New start-up trying to decide between the endless offerings for frappes and smoothies...what are your recommendations....Jet bases, Dr. Smoothie, MoCafe, Amor.....soy, pre-mixed coffee frappes or add your own to non coffee? We are looking for great quality but would love to keep it SIMPLE....is there an all in 1 you can just add sauces and coffee to including a Green Tea powder? Please Respond. Thanks!!!!!!
Mark Twain Ice & Coal

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I, personally, can't stand Big Train's Ice Rage its way too sweet, and seems almost gritty to me, but that could just be the thought of powder.
We also use jet it is simple and easy to use.
Chris Hooton said:
I, personally, can't stand Big Train's Ice Rage its way too sweet, and seems almost gritty to me, but that could just be the thought of powder.

Or maybe it is the sand?
Some powder mixes are gritty and have a weird texture to the finished product other way too sweet. Of the ones we tested to date we liked Cappucine drink bases. We also like Pixie Mate, Jet's Mango Fandango (YUM, my favorite!!!) and we had a chai mix at the Atlanta show that we liked better then Oregon Chai.
We use David Rio chai. Before adding it to anything, we "cook" it in just a bit of hot water from the espresso machine. This helps with grittiness.
Dr. Smoothies Truly Latte is a pretty good product. Cappuccine does some wonderful blended drink mixes & so does Mocafe (especially their organic line). In my concessions business I simply use Monin Espresso Syrup with Milk & water & put it into a Granita Freezer (Im going through large amounts at a time so I use a larger Margarita Freezer from Electro Freeze) which is the best I've found. Since its not a powder it doesnt have a gritty feeling & you can control the strength by adding less milk & more water (makes for a less creamy strong coffee taste) or even by using different milks (I've gotten to where I use sometimes half 2% & half whole milk). If you have a Granita Machine available & are going through enough frozen cappuccinos this is the way to go. But you've got to deal with the clean up & possible loss which you dont have to worry about on blending to order. Dr. Smoothie also offers a great neutral base which you can just add your own espresso to. It sometimes has a "Creamer" taste to it so I've gotten away from using it but it was good to keep on hand for emergency (plus you dont have to have multiple powders for making regular or decaf or even smoothies, or vanilla frappes, or whatever). But in my opinion you're ok if you stick with Dr. Smoothies Cafe Essentials or Cappuccines line. I use Dr. Smoothie's Truly Latte when I have small shows that I dont use my big machine at & it does fine. Half milk, half water, scoop of powder & blend with a cup of ice. If you've got a good blender (Blendtec or Vitamix) it does a great job & not real grainy. I was surprised the first time I try it. And if you like a stronger coffee flavor, add a shot of espresso instead of some of the water.
As to Big Train, I only use their Kids flavors (Bubble Gum, Cotton Candy, Cookies & Cream, Vanilla Bean) and actually their Peanut Butter Mocha is great (100 times better than Mocafes!!) Good peanut butter flavor. When I have it available, I take a double shot of espresso & milk & fill up a 16oz cup of ice, about a scoop of the peanut butter mocha & half a scoop (or whole scoop if I've got a long day ahead of me) of Protein powder & that makes for a great breakfast drink! Actually has a great peanut butter flavor unlike Mocafe that I just recently picked up & after making 1 drink called them & told them to credit me the case. It was horrible!! Had that dirty off brand peanut butter taste & smell (and I dont mean grocery store brand peanut butter, I mean government peanut butter taste!!!)
we used dr smoothie, but switched to big train when they changed their recipes to their current incarnation. dr. smoothie's chai powder tasted better than most others though. also, i think adding your own coffee to a neutral frappe base tastes better than the coffee flavored ones: at least in my opinion. however companies like big train will be more of a one stop shop because they offer a wide range of products.
Cafe' D Amore's Mango isn't as sweet as Jet but their prices are much higher. I'm still searching for affordable non HFCS more natural smoothies... Dr Smoothie has some more natural ones I like.

Denise Smith said:
Some powder mixes are gritty and have a weird texture to the finished product other way too sweet. Of the ones we tested to date we liked Cappucine drink bases. We also like Pixie Mate, Jet's Mango Fandango (YUM, my favorite!!!) and we had a chai mix at the Atlanta show that we liked better then Oregon Chai.
If you really want to keep it "simple" then perhaps you should consider eliminating blended drinks altogether and focus on the coffee.

That said, the commercial blends and mixes really are six of one, half dozen of the other. There are minor differences but they're all still low grade commercial blends and mixes. If you're really serious about offering quality then you need to take the time to experiment and test with real ingredients to develop the recipes you need.

With that said, if you're really stuck on going commercial and being like every other Friends Central Perk in the nation, call up each of the companies mentioned by others here and ask them to send you samples. These companies are more than willing to send you free samples of all their products. Then try each one and decided for yourself which of these products are "the best." Maybe you'll end up with one company or ordering from a couple.

Also, if you're interested, many of these commercial companies offer blender deals where you buy X amount of their product and they either give you a blender for free or heavily discount it. Whichever route you choose, be sure to buy as many blender jugs as you can. It will be worth it.
This is what I recommend. There are many options, and each has it's pros and cons. Just like with your roaster, your best bet is to get some samples, figure out what the costs are, and determine what's best for your shop. There isn't a industry-understood "best."

(Then I read Jay's post, which I should have read before, and I agree with him. To follow up with his, I know that if you buy a blender from Big Train, they include three free cases of product, which is almost $300 worth. That can certainly help.)
I really like Torani's blended coffee base. It's a sauce so it eliminates the powder texture issue. It's very sweet so I add espresso to the milk and it makes it very good. The problem being right now getting it. I usually get it from the local Restaurant Depot, but that failed me this week, and I'm going to be short until an online order gets here. Torani needs more distributors in Dallas.
RE: Blended drinks.

A. Don't do it.

B. Refer to "A"

In a time when new businesses are struggling, you need to differentiate yourself. You can go ANYwhere and get a blended drink, but the number of places that focus on coffee/espresso is still relatively small in most every community. The "Starbucks" style model has lead many to failure. Offer something different. Offer quality, and focus on your coffee.

Build a business that dictates your customer base, rather than building a business where you let the customer base dictate you.

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