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Is This Bizarre New Starbucks Drink Their Unhealthiest Yet?

By Hillary Eaton ; Updated October 13, 2016

Starbucks has turned its baristas into bartenders overnight with the release of its newest drink: the Espresso Cloud IPA.

The drink starts off with a cold IPA, which is then topped with flavor-infused espresso foam. And then — here’s where it gets a little crazy — they pour a shot of espresso over it.

Starbucks says the drink took R&D an entire year to perfect — a timeline that seems excessively long, considering the simplicity of the concept. Aside from the arguably bizarre taste combination of beer and coffee, Starbucks’ new drink might be something to pass on for another reason: the potentially dangerous combination of caffeine and alcohol.

Because caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, drinking something that has a combination of those two substances can be hard on your body because it sends mixed signals.

“Some people have the idea that the caffeine will negate the effect of the alcohol — and that’s simply not true,” Dr. Glenn Whelan, assistant professor at the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy, told The actual result is that the caffeine overrides any sleepiness and delays the feeling of drunkenness, causing you to drink more.

The combination of caffeine and alcohol is more ardently opposed in the form of mixing alcohol with energy drinks like Red Bull. According to a study reported on in Time magazine, the addition of sugars and chemicals in energy drinks increases the effect of mixing caffeine and alcohol. Coffee is less of a risk, but espresso still packs a punch — a one-ounce shot has 64 milligrams of caffeine.

It’s probably all right if you aren’t planning on downing more than one or two of the new Espresso Cloud drinks. Just as long as you’re on board with diluting your perfectly fine beer with coffee.

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