Funny Business with Jane Wells

Forget the latte. Prepare for Starbucks sodas


They did coffee. Then tea. Then juices ... breakfast ... lunch ... dinner snacks.

What's left?

CNBC/Jane Wells

Starting next week, Starbucks is rolling out a line of carbonated drinks called Fizzio in selected markets in the sunbelt from California to Florida. I stumbled upon a sample of one, the spiced root beer, Tuesday at a Starbucks in Los Angeles.

It tasted fresher, lighter, less syrupy than traditional root beer, with hints of cinnamon. Besides the root beer, Starbucks will also unveil golden ginger ale and lemon ale. The barista handing out samples told me customers can pick three different amounts of "fizz" to add to drinks, from light to heavy. I had "regular," which seemed, well, regular.

"The drinks are made without artificial flavors, preservatives, or high-fructose corn syrup and clock in at just 100 calories for a 16-ounce Grande beverage," reports Only 100 calories at Starbucks? This is also seemingly new and refreshing. Sweetened beverages at Starbucks like the iced caramel macchiato have so many calories (340 calories for a venti), some have joked they're like drinking a Big Mac (550 calories).

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The bloggers at Thrillist tasted all three sodas, reporting that bubbles will be added to them using special machines. You can apparently request bubbles to be added to other drinks, like tea. Anyone ever had carbonated coffee? Hmmmm.

Thrillist liked the lemon ale the least, giving it a 6 out of 10 ("Understandably front-loaded with lemon flavors, but also has distinct notes of apricot"). The ginger ale scored 8 out of 10 ("Bursting with real ginger flavors ... the OG ginger ale you'd get at a '50s soda fountain").

The root beer scored highest, 9 out of 10 ("Essentially, Starbucks dumped their chai spice mix into a batch of root beer, shook it up, and produced this cinnamon-and-clove carbonation sensation ... it's bound to have haters, but we're definitely not one of them").

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Whether Starbucks can gain market share by luring customers who prefer sodas over coffee and tea, or whether it can exploit whatever SodaStream phenom exists ... well, it's a war out there.

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What's left for Starbucks to offer? Water? Check. Booze? Yes. Pizza? Sort of.

I know.

Ice cream. Put it in the root beer.

You're welcome.

—By CNBC's Jane Wells

—Correction: This story corrects an earlier version which said Fizzio will be launched nationwide. It will, in fact, be rolled out only in selected markets in the sunbelt from California to Florida.