Monday, April 20, 2015

New Peet’s Javiva: It’s Just A Coffee Milkshake, People

Does this even look like coffee?
I went online and searched “Peet’s Javiva” after having one just to get a calorie and sugar count. That’s all. But that search led me to the new great skirmish between coffee companies: the blended coffee drink.

Or as I like to call it, a coffee milkshake.

Let’s not blow this thing too out of proportion, although of course when it comes to coffee drinks I am waaaayyyyyyy too late with that suggestion. Be real: if you are having a “blended coffee drink," whether it is named a Javiva or a Frappuccino or anything else, then you are having a milkshake. Plain and simple.

It also doesn’t matter if you use soy milk or almond milk or whole milk or 2% or some kind of milk that I have never heard of, or even a substitute of a substitute milk product. A blended coffee drink is a milkshake, like a hamburger is a hamburger even if it contains no meat. The basic set-up is the same.

I had no idea there was such a vehement argument about which chain’s coffee milkshake is better. Peet’s claims that theirs is special because it uses fresh coffee and Starbucks uses some sort of not-as-fresh coffee and Dunkin’ Donuts uses coffee that has been brewed in the Back Bay and then shipped to all DD’s locations (that may not actually be true). You can already tell the Peet's Javiva is hipper because it has a Tumblr page. (Note: that was sarcasm.)

What cannot be sidestepped is that these things are all coffee milkshakes (even if there are versions that don’t contain coffee, see hamburger argument above). They include incredible amounts of sugar, especially if you add a flavor like caramel. I did that, and I could perceive no caramel flavor in the Javiva. Of course I had just been in line an excruciatingly long time as one guy trying to decide on what one pound of coffee he wanted to buy ended up somehow ended up having all three Peet’s baristas in the shop working on his order at one time. They were probably as fed up with the guy as I was by the time two of them wiggled themselves free to take care of the now half-dozen customers in line.

In an attempt to make this a food review and not an indictment of the coffee drink culture (I know, too late), the key takeaways from my visit to Peet’s can be summed up with my final interaction with the barista who actually made the Javiva.

(Javiva completed, whipped cream added on top, and pushed across the counter.)

Me: “Oh, so it’s just your guys’ version of a Frappuccino?”

Her: “Pretty much.”

That about sums it up. Peet’s has a new coffee milkshake. It tastes an awful lot like a Starbucks Frappuccino. I didn’t get a post-Starbucks Frappuccino headache like I have gotten before, so that’s a point in Peet’s favor.

Anyway, the reason we got here in the first place: “Nutrition” info for a medium (16 oz.) caramel: 407 calories (2% milk) and 85 grams of sugar. Holy Schnikes. A grande (16 oz.) Starbucks caramel frap: 400 and 63. Caramel “Coollatta” at Dunkin’ Donuts (skim milk): 450 calories and- this can’t be right- 105 grams of sugar. What on earth.  A straight-up 16 ounce caramel milkshake: more than 1,600 calories and about 50 grams of sugar. You’ve got to be kidding.

On second thought, hold the Javiva and I’ll have a latte instead. On third thought, “just give me something without any sugar.”

"I can't give you a tab unless you order something."
 photos courtesy:,

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