Starbucks Drinks Simplified (Kinda)

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Since many people seem to be overly confused by the wide variety of options available at Starbucks, I’ve put together this handy-dandy page to help you figure out what you want without spending hours staring blankly at a menu. I’ve tried to include as much info as possible. Some things on this page may be horribly out of date. A lot of this stuff is trademarked by Starbucks Coffee Co. Drink availability may vary by location.

Think you’ve seen this exact info somewhere else? You have. Don’t worry, I didn’t steal it — I’m the same person that made the original page, I’m just relocating the info bit by bit.

Drink Sizes

  • Short: 8 oz. The smallest size Starbucks offers, and not generally shown on the menu. If you ask for a “small”, you will get a Tall, not a Short. Confused? Check out a future post on the meaning of the Starbucks drink sizes.
  • Tall: 12 oz. The “small” size.
  • Grande: 16 oz. This is the “medium” size. Pronounced “GRAHN-day”, more or less.
  • Venti: 20 oz. hot, 24 oz. cold. For some reason iced Venti cups hold four more ounces; for this reason, Venti espresso drinks often have an extra shot of espresso in them, and cost a little bit more. Prounounced “VENN-tee”.
  • Trente: 30 oz cold. Only some drinks are available in this size, mostly variations on iced tea.

Basic Drinks

  • Coffee: Plain black coffee, brewed less than an hour ago. If you want them to leave room in the cup for milk, go ahead and ask. Also available in decaf and (sometimes) mild, which is a lighter roast.
  • Iced Coffee: Plain coffee, brewed double-strength so the ice won’t dilute it, and kept in the fridge. Not just regular coffee poured over ice.
  • Tea: Starbucks has several varieties of tea: black, green, herbal, blends, decaf, you name it. It’s usually priced by the number of tea bags rather than the size of the cup, since hot water doesn’t cost much.
  • Iced Tea: Also available “shaken” (with ice, like Bond’s martini). Comes in regular or passion, with or without lemonade, sweetened or unsweetened.
  • Caffe Misto / Cafe au lait: A drink consisting of half coffee, half steamed milk and a bit of foam. Can be made decaf, nonfat, etc. “Misto” is the Starbucks name, cafe au lait is the more general term.

Espresso Bar Drinks

  • Latte: Espresso, steamed milk, and foam. Not sweetened in any way unless you ask for syrup or sugar in it.
  • Cappuccino: Like a latte, only much more foam. Normally half milk or half foam, unless “wet” or “dry” is specified. This is also not sweetened. An “iced cappuccino” doesn’t really exist — since iced drinks are made without foam, an iced cappuccino is the same as an iced latte.
  • Caramel Macchiato: Basically a vanilla latte with extra foam and gooey caramel drizzled on top. If it doesn’t taste sweet enough when you first try it, be sure to stir it well! Caramel sauce doesn’t really dissolve well in milk. If it’s still not sweet enough, ask for extra vanilla, not extra caramel. Macchiato, by the way, is pronounced “mah-kee-YAH-toe”.
  • Americano: Espresso diluted with hot water until it’s roughly the strength of regular coffee. An Americano will usually have one more shot than a latte of the same size. Sometimes if the regular coffee you want hasn’t finished brewing yet and you don’t want to wait, the barista may offer you an Americano instead.
  • Mocha: Espresso and steamed milk mixed with chocolate and served with whipped cream. Despite being chocolatey, these are not terribly sweet. If you don’t want to taste the espresso, try asking for flavor syrup (such as orange or raspberry) or try a white mocha instead.
  • White Mocha: Espresso and steamed milk mixed with white chocolate syrup and served with whipped cream. These are a lot sweeter than regular mochas, but also a bit less healthy and a bit more expensive.
  • Toffee Nut Latte: A latte flavored with toffee nut syrup, which tastes … well, toffee-like. Originally introduced as a seasonal drink, it appears to have been permanently added to the menu.
  • Espresso: Just espresso, nothing more. A solo espresso is a single shot, which is a bit less than an ounce. A doppio espresso is two shots, a triple is three, and a quad is four.
  • Espresso Macchiato: Espresso dropped into a cup of milk foam, and only foam. Like a small, extremely dry cappuccino. These are ordered not by cup size, but by the number of shots.
  • Espresso Con Panna: Espresso in a big squirt of whipped cream. Also ordered by number of shots rather than cup size.

Non-Espresso Bar Drinks

  • Hot Chocolate: Chocolate and steamed milk, with a little bit of vanilla added, served with whipped cream.
  • Steamed Milk: Just steamed milk, usually with a bit of foam. Usually these are ordered with flavor syrup added, which used to be called a “steamer” but was changed to a “creme” when the creme Frappuccinos came out.
  • Chai Latte: Sweetened Chai syrup (tea, spices, and sweetener) added to steamed milk and hot water. If you don’t want it so sweet or so milky, you can also get Chai made with a tea bag, which is black tea and spices without the extra stuff. Both versions have caffeine, since it’s made with black tea.
  • Steamed Cider: Apple juice / cider (not sure what the distinction is) steamed to a nice hot temperature. You can also get plain, cold apple juice.
  • Caramel Apple Cider: Steamed cider with cinnamon syrup, whipped cream, and caramel sauce.

Blended Drinks

These have changed a lot since I last worked at Starbucks. I’ll have to learn the new info, but until then, a brief description: These are cold, blended drinks, like a milkshake. They can be made with or without a coffee base, with most kinds of flavoring, and even with soy milk or a lower-calorie “light” base. Check the menu at your local Starbucks or ask someone there for suggestions.

Caffeination

  • Decaf: Made with decaffeinated espresso or decaffeinated coffee. This doesn’t mean caffeine free, it just means there’s much less caffeine.
  • Half-caf: Made with half regular, half decaf espresso.

Miscellaneous Extras

  • Foam: Fluffy milk foam produced when steaming. Lattes, macchiatos, and cappuccinos usually have this. You can always ask for for more, or less, or no foam at all.
  • Wet / Dry: These pertain only to cappuccinos. A normal cappuccino has about half milk, half foam. Wet means more milk, dry means more foam.
  • Whipped Cream: Made fresh from whipping cream, not the kind of stuff you get out of a can. If you really want whipped cream, or really don’t, make sure you tell the person taking your order. It’s a lot easier to write the info on the cup than try to fix it later. Be aware that whipped cream has a lot of calories — if you’re trying to watch what you eat, you’re usually better off leaving it off.
  • Extra Hot: Some people like their drinks extra piping hot. Some people just want it to stay at a drinkable temperature for longer. Be very careful if you order this, you don’t want to burn yourself! Anything over 170 degrees F may scald the milk, however.
  • 140 degrees: Some people don’t like their drinks so hot. This is about ten to twenty degrees cooler than the usual drink temperature — nice and warm, but not hot.
  • Kids: Hot drinks for children can be no hotter than 130 degrees F. Keep this in mind if you’re saving money by ordering a kid’s hot chocolate.
  • Sugar / Sweet ‘n’ Low / Equal / Splenda: Baristas are prohibited from adding anything you hand them to your drink, but the various sweeteners available on the condiment bar are also near the espresso machine, so you can ask for them to add two Equals, or three sugar packets, or whatever, when they’re making your drink. This mixes it in better and saves you time.
  • Upside down: This pertains to caramel macchiatos. Normally these are made with the shots and caramel added last. Making one upside down means they go in first, which makes them mix a bit better.

Holiday Drinks

  • Eggnog Latte: The most widely-anticipated winter holiday drink. People start asking about it in September, but they aren’t sold until the holiday season starts in early November (watch for the Christmas decorations to come out). This is real eggnog, mixed with a tiny amount of milk to make it steam better, with espresso and a bit of nutmeg. You can’t miss an eggnog latte being made, the nog sounds like an F-16 taking off when you steam it.
  • Eggnog Frappuccino: These do exist, believe it or not. You should be able to get one any time the eggnog lattes are being sold.
  • Gingerbread Latte / Ginger Spice Latte: I think they’ve changed the name of this one recently. It’s a latte with gingerbread flavoring syrup, served with whipped cream. If you want a holiday drink but are watching your calories, try a nonfat gingerbread latte with no whipped cream.
  • Peppermint Mocha: Introduced during the 2002-2003 holiday season, this is a mocha with peppermint flavoring syrup. May be a permanent part of the menu now.

There are more drinks that have been added to the menu in recent years. I’ll update this list as I get more info.