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11 Unexpected Starbucks Menu Items From Around the World

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Although Starbucks is a Seattle-based coffee chain in the United States, it’s grown globally since it opened its first stores outside of North America in Japan in 1996. With more than 23,000 locations all over the world, Starbucks has to cater to local and cultural tastes overseas. Here are 11 bizarre international Starbucks menu items from around the world.

1. AUSSIE BEEF PIE

Starbucks Australia serves up traditional Aussie Beef Pie made with a savory pie crust and quality minced beef. It also comes with tomato sauce for dipping. The coffee chain also offers Yo-Yo Biscuits, which are shortbread cookies with a butter vanilla cream filling and powdered sugar. 

2. RED BEAN GREEN TEA FRAPPUCCINO

The Red Bean Green Tea Frappuccino is one of the most popular blended drinks at Starbucks in China and Pacific Asia locations. It’s basically a Green Tea Frappuccino with sweetened whole red beans scooped on top. Starbucks has featured the Red Bean Green Tea Frappuccino every summer since 2012, and it can even be paired with a matching muffin.

3. RED BEAN CREAM FRAPPUCCINO

The Red Bean Cream Frappuccino is a seasonal blended drink available at Starbucks in South Korea. It’s made from sweetened condensed milk and Starbucks Frappuccino Roast blended together with ice. The beverage is later topped off with crunchy granola and red bean paste.

4. BUTTERMILK PANCAKES

You can get breakfast with an “American twist” at Starbucks in the United Kingdom. The coffee chain offers two lightly toasted buttermilk pancakes served with your choice of very berry compote or maple honey sauce toppings. Interestingly, Starbucks in the U.S. doesn’t serve pancakes at all. So much for that American twist.

5. HOJICHA FRAPPUCCINO WITH EARL GREY JELLY

While most other green teas from around the world are simply steamed, hojicha is a Japanese green tea that is roasted over charcoal in a porcelain pot. This process gives hojicha its unique color and toasty, creamy taste. Hojicha is poured over Earl Grey tea jelly and blended together with Frappuccino Roast, milk, and ice. Introduced as a seasonal blended beverage in 2012, Hojicha Frappuccino with Earl Grey Jelly is only available at Starbucks in Japan, along with the Chocolate Brownie Matcha Green Tea Frappuccino and Tiramisu Frappuccino.

6. GRILLED PINEAPPLE & CHICKEN TURKISH BREAD

Starbucks Hong Kong offers grilled pineapple and chicken breast with Teriyaki sauce, mozzarella cheese, and caramelized onions served on Turkish bread.

7. MAPLE MACCHIATO

The Maple Macchiato is made with steamed milk, sweet vanilla syrup, and espresso. It’s topped with a criss-cross drizzle of "real Canadian Maple Syrup found from the Beauce-Appalache region of Quebec." It’s only available at Starbucks in Canada, but some people from the U.S. are willing to make the trip up North for the Maple Macchiato.

8. DULCE DE LECHE GRANIZADO FRAPPUCCINO

Starbucks Argentina blends Dulce de Leche sauce and Frappuccino Roast with chocolate chips, milk, and ice to make a Granizado, which is a treat similar to a snow cone. It’s then topped with whipped cream and a caramel drizzle.

9. THREE MUSHROOM AND EMMENTAL CHEESE ON A VEGAN ROLL

Wake up to a portobello and shiitake mushroom breakfast sandwich at Starbucks in the Philippines. It’s served on a vegan multigrain roll, but also includes emmental cheese, which is confusing and definitely not vegan. Starbucks Philippines also offers a Spam, jalapeño, egg, and cheddar breakfast sandwich served on a rye roll or bagel.

10. ALGARROBINA FRAPPUCCINO

Introduced to Starbucks Peru in 2011, the Algarrobina Frappuccino features chocolate chips, Frappuccino Roast, Mocha, milk, ice, and algarrobina syrup, which is a local delicacy made from prosopis nigra or black carob tree. It’s an acquired taste that is described as bitter instead of sweet.

11. CHRISTMAS PANETTONE LATTE

Nobody really likes fruitcake in the West, but it’s a very popular treat in the East. During the holiday season, Starbucks rolls out the Christmas Panettone Latte in various countries in the South Pacific, such as New Zealand, Singapore, China, and the Philippines. Inspired by traditional Italian fruitcake, Christmas Panettone Latte combines notes of Italian Christmas sauce with espresso and steamed milk, topped with whipped cream and mixed dried apples, oranges, and cranberries. It’s described as having bread and butter flavors mixed with coffee.

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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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© Nintendo
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fun
Nintendo Will Release an $80 Mini SNES in September
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© Nintendo

Retro gamers rejoice: Nintendo just announced that it will be launching a revamped version of its beloved Super Nintendo Classic console, which will allow kids and grown-ups alike to play classic 16-bit games in high-definition.

The new SNES Classic Edition, a miniature version of the original console, comes with an HDMI cable to make it compatible with modern televisions. It also comes pre-loaded with a roster of 21 games, including Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, and Star Fox 2, an unreleased sequel to the 1993 original.

“While many people from around the world consider the Super NES to be one of the greatest video game systems ever made, many of our younger fans never had a chance to play it,” Doug Bowser, Nintendo's senior vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. “With the Super NES Classic Edition, new fans will be introduced to some of the best Nintendo games of all time, while longtime fans can relive some of their favorite retro classics with family and friends.”

The SNES Classic Edition will go on sale on September 29 and retail for $79.99. Nintendo reportedly only plans to manufacture the console “until the end of calendar year 2017,” which means that the competition to get your hands on one will likely be stiff, as anyone who tried to purchase an NES Classic last year will well remember.

In November 2016, Nintendo released a miniature version of its original NES system, which sold out pretty much instantly. After selling 2.3 million units, Nintendo discontinued the NES Classic in April. In a statement to Polygon, the company has pledged to “produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition.”

Nintendo has not yet released information about where gamers will be able to buy the new console, but you may want to start planning to get in line soon.

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