ATK Reviews

Starbucks and Dunkin' Are Embracing Apple Drinks. Should You Fall for Them?

Taste-testing Starbucks' Apple Crisp Macchiato and Dunkin's Iced Caramel Apple Cider.

Published Sept. 14, 2021.

I live in New England, where summers are short and mostly mild. Still, by the time August comes around, I’m hankering for Maine fall, and national coffee chains are always happy to oblige. Usually, brands such as Starbucks and Dunkin' race to be the first to put out their fall displays and release cinnamon-laced beverages that are barely reminiscent of coffee. 

For two decades, the autumnal juggernaut known as the PSL (pumpkin spice latte) has reigned supreme (you can read our taste test of PSLs here). But this fall, these brands have embraced a new flavor to lace their concoctions, both coffee laden and not: apples! Starbucks announced both the hot and iced Apple Crisp Macchiatos, with espresso, apple-flavored sweetener, a toffee-like “caramel apple drizzle,” and the milk product of your choice. Not to be out-appled, Dunkin went the coffee-free route, announcing the Iced Caramel Apple Cider. I decided to give them both a taste to see if they were worth it.

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Starbucks Apple Crisp Macchiato (Hot or Iced)

My first impression of these drinks is that they smell like green apple Jolly Ranchers—not altogether unpleasant, but a bit disconcerting as I go in for a taste. I don’t love the synthetic candy flavor. Otherwise, the most important takeaway is that if you want to actually taste coffee, you’re going to need to order an extra shot. The coffee gets almost completely lost. Still, if you ignore the smell, the drink tastes like liquid apple cobbler, with notes of buttery caramel and a crisp hit of apple. It’s pretty tasty!

Chase's Score: 4 out of 5 apples

Dunkin' Iced Caramel Apple Cider

I have two words to describe this drink: sugar bomb. This may be the most cloyingly sweet drink I’ve ever tasted (and I’m from Georgia, where I grew up drinking sweet iced tea). The cider itself is tasty but sickly sweet and syrupy, with very little authentic apple flavor. And the caramel syrup pushes it completely over the top, to the point where I feel like I’m just drinking pure sugar. This drink is bright and refreshing, but I probably won’t be ordering it again. 

Chase's Score: 2 out of 5 apples

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