Starbucks pastries showdown: What to buy and what to avoid with your next cuppa

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In Greek mythology, sirens are alluring beautiful creatures that often lure sailors to their demise with their enchanting songs. Odysseus famously tied himself to the mast of his ship while his crew had beeswax stuffed in their ears so he could just hear a note or two.

Just like Odysseus, we are helpless to the siren song of moderately priced pastries and overly-sweet frappuccinos.

Seduced by the whirl of the coffee machines, inviting lounge chairs and beguiled by each ‘aesthetic’ merch drop (God forbid, they have another cat cup), we (and by we, I mean me) have an undying love-hate relationship with Starbucks.

My years of Starbucks-lovin’ have culminated to this moment right here, and it’s an honour and duty that I take seriously. Today, I have decided to do a definitive ranking of all of Starbucks pastries.

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To ensure we won’t run out of pastries to try, we went to Starbucks at Paya Lebar Quarter. Starbucks PLQ is Singapore’s fourth Starbucks Reserve, a spacious outlet with a roastery at a corner for serious coffee drinkers—no frivolous caramel macchiatos allowed at these bar seats.

As a foil to my blatant prejudice to Starbucks, I have brought along fellow food writer Felicia. Felicia has a Diploma in Pastry and Bakery from At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy and famously hates making croissants but loves eating them.

From cookies to macarons, when it comes to the fine art of pastry-appreciation, Fel’s our girl.

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We chose food from their bakery section to keep things simple and concise. I’d like to reiterate that I would gladly spend every waking moment at Starbucks if I could.

So if you think anything mildly negative would make me love Starbucks any less—it won’t. Yes, I’m talking to you, Kevin. Take. A. Seat. Let’s begin.

1. Buttery Croissant

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Nicole: Not as buttery as its namesake. The most good looking of the croissants, with a half-crescent shape and golden hue. This Buttery Croissant (S$3.90) was a little too soft for my liking and sorely lacking in the layering. As a croissant enthusiast, I’d say skip this.

Rating: 4/10

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Felicia: This Buttery Croissant was slightly dense and could have been flakier and crisper. I detected a margarine-like aftertaste that was not entirely pleasant. The jam and butter (Lurpak butter, ohkur) helped to mask the taste which I slathered on generously. It’s not inedible but definitely above average and will do in a pinch.

Rating: 4/10

2. Almond Croissant

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Nicole: Let’s be honest; the Almond Croissant (S$3.90) is certainly not winning in the looks department. Resembling a sad, deflated balloon, I didn’t have high hopes. A bite and I was about to mince my words—the Almond Croissant was an unexpected delight.

A generous shower of sliced almonds dusted with powdered sugar. Then, stuffed with relatively sweet and balanced almond paste for that fragrant nuttiness but not cloying at all.

Rating: 7/10

Felicia: The Almond Croissant had a better texture as compared to the Buttery Croissant. The almonds on top had a slight toasty fragrance which was a plus. It is, essentially, a dense croissant that’s filled to the brim with almonds paste. Not a beaut, but I have to say a much better companion than its bland croissant brother. This would pair well with any beverage on a lazy afternoon.

Rating: 8/10

3. Ham & Cheese Croissant

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Nicole: Nostalgia at its best—though, this Ham & Cheese Croissant (S$5.90) looks like someone flattened it beforehand. Now, who in the world thought it was okay to do this to a croissant? Sliced open with a slice of cheddar and chicken ham chucked in between, I’m not supposed to like it, but damn it, I do.

I mean, the croissant has a texture more like bread than flaky, buttery goodness. And the ham and cheese is something I can easily purchase from the supermarket, so it’s not Heston-Blumenthal-anything. Rather, it’s the nostalgia that puts this a notch above average but a couple blocks below mind-blowing.

Rating: 8/10

Felicia: This has to be saddest looking out of all the croissants. It’s like when Simon Cowell makes a face, and you know whoever is on stage has gone flat. Well, this croissant is exactly that. Looking like it was rolled over by a car, this croissant almost melded with the plate.

But, the silver lining is that with a ham and cheese filling, it’s hard to go wrong. For me, this croissant was forgettable. You could switch the croissant with sandwich bread, and I’ll be just as satisfied.

Rating: 7/10

4. Chocolate Croissant

Nicole: ‘Where’s the chocolate?’ I ask incredulously. *Cries in pain au chocolat*

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I’m not being dramatic; there is no chocolate in this Chocolate Croissant (S$3.90). If you count the chocolate-like head peeking out chocolate, then Willy Wonka is going to be really upset with you. I don’t even mind if it’s cheap chocolate, the fact that there’s close to none is blasphemous.

To think this shiny little pocket held such promise.

Rating: 2/10

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Felicia: This is probably the most woeful chocolate croissant I’ve ever seen. We did a little dissection, and to our horror, only two paltry pipes of chocolate make up the pastry. The croissant looked and tasted stale.

Rating: 3/10

7. Chocolate Chunk Monster Cookie

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Nicole: They call this the  Chocolate Chunk Monster Cookie (S$3.90), and the size does match the description.

A fubsy cookie with little squares of chocolate that might make that morning at spin class worth it. We love a chewy cookie, and strangely, this was both delightfully chewy and light. A cookie that was more than just passable and almost compelled me to order some milk.

Rating: 6/10

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Felicia: A classic chewy cookie, every bite was filled with chunks of slightly melted chocolate. I was satisfied with this one. There were hints of toffee-like sweetness—probably due to the use of brown sugar in the cookie.

Rating: 5/10

8. Banana Walnut Muffin

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Nicole: Real muffins have love handles (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) and this one was no different.

This Banana Walnut Muffin (S$3.90) was spilling over with voluptuous, sexy folds—it should be on the cover of a magazine. I spied a few mounds of real bananas, though I’m pretty sure there was some banana extract in there. Fluffy, pillowy, and airy, there are no complaints here.

Rating: 5.5 /10

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Felicia: Fluffy, I loved the generous crown of walnuts. This is a comforting and safe option for a morning breakfast or tea. Don’t be surprised if you find real banana chunks baked into the batter, Starbucks does pull out all the stops sometimes.

It would’ve been nicer if they baked more walnut bits into the muffin batter itself—it would have given a better mouthfeel.

Rating: 6/10

9. Blueberry Crumble Muffin

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Nicole: A perfectly average muffin. Starbucks has found a happy middle-ground with this one and doesn’t have to do more or less than. Perhaps, a hit more blueberries but otherwise, I wouldn’t really change a thing.

Rating: 5 /10

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Felicia: Where’s the crumble? I was expecting more crumble on top of this Blueberry Crumble Muffin (S$3.90) but was slightly disappointed when it arrived. It’s a pretty average muffin that can use just a few more blueberries.

Rating: 5/10

10. Chocolate & Cookie Crumble Muffin

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Nicole: A gooey, flowy chocolate core makes everything better. Smooth and rich, Starbucks really sprang for the good kind here. There are two different kinds of batter with a slightly confused streusel topping.

Colour me impressed with this Chocolate & Cookie Crumble Muffin (S$3.90).

Rating: 6.5/10

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Felicia: I love the yin-yang appearance of this one. I was expecting chocolate chips to be incorporated throughout the batter. Instead, I had a lovely surprise when I tore into its molten chocolate core—a chocolate lover’s dream in a paper cup.

Rating: 7/10

11. Buttery Scone

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Nicole: This Buttery Scone (S$3.50) was a large, waxy golden saucer and at least twice the size of your average scone. Of course, I wasn’t expecting clotted cream, so the square of Lurpak butter was good enough.

It looks like a scone but not quite a scone. Again, Lurpark butter saves the day.

Rating: 4/10

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Felicia: An odd in-between of bread and cake with a huge personality (and size). If you are thinking of a perfect bite-sized English scone to go with your cup of hot tea, you might be disappointed.

At least the size makes up for its flavour. If you are hungry at noon-time, this Buttery Scone will surely fill you up.

Rating: 4/10

12. Creamy Chicken Foldover

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Nicole: Savoury is not really Starbucks’ strong suit. This filling of this Creamy Chicken Foldover S$4.90 is aggressively seasoned—it’s all pepper. There were a couple of slivers of mushrooms, but the rest of the foldover was a little parched.

Rating: 6/10

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Felicia: This was not as disappointing compared to the other items we tried. The filling was flavourful with a kick from the use of pepper. Frankly speaking, I don’t get any creaminess from the chicken filling. Naming this Chicken Potato Foldover will probably do it more justice—and perhaps, more accurate.

Rating: 6/10

13. Sausage Roll

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Nicole: Okay, so this Sausage Roll (S$3.90) was no showstopper, and no one really goes to Starbucks for a Sausage Roll (S$3.90). The puff pastry took the words quite literally and was more bloated and puffy than buttery and flaky. The sausage was, unfortunately, slightly tough and leathery.

Rating: 3 /10

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Felicia: Dried out sausage wrapped in dense filo pastry—need I say more? For the price, I would rather get plain old school sausage bread from the nearby bakery.

Rating: 2/10

Verdict: This is what you should order

– Nicole

🏆 Ham & Cheese Croissant 🏆

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It’s an obvious choice that will never disappoint you. The Ham & Cheese Croissant is simple and sometimes simple is all you need. Even David Chang of Momofuku said his favourite pizza is not the famous Lucali’s but Dominos.

You get the savouriness from the chicken ham (a thick slice too, I might add) and the richness of the cheese all enveloped neatly in a croissant. What more could you want?

– Felicia

🏆 Almond Croissant 🏆

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I like the contrast in textures between the toasted crunch from the almond flakes, the moist density of the sweet almond cream filling, and the slight crispiness on the sides of the croissants. Whenever I have my breakfast at Starbucks, this is my go-to alongside a cup of hot americano.

Final thoughts

If you must know, pastries are just the tip of the iceberg. It will be a whole other story when we delve into cakes or even just breakfast food—be still my beating heart.

Just as Odysseus constantly longed for home during his 10-year voyage, I too scour the streets when I’m overseas for that glowing green beacon. It turns out whether I’m in Singapore or anywhere else in the world, the call of an Iced Matcha Latte is all but too irresistible. And honestly, with the right pastries and cakes, who would dare say otherwise?

Price: $ $

Starbucks (Paya Lebar Quarter)

10 Paya Lebar Road, Singapore 409057


Starbucks (Paya Lebar Quarter)

10 Paya Lebar Road, Singapore 409057

Operating Hours: 10am - 10pm (Thu to Tue), 11am - 10pm (Wed)

Operating Hours: 10am - 10pm (Thu to Tue), 11am - 10pm (Wed)
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