Review | Starbucks’ cloud macchiato brings back preteen nostalgia

Ariana Grande and Starbucks teamed up to create the cloud macchiato, which is topped with cold foam. Photo by Cassidy Keola

The year was 2010. The latest Twilight movie, “New Moon,” was all the rage, Justin Bieber had just burst into the music scene and everyone had Facebook albums dedicated to their day out with friends at a local Starbucks, replete with artsy pictures of their coffee cups. Let’s not deny it. These were the best of times.

I was in London for the summer. Starbucks hadn’t yet launched in India, where I grew up, and my cousin and I wanted to be part of the craze, so we headed into the nearest one. I ordered an iced caramel macchiato and had my name mercilessly butchered on the cup. But that didn’t matter.

Because that’s where my romance with Starbucks began.

I wouldn’t call myself a connoisseur, but I can definitely appreciate a good coffee. You will rarely see me deviate from my regular Starbucks order of an iced latte. But when I heard about the new iced caramel cloud macchiato,” all my preteen nostalgia came rushing back. It’s described as a regular iced macchiato, but it’s topped with cold foam, presumably to give it the “cloud” illusion.

Since I don’t usually get a coffee to start my day, I waited a while to try this out. In that time, I saw that the drink was the result of a collaboration with singer Ariana Grande. At first I was concerned the drink might be some super sugary, whipped cream concoction, since Grande evokes that type of association – and her previous album was literally called “Sweetener.” Still, I persisted and ordered a venti of the drink.

The cold foam takes up half the cup. It was surprisingly strong. In fact, I thought the barista gave me the wrong drink. It didn’t have the slightly overpowering sweetness of a regular caramel macchiato, and the generous caramel drizzle doesn’t cover up the burnt espresso taste Starbucks is notorious for, which I thoroughly enjoy. The only problem is that there’s a lot more foam than coffee, so it may not be worth the price.

I ordered it two more times. This time I ordered another venti-sized drink, and I watched the barista fill the cup to the point of overflowing. She then tossed out some of the extra foam and slapped a lid on. When I took my first sip, I wasn’t let down. I got my money’s worth and the drink’s contents balanced out.

The next day I ordered the same drink again, but with a grande size in order to check for discrepancies. It was even better since I got two shots of espresso in a grande, it’s more pocket-friendly and somehow tastes even better. At the time of writing this review, I had had nearly two weeks’ worth of the cloud macchiato. Needless to say, my bank account has taken a serious hit, because at $5.45 these ventis are not cheap.

Overall, the bitter, dark coffee is complimented by the caramel and the foam – which simultaneously both bring out and contrast those flavors. So whether you’re a Frappuccino fan or enjoy something darker and full-bodied, I would recommend trying the cloud macchiato. Like me, you may just find your new favorite drink.