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Last night I was trying to catch up on my Hulu but kept getting rudely interrupted by an ad for Starbucks’ new Refreshers energy drink…served in a cup with a straw. That’s a little too familiar for me — the placebo effect kicks in when I pop open a skinny can of something that will later cause me to fidget uncontrollably. But those skinny cans don’t contain Starbucks’ new secret ingredient, and I’m only surprised they didn’t tap into it sooner: green coffee extract. 

Before coffee is roasted, it varies in color from pale tan to bright green. At this early stage it has no coffee flavor, but contains the same amount of caffeine. This caffeine can be extracted from the beans and used to power up ordinary beverages with no buzz potential, also known as “single-taskers.” Thus, the Starbucks Refresher was born. I grabbed one on the way to work this morning.

At first sip, it was icy and — as promised — refreshing. Is that a hint of (lip-smacking noise)…xylitol I taste, totally negating the point of including real fruit? Isn’t that stuff illegal? I like Crystal Light mass-mixed in a a chemical drum as much as the next gal, but for something with no artificial ingredients, this really toed the line. I chugged it as fast as I could.

Soon after, the “moderate caffeine” kicked in and I was unable to keep my toes from bouncing to the beat of my playlist. I never know how much dancing in my head shows on the outside in, say, the subway. My mood spiked and I thought, “Hey, this feels like a energy drink! Totally worth the insult to everything wonderful about the lime!” And then I experienced the normal caffeine crash…oh, about now-ish. No news there.

Here’s the crazy thing: I think I’d rather have a Red Bull. I came up in the age of energy drinks, and, 10 years in, am officially used to the borderline-acceptable Flintstones Vitamins and carbonated pee flavor and subsequent crackheadedness. If you’ve never been a fan of artificially sweetened-flavored beverages, a new low in the natural beverage realm, swap your iced green tea for this experiment and crank up the electro-disco. It’s gonna be a hell of a morning.


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