Aji WOW: Starbucks Frumerge
Aji WOW is my series of unusual Japanese food/drink reviews. 'Aji' (味) means 'flavour', and the name's also a pun on 'ajiwau' (味わう) - 'to enjoy the taste of'.
This time: Starbucks Frumerge.
Don't ask me, that's how they're spelling it. I think this is a weird 'merge' of 'fruit' and 'fromage'. And it's pronounced as 'frumage' in Japanese. Make your minds up, people. It comes in a bright container, with a frappuccino-style domed white lid.
It's been a little while since I've reviewed a Starbucks Japan drink. The previous arrival at convenience stores was a caramel macchiato with coconut - ew, no thanks. There's also a summer watermelon tea drink at Starbucks branches, but it wasn't really worth reviewing.
On a recent lunch run, my typo-hunting eyes were drawn to the FRUMERGE. A quick Google told me that this new drink only launched a week previous (July 11th).
Mixed berries and crushed almonds, with mascarpone cheese for extra unnecessary sweetness. Okay. That's way better than coconut. I can drink that. And it's under 200 calories even with the mascarpone? Nice. Sweetens the deal in more ways than one.
It's unlike me to buy a Starbucks drink that doesn't contain caffeine, but hey.
The first sip was pure berry yogurt. Strawberry, cranberry, and raspberry. Those 3 fruits are having their moment this summer. McDonald's brought out a similar berry range (themed around Commodore Perry, because puns) a few weeks ago.
At first, the Frumerge was pretty good. Definitely at the thickness you'd expect from drinking yogurt, not too sludgy. The odd bit of squished fruit came up through the straw, which added some texture.
And then I crunched something. Ah.
Maybe I'm one of those rare people who makes the distinction between crushed almonds and chopped almonds. This drink contained chopped almonds, almost quartered. I'd expected the much smaller bits you can sprinkle over Korean-style chicken.
The intention, according to Starbucks, was to use the almonds as an accent to the drink. To me, it was jarring. The bits were too big to flow well through the straw. And they'd been marinating in berry yogurt for so long that they tasted weird.
I ended up pouring the rest out into a cup. On removing the opaque white plastic lid, I found the 'shake before drinking' instructions. Too late, Starbucks, way too late. There's no way to know that's under there.
Not shown because it didn't photograph well: soggy chopped almonds in a paper cup. They were brown - didn't even take the skin off them, seriously?
Verdict: 5/10. Those ingredients don't FRUMERGE as well as they should.