We try the new citrus-infused coffee that comes served in a set with chocolates and warm lemon milk.

Whenever Starbucks announces that they’ll be adding a new beverage to their lineup in Japan, we immediately start thinking about their creamy Frappuccino range, wondering what new flavours they’ve dreamt up for our tastebuds to enjoy.

Sometimes, though, the global coffeehouse chain likes to surprise us all with a new release we never would’ve seen coming, and that’s exactly what they did this week when they announced the arrival of their new Lemon Zest Macchiato.

Unlike many of the company’s limited-edition offerings, the new macchiato can only be found at nine Starbucks outlets, all located in Tokyo. Luckily for us, we weren’t too far from one of the chosen locations, at Okusawa, so we headed down there as soon as we could to get a taste of the unusual citrus-flavoured coffee.

These “Neighbourhood and Coffee” outlets are known for having a more upmarket vibe than regular Starbucks locations, with stylish interiors and fancy items like Reserve brand coffee and alcoholic beverages on the menu.

Today they were advertising their new Lemon Zest Macchiato with plenty of signage outside and inside the store.

Customers with tastebuds looking for adventure can choose from the “Creations” section of the menu, which includes treats like iced foam macchiatos, espresso tonics, and the Lemon Zest Macchiato.

What makes this coffee so special is the fact that it contains milk which has been steeped with lemon peels for three hours. This milk has such a unique taste that the leftover steamed milk is poured into a separate glass so you can fully enjoy its flavour.

To add to the unique coffee-drinking experience, the macchiato also comes with a couple of bitter chocolates on the side, giving you a tray full of flavours.

▼ A playground for your tastebuds!

With so much included in the set, it can be confusing to know where to start, but according to the staff, it’s best to try the macchiato first, followed by samplings of the chocolate and milk as you like, so you can enjoy all the different variations in flavour.

Following the advice we were given, we started off with a sip of the macchiato and were immediately taken aback by its taste. As promised, it delivered coffee and lemon zest in equal amounts, which was a flavour combination we’d never tried before.

Each cup contains a double shot of Honduras la Campa small-lot Reserve brand coffee, which is said to have currant and plum characteristics. The addition of lemon-peel steeped milk, which is also mixed with cinnamon, creates a jarring juxtaposition to the bold bitterness of the coffee, and though this initially gave us the impression that the strong tart and bitter flavours were all too much, we decided to mellow it out with a sip of the steamed milk.

While the zesty lemon coffee took a bit of getting used to, with tart and bitter flavours fighting to overpower each other with every sip, the steamed lemon milk was an absolute hit. The mix of creamy, sweet and citrusy flavours were perfectly balanced, and while it was lovely to drink on its own, it really shone when sipped as a chaser to the macchiato, helping to round off the flavours with a long, creamy finish.

Next, we decided to add the taste of bitter chocolate to the mix, taking nibbles of it in between sips of the macchiato, which enhanced both the fruitiness of the chocolate and the coffee flavour of the hot drink. The chocolate is a really clever addition to the set, creating a sense of fun as you explore and discover your preferred flavour combinations.

According to the company, the Lemon Zest Macchiato creates “a new way to experience coffee” and they’re absolutely right. It’s a bold move to add tart flavours to a beverage that we all know and love, and while flavoured coffees aren’t unheard of, this drink packs such a strong citrus punch that it’ll make your tastebuds stand to attention at the very first sip.

Rather than blend together harmoniously, the citrus and coffee in the macchiato fight against each other for control of your tastebuds, making it easy to palm it off as an inferior drink. However, as you slowly become accustomed to the taste, while also adding hints of chocolate and extra lemon milk to the experience, you’ll find yourself thinking about these flavours long after you’ve left the cafe and, if you’re like us, you’ll get a strange desire to try it all over again!

The Lemon Zest Macchiato is available for a limited time from 24 January, retailing for 885 yen (US$8.12) at the following Starbucks locations: Ikejiri 2-chome, Tamagawa 3-chome, Okusawa 2-chome, Daizawa 5-chome, Komazawa 1-chome, Shin’ishikawa 2-chome, Hatsudai 1-chome, Nakayamatedori 2-chome, and Tokyo Midtown.

And if you prefer your Starbucks to come with a Frappuccino, the regular outlets around Japan have you covered with a limited-edition Chocoholic offering available until Valentine’s Day!

Photos © SoraNews24