to dunk in the yogurt.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Out the Dough

Edible cookie dough.  As in, *raw* edible cookie dough.  One of the more recent fads to hit the area.  Not one I was particularly excited for, given that I'm not really much of a cookie girl, but, eventually I gave in and tried.

It turns out, I certainly like raw dough more than cookies!
"From classics to new innovative flavors, our mission is to bring you a wholesome product, with the freshest ingredients, providing a nostalgic, enjoyable experience that you and the whole family will love! You DOUGH-serve the most DOUGH-licious treat!"
My ventures took me to Out the Dough, in San Francisco.
Out the Dough Kiosk Experience.
Out the Dough is not the first raw cookie dough shop that I tried, but it is the best I've had so far, no question.

Quality seems high.  The dough is made fresh every day, and can keep in your fridge for 2-3 weeks (or 2-3 months in freezer).  They make all fun mix-ins as well, like the cinnamon rolls, baklava, pie crust bits, cheesecake, and caramel.  

The flavor line up is fairly extensive, with vegan and gluten-free options as well.  In addition to your choice of flavor, you need to decide how you want your dough.  The basic option is like ice cream, by-the-scoop, in a bowl, with or without toppings.  Toppings are fairly classic ice cream toppings like chocolate or caramel sauce, sprinkles, assorted cookie crumbs, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, whipped cream, and toasted marshmallow fluff.  You can purchase by the pint to take home too.

But you can also choose to have it rolled in chocolate, as a truffle.  Or stuffed into a cannoli shape in a pizzelle cookie shell.  Or, if actual cookies are your thing, you can have it baked into a real cookie too.
Ordering Window.
The SF location is in Trinity Place, just a small window on the alley there, across from Barry's Bootcamp.  You know, get your workout on, then come eat raw dough?

There was no crowd, sadly, no line "out the dough" as they may have wished for, but this gave me time to consider my options from the large menu.   I was also quickly offered samples of any flavors I wanted, which of course I agreed to.

Greek Goddess
"Classic sugar + house made baklava."

The first sample I tried was Greek Goddess, which I hoped would have decent chunks of baklava inside.  I can't say I really tasted anything baklava-esq, no filo chunks, no honey, no nuts.  Just kinda sweet dough.  I moved on.

What The FLUFF?!
"Peanut butter + marshmallow fluff."

As a peanut butter and fluff fan, this was a no brainer for me to try.  The peanut butter flavor was good, but I didn't get much fluff to it.  Perhaps that was just my sample size.  Still, very peanut butter-y, which is a great thing.

The texture of both doughs was good, but they just weren't the flavor I wanted.  Luckily, I found it next.
Cannoli: Jimmies Classic. $3.75. 
"Try Out The Dough's version of a flavors of cookie dough rolled inside a delicious pizzelle cookie!"

I opted to do a cannoli, because, why not?  It was made to order.

I really liked the shell, not a standard cannoli shell, but rather, a pizzelle cookie, which was crispy, sweet, and a great component to have with the filling.  It also made the dough ridiculously easy to eat - I've had it before by the spoonful, or in a cone, but this was just far easier, just pick it up and munch.

The shell was very generously stuffed, packed full, with cookie dough.  It might not look like a big item, but, given how rich it was, it was a bit hard to imagine finishing in one sitting, except, that, um, it was addicting and amazing, and I kept going back for "just one more bite" after I'd put it down, willing myself to save it for later.

Jimmies Classic
"Classic sugar + rainbow sprinkles."

For my flavor of dough inside, I went with the Jimmies Classic, because I just can't resist rainbow sprinkles when they are an option.  This did mean it was a very sweet flavor, sweet sugar cookie dough and sweet sugar sprinkles, but, that is what I was in the mood for.

The dough was a great texture, well, raw cookie dough.  Not crumbly.  The sugar cookie flavor was crazy sweet, legit sugar cookie, like the kind you get a tube and eat raw even though you aren't supposed to.  Great sweetness, plus nice crunch from sprinkles.

I was happy with my choice of filling, thrilled with the form factor, and I'd gladly get another, although I'd love to try others too (like ones with pie crust mixed in!).  

Monday, August 12, 2019

Dunkin' Donuts - The Drinks

Update Review, August 2019

Another year, another east coast visit, another couple lackluster visits to Dunkin' Donuts for highly mediocre coffee.
Dunkin' Decaf, Hazelnut, Medium. $2.65.
Dunkin' Donuts coffee really isn't that great.  I know this.  But, sometimes, you just need to go with tradition, and get it anyway.  As I did, several times during my July trip to the east coast.

I went for hazelnut each time, knowing the flavoring would at least help give it a bit of ooph.

The coffee the first day was ... ok.  Not good, but not the worst ever.  I think I still liked having the hazelnut.  I liked it better chilled over ice.

Why anyone would pay $2.65 for this is beyond me though.
The next day, it was ... horrible?  Bitter.  Acidic.  Harsh.  Just, really quite awful.

I took a couple sips, and then ... accidentally spilled it all over myself.  Literally, all over myself.  Which revealed the bottom of the cup.  Filled with course grounds.  No wonder it was so awful.

I had only taken, literally, 5 steps outside the door, so I went back, and asked if they'd take pity on someone who just dumped it all over herself.  They said yes (thank you!), and also noticed the grounds everywhere.  The supervisor (I think?) rinsed out the vat of coffee, and brewed a fresh one, before giving me more.

To say it was better is an understatement.  I wouldn't call it *good*, not by any stretch of the imagination, but, but was far far better fresh.

Still, um, $2.85 for this coffee just makes no sense.  I do it when I'm on the east coast, once or twice, but, I'd never visit regularly for this coffee.

Update Review, December 2018

Cold Brew, No Ice, Large.
"An ultra-smooth, full-bodied coffee like no other. We’ve steeped 100% Arabica beans in cold water for 12 hours to slowly extract all the flavor into this velvety brew."

Yes, Dunkin' jumped on board the cold brew wagon.  And ... they did a decent job.

Smooth, full bodied, not harsh nor acidic ... actually a decent cold brew.  Better than the brewed coffee, and actually enjoyable black (even though that order was met with surprise, "just black? No cream or sugar?").

So it was a rewards drink, I got the biggest size, no ice, and used it for my morning coffee for a few days (kept in the fridge of course).  #proMove.

Update Review August 2018

Yeah ... I'm pretty much over Dunkin' Donuts.  It is expensive for what it is, the coffee just isn't anything special, and the baked goods lost their appeal long ago.  It is reliable, particularly for a simple coffee (hot or iced), but beyond that, meh.

Update Review December 2016

A crazy thing happened to me on my holiday visit to the east coast in December.  I decided, perhaps long overdue, that I don't really like Dunkin Donuts.  At least, not the coffee.  It just isn't very good.  I'm sorry, I know I'm upsetting a lot of people right now.  And really, for what it is, it is expensive.  I had my years of loving the place, but I think I was into it in my younger years because of all the cream and sugar, and, well, I didn't really appreciate coffee itself.

During that visit, I still went a few times, got coffee, and didn't really care for it.  On my last day, I realized that I had a birthday freebie reward about to expire.  I didn't want another mediocre coffee.  I knew that way back in the day I loved Coolattas, except, I didn't want caffeine (although, it turns out, Coffee Coolattas have *very* little caffeine content, barely more than decaf!)  I thought I could perhaps try a fruity Coolatta for the first time, assuming it was basically just a slushie drink, but then I saw just how much sugar was in it (88 grams!), and thought better of it.  Instead I opted to go totally off menu, and make up my own icy beverage, somewhat inspired by exploring off-menu Frappuccinos at Starbucks.  Did you know you can do that at Dunkin' Donuts?  I didn't, until I tried.

Original Reviews, 2013 - 2015

I've shared my thoughts on the west coast coffee chain darling, Peet's, and the nationwide Starbucks, so it seems only appropriate to post about the place I grew up with: Dunkin' Donuts.  Or Dunks, as I knew it.

Dunks is where I learned to drink coffee.  Now, granted, what I thought was coffee then and what I think is coffee now are two very different things.  But it still holds a very special place in my heart.

As a kid, no birthday party was complete without a giant box of munchkins.  Once I could drive, no road trip was complete without several stops at Dunks to get a hot coffee and a muffin.  And no summer day was complete without a refreshing Coolatta or an iced coffee.  They seemed to have a product to fit whatever stage of life I was in.

But then I moved to the west coast, where there are no Dunkin' Donuts.  And I started drinking my coffee black, and then even just drinking espressos, and started caring which single origin coffee I was drinking, and what extraction method was used to prepare it. My days of Dunks were behind me.

On my last few visits to the east coast however, I've tried it out again.  While still satisfying in the nostalgic sense, it actually isn't very good.  I claim it has changed.  For example, my coffee of choice, the french vanilla, used to be actual french vanilla coffee, and now it is just the regular coffee, with a squirt of flavored syrup in it.  They only brew basic regular and decaf now, and just use syrups for the rest.  The donuts and muffins are no longer baked fresh daily on site, but rather in big distribution centers and shipped in.  And ... they sell bagels?  And breakfast burritos?  And ... tuna salad sandwiches?  And my precious Coffee Coolatta is now called "Frozen Coffee Drink".  Whaaat?

Anyway.  I've tried out a bunch of their products again, and my notes on the drinks are below (to read about the baked goods, and donuts, visit that review).  The only thing that I used to love that I haven't tried recently is the muffins, particularly, the corn muffins.  They had a big sign on them boasting "new recipe!" so I shied away.  I'll let them stay in my memory as the amazing thing they once were.

Notes below include both standard, and seasonal special, offerings, compiled over the course of 2013 - 2015.

Hot Coffee

I found a lot of variety in the hot coffee.  I think the biggest difference was likely how fresh the coffee is, particularly the decaf.  Unlike Peet's, they don't have any policies regarding freshness.  Several times I asked how fresh the decaf was, and the worker told me it was from that morning (when it was late in the afternoon).  Yikes!

Back in the day, when you ordered a coffee at Dunks, it came with cream and sugar, by default.  If you didn't specify anything, that is what you got.  And not just a little bit of each, they'd load it up with a giant scoop of sugar and a generous glug of cream.  Not half and half, cream.  It was sweet, it was creamy, and I guess there was coffee in there somewhere.

Times have changed a little.  Now, if you just order a coffee, they ask, "cream and sugar?"  And if you say yes, you still get the massive amounts of it.  I tried some black a few times, and must say, it wasn't very good at all.  But load it up with cream and sugar, and it is still pretty much what I remember.

Standard Flavors

Other things that have changed?  How the flavor is added.  I used to always love the french vanilla and hazelnut coffees.  Back in the good old days, these were actually flavored coffees.  Now all flavors are added as syrups.  Most are just sweetened syrup with some flavors, although the "flavor swirls" also include sweetened condensed milk, so you have to be careful if you get one of those and also ask for cream and sugar ... it gets crazy sweet and creamy fast!

For the shots that are just flavor, options are blueberry, raspberry, coconut, mocha, and toasted almond, plus  caramel, hazelnut, french vanilla.  The later options are also available as the aforementioned "swirls", with sweetend condensed milk already added in.
Small Hot Coffee, Hazelnut.
Hazelnut is my current favorite.  I used to love the old brewed French Vanilla flavor, but the new syrup I do not like as much.  Hazelnut adds a nice aroma and flavor, although the standard number of pumps of syrup tends to be too sweet for me.  I prefer one fewer pump than standard.

Other Flavors:
  • Blueberry: I tried this really just out of curiosity.  Blueberry coffee?  Wat? Well, it was exactly what it said it was.  Blueberry flavored coffee.  No reason to get this again, but it was decent blueberry flavor.  
  • Caramel: The aroma on this was lovely, but the taste ... awful.  I'm not sure if it was the caramel, or the stale, rancid old coffee it was added to, but, it was undrinkable, and I haven't been brave enough to try it again since!
  • Cinnamon: Not bad, but obviously just cinnamon flavor syrup.
  • French Vanilla: A tiny bit sweet, a tiny bit vanilla-y, and a bit "fake" tasting.  I still like having the flavor, but its not what it used to be.
  • Toasted Almond: A bit burnt tasting perhaps, not good.

Seasonal Specials

Throughout the year, Dunkin' Donuts introduces seasonal specials, usually inspired by holidays, or recent partnerships (like when they merged with Baskin' Robbins, and started offering all sorts of ice cream inspired flavors).  These flavors come for a few months, and then go, although sometimes they repeat again the next year.

  • Peppermint Mocha (Seasonal, Winter 2014): Slightly pepperminty, but not very strong.  Didn't taste any chocolate or "mocha"ness.  Least sweet of all the flavor swirls.
  • Pumpkin Swirl: Very pumpkiny, spiced, and insanely sweet.  This is one of the "swirl" flavors, so it has sweetened condensed milk, very sweet, very creamy. 
  • Red Velvet Swirl: Another "swirl" flavor, very sweet and creamy, actually kinda tasty!  [ Very sweet, very creamy, enjoyable. ] [ A single pump isn't enough for a medium to really give it the richer red velvet flavor.  But standard order (2 pumps?) is a bit too much for me, the cream left a nasty mouthfeel and coated my throat. ]
  • Sugar Cookie (Seasonal, Winter 2014): This was a flavor swirl, so, again loaded with sweetened condensed milk and sugar.  I got a small, and I think the amount of syrup added would have been sufficient for a large.  Way, way too sweet. I'm not sure what I was expecting from "sugar cookie" flavor, but all this tasted like was sweetness.  Would not get again.

Other Hot Drinks

Dunkin' Donuts sells a number of other hot drinks, including tea, chai, hot chocolate, lattes, cappuccinos, and the "Dunkaccino®".  I can't imagine ordering these beverages, but, some people must.

[ No Photo ]

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate.

"Now you can enjoy the doubly tasty sensation of sweet and salted caramel in your cup of hot chocolate."

My sister ordered a hot chocolate since she doesn't like coffee.  And ... I stole a sip.  It was crazy sweet.  Like way, way too sweet.  And not very chocolately at all.  It did have a nice froth on top, but I think it came from a machine, not a skilled barista.  Certainly not my thing.

Iced Coffee

My old standard summer drink was always iced coffee.  Like the hot coffee, the flavors now come as a flavor syrup, rather than brewed flavored coffee.  And like the hot coffee, once loaded up with Dunk's signature amounts of cream and sugar, it was pretty much exactly as I remembered.  Sweet, creamy, refreshing, exactly what I wanted on a hot summer day.

Standard Flavors

The standard flavors available for iced coffee are the same as for hot coffee.
Medium Hazelnut Decaf Iced Coffee, Splash of Milk. $2.59.

This is my classic summer drink.  Warm weather and iced coffee just go hand in hand.  My favorite flavor for iced coffee at Dunks is hazelnut.

I never like my iced coffee black, so I always sweeten it, and add milk rather than cream.  I'm not cream-adverse, but for some reason in iced coffee it always tastes cloying to me, and coats my mouth in an uncomfortable way.  So, milk it is.

I loved this, on a hot day, it was oh-so-satisfying.

Dark Roast Iced Coffee, Splash of Milk, Hazelnut (3 pumps).

For National Coffee Day, Dunkin' Donuts gave out free medium sized coffee (hot or iced) of their relatively new Dark Roast only.  I'm usually a decaf drinker, and don't actually like dark roasts, but, I can't resist a freebee.

I added milk and hazelnut as I always do.  And ... it tasted exactly like the decaf I had the day before.  It certainly didn't seem particularly dark.  And I guess that means that the decaf doesn't taste particularly funky?  I really enjoyed it, and the associated caffeine high that came from sucking it down in all of 3 minutes flat.  Whoops.
Decaf Iced Coffee, Coconut, Large (July 2017).
I had a free beverage on my account, and it was valid for anything, any size.  While iced coffee is certainly not the way to maximize free $$ (Coolattas, etc are more expensive), it is what I wanted.  I did opt for large, which I'm pretty sure I've never done before.  I felt ridiculous holding it, but, some fraction of it was ice, right?

It was fine, standard iced coffee.

I decided to be crazy and try a new flavor: coconut.  I ... kinda liked it.  Very refreshing, and a bit fun.  I'd love to combine it with another flavor, but I'm not really sure what would work best.
Decaf Iced Coffee, 2 Pumps Hazelnut, Large (August 2018).
Another year, another birthday freebie.  And like last year, I decided to just get the thing I wanted, and not bother optimize the $$$ amount.

I went back to my classic order, decaf iced coffee, hazelnut.  A large normally has 4 pumps, I opted for 2, which gave it just a slight hazelnut flavor, but didn't overwhelm with sweetness.  Next time, I'd try 3.

It was fine.  Standard, good iced coffee.  Perfect for the weather.  But not remarkable in any way.

Other Flavors:
  • French Vanilla: Not much flavor, meh. Somehow "fake" tasting.
  • Coconut Caramel Swirl: Crazy sweet since it is a "swirl" flavor with sweetened condensed milk already in it, so don't get sweetener with this flavor.  Coconuty, caramely, and quite tasty!
  • French Vanilla + Coconut + 1 Cream, small: Decent, but still too much cream for me, and I wanted to add sweetener anyway.

Seasonal Specials

Just like with hot coffee, Dunkin' Donuts offers seasonal and special flavors that can be mixed into iced coffee (or really, any drink you want, if you go for lattes, cappuccinos, or even hot chocolate).
Medium Decaf Cookie Dough Iced Coffee.  $2.39.

It turns out, that in the years since I've left the east coast, the classic Dunkin' Donuts order of cream and sugar is no longer sufficient: the new flavor "swirls" available already have dairy and sweetener mixed in!  The flavor shot includes sweetened condensed milk, cream, light cream, and milk, plus high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and brown sugar.  Seriously?  ALL THE CREAMS AND SUGARS!  Were people starting to get healthy and order skim milk and splenda instead of cream and sugar, so they had to up the ante and hide the crazy?  Anyway, this was crazy sweet.  It did taste kinda like cookie dough though, and I liked it more than I expected too.

Other flavors:
  • Mint Chocolate Chip: Not nearly as creamy, nor as sweet, as the cookie dough, although it still obviously had both dairy and sweetener in it.  I wish I'd taken a photo, because it looked so different, and it makes no sense to me, given that the Dunkin' Donuts website has the same nutritional and ingredient information for the two varieties.  Given that the first one seemed way too creamy sweet, perhaps they added the correct amount to this one?  (Although, I'd expect the number of squirts they do must be standard, so I'm not sure why there is so much variance).  Like the cookie dough flavor, it did taste remarkably like mint chocolate chip.  Which, it turns out ... is not what I want from my coffee.  I wouldn't get this again.
  • Butter Pecan: Again sweet and creamy, but I didn't care for the flavor.  It tasted a bit burnt.

Frozen Beverages

Ah, Coolattas.  For the times where you want to splurge.  Or for when you are younger, and have no clue how horrible these things are.

Coolattas are frozen, slushy, iced concoctions, sorta like Starbucks Frappuccinos, except made from a mix, not freshly brewed coffee to order.  Back in the day, I'm pretty sure they were all coffee based, but now there are fruity options as well.  All are loaded up with tons of sugar and random chemicals.  They are not available with decaf coffee, since the base is "Frozen Coffee Base", which already includes "Frozen Coffee Concentrate", made with coffee extract, not even real espresso.  The Vanilla Bean flavor uses "Frozen Neutral Base", a terrifying mix of chemicals, sugars, and cream, yielding a 850 calorie treat, complete with a whopping 174 grams of sugar.  The fruit flavors are marketed more at kids, and, as you can imagine, are just sugar bombs.

They also generally come topped with whipped cream.

I did used to love these, perfect for a hot summer day, for an indulgent treat.  I've tried them again as an adult, but, alas, the magic has been lost.
Oreo Vanilla Bean Coolatta, Child Size, Whip.
Oreo was a featured flavor of the month, not one that I had before.  It looked delicious in the picture displayed all over the store.  I couldn't resist, but I opted for the off-menu child size, to keep my sugar intake in check.

It was very sweet, like a liquid Oreo.  It had tons of Oreo crumbles in it.  It was nicely icy, well blended,  and actually, quite enjoyable.  Basically a milkshake.  The whipped cream on top really helped balance it out.  This size was perfect though, anything more would have been way, way too much.

Previous notes: The first time I tried it, I just had a small sample, and it was too sweet and not well blended.  The whipped cream on top was necessary to help balance it out.
Coffee Coolatta, Coconut, Medium, Whip.
I decided to try a new flavor.  I've been on a bit of a coconut kick lately, so I went for coconut.  It was ... ok.  I did like having some coconuty goodness in it.

The base had some slight coffee flavor, but not much.  It was blended decently, although it quickly separated, leaving a watery layer at the bottom and a icy layer on top.  Overall, it was also very sweet.

Standard whipped cream on top, Garelick Farms brand, from a can.

I didn't love this; the flavor just wasn't intense, it was kinda icy and separated ... meh.
Vanilla Bean Coolatta + Blueberry + Whip (Large).
"Rich and creamy, our Vanilla Bean Coolatta® is a refreshingly divine treat at any time of day."

I don't think Dunkin' Donuts is known for custom, off-menu drinks.  But I wanted an icy beverage, that wasn't caffeinated, and wasn't just sugar.  This left me with exactly one option: a Vanilla Bean Coolatta.  But I've had it before, and remembered that it was basically just sweet, and I didn't like it either.  So, I decided to try adding in a flavor shot, normally for the coffee obviously, but, I figured they could add it to a Coolatta too, and come up with a custom, sorta fruity, creamy, blended beverage.

The person taking my order clearly hadn't ever had someone order like this, but was really into it.  I think he was more excited than I was, particularly when he saw it was my birthday creation.  I think he wished me a happy birthday about 10 times.

Flavor shots are available in french vanilla, hazelnut, toasted almond, coconut, blueberry, and raspberry.  I opted for blueberry, but I think coconut or raspberry would be delicious too.

It sorta worked.  I did like the creamy blueberry flavor, and with just one shot in the large drink, it wasn't too much.  But the drink wasn't really as icy as I hoped, it was very thin and liquidy for the most part.  I wanted it to be thicker, more like a milkshake.  I think this is me just not really liking Coolattas, not a failing of my creation.

The man who prepared my beverage also went a bit crazy with the whipped cream, which I didn't mind at all, but, as you can see above, it looked rather insane.  So much whipped cream, but honestly, that *was* the best part.

This thing was perhaps the worst thing, nutritionally, that I possibly could have ordered, which is saying something given that I was surrounded by donuts.  Not counting the whipped cream, it turned out to be even worse sugar-wise than the fruity Coolattas, which I didn't realize until far too late.  174 grams of sugar (!!!).  How is that even possible?  A whopping 850 calories too, again, not including the very, very generous amount of whipped cream.  "Neutral Base", with its cream and every form of sugar imaginable, really did add up!

I can't say I'd get this again, as even I can't justify that much sugar, but, I'd consider a kid's size one, and try coconut next time ...

[ Not Pictured ]
Vanilla Coffee Coolatta.

This was my old standby, during the summer, when I wanted a treat.

It was very, very sweet, with a slight vanilla flavor, and a slight coffee flavor.  I remember why I liked these, but ZOMG serious sweet.

Update:  I had another, the next summer  It had that classic Dunkin' Donuts french vanilla flavor that I recalled from my youth.  It was nicely blended, with no icy chunks.  The whipped cream on top was good.  It was definitely too sweet for my general taste these days, but really was fun to try again because it really was exactly what I remember!

Update: And the next year? Way too sweet.  I didn't want more than a few sips of this.

[ Not Pictured ]
Vanilla Bean Coolatta.

This was an ordering mistake.  I thought I was getting my Vanilla Coffee Coolatta, but instead I seemed to have ordered a Vanilla Bean Coolatta.  Oops.

This was just sweet overload.  It did not have a good vanilla flavor.  It was not very slushy.  It was just sweet, sweet, sweet.  But the whipped cream was awesome.  Did I mention it was sweet?  ZOMG.  Not including the whip, this thing had ... 130 grams of sugar in it!  The perfect thing to pair with a donut, right?