Earlier this year, Starbucks pitched a new game plan: Focus more on coffee, less on noncoffee things. Get back in touch with their roots. But the breakfast sandwiches are still available (now in less-fragrant form), bottled juices still get stocked in the fridge, and yesterday, a "healthier" breakfast line-up with fewer calories and more protein settled in behind the glass counter. Here's our take on the new noncoffee products.
Power Protein Plate, $4.95
330 calories with peanut butter, 260 without (about one-third of your daily protein intake)
The plastic tray includes a hard-boiled egg, some apple slices, a tiny sprig of grapes, two squares of white cheddar, a mini wheat bagel, and a squeezable ketchuplike packet of peanut butter. If you fetish over mini things that get stuffed into a hot-dog-size home, this is all you. While the hard-boiled egg was bland—and served cold, instead of the warm, like Mama fed you—it's not green! So that's always good.
Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal, $2.45
140 calories for just oatmeal; 100 calories for nut medley; 100 calories for dried fruit; 50 calories for brown sugar
"Perfect" is a strong word. As a religious oatmeal eater, I rarely come across an imperfect bowl, but for perfect, the Quaker man himself would have to serve it to me. The small cup comes with two options of 100-calorie packets: mixed nuts (almonds, walnuts, and pecans) or dried fruit, and a 50-calorie pack of brown sugar. I appreciate the purist approach to oatmeal and hands-on toppings. (No weird caramel syrups or Dinosaur eggs inside.) But north of $2 seems like too much.
Chewy Fruit & Nut Bar, $1.75
250 calories; 4 grams of fiber; 5 grams of protein
Pretty chewy, and it has both fruit and nuts. Mission accomplished. It's kind of beautiful too with those big seeds that birds eat and the chewy, bright orange gems found in fruit cakes. Not bad taste-wise, but basically just a fancy granola bar.
Apple Bran Muffin, $1.75
330 calories; 7 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein
Muffins are very hard to criticize. They are happy creatures, even if just a euphemism for greasy, carby pockets of cake. Like most muffins, only the top hump here is worth your time. It contains all the moisture, some apple flecks, and oats. Even if they're just for decoration, oats are just so lovable. The bottom stump is dried blah.
Berry Stella, $1.75
A star-shaped muffin-like base with a top layer of berries and dried oats. Who cares what it tastes like; it's star-shaped! And gets the fancy Italian word for star in the title. Stella actually isn't new; she's been around the Starbucks block before. This was my favorite of the "sweet things" category. Okay, I am just a sucker for twinkly star-shaped pastries.