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With the calendar now flipped to September, we’ve got to sadly admit that summer is winding down. Japanese society is always in tune with the changing of the seasons, and as autumn starts you’ll see fashionable Tokyoites sporting their fall coats, nature lovers heading for the mountains to appreciate the changing leaves, and Starbucks rolling out seasonal drinks like its new Caramel and Pudding Frappuccino and Shaken Caramel Custard and Espresso.

It’s always a roll of the dice as to what flavor you’ll get with fall-themed foods in Japan. Maple is a common choice, and kabocha (a type of squash that looks like a green pumpkin) is usually a contender too, due to Halloween falling in the season. We’re guessing Starbucks made the decision to go with caramel because of its earth-tone color, which matches the hues of autumn fashion as well as leaves just about to fall from their branches.

Since early September is still pretty warm in Tokyo, we opted to sample Starbucks’ two chilled fall beverages, starting with the Caramel and Pudding Frappuccino.

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It’s a little unusual to talk about a drink’s texture, but that’s really what’s most notable about it. Between the bits of blended ice and dollops of pudding, you’ve got an interesting mix of crunchy and creamy coming at your mouth in every strawful.

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There’s a similar dual action going on in the taste department. The top layer is all enrapturing sweetness, but lying in wait below is the caramel sauce with its punch of bitterness. The latter tends to hit just as you’ve forgotten about it, making the whole thing pleasantly complex.

Next up was the Shaken Caramel Custard and Espresso. Just like the name led us to expect, after we put in our order the Starbucks employee poured our drink into a shaker and gave it a few shakes. According to the Starbucks website, this is supposed to make it extra frothy, but the whole process was over so quickly we didn’t let ourselves get our hopes up too high. Our cool-headedness paid off, as the finished product wasn’t very different from an ordinary non-shaken coffee.

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With the shaker performance over, we took a sip, and found that this iced coffee is every bit as sweet as the Caramel and Pudding Frappuccino. Once again, the ingredients seem to settle in layers, with the sweeter elements floating near the top where they completely cover up the rich, bitter notes from the espresso.

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Individually, there’s nothing wrong with either of the contrasting flavors. If though, like us, you find yourself longing for a more harmonious balance, we recommend giving everything a few extra stirs before you star sipping away. It’ll help smooth out the flavor, plus give you something to do as you gaze out the window at the leaves scattering in the autumn breeze.

Photos © RocketNews24
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