Last Updated: 3/23/2012 8:15 AM
The Starbucks Refreshers line of energy drinks uses “green coffee extract” as its key functional ingredient (the drink also has ginseng and B-vitamins, but no added caffeine). In our sampling of the Orange Melon flavor, which has 25 percent juice and is sweetened with stevia and erythritol as well as sugar from the juice, the flavor of the drink is mediocre at best. The orange and melon flavors taste very much like something that would be found in a low calorie soda rather than an energy drink. The green coffee extract doesn’t appear to add any flavor, although there is a slightly lingering finish and aftertaste to the drink. Packaging makes heavy use of the Starbucks brand, which, despite being very recognizable seems out of place on a brightly colored can like this one. Ultimately, the biggest challenge for this product is going to be educating consumers as to what green coffee extract is and what its benefits are. For starters, we suspect that consumers will wonder whether the drink has coffee flavor in it. Beyond that it might be confusing as to whether “green” is a statement concerning the environmental consciousness of the product or it being a type of coffee bean (a green coffee bean is actually just an unroasted bean). In any event, this is not communicated overly well on this product. And as is often the case, the more complicated a product is for a consumer to understand, the harder a sell it will be. Overall, this is an interesting and novel approach, but the execution and positioning of the product definitely need to be better thought out.