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The Japanese Starbucks Frappuccino Showdown

The Japanese Starbucks Frappuccino Showdown
Meg Butler

While it is officially Pumpkin Spiced Latte season in North America, not every Starbucks is participating in The Great Pumpkin Latte Run. While some hardcore locavores eschew it, I am a firm believer in heading to Starbucks wherever I travel.

Me, in Chengdu, trying a beer latte and BeautyCam, the face tuning app everyone that I talked to in China recommended (and I hated).

Is it a very American thing to do? Sure. But, people like what they like. And, in my defense, Starbucks does make an effort to make at least some of their products different in each country. I’m pretty sure that photo is of me trying Starbuck’s China’s beer latte and I don’t look happy because it did not taste good. But, I tried it because that’s what you do when you go abroad: head to an American chain and try something slightly different than what you’re used to (this was also the trip where I discovered that I like wood ear mushrooms and hate baijiu just so that it’s on the record that I tried other things).

They also had boxes full of tiny tarts.

I am, however, super bummed that I won’t be in Japan to experience their version of Pumpkin Spiced Latte Season: the Green Apple Jelly Frappuccino v Baked Apple Pink Frappuccino showdown. Like several other things Japanese, Starbucks in Japan is known for being delightfully extra. Once they had a frappucino with a pie crust dome on top, another came with an entire vanilla cake inside. And we haven’t even gotten to the seasonal flavors like cherry blossom.

One is tart and crisp, the other is sweeter with notes of cinnamon and, according to this blog, it’s pretty delicious. But, since I won’t be partaking this year, I’d love to hear from all of you. What’s your favorite Starbucks drink that you’ve had abroad? Or is heading to a familiar chain in a faraway place something you just don’t do (unless it involves less sugary special circumstances like the New Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Nakameguro)?


Let me know in the comments.

View Comments (2)


  1. neilcb

    September 13, 2019 at 8:40 am

    One thing I always do when visiting a foreign country is not go to Starbucks.


    September 17, 2019 at 7:16 am

    I always try local cuisine, too. But there is one exception in Greece, and that is Grigori’s. Their pastries from this Greek coffee house chain do not “stay with you”….much like eating the pastry equivalent of Sbarro or Panda Express… get hungry in about an hour and a half. Starbucks’ pastry at least keeps you satisfied. Grigori’s is just “flavored air”.

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