Thirty years ago, it might have seemed cockamamie to violate espresso by loading it up with sprinkle-topped whipped cream, actual bits of cookies, sweet and sour powder, or some such combination of intensely high-fat, high-sugar ingredients.
Yet a significant portion of the population still seems to regard coffee as a kind of vehicle for poorly conceived desserts that function as whole meal substitutes. That’s okay. It’s normal now. We’re living in the post-KFC Double Down era.
But every once in a while, even now — when some coffee drinks seem more like the result of madcap buffoonery than of legitimate culinary experimentation or, in coffee parlance, “sig bev” development — something so spectacularly unappealing comes along that it can’t help but awaken the senses.
While perusing a press release from Starbucks on its holiday coffee drink special menu items throughout the world, everything seemed in line with new normal. There were cumulous clouds of whipped cream; real bits of cakes, biscuits, cookies and candied nuts; and rivers of sweet and spiced sauces. It was like Willy Wonka’s bar.
Then came this:
Snowy Cheese Flavored Latte
China: A dreamy new holiday beverage made with baked cheese flavored sauce blended into classic espresso and topped with light whipped cream, blueberry flavored sprinkles and star-shaped crisps.
Say what now?
Famously, China is a vast and varied country with scores of regional culinary traditions engrained over generations, virtually none of which involve cheese. But that’s beside the point. The point is, “baked cheese flavored sauce blended into classic espresso.”
A Starbucks media relations representatives has confirmed with DCN that the cheese referenced in the drink description is, in fact, cheese and not something cheesecake-related.
“This is a new dreamy holiday beverage customers love, inspired by the magic of Christmas fairy tales to spread cheer during this festive season,” said the Starbucks rep, identified only as Hannah.
Dreamy, indeed — as in, there’s no way this is happening in real life, right?