Is this yaki imo drink worth eating?

In Japan, yaki imo, roasted sweet potatoes, are so popular in the fall that they’re sold out of trucks that cruise around residential neighborhoods playing a special jingle, like a tuber vegetable-version of an ice cream truck. But while you can sit back and wait for the sweet potatoes to come to you, you’ll actually have to get up and out of the house if you want to try Starbucks Japan’s new Yaki Imo Frappuccino, so that’s exactly what our Japanese-language reporter K. Masami did.

Of course, as loyal SoraNews24 readers likely remember, you can’t just walk into a Starbucks branch and order a roasted sweet potato Frappuccino until next Wednesday, so is Masami a time traveler in addition to a Frappuccino fan? Nope, she simply took advantage of the early access offer that lets customers using Starbucks Japan’s mobile order and payment system purchase the new drink starting on September 17.

Since she placed the order through her phone just seconds before she walked into the coffeehouse, Masami was able to watch as the Starbucks staff put her drink together. Rather than being dependent on artificial approximations, the Yaki Imo Frappuccino has actual chunks of sweet potato tossed into the milky drink base.

Next Starbucks adds a sweet potato syrup (which is, of course, sweet) to the base, swirls some more atop the whipped cream and, as the finishing touch, a sprinkling of crunchy sweet potato flakes.

All of this looked fantastic, but Masami did have one concern. Last year, Starbucks Japan offered a Daigaku Imo (“College Potato”) Frappuccino, which also has sweet potato as its primary flavor. Would the Yaki Imo stand out enough to have its own identity?

Thankfully, her worries were brushed aside with the first sip of the new drink. While last year’s Daigaku Imo had its black sesame as an ever-present part of the taste, the Yaki Imo Frappuccino lets the sweet potato notes have the spotlight all to themselves, for a sweeter, smoother sensation. Ah, but we should clarify that by “smoother,” we’re talking about the flavor, because the texture of the Yaki Imo Frappuccino itself is delightfully varied, thanks to the sweet potato bits in it.

There’s actually so much sweet potato that it’s easy to clog the straw, and while Masami fully understands the urge to gulp this delicious drink down as soon as you’ve got it in your hand, she recommends taking leisurely, controlled sips, and you might even want to chew some of the chunkier parts. That might sound strange for a beverage, but Frappuccinos are really as much desserts as they are drinks, and Masami is happy to work her jaws a bit to consume as many Yaki Imo Frappuccinos as she can in the limited time they’re going to be on sale.

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