Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher Clone (Starbucks Knockoff)


I got my dog fixed on my birthday.

It’s a glamorous life. Try not to be too jealous.

Because Frijole is a rescue dog (although some folks would argue that his inclusion in the dog category is in doubt considering he’s half daschund half chihuahua), we were invited to bring him to a free spay and neuter clinic about two hours from home. “Free” is one of my favourite words, so I grabbed the leash, the understandably unexcited dog, a cup of tea and set out at six in the morning on a Sunday to drop my pup off for ye olde snip-snip.

After depositing the dog (and a surprise attack of tears when leaving my sweet wittle puppykins in the arms of those strangers) I drove into town a little further and found the Holy Grail, Nirvana, Kismet, Shangrila…

I found Barnes and Noble in Elmira, New York.

Since it was my birthday, I gave myself permission to go a little wacky in the bookstore. Aside from living in a library, this is my idea of the ultimate in fun. I felt like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. I walked in, twirled around with my arms in the air, and sang (in my head.)

I walked up aisles. I walked down them. I tucked into ill-lit corners with piles of books by authors of whom I’d never heard. I sniffed new books.* I scoured the clearance and mark-down books. When I tell you I spent hours, I mean it.

When all was said and done, I carried my teetering stack of books to the register. While the clerk was scanning, scanning, scanning, I glanced at the time and realized I still had a couple of hours to go before I could pick up my now frijole-less Frijole. A glance to my right showed the semi-ubiquitous Barnes and Noble Starbucks, so I paid and scooted over there to spend a little air-conditioned time admiring my new acquisitions.

*Please tell me someone else loves the smell of books…

There are a couple of impulse buy food words that get me every time; citrus, lemon, lime, orange, berry and hibiscus. Lo and behold, Starbucks had a little something called a Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher. I was all over that like my kids on chips. I ordered one at the counter and they asked, “Can we make that a venti?” I am not a Starbucks veteran, so I had NO IDEA what that meant, but I wanted to be agreeable, so I said yes. Heck. It was my birthday.

I watched while she mixed up my refresher, took it back to the table, took a sip and did what any self-respecting blogger does when she likes something. I posted a picture on instagram. Then? Then I did what any self-respecting member of my family would do. I vowed to learn to make it myself because at that point, I had learned what venti meant. It meant EXPENSIVE.

With the justification, “It’s for research!” singing in my head, I ordered a second venti Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher while tucking an information card in my pocket and asking the poor gal what went into the drink. She said “Green Coffee Extract, this hibiscus mix stuff, dried berries, water and ice”. All that was left was for me to slurp my drink, call my sister to tell her how she needed to try one, pick up my drugged and tender puppy and drive home for my annual birthday fried chicken extravaganza.

Being cheap (and living a couple hours from the nearest Starbucks) is a marvelous recipe development motivator. I ordered green coffee beans from, busted out my stash of dried hibiscus flowers and freeze dried berries and set myself to experimentation.

I opted to make my green coffee extract using cold extraction. This sounds far more difficult than it actually is. In short, grind unroasted coffee beans, cover with water, let it set in the refrigerator overnight then strain it. Ta da! Yes. It truly is that simple. I make a quart at a time, so I can have this whenever cravings strike.

While researching green coffee beans, I found out that green coffee is currently the golden child of the diet scene. Evidently, taking green coffee extract (in any form) jacks up your metabolism so that -all other things remaining the same- you metabolize your food more completely and therefore lose weight. Who knew?

Because cold brewing/extraction is a gentler process, I used my beloved new Krups coffee grinder/spice mill from BigKitchen to break the beans up just a bit. I didn’t need to obliterate them like you would for a regular cuppa joe, just break them open a little. Can we talk about why I love this grinder for just a moment? My husband is the coffee drinker in the house. I’m a tea drinker. For years, our coffee grinder has been ‘his’. I borrowed it once -just once!- to grind some spices and we both ended up unhappy with the results. My cumin tasted like coffee and his coffee tasted like cumin. The rest of my spice and herb grinding took place in the pestle and mortar. Sigh. This new grinder is mine, MINE I TELL YA, and it will never have a roasted coffee bean in it as long as it lives. The green coffee beans don’t count because they don’t have that strong flavour, aroma, etc… that you find in roasted beans. Additionally, green coffee contains about one-fifth of the caffeine of its roasted counterpart. This probably accounts for why I can drink it without having to be scraped from the ceiling.

So why do all this? Hibiscus and berries are bright and fresh and naturally vibrant pink and full of vitamins and minerals. Green coffee is a metabolism booster and makes you feel energetic without feeling strung out. Put them together with ice and water and you have a truly refreshing drink.

If you have a Starbucks lover in your life, a jar each of the hibiscus syrup and green coffee extract in a basket with a couple bags of the freeze-dried berries would make a wonderful gift!

Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher Clone (Starbucks Knockoff) | Make Ahead Monday
Zingy hibiscus and sweet freeze dried berries get shake-shake-shaken into homemade green coffee extract (yes you CAN do that at home!) and ice creating a fabulous knock-off of the Starbucks Very Berry Hibiscus Refreshers at a fraction of the cost.
For the Green Coffee Extract:
  • 1 quart cold water
  • ¼ pound green (unroasted) coffee beans
For the Hibiscus Simple Syrup:
  • 1 cup, lightly packed, dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
To Make a Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher Clone:
  • 2 cups of ice cubes
  • 1 tablespoon green coffee extract
  • 1-4 tablespoons hibiscus simple syrup (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons freeze-dried berries
  • 2 cups water
To Make the Green Tea Extract:
  1. Add the beans to a scrupulously clean spice or coffee grinder, pulse the grinder about 10 times just to break up the beans a little. Empty the beans into a half-gallon glass canning jar or another similarly sized container with a tight fitting lid. Pour the cold water over the beans, fix the lid in place and shake a couple of times to make sure it is all good and distributed. Stash in the refrigerator overnight to extract.
  2. After it has soaked for at least 8 hours, line a fine-mesh sieve with a coffee filter or a piece of cheesecloth positioned over a pitcher. Shake the green coffee and water mixture one more time and pour it through the lined sieve. Transfer the strained liquid to a jar (it should fit into a quart jar) and store in the refrigerator for up to a month, using as desired.
To Make the Hibiscus Simple Syrup:
  1. Add hibiscus flowers, sugar, and water to a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. Stir frequently to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil. As soon as the mixture boils, turn off the heat and add a lid to the pan. Let it steep for at least 20 minutes, but not more than 40 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter into a canning jar or pitcher. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly lidded jar or other stain-proof container. Hibiscus syrup WILL stain!
To Make a Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher Clone:
  1. Add 2 cups of ice to a quart canning jar. Pour the green coffee extract and hibiscus syrup over the ice, add the freeze-dried berries and pour the water over everything else. Fix the lid tightly in place and shake vigorously for about 25 seconds. Pour into a pretty glass and sip. Heck, gulp if you want to gulp! This is good stuff and it's good for you!








  1. Laura R. says

    What wouldn’t I buy from them!!!! If I HAD to choose then it would be the Roti Roasting pan with rack and forks:)

  2. Pamela says

    Kid in a candy store… Oh my! I think the hot chocolate maker-milk frother is pretty sweet. Or just one of the plain old milk frothers.

  3. says

    Spending time in a library or bookstore is one of my favorite things to do. Seriously. The last time the hubby and I were on a mini vacation one of my requests was to go to the local Barnes and Noble, get Starbucks and just browse. Loved it!

    I could definitely go for some new wine glasses. But really, anything from there would be nice.

  4. Mindy says

    Oh, my, too much fun stuff there! I fell in love the 6 piece assorted color bottle set (under the Summer category). They are so pretty and I’m sure that I could find things to fill them up with!

  5. Sarah O. says

    I must say, I would probably choose the silicon bundt pan. I’ve never made a bundt before, but every time I watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I want to.

  6. Jennie Bobbins says

    I would buy AIREGOURMET ANODIZED INSULATED BAKING SHEET 14X16. Because I’m in serious need of new baking sheets!

  7. Michelle W says

    There are so many tempting things!!! But I’d probably get the adorable BlueAvocado Plum Doodle Insulated Lunch Tote since school starts back up next week. I looooove the color!

    I also like ya on FB. ☺

  8. Lisa says

    Yes, I love the smell of books! Thanks for introducing me to BigKitchen, I can’t believe the selection! Most surprising was the selection of fancy chopsticks, which my Asian obsessed son would love; or maybe a french press; or maybe the lobster embroidered bib! Too much to choose from. I will def be going there for Christmas shopping, there is something for everyone! Oh, yes, and the fall leaf parchment place settings will be on my table this fall!

  9. Carla says

    Well, that was fun. I would love the viking Professional Stainless 7 quart mixer, but realistically, I would more likely be able to purchase, Henrietta Hen Egg cooker or OXO Good Grips Food Scale.

  10. Rhonda Ahrens says

    BigKitchen is awesome thanks for introducing me. Like it on FB and Twitter! I would love the grinder!

  11. Amy says

    Oooh….it’s not what I’d buy first from BigKitchen – it’s how to choose! Maybe the baggie holders? Because I’m a dork, of course, or I could go big and get the vacuum cooker, or I always like ALL of the lunchbots containers…

  12. Carolyn Myres says

    Ohhhh, Big Kitchen, how I would love to have a Krups coffee maker. The biggest one that does everything, please.

  13. kimt says

    the handmade glass drink dispenser with wroght iron stand…on my want list for a while! love the coffee grinder also!

  14. Janice says

    I would love to get a new waffle iron!! Mine is getting warm rather than hot…waffles do not turn out so great any more!

  15. Hilary says

    Wow, Big Kitchen has beautiful stuff! I am looking for a dispenser for cold drinks, and the Artland Diamond Glass Beverage Server is pricey but a beauty.

  16. says

    Rebecca, you are a kindred spirit! Nothing better than Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, and the smell of books!
    As I live overseas, I can’t enter the giveaway, but do have a question about the recipe.
    I live in West Africa so the hibiscus flowers are no problem, but the freeze-dried berries are! Is it possible to substitute frozen? If so, how would I go about that?!? Just wondering if it’s possible!
    Hope you had a lovely birthday!

    • says

      Oh, yes, Patty!!! You can definitely add about 1/4 cup of frozen berries to the beverage instead of freeze dried. I was just shooting for ‘as close to the original’ as I could. I know they use the dried ones. I did have a lovely birthday; books, berry and hibiscus drinks, a no-longer-able-to-procreate-dog, and fried chicken to my heart’s content. It was wonderful.

  17. Teresa F. says

    I just took a peek at BigKitchen. What a great site! I will/would most likely buy the Wusthof Classic Bread Knife. If my budget could afford it , the Vitamix!

  18. Heather Hughes says

    I checked out Big Kitchen & loved so many items! I never knew the website exsisted. It looks like they have great prices! I’m a culinary student so any kitchen website is very hard to resist!

    My first purchase would be a mandolin because I have been wanting one for awhile now!

  19. Tonia says

    One of the first jobs I had (outside working for my dad in the orchard!) was in a small local bookstore the summer before I started college and during Christmas break, then many years (about 20 – yikes!) later I worked in a local used bookstore for almost 3 years until she closed. . .I’d still be working there continuing to collect even more books. My favorite thing when I go visit my friend in Portland,OR is to get her to take me to Powell’s Books — takes up 1 full block and at least 3 floors (maybe more!)– I’ve never been in there for more than an hour each time, but I always manage to leave with at least 5-6 books. . .at least. Bookstore nirvana. . .*sigh* And, in Seattle, WA there used to be a little bookstore (went to once) completely devoted to cookbooks and books about food. . .Baker/cook/bookworm nirvana! I need a cup of tea, some chocolate and a good book.

  20. Ed says

    I would most love from Big Kitchen to have the Bamboo Lattice Pattern Tea Tray. I love serving tea in the traditional manner and this is a beautiful tray for it.

  21. says

    Happy Belated Birthday! :) Your idea of a great birthday sounds exactly like one of mine. I LOVE books, and YES, that includes the smell. 😀
    (How interesting that the day I enter your giveaway, I’ve reviewed one of your recipes! LOL!)
    There are soooo many great things over at BigKitchen! I’d never seen their site before. I have to admit, I’d LOVE to have the pumpkin tea kettle for my fall dishes collection. 😀 The pumpkin cookie jar, too. 😀 And that’s just the beginning of my collecting impulses on the site, but I think that’s enough. 😀
    Thank you for the generous giveaway!!!!

  22. Rebecca "Glue Gun Mom" says

    Just discovered your blog today – really great stuff!
    I love the cowboy boot nightlight in the Big Kitchen site!

  23. Rosa says

    I’ve been looking for a bundt cake pan and a square cake pan to add to my baking collection. That’s what I would purchase at Big Kitchen.

  24. Jaime says

    Well, I really need a new set of colanders. But then I saw that they had rice cookers….and Le Crueset… Er…do I have to pick just one thing??? :)

  25. Jaia says

    Hi I also talked to a barista at Starbucks and they told me that the base is white grape juice. Also try adding a few pumps of raspberry syrup it makes it even more delish!

  26. Stacy B says

    Had my first Very-Berry Hibiscus Refresher at Starbucks yesterday, so of course I had to come find a recipe for it. Great blog! Smelling books and drinking VBHR @ the bookstore sounds like the perfect way to spend a birthday. Thanks for the recipe!

  27. jen says

    Thanks for sharing! I am looking for the cool-lime refresher recipe too. Any thoughts on that? If you have any advice, it would be MUCH appreciated by me and my wallet! :)

  28. rayleana says

    Looooovvvvveeeeee!!!! Thank you!!!! Ive spent a small fortune on these additive drinks over the last couple of weeks. Sooooooooooo, sooooooooooo to find an awesome knock-off recipe. Thanks again!!

  29. Lyndsay says

    I tried to make this berry clone and it did not turn out well. It wasn’t nearly as sweet as the starbucks one and much darker. I don’t think they taste the same at all.. 40.00 dollars
    Later.. Wah wah

    • says

      Lyndsay- if you want to try again with the ingredients you have, double the sugar in the syrup ! I ramped back on sweetness out of personal preference. You can use less syrup, it will be more sweet and less dark. I kind of dig the slight differences between homemade and purchased- it allows customizing to taste!

  30. Betty says

    I made this for our family reunion. We are not big into sugar. To cut the sugar we added fresh cut berries, orange slices and dried papas, It was delicious. It still had a little tartness but if you make it the day before then it absorbs the fruit sugars and is better. Everyone loved it

  31. Apryl says

    Liked both Foodie with Family & BigKitchen on Facebook. Unfortunately I do not maintain anything Twitter. I found an article on BigKitchen that was helpful in my current canning endeavors. Always learning…

  32. CB says

    I totally agree with Lyndsay above. I spent $50 ($30 on the beans and $20 on the hibiscus) and it turned out horrible. I added tons of sugar because I like things sweet, but it in no way resembled the refresher. The green coffee bean extract has a disgusting flavor and the hibiscus syrup did not remind me of the refresher at all. Sorry to be a debbie downer, but I thought I’d share my experience as a cautionary tale for others.

    • says

      I didn’t spend anywhere near that kind of money on the beans (what variety did you buy? That may have had something to do with the dislike of the green coffee extract), and the hibiscus is good for other things… Don’t give up hope. The green bean coffee extract by itself is not palatable. That’s for sure… You’re not supposed to use much of it in the refresher and I found that 1 tablespoon diluted by the hibiscus syrup and water disguised the flavour of the extract. If you still found it present, you can reduce that even further. And I did mention in the post that it was slightly different. It’s bound to be since it doesn’t have beet sugar which is what Starbucks uses to sweeten and colour theirs. If you’d like it to be even closer, try adding beet sugar.

      I’m sorry you didn’t like it, but I still enjoy it. I guess this is not my ‘please them all’ moment.

      • CB says

        Very true! I’m sitting at Starbucks right now drinking a refresher and it’s sooooo good! I wonder if the real flavor is just the white grape juice, though. When they first served it to me this morning, it tasted watery, so I asked for more of “whatever gives it flavor.” She pulled out a white carton of magical mystery juice, and when she poured it into my refresher, it was the exact color of white grape juice. Is there only a token amount of hibiscus syrup in the real thing? Or is the hibiscus syrup somehow yellowish?

        I got my coffee beans from Amazon, but it was a really big bag (I was planning on loving the recipe and making it often). It was actually the specialty drink at a party I threw on Saturday and it went over really well. It was great because my pregnant friend and her toddler could both enjoy it, and some of the guys put Malibu in it and loved it. I will keep trying! And you’re right that it needs only a very tiny bit of the coffee bean extract.

        • says

          So I guess maybe it wasn’t so horrible and disgusting? :) Tinker with your proportions and I’m confident you’ll like it. Replace the water with white grape juice. Maybe that’ll be closer to what you like.

  33. Jennifer says

    I’m spreading your recipe around to a couple of friends looking to quit Diet Coke. Have the ingredients in my amazon cart and am READY TO GO. I was very pleased to see how much “stuff” I could get to make these for a small amount of money. Had forgotten all about this until I walked past a sale tag on the Refreshers Via tubes the other day. What kind of berries did you end up using? I’m going to look for blueberries, most likely. We can use those in our camping oatmeal packs too.


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