Friday, August 17, 2012

Food Friday: Take flight

180 calories and 39 grams of sugar.

That's how much a grande Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino Light will cost you. Well, 180 calories, 39 grams of sugar and about $5.

But you don't have to spend so much.

5 Sparrows, a Montana-based company, offers sugar-free drink mixes that include Snow Ghost Frappe (vanilla), white hot chocolate, hot chocolate and chai. Sweetened with stevia, the mixes have between 35 (frappe) and 110 calories (chai). They are also gluten- and dairy-free.

When the company offered me the chance to try them, I couldn't resist.

About the company:
For us, coffee is as much a way of life as an occupation. For eight years, we owned and operated a specialty espresso business on the beautiful west shore of Flathead Lake in Northwest Montana. We evolved into devoted baristas. We found great pleasure in working with our hearts, our minds and our hands as a means to connect with people. It was out of this earnest dedication that 5 Sparrows was born. 5 Sparrows is the result of passion, a manifestation of our desire to offer an experience over a product. Our skills as baristas have allowed us to design our formulas specifically for handcrafted beverages. Furthermore, our café products line is comprised of superior ingredients, methodically prepared and routinely tested to ensure perfection. At 5 Sparrows, you will find a family of individuals invested in our vision and ready to help you achieve yours. From product application to marketing, sales or shipping we are committed to finding new ways to defy convention and bring you an unparalleled experience.
Sounds pretty awesome, right? If you aren't so sure, I can assure you that it is.

Over the past few weeks, I've tried all four varieties and have been nothing but pleasantly surprised. We all know that sugar-free products often taste, well, sugar free. And while the 5 Sparrows products don't taste like getting a hot chocolate with whole milk from Starbucks, they don't taste like the diet Swiss Miss that I have to doctor just to drink. I found the Snow Ghost Frappe to be very creamy and the only thing that could have made it better was for me to use strongly brewed coffee rather than the day old coffee I had. The white hot chocolate was rich and tasty, especially made with half coffee, half almond milk.

My favorite, though, had to be the chai.

Chai is a favorite indulgence of mine, and I don't often drink it because the low-sugar varieties don't taste good and I don't think the Starbucks Tazo is worth the calories. The 5 Sparrows chai, made with soy, was spicy and sweet but not overly so. And rich. Definitely rich.

Feeling generous, I offered some samples to my co-workers who had nothing but praise for the drink. Even the ones who don't drink sugar-free products. They said that you could tell it wasn't from a barista but didn't mind. It was hot and satisfying - perfect with fall around the corner.

A big thanks to 5 Sparrows for letting me try the products - be sure to check them out.

And speaking of checking things out ... hello, 98 Degrees on "The Today Show."

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