It’s no secret that espresso-based beverages are my favorite kind of beverages, so when I saw a McDonald’s/ McCafe ad unveiling their new drink offerings, I was intrigued. I’ve tried many types of coffees from the Golden Arches in the past, and they have universally left me feeling underwhelmed and overflowing with late onset nausea. Alas, I make great sacrifices in the name of blogging. Besides, who’s going to drink all the coffee if not for me?
The drive-thru, when I rolled up, was outfitted with a temporary sign outlining the newest coffee options, and there were plenty. Hot, iced, frappes, smoothies: It seems that Ronald and Co. are doubling down on their coffee business. After scanning the dozen new items, I went for the (you guessed it) medium iced mocha. As I’ve pointed out before, to me, the iced mocha is the clearest way to gauge any espresso drink. You get a sense of the espresso, the milks, and the syrups used. If you order too simply, you miss out on key ingredients. If you order to complexly, you cannot discern what is actually going through your straw. Always skip the whipped cream because a) it is gross and b) it is a further distraction from the flavors you need to analyze.
Reaching for my drink, I was initially disappointed by the size. At 16 oz., this drink is much smaller than a similar drink from Dunkin Donuts, but at $2.89, the price is about a dollar lower than DD. So, it’s on a similar price per oz. ratio. The drink looked good, but the first sip was mostly unmixed chocolate syrup from the cup’s bottom. Man, it was sweet – unlike other dark chocolates used in mochas I’ve enjoyed.
After careful consideration, I concluded that the syrup in the mocha MUST be the same used as hot fudge on the sundaes. Of course, I prefer DQ over Mickey D’s, but I can recognize the taste of hot fudge anywhere. Problem 1: Too Sweet.
The syrup of the drink was my first complaint. My second is the tool used to drink the drink. McDonald’s straw is an iconic piece of branding. The white plastic tube adorned with yellow and red stripes is instantly recognizable. It is also huge, which is great for chugging down 64 oz. of sweet tea but not so great for sipping on some caffeine. The length and girth have always made me uncomfortable. Now they lead to a less-than-ideal drinking experience. A heavy flow plus a lower volume equals issues. Problem 2: The straw.
I couldn’t get behind-the-scenes access to see the preparation of the drink, but something tells me that “espresso drink” is a loosely used term. It was clear, based on taste and texture, that there were no fresh shots of espresso being pulled in the back to create this drink. Instead, I’m guessing that some type of coffee concentrate is being used instead of espresso, which seems a bit disingenuous and sneaky. It’s not that I don’t like the taste; I just like to know what I’m drinking. Problem 3: Shady espresso.
McDonald’s got this one mostly right. Though it is skewed towards overly sweet, it is still tasty. Letting the ice melt a bit thins out the whole milk and prevents it from being too thick or rich. The flavors are good, but not good enough to make me go out of my way for another.
Consume.Review.Repeat. gives the McDonald’s iced mocha 6.2 intimidating straws out of 10.