banana top

When we first heard about the new banana-based Frappuccinos from Starbucks, we had a sneaky feeling that they just might be a big hit. Bananas have always been a popular fruit in Japan, after all, and the description of the two new Frappuccinos made them sound seriously mouthwatering.

Now that they’ve been on sale for over 10 days, it seems the banana Frappuccinos have been successful beyond everyone’s expectations, and with McDonald’s also having come out with original banana beverages as well, bananas appear to be the sizzling hot ingredient in the world of Japanese cafes at the moment. So, of course we had to look into what everyone was going bananas about!

Now, according to reports in the Japanese media, even the folks at Starbucks Japan were not completely sure how well-received the banana Frappuccinos would be. As it turns out, the Frappuccinos have been more popular than anyone could have expected, with crowds sometimes lining up for the special drinks containing a whole banana in every cup.

▼It’s been surprising to see the people lining up at Starbucks for the banana Frappuccinos, which at some stores have been selling out as early as noon.

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▼They’ve been stocking up on bananas at Starbucks across Japan, but they’ve still been running out.

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That did it for us — we were going try the banana Frappuccinos whatever it took! Yes, it was time for another RocketNews24 taste test. And while we were at it, we thought we should check out the banana drinks at McDonald’s as well.

Since we heard about the banana Frappuccinos selling out early in the day, we went to a nearby Starbucks early on a Saturday morning to make sure we would be able to order the drink before they ran out of bananas.

▼The sign advertising the two banana Frappuccinos — fortunately, it looks like they haven’t sold out yet.
banana Starbucks sign

▼Finally, we get to taste the drink people have been lining up for! We ordered the Fresh Banana and Chocolate Cream Frappuccino, because … well, in our opinion, chocolate and banana is a combination that just can’t be beaten!
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▼We were seriously ready to try this drink. And we swear the whipped cream was beckoning to us.
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▼A closer look at the Farappuccino — oh my, the brownie crumbs!
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▼The drink came with a special wide straw to accommodate its slightly thick consistency .
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And how was the Fresh Banana and Chocolate Cream Frappuccino? For someone who loves bananas, it was heavenly! You could clearly taste the banana, which had been left at a slightly purée-like consistency, and although the chocolate flavor was definitely there, it wasn’t too sweet, even together with the whipped cream. And the solid brownie crumbles added a delightful texture to the drink, not to mention enriching the chocolate flavor. Being a Frappuccino drink, though, it was ice cold, so it would probably have been even better on an extra warm day.

Now, although we loved how it tasted, we do admit that the price of 610 yen (US$5.90), which is what the Frappuccino cost, is quite steep for a drink. In this day and age when gyudon beef bowls are available at roughly half that price, you could say it’s impressive that the drink is selling as well as it is.

We also paid a visit to McDonald’s to try one of their new banana drinks as well. The banana beverages are only available at select McCafe by Barista shops, so the number of places you can buy them is actually quite limited.

There are three banana drinks currently on the menu at the McCafe — the Chocolate Banana Latte, a warm drink made from an espresso and milk base combined with chocolate syrup, banana syrup and frothed milk, all topped with banana sauce and chocolate sauce; the Iced Chocolate Banana Latte, a cold version of the chocolate banana latte which uses whipped dream instead of frothed milk; and the Banana Smoothie which contains a banana sauce made from banana purée and is topped with whipped cream, banana sauce and chocolate sauce.

▼The sign showing the three banana drinks:
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▼We ordered the Banana Smoothie priced at 463yen ($4.50), which seemed the most like a dessert.
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▼Oh yes, the whipped cream and chocolate sauce looked seriously enticing!
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▼A closer look at the  Banana Smoothie — you can see the banana syrup glowing with the promise of a sweet fruity flavor.
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▼The Banana Smoothie also came with an extra-wide straw.
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And what did we think of McDonald’s Banana Smoothie? To be honest, there seemed to be an awful lot of ice left in the drink, so that it felt a little like we were constantly munching on small pieces of ice, and this may have taken away from the flavor of the banana. Maybe it just wasn’t the most perfectly prepared smoothie, but to us, the taste of banana didn’t seem that strong, which is a pity because the chocolate sauce and banana sauce on the top were perfectly delightful.

In any case, we’re always happy to see new fruity or creamy drinks on the market, because as we see it, we can never be surrounded by too many sweet treats. Which reminds us, there’ll be new Frappuccino flavors coming out again next month, won’t there?  Well, we guess there’s just no rest for the sweet-toothed!

Photo of crowd at Starbucks: Twitter@ko_hey0214 
Photo of boxes of banana: Twitter@ikenao0919 
All other photos: RocketNews24