I was in love with Chobani Greek yogurt, until I tried vanilla flavor. The texture and creaminess of this yogurt is delicious, but the vanilla flavor is terrible. Vanilla is my favorite flavor, I stock a 16 oz of Costco’s vanilla extract in my kitchen . You can use vanilla extract in about everything sweet: milk, hot cocoa, cakes, lattes, teas, cookies, etc. Vanilla enhances flavor and adds a nice creamy sweetness to foods and beverages. The vanilla flavor used in the Chobani Greek yogurt did none of this. Chobani vanilla yogurt started out sweet and beany, but had a terrible smokey,woody character that came on strong and lingered unpleasantly. The vanilla flavor did not balance well with the tart yogurt.
The ingredients in Chobani Greek Vanilla yogurt are all natural: cultured pasteurized nonfat milk, evaporated cane juice, vanilla extract and five live active cultures. The only vanilla flavor ingredient is an extract. Vanilla extract is produced from vanilla beans (fruit pods of a large tropical climbing vine that is a member of the orchid family) that are commercially grown in Madagascar and Indonesia. Vanilla beans are “cured” to develop flavor. In Madagascar the curing process takes 4-6 weeks and results in a beany, pruney, eggy and creamy vanilla flavor. In Indonesia they are know to speed up the curing process with a wood fire which results in a smokey note.
I don’t always find smokey notes in vanilla offensive, but this vanilla flavor did not blend well in a low fat & sugar yogurt. From my experience on an ice cream taste panel, I can confirm that vanilla flavor can taste “off” in low-fat and low sugar items. Flavors need to be adjusted to fit low fat and sugar products. In the case of Chobani vanilla yogurt, a little flavor manipulation would have been beneficial.