How Starbucks made a splash with its new (and blue!) summer drink with popping pearls


When Simon Vuong, beverage developer for Starbucks, began to work on new recipe ideas for Starbucks summer menu, he started by getting in touch with those summertime vibes. 

“We started out thinking about summer moments like hanging out by the pool and having a barbecue with friends. We have never had a blue beverage, but when we first created the recipe, the color really captured the feeling we were going for – reminiscent of long, summer days and bright skies for everyone to enjoy,” Vuong said. 

For the flavor, the team chose a combination of summer berries that inspired the drink’s name with the flavors of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.

To add a refreshing pop of flavor and color, the team added juicy raspberry flavored pearls. They drew inspiration from drinks around the world, especially East Asian beverages with boba or pearls that have been popular for decades. Starbucks stores in Asia Pacific have also tapped into the trend in recent years, offering a Dark Caramel Coffee Sphere Frappuccino® blended beverage with bursting coffee spheres and a Peach Plum Pearls Oolong with plum-flavored pearls.

“We started with fruit pieces, but we wanted something even bolder,” said Vuong. “So, we thought, ‘Let’s put fruit-flavored pearls in the beverage and try it out.’ It’s very fun the way it delivers the flavor when it pops in your mouth.”  

The result is the lineup of Summer-Berry Starbucks Refreshers beverages with hints of cool berry and bursting raspberry flavored pearls. The icy drinks are part of the new summer menu, available in U.S. stores starting May 7, for a limited time.

This latest lineup includes Summer-Berry, Summer-Berry with Lemonade, and Summer Skies Drink, made with creamy coconutmilk. All three feature a wider green compostable straw that’s perfect for both sipping and stirring – and are sure to make a splash this summer. 

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New, more sustainable Starbucks cold cups are made with up to 20 percent less plastic