Taco Bell is testing Agua Refrescas. I tested them too

Three Agua Refrescas flavors are being tested at an Irvine Taco Bell.
Three Agua Refrescas flavors are being tested at an Irvine Taco Bell.
(Courtesy of Taco Bell)

Taco Bell headquarters is located right here in Orange County, where Glen Bell’s original Numero Uno store still stands after being moved to the headquarters’ Irvine parking lot from Downey in 2015. It’s also where new food products are developed and the reason why Orange County Taco Bell locations sometimes get to test new products before they roll out to the rest of the nation.

On April 11, Taco Bell launched a test line of Agua Refrescas, available in-store only at 2222 Barranca Pkwy, Irvine. This newest beverage test follows a recent test of Coffee Chillers and Churros Chillers (frozen coffee and sweet shakes), which tested in December at locations in Mission Viejo and Irvine.

“We want to make our beverages just as iconic as our food,” said Taylor Montgomery, chief marketing officer at Taco Bell.


Available in a 16-ounce cup for $3.99, now through early May, the drinks are a cross between agua fresca and refresher drinks, both of which I enjoy.

To clarify, agua fresca is fresh juice, usually light and nonalcoholic, made by blending fresh fruit with sugar and water. Refreshers, on the other hand, are fresh fruit drinks that have been popularized by coffeehouse giants like Starbucks, which debuted them in the U.S. in 2012. Starbucks refreshers are available in flavors like Pineapple Passionfruit Lemonade and contain green-coffee extract for caffeine without the bitter coffee taste. Taco Bell seems to be combining these two drinks in its Agua Refrescas flavors: Strawberry Passionfruit, Peach Mango and Dragonfruit Berry, which are mixed with fruit pieces and a green-tea base for the extra buzz.

“Our new Agua Refrescas … will help us on our journey to make Taco Bell a beverage destination,” said Montgomery.

It makes sense that Taco Bell would want to get into the cold beverage game. In 2023, Business Insider reported that cold drinks accounted for 75% of the beverage sales at Starbucks in the third quarter. In fact, the Starbucks Refreshers saw double-digit growth.

Taco Bell is just one of the restaurant concepts from Yum! Brands, which also operates Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Habit Burger Grill, and already has one beverage that people go out of their way for. The fan-favorite Mountain Dew Baja Blast marked its 20th anniversary in January.

There is stiff drink competition in Orange County, especially after Oregon-based Dutch Brothers Coffee opened its first Orange County location in February this year to lengthy lines. I wondered how Taco Bell’s drinks might stack against the local competition, so I also tested the Agua Refrescas myself.

Admittedly, I have not been inside a Taco Bell in many years and was surprised to be greeted not by a cashier but by touchscreen kiosks that advertised the limited-time drinks on their large screens. I ordered all three and got sipping. First up was Peach Mango, which I predicted would be my favorite. I was wrong. It tasted more like a weak peach tea than an agua fresca, and the fruit flavor was a little too artificial. Strawberry Passionfruit was next, and it also had a light flavor. This one reminded me of a Vitaminwater, with just a faint hint of strawberry and very little sweetness. I couldn’t detect any passion fruit. Dragonfruit Berry was easily the best, since it had the right balance of sweetness and acidity. It tasted like a berry lemonade and is probably the only one of the three I would order again.

While the Agua Refrescas may seem like a healthier option than a soda, they do contain artificial colors, and the fruit pieces floating in the drinks are freeze-dried, which isn’t uncommon for refresher drinks. Starbucks’ popular pink drink uses freeze-dried strawberries, for example.

Overall, I didn’t find them to be close enough to an agua fresca, so for now, if you are looking for a refreshing sweet drink at Taco Bell, I would recommended sticking to a Baja Blast.