Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Almond Beverage

From the moment Sonia saw this product on Instagram, she was swooning. On her next TJ's run, she searched high and low, but could not find this enigmatic beverage in our favorite Marlton, New Jersey store. She asked an employee if they had it hidden in the stockroom or if they'd be getting a shipment of it soon. The Trader Joe's employee was friendly and polite, as they almost always are, but he replied something along the lines of, "No, people on the east coast don't like gross stuff like that." Actually, his reply wasn't anything like that. However, he did say it was only available on the west coast. We'd heard that before. Remember the Parsnip Chips?

In that case, we just waited like a week, and voila, they were suddenly available on the east coast as well. In talking with Russ, we discovered that just several days after we were told this product was only available on the west coast, it was suddenly available in Pittsburgh. Now unless there was some pretty significant seismic activity that somehow eluded the evening news and shifted The Steel City 2500 miles closer to the Pacific Ocean, there's absolutely no way you could say Pittsburgh is on the west coast. So Sonia still had hope.

Sure enough, a day or two later, this beverage popped up on shelves here in Jersey. Sonia snagged a carton, and soon we were both sipping pumpkin spice flavored almond milk. A happy ending, right? Well...

Sonia and I haven't disagreed this strongly on a product in quite a while. She enjoyed it thoroughly. I did not. You all know I'm down with pumpkin and pumpkin spice stuff for a limited time each year between mid-September and late December, right? And I've always liked plain or vanilla almond milk just fine. But this stuff didn't quite work for me somehow. It's not nearly as sweet and sugary as it needs to be to succeed as a desserty kind of drink. Yet it's not simple and nutty like the regular stuff.

At first, you can taste the pumpkin spices in spades. For a moment, it's almost enjoyable. But then, as the flavor rolls over your tongue, there's a bit of a weird chemical kind of vibe. And I'm not a huge fan of the slight aftertaste, either. The texture is fine—very similar to other almond beverages—but possibly a little bit thicker in this case. To me, the overall essence of this product is that of an unsweetened pumpkin spice coffee creamer, not designed to be a stand-alone beverage. But that's just me.

Sonia thinks it's silky, smooth, and just about right in every way. She likes the flavor just fine and is happy to chug the beverage straight out of the carton, although she does concede that it makes sense to use it as a coffee creamer even more than a drink all by itself. Four stars from her.

Two from me.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.


  1. I used it instead of milk in muesli and it is absolutely fantastic.

  2. I may have to get this for coffee instead of their undrinkable pumpkin spice coffee.

  3. I am such a sucker for new stuff, and i always drink almond milk so i tried this. Cold i thought it was weird and somehow didn't quite work. But, then i tried some heated up and added a little cinnamon and that was sooo much better! It was more like a milky hot fragrant drink and i really like it that way. (I often make tea with hot almond milk) I'll probably buy it one or two more times this season just for the novelty of it

  4. these reviews are great, they've helped me choose which products to buy and not to buy a lot. thank you

  5. Glad to have stumbled on to your blog, great review! I agree with everyone that this product makes a good coffee creamer, other than that I probably wouldn't drink on its own.