Starbucks’ Venti Kale-uccino Is the Midday Pickup You Didn’t Know You Needed

The coffee shop mega-chain is teaming up with Evolution Fresh and Dannon Greek yogurt to change the commercial smoothie game.

(Photo: Courtesy Starbucks)

Mar 31, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Josh Scherer has written for Epicurious, Thrillist, and Los Angeles magazine. He is constantly covered in corn chip crumbs.

If you thought Starbucks only cared about keeping you caffeinated, over-sugared, and educated about the intricacies of America's racial-political narrative, you're wrong. It wants to make sure you get your fruits and veggies too.

Tuesday morning, the coffee shop chain—which officially dropped the word coffee from its logo in 2011, possibly foreseeing its own come-to-kale moment—announced that it would be teaming up with Dannon Greek yogurt and Evolution Fresh juices to add a line of smoothies to its already crowded blended drinks menu.

But they'll be a far nutritional cry from Starbucks' blender-drink sweet spot of caramel-filled, chocolate-drizzled caffeinated milk shakes. There are between 170 and 230 calories in each 16-ounce Evolution Fresh smoothie, compared with 470 calories in a Java Chip Frappuccino of the same size. The line also comes in three, healthily named varieties: Strawberry, Mango Carrot, and Sweet Greens.

According to a press release, the new line of frozen-plants-in-a-cup also satisfy at least 20 percent of your daily fruit and vegetable intake, are made with high-pressure-pasteurized, cold-pressed juice, and forgo artificial sweeteners. But with high-quality, healthy ingredients come high prices: The Evolution Fresh smoothie will cost $5.95 per 16-ounce cup, making it the most expensive Starbucks drink by volume since coffee hero Sameera Raziuddin custom-built a $58 Frappuccino.

In trying to scratch that hyper-customizable itch that all major food retailers seem to be coming down with these days (everyone wants to be the Chipotle of something) Starbucks will also let customers add extra Greek yogurt, protein powder, and fresh fruit, and—that's right—you can even throw in a handful of kale.

But don't limit your customizing capabilities to Evolution Fresh smoothies. You can add the dark, leafy green to any blended drink you want. That means a 600-calorie, 89-grams-of-sugar, Venti Java Chip Kale-uccino with extra whipped cream and caramel drizzle is now a very real, very frightening potential Starbucks order.