Coffee Review: Starbucks Toasted Coconut Cold Brew

Leave it to Starbucks to come up with new coffee inventions. They have created many fan favorites and many have become staples in their menu. When cold brew became a trendy item, Starbucks tinkered with it and made some new creations, such as vanilla sweet cream and the Narino 70 roast.

Well for the spring and summer, Starbucks decided to infuse coconut in their cold brew; thus the Toasted Coconut Cold Brew is born. I have seen mixed reviews on the Twitter-sphere reading it is everything from amazing to “tasting like sunscreen”. The baristas at the Starbucks I went to told me they HATED it (and even offered to make me something else if I did not like it). I am a huge fan of the iced coconut milk mocha macchiato (one of my all-time favorite drinks) so I had optimism upon trying it.

Taste:

I will say that the drink is not as good as the iced coconut milk mocha macchiato. With that said, I was still rather pleased with how this tasted. According to the Starbucks app, the drink is described as “Crafted with flavors of toasted coconut, smooth NariƱo 70 Cold Brew and Sumatran Coconutmilk.” I could tell that this was a coconut inspired drink; you can definitely taste it. The coconut flavoring, however, is not too overbearing and you still taste the smoothness of the cold brew.

I actually thought they drink was not as sweet as I thought it would be. It is not exactly a bitter drink, but it can still be too strong for people who do not like stronger brews. I had to add a little bit of half and half myself. The drink is still pretty smooth, though, and you still get the sensation of the initial cold brew while getting the flavor of coconut. I will say this is definitely an acquired taste, though, so if coconut is not your favorite, you may be better off ordering something different.

Price:


I ordered a grande and it came out to be $4.04 after tax. That’s pretty much what I would expect coming from Starbucks. Actually, being a seasonal drink, I am a little surprised it was not more. The only downside is that Dunkin Donuts somewhat fought this by having a “coconut creme pie” option for their coffee drinks as well, including cold brew. Dunkin Donuts has slightly cheaper cold brews, so if you want to save a little bit, you may be ending up trying Dunkin Donuts.

Roast:

Starbucks usually lies right in the middle overall in terms of how strong their roast is. Of course they have lighter and darker roasts, but they seem to be rounded out in the middle. I would put the Toasted coconut cold brew as one that fits the middle perfectly. It was not too strong or too weak for me. That being said, adding a splash of cream can still help if you do not want a prevalent taste of coconut. 

Nutrition:

A grande size drink came out to be 50 calories according to Starbucks.com. This is a pretty light drink if you are watching what you put in your body. Given there is no added milk or dairy to the drink (unless by special request), this is pretty much a low-fat, low calorie drink. 

Comparing this to a Dunkin Coconut Creme Pie Iced Coffee, this is a much healthier option by having lower amounts of calories and fat. Again, the lack of dairy helps the overall calorie content. This is definitely a drink to get if you are on a diet or watching the amount of content of dairy you are putting in your body.

Overall:


I can see why this drink got mixed reviews. This is going to be a drink that is an acquired taste. If you do not like coconut or do not like coconut flavoring in your coffee, I would not recommend this for you. That said, it certainly does not taste like “trash” or “sunscreen” as some tweets have stated. This is a pretty quality addition to the menu and right in time for summer.

Even though this is my opinion only, I still want to see more opinions on this drink. Coconut has a chance to become a trendy drink for summers to come if it gets a popular enough reception. Here’s to hoping coconut brews can get some traction and can become popular in the future.

No promotional consideration was given in exchange for this review. The views expressed in this review are those solely of my own.

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Shoe Review: Peak D-Block 1- Cavs Alternate Colorway

When it comes to shoes, ones that were released years ago tend to be overlooked by sneaker heads. Shoes that were released a while back ago, or “retro” if you will, can be hard to review because it can become rather esoteric. That said, it is always fun to revisit classic kicks, especially if there is still access to them in new condition.

Peak is another Chinese brand that has made its way to the basketball world. They have seen players like Dwight Howard, Tony Parker, George Hill and Shane Battier all lace up with Peak. But these kicks in particular are from the line of former NBA player Darnell Jackson. Jackson, who now plays professionally in Poland, was with Peak back in the late 2000s and early 2010s and received his own signature shoe model. While hard to find, they deserve a bit of recognition as this was from an era when Peak was just being introduced to the NBA.

Look:


The look of the shoe is a pretty general high-top. The overall shape is what you would expect from a normal high-top. Nothing is revolutionary for the shape, but nothing is terrible about it either.

Where the sneaker really takes off in design is that it has a Velcro strap in front of the tongue that says “D-Block” on it. We have actually seen Velcro make a slight comeback with newer shoes (the 2017 Nike Zoom pops to mind); we did not see them on older basketball shoes too much. Not only was it a fresh idea for the time, but it also personalized the kicks for the line. It was an added feature that revolutionized and personalized a rather generic high-top.

Finally, Peak is inscribed throughout the shoe. Normally, I find this somewhat tacky for a shoe company to do, however Peak actually did a fantastic job with this. Peak is written in metallic, lowercase lettering on the outside of the shoe and on the inside part of each shoe has Peak written in holes resembling pointillism (I’ll touch more on this with comfort and breathability). Also, Peak is written on the tongue and on the front underneath the laces and it is on the back with the triangular Peak logo. I could do without the writing on the front, but the inscriptions of Peak on the sides really take my breath away and really add a huge dynamic of the design. 

Overall, while the shape is left to be desired since there is nothing new or groundbreaking with it, the Velcro strap and inscriptions really add a phenomenal aesthetic to the sneaker. Add it to a pretty neat colorway that is blue and white with red speckles, you have a pretty neat looking shoe.

Fit:


Peak, as a whole, tends to run on the small side. If I can, I’ll usually ask for a size up from what I normally wear. I was lucky enough to find these in a 14 so I rolled with it. Not only does it solve the problem of running on the smaller side, but it almost wound up being too roomy. I was pleasantly surprised with this revelation when the kicks came. With this model, you would definitely be all right ordering your normal shoe size.

Comfort:


This may have to do with the surprising fit of the shoe, but overall the shoe is pretty comfortable. Alongside a pretty good fit, the cushioning on the inside is world-class. The cushioning on the inside is just so wonderful it’s almost plush like. Peak really outdid themselves with the cushioning on the inside.

One drawback of the comfort is that the ventilation leaves a tiny bit to be desired. The ventilation design is incredible as the air holes actually spell out “Peak” on the inside portion of the sneaker. As I said, it gives sort of a pointillism vibe. The part that is left to be desired is that the air holes are rather tiny. Due to the quality of the cushioning, your feet can actually get a little too warm. Though if that is the only drawback of comfort, I would not discount the shoe on that because the cushioning is out of this world.

Weight:


If you are a fan of lightweight, swift moving shoes, then you should probably steer away from these. While they are perfect for basketball or casual wear, they are not exactly the lightest. I would not recommend going on a “fun run” or anything like that with these because the weight would take its toll.

With that said, the weight is not overbearing. You will not feel tired from dragging these around or anything like that. I would say they are heavier than the normal basketball shoe, but it is not egregious. For a shoe that looks good and has great cushioning, weight is a small price to pay for the overall quality.

Overall:


Shoes like this have a tendency to be discarded by sneaker heads. They are considered an old model and from a brand many people are not familiar. There are reasons as to why people would look at a shoe like this and just say no.

Look past that though. Look past those stereotypes with older shoes and especially on lesser known, Chinese brands such as Peak. This shoe is probably my favorite out of the four I have from Peak (though all four pair I own I love) and is a definite keeper. The flashy look, the aesthetic, and the rarity is what sold me on the shoes; the cushioning and surprise roomy aspect of the shoe skyrocketed it into one of my favorites in my collection. Even with this being an older model, I have had people give rave reviews to me in person and even become a conversation starter about the brand to other sneaker heads. Peak was looking to strike a punch among arriving to the NBA with these and with more availability and exposure, they definitely could have.

The biggest downside is the successfully finding a pair for purchase. Due to the age, availability is going to be a problem. I was lucky (and I mean LUCKY) to score a new pair from eBay. I was amazed when I even saw a pair like these on eBay. The only known place that these are still accessible to my knowledge is PeakSneakers.com. They run for $132 approximately and the size selection is limited from 7-10 (I suppose I consider myself EXTREMELY LUCKY now for finding a size 14 for just a bit more than $30). One other thing is that this particular colorway is not available. There is a white, red and gold version (which is considered the home shoe) and a black and red version (which is considered the away shoe). Given when Darnell Jackson played for the Cavaliers and given they use blue in their alternate jerseys, it leads me to believe that these would be considered the alternate colorway. If you think you could like a shoe like this (and are willing to pay for them), then this is the shoe for you.

No promotional consideration was given in exchange for this review. The views expressed in this review are those solely of my own.

Coffee Review: Dunkin Donuts Mocha Iced Coffee

When satisfying your coffee needs, it really is no easy feat to beat Dunkin Donuts. The coffee tastes good, they have many choices, and it is very affordable. You really cannot go wrong picking between hot or iced coffee as both provide multiple options and satisfying taste.

Still certain flavors rise above the others and the most consistent flavor is Mocha. What Dunkin likes to do is bring seasonal flavors in to blend with their iced coffee. Mocha, however, is a mainstay alongside French vanilla, caramel, and hazelnut. I find myself always crawling back to mocha when I do not go for the seasonal flavors and for good reason.

Taste:

The best thing about the mocha iced coffee is it actually tastes like mocha. There are dozens of places that have mocha and come nowhere close. Dunkin Donuts provides a smooth mocha taste. It has that taste that is strong enough to notice the mocha is there, but it is nowhere near overbearing.

Personally, I find the drink better without cream and sugar (though being a fruit nut, I always get a flavor shot of blueberry). If you’re in the mood for sort of a sweeter coffee drink, then by all means get the cream and sugar. Personally, less is more for me. The drink is actually on the sweet side even without cream and sugar, something they do very well with all of their drinks.

Price:

One thing about Dunkin Donuts in general is that they are generally pretty affordable. Some coffee places make you empty your wallets just for one drink. While DD has drinks that are more expensive than others, they stay on the cheap side. 

A medium iced coffee hovers around $2.70. For iced coffee, that is pretty good. I’ve known places that are 3 or 4 dollars for iced coffee so Dunkin takes it pretty easy on your wallet. And try to catch them on specials if your a DD Perks member. I can’t tell you the amount of 99 cent iced coffees I’ve gotten this week because my local hockey team, the St. Louis Blues, were playing.

Roast:

So with Dunkin for both hot and iced coffee, you can order original roast, dark roast, or the (dreaded) decaf version of a drink. After trying both, original roast is definitely the way to go here. While dark roast is not bad, original roast seems to blend better with the mocha. 

Nutrition:


Well with the mocha iced coffee, I hope you consider this dessert; I know I certainly do. According to Nutritionix.com, a 16 oz cup is 180 calories with 50 calories from fat. A 24 oz cup is 260 calories with 80 calories from fat (these totals were calculated with cream). This is probably the biggest drawback of the mocha iced coffee because there are healthier options elsewhere. Granted you can make the healthier without cream and sugar, it can be on the unhealthier side of the coffee realm.

Overall:

Even if it is unhealthy, it probably is one of my favorite drinks from Dunkin Donuts. It is a staple on the menu since the menu at Dunkin changes around with seasonal flavors. They will bring in new flavors and rotate flavors with different seasons, but the mocha flavor is always available.

For the price too, it is a quality drink. Dunkin Donuts does not try to gouge you or make you overpay. They charge a very reasonable amount for iced coffee. This definitely is a go-to drink for me when I need a coffee fix and I highly recommend it. 

No promotional consideration was given in exchange for this review. The views expressed in this review are those solely of my own.

Shoe Review: Li-Ning TurningPoint 004- Christmas Colorway

When I became a sneaker head, I mainly considered Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour to be brands I would roll with. Never did I expect a brand like Li-Ning to not only become a brand I roll with, but to become my favorite brand altogether.

I found out about Li-Ning through an infographics project I had to do for my Sport Communication class. For my infographic, I chose to research Evan Turner, one of my favorite Celtics players of all-time, as they are my favorite NBA team. Little did I know that not only he wore Li-Ning, but he actually had a signature shoe through them. When I first gazed at the 004 model, I knew I had to have them.

On my birthday (well a few days after due to shipping), I was delightfully surprised with these. The look was enough to convince me to want them, but this was also an experiment. I never have worn anything Li-Ning before. Heck, I had only heard of the brand for only a couple weeks. I had no idea if these were going to be fantastic for me or if they were going to be duds.

Look:

The overall look of the shoe was the major selling point as I have said. Had the Celtics played in a Christmas game in 2014 (which they did not), these likely would have been what Evan Turner had worn (given these were called the Christmas colorway from the site these were purchased from). The colorway is actually fantastic since pink and green tend to work very well together. Another plus on the overall look is that the TurningPoint logo on the tongue is very subtle, something that is a contrast from the shoe itself. While it may not be a revolutionary basketball shoe, the shoe itself has a great look for this colorway and other colorways that were available.

One other plus on the look of the shoe is the shape. Some hi-tops have a tendency to run too high and take away from the shoe. That isn’t the case here. The shoe is a perfect length for a hi-top. Also, the overall design is borderline flawless with the logo and designs providing a subtle touch to an overall flashy shoe.

Fit:


Fit is probably the biggest drawback of the shoe. I normally wear a 13, but when these were purchased, 12 was the largest size they came in. Luckily for having a large foot, I do not require a wide width or need for a wider shoe. If this were the case, these shoes could not have worked. The shoe itself is on the narrow side. It makes for a bit of a tight fit because of this. Even though I lucked out and worked for me, I recommend going a half to a full size up on these from what you normally wear.

Comfort:


Despite having a narrow fit, once you get them on and break them in, they are actually very comfortable. They are perfect for both performance wear (say for basketball, tennis, or training) and for casual wear. What works with the shoe is they have fantastic breathability. Your feet really will not get too hot or uncomfortable wearing them for a long period of time. Also, the insoles and cushioning on the inside with Li-Ning’s BOUNSE and Cushion technology. Wearing them for a long period of time will not create discomfort or grief with your feet.

Weight:


One under appreciated aspect of any shoes is the weight of the shoe. Some shoes are so unbearably heavy that they can be a total drag to wear for performance or casual wear. Other shoes may be super light and may impact durability or performance. The TurningPoint 004 finds that perfect “happy medium” of sorts. It is not too light or too heavy. For what is technically a basketball shoe, it is the perfect weight. They’re obviously going to be heavier than the normal running shoe or the normal casual shoe, but for what is branded a basketball shoe, they have an ideal weight. What’s important is that for casual wear, they will not be too heavy either, unlike other basketball shoes.

Overall:


Overall, this is the shoe that put Li-Ning on the map for me. Not only did the look sell me, but the comfort sold me as well. As I have said, if you are interested in buying these, if you can, go a half size to a full size up for maximum comfort and for the best possible fit. Don’t do what I did and go a size down just so that owning these would be a reality. Other than fit, this shoe was nearly perfect. I recommend this with other accessories from the TurningPoint line, such as a hat, which is pictured above.

What’s funny is Li-Ning went from a total unknown for me to arguably my favorite brand. Chinese brands can be sort of an unknown and even dismissed by “diehard sneaker heads” due to cheaper cost and unknown material. Some sneaker heads even call these brands of shoes knock-offs or imitations of more famous shoes here in the USA. Some brands could be argued as such (I’m looking at you Onemix and Uncle Martian), but really these notions need to be done away with. Sure they may not have the star power of say Nike or Adidas, but they get the job done with their footwear and THAT is what matters.

These shoes are very rare and hard to come by. If you are interested in these in this colorway, or the other colorways available (interestingly named Hellboy and Milk Cow), HiBasketballShoes.com has them for $99.99 as well as ChinaSportShop.com. Unfortunately, the highest size available now on each website is only an 11 so if you are on the larger side of shoe sizes, then you may be out of luck unless you strike gold on eBay or Amazon.

No promotional consideration was given in exchange for this review. The views expressed in this review are those solely of my own.