Monday, June 10, 2013

More Chocolate Than Caramel, Starbucks Salted Caramel Is More Pricy Than Flavorful.

The Good: Tastes good
The Bad: Very expensive, Environmental impact of the packaging, A lot of work, More salty than caramel.
The Basics: Starbucks Salted Caramel hot cocoa is wonderfully, richly chocolate flavored but has very little of the promised caramel taste.

Around my household, a good gift for me is always new treats for me to enjoy and review. My wife has a tendency to pick me up things I am not likely to spend good money for on myself. Lately, that has taken the form of picking me up expensive coffees and cocoas. So, for example, she picked e up Starbucks Mint Chocolate Cocoa (reviewed here!) and Salted Caramel Cocoa, which I have been enjoying the last few nights. Unfortunately, I have not been enjoying the cocoa as much as I wanted to, mostly because it does not taste quite like I would have hoped.

The Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa is good, but great and barely caramel.


The Salted Caramel hot cocoa mix is part of the Starbucks premium hot cocoa line. The mix comes in a box of eight 1 oz. packets. Each box has eight servings and these bear an exceptionally high price of seven to nine dollars. For a single mug of cocoa, this is expensive when compared to other make-at-home products, especially when one factors in the additional cost of the milk.

Ease Of Preparation

The Starbucks Salted Caramel hot cocoa mix is a pain in the butt to make. Each serving comes in a 1 oz. package and requires a cup of milk to make it into a hot beverage. There is no fuss on the measuring front with this hot beverage; each packet is a single serving. Simply open the envelope and dump the powder in a cup. Unfortunately, one needs to bring a cup of milk to a near-boil for each serving. Making sure the milk is not boiling so it does not curdle is important and requires the consumer to pay attention to cooking the cocoa. It is important to note that this cannot be mixed with milk and then heated, even when one is making the cocoa in bulk.


The Starbucks's Salted Caramel hot cocoa smells strongly of chocolate. There is a slight hint of salt in the latter part of the aroma, but this is not a sweet-smelling beverage.

In the mouth, the Salted Caramel hot cocoa is very dry and it has a dark, rich flavor to it. After the thick, dark chocolate flavor passes, there is a very faint sweetness to it that is smothered by the dry, slightly salty taste of the drink. There is almost none of the buttery flavor I associate with caramel and this flavor is strongly and delightfully chocolate flavor with very little in a secondary flavor to sell it as caramel.

While this leaves a dry taste in the mouth, it has no recognizable aftertaste.


Starbucks Salted Caramel premium hot cocoa mix is hot cocoa mix and therefore not the most nutritious thing in the world, though there is nothing truly awful in this beverage. The primary ingredients are sugar, cocoa and natural flavors. There is a milk derivative in this hot cocoa powder, so it is not Vegan compliant.

What is not a mystery is how high this product is in sugars. In each cup of Salted Caramel, there are 120 calories, thirty of which are from fat. There are two and a half grams of saturated fat, but no trans fats! There is no cholesterol, but there is 130 mg of sodium in the Salted Caramel Cocoa, which is not as bad as it could be. There is a little protein, but not enough to live off this. In other words, this product is not a nutritious food product.

This product contains soy and wheat, so it is not gluten-free. There are also allergy warnings against peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and eggs for the mix. It is, however, marked as Kosher.


So long as one leaves the Starbucks Salted Caramel Premium Hot Cocoa powder in its envelope, it ought to stay usable. The box my wife gave me for Easter expires on December 6, 2013, but I imagine it will be gone well before then (given that I have already gone through half the packets).

Cleanup is very easy as well. If the product spills while dumping it into the mug, simply wipe it up or brush it up with a dry or damp cloth. If it has already been reconstituted with milk into hot cocoa, simply wipe it up. Light fabrics are likely to stain if this gets on them, in which case consult your fabric care guide to clean it up.


Starbucks Salted Caramel hot cocoa is not at all bad, but it is not richly caramel flavored and as a result, it doesn’t quite live up to my standards . . . or the standards of anyone who wants their drinks to taste like they claim.

For other Starbucks products, please visit my reviews of:
Via Colombia coffee
Via Vanilla instant coffee
Via Iced Coffee
Cafe Estima Coffee


For other food or drink reviews, please visit my Food Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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