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Starbucks Sorbetto and Vivanno, reviewed

Banana Chocolate Vivanno

I think it’s safely established that I drink a lot of coffee – much of it homemade and some of it when I’m on the go. In summer, I tend to cut back on hot drinks in general and look for other options for refreshment. Last week, Starbucks launched two new drinks and I made it a point to try them to beat the heat.

First up is Vivanno, a line of smoothies pitched as being healthy because they are high in protein and fiber, while being low in fat and relatively low in calories. The drinks also don’t use artificial sweeteners, colors or corn syrup. They come in two flavors – Chocolate Banana and Orange Mango Banana – an are only available in the 16-oz. size. The protein content is high at 18-21 grams per drink and comes from a powdered whey protein blend that is mixed into the drinks. It reminds me very much of a protein boost that Starbucks offered about 6 or 7 years ago that could be added to Frappuccinos to make them a bit healthier (this powder can be added to other blended drinks, as well). The smoothies are much, much thinner than the chain’s signature Frappuccinos because they are primarily juice or chocolate milk, not ice, and a lot of real fruit and/or fruit juice goes into each one. I opted for the Chocolate Banana with an extra shot of espresso added in (the base recipe has no caffeine) and was pleasantly surprised to get a very creamy smoothie that had a good chocolate banana flavor. It wasn’t too sweet and the protein boost actually made me feel pretty good about drinking it on my way home from working out. It reminded me of the chocolate banana my dad made me when I was little – only without the vanilla ice cream my dad included in his recipe.

Sorbetto is the other of the company’s new offerings, but unlike the Vivanno, this one is only available in select markets (like mine) at the moment. Sorbetto are yogurt-based slushy drinks that are tagged with the Pinkberry logo. There are two basic Sorbetto flavors: a sweet-tart plain flavor that the Pinkberry yogurt chain is famous for delivering and citrus-based fruit Sorbetto that tastes like pink grapefruit. The other flavors are created by adding fruit syrups to these two bases. The Sorbettos are almost thick enough to require a spoon and are dispensed from a Slurpee-like machine. They’re very addictive and very good – especially the plain flavor. They only come in 10-oz sizes right now, which is a shame since this is one treat that I would definitely be tempted to order a larger serving of.

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  • Indigo
    July 22, 2008

    Hmmm… sound yummy. Wonder if the Sorbetto’s are available in my area. As I am not fond of banana in anything but it’s most basic form, straight from the peel.

  • laughing808
    July 22, 2008

    I’ll have to look out for these. Especially the Sorbetto.

  • Kim U
    July 22, 2008

    I tried a sample of the orange mango a few days ago and it was ok, but not really good enough to convince me to buy one. I think I’d be more interested in the chocolate banana.

  • lowrah
    July 22, 2008

    I know you are a coffee drinker, so I was wondering if you had been converted to cold-brewed ice coffee yet. There was an article in the NYT that explains the homegrown method very nicely. Give the method a try and tell us if you think it’s worth all of the hype. (I think so!)

  • Eve
    July 22, 2008

    I haven’t seen the sorbetto in my area, I was lucky enough to walk into my Starbucks on the night they were training how to make the Vivanno and got one for free (chocolate banana). They were thick, and the after taste from protein powder was very present. First taste was okay, but it grows on you. Don’t think I’d ever order it, though the idea of adding a shot of espresso is appealing.

    The good thing about the vivanno is now when I go into starbucks it smells like chocolate, bananas, and coffee 🙂

  • yogurtwatcher
    July 28, 2008

    Starbucks recent introduction of a yogurt based drink may be premature. The product, known as Sorbetto, contains, Itialian yoggi powder (Pregel is the manufacturer) powdered milk and cup-style yogurt. The company is under the impression that since they are not calling it frozen yogurt that is it okay to mix and serve to the public. According to the state dairy safety enforcement agency, no milk products may be mixed and served to the public, regardless of the name of the product. Starbucks believes that since they are not calling it yogurt or frozen yogurt, they can mix these ingredients and refer to it as a “yogurt blend”. This is not correct and infact, puts them in a position of being sued for unfair economic advantage. The irony in this situation is that the sorbetto name is attached to pinkberry in the stores. You think Pinkberry would have learned their lesson by now.

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