B-grade “Mottainai Bananas” get a new lease on life, but do they make for a B-grade Frappuccino? 

Starbucks is at it again in Japan, releasing a slew of exclusive new menu items for a limited period, and this time, bananas are the star of the show.

Released on 29 May, the centrepiece is the Banana Brulee Frappuccino, and it’s packed with “Mottainai Bananas” (“Wasteful Bananas”) that would normally be unnecessarily thrown away, because despite being good to eat, the produce is bumped and bruised, making it unsuitable for normal retail sale. Our Starbucks-loving reporter K. Masami was keen to know if the B-grade fruit would make for a B-grade Frappuccino, so she picked one up on release day to give it a try.

▼ The new drink retails for 690 yen (US$4.39).

▼ With caramel sauce drizzled over the whipped cream topping, the Frappuccino looks and smells delicious.

The new drink has an almond milk base, and when Masami got a sip of it, she marvelled at how well the nutty flavour complemented the banana. The caramel sauce added a bitter note to the mix, while the brulee chips created exciting bursts of crispy texture, making every sip a taste sensation.

What Masami really fell in love with, though, was the banana pulp, which tasted as good as any pristine-looking banana you’d buy at a supermarket. It had stacks of fruity flavour, and because it was helping to prevent fruit loss — Starbucks estimates its new banana treats will save three million bananas — it tasted even better.

After drinking the fruity Frappuccino, Masami was all banana’d out so instead of trying the Banana Rice Flour Roll Cake and the Banana Rice Flour Muffin, which were released on the same day, she decided to balance things out with a Blueberry Bagel Sandwich and Mushroom Keema Curry Hot Tortilla, priced at 390 yen and 540 yen respectively.

Masami had never seen these items in the showcase before, so she figured they might be new treats for summer. The bagel was made with a dough containing dried blueberries, and sandwiched inside it was a vegetable-based cream cheese made from soy milk.

It had a subtle sweetness and sourness, with a refreshing aftertaste that was a perfect fit for the taste of banana that lingered on her palate.

The fruity flavours were soon to be washed away with the tortilla, because it leaned heavily towards the savoury side of things.

Filled with keema curry flavour, the tortilla packed a punch with loads of mushrooms and a good serving of cheese in amongst it all as well. It was delicious, filling, and a great way for Masami to end her meal.

It’s always worth taking a peek inside the showcase to see what new items you might find in the food section, and Masami was glad she found these two. While she went for balance this time, banana lovers will want to go all out by pairing the Frappuccino with the banana sweets for a really decadent feast. They’ll only be on the menu for a limited time, though, while stocks last until 9 July, after which time you’ll have to settle for the strawberries-and-cream-flavoured Frappuccino, which will be around for the rest of the summer.

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