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New Starbucks Flavored Coffees & Food Gal Contest for Coffee Lovers

Over the years, many flavored coffees have left me feeling much like I do about yesterday’s grounds — wondering why they were still around and hadn’t been thrown out or used as compost yet.

You’ve probably experienced the same — coffee flavored like Christmas or your favorite ice cream sundae topping, where you couldn’t taste the coffee at all, and instead were left with this way too strong, rather artificial taste in your mouth.

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by the new Starbucks Natural Fusions. The three new coffees come in Vanilla, Caramel and Cinnamon flavors.

I hesitantly tried the samples I received, only to find myself smiling at what was in my cup. These flavored ground coffees are made with real-deal ingredients — ground vanilla bean and Indian sarsaparilla root in the Vanilla; cinnamon, orange peel and nutmeg in the Cinnamon; and licorice root, orange peel, cinnamon and nutmeg in the Caramel.

The flavors are subtle, which is nice because you can still taste the robust coffee, which is what we, true coffee lovers, want anyway, right? The Cinnamon has the strongest fragrance, hitting you the moment the hot water meets the grounds. It has a nice added warmth on the back of your throat from the spices. The Vanilla and Caramel are more elusive. They don’t taste like you’ve stirred in vanilla extract or caramel syrup into your coffee cup. It’s more as if you’d just nibbled on a vanilla cookie or sucked on a caramel candy, then taken a sip of coffee afterward.

The Natural Fusions sell for $8.99 per 11-ounce bag at Target stores. But they won’t be widely available at more retailers until September.

Contest: Five lucky Food Gal readers will get a chance to win one bag of each of the three new coffee flavors, along with a nifty French press. Contest is open only to those of you in the continental United States. Deadline to enter is the end of the day on July 31. Winners will be announced Aug. 2.

How to enter? Just answer this question: “Without coffee in the morning, I am….”

The five best, most creative responses will win the coffee and French press.

Here’s my own answer to that question:

“Without coffee in the morning, I am an ogre. Not quite like Shrek. But even if I don’t look green, I feel disorientingly green and blah-blue without my wake-me-up caffeine fix.”