You may not know it. But there’s a battle brewing in Riverside, California.
It’s a battle of taste, creativity, and marketing. It’s a cupcake war.
Ground zero is Downtown, at the intersection of Main and 6th Street. A leisurely two-minute walk separates the shops.
To the west, is the established Casey’s Cupcakes. Their Cupcake Wars Winner banner proudly on display, I reacquainted myself with them last summer. Casey’s makes some good flavors. However, for me, they’re more about style.
So when I heard of the newcomer, I was curious.
It was a bold move for Something Sweet by Serina, east of the intersection. Open since February of 2014, the reviews to date on Facebook and Yelp are positive. The recurring comment is “better than Casey’s”.
I dropped by on a weekday afternoon to see for myself. Fresh baked cookies and handmade cake pops first caught my attention. Then, I turned to my left and saw the cupcakes next to the entrance.
With the descriptions clearly noted, my questions were minimal.
I made my selections and paid $3.25 each for their regular size. Though tempting, I walked away from their minis for $1.25.
That night, I kicked off the review, a Cinnamon Roll Cupcake with Coffee Buttercream.
This combination intrigued me from the start. I had yet to come across it in my frosted adventures. Moreover, as someone who enjoys coffee, but rarely coffee-flavored desserts, I wondered if this cupcake could be an exception.
While the frosting-to-cake ratio was about 3/4 cake, the coffee essence was robust, capturing center stage.
It took bigger bites of cake and less frosting to appreciate the blend. The coffee and cinnamon were a taste of morning.
About halfway, I consumed just the cake. Without the frosting, its hint of vanilla was more obvious. Not only could I taste, but also I could see the texture of the cinnamon and brown sugar filling.
After recovering from my coffee cupcake high, I was ready for the Pumpkin Cupcake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting.
Back at Something Sweet by Serina, I caught my breath when I saw the word, pumpkin. Yes, I’m one of those people.
I do believe everything has a season. And fall means pumpkin! I even have a pumpkin recipe collection.
For the next couple of months, I will try to shield you from my enthusiasm. However, I wasn’t turning away from this one.
The pumpkin cake was perfectly spiced, not too subtle nor too pungent. It was moist with the consistency of a muffin. The smooth, cream cheese frosting was sufficient. Despite sampling it alone, I didn’t discern much maple influence.
That’s all I can say about the cupcake. I inhaled it quickly.
Truth be told, it took longer to decide the rating. I considered my conclusions: there was quality flavor and enough creativity to keep consumers interested. Additionally, the price was less than Casey’s.
Even so, my reviews are not against one competitor, they are in general.
Hence, although I think Something Sweet by Serina is better than Casey’s, their rating is still 3.5 out of 5 stars. If I gave such increments, they would’ve earned 3.75, as they are closer to 4.
Only time will tell how this battle ends. I do believe Serina is a brave warrior with a good product.
I wish her much success and I will be back to lend my support.