Ordering a good drink at Starbucks can feel like playing the lottery: will you get a delightful and refreshing brew or will it be a sugary, watery concoction? Fret not, we’ve curated the best coffee to order at Starbucks so you can enjoy your coffee instead of spending time deciphering the extensive Starbucks menu.
Whether hot or iced, caffeinated or non-coffee, here are some options that won’t disappoint even the most avid coffee drinker.
1. The Starbucks Pink Drink
The iconic Pink Drink is a social media favorite for its summery pink hue and sweetness. The Pink Drink is one of the best non-coffee drinks at Starbucks. Also known as the Strawberry Acai Refresher, the Pink Drink consists of passionfruit and acai flavors, combined with coconut milk and topped with a scoop of fresh strawberries.
This is easily one of the best cold Starbucks drinks for summer and spring. The refreshing lightness of the coconut milk and the sharp berry flavors is truly rejuvenating on hot days when caffeinated drinks might not be on your mind. This drink started out on the secret menu and got so popular that it was added to the main menu in 2017.
Before you order this drink however, consider that the addition of coconut milk may not suit all taste buds. There’s a reason that coconut milk is not a popular addition to coffee but since there’s no coffee in this drink, the flavor is a little more bearable. If you’d like to try making this yourself, here’s an easy recipe you can whip up at home.
2. Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew
My personal favorite out of all Starbucks drinks, the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew matches the smoothness of Starbucks cold brew with their wonderful Vanilla Cream syrup. Thanks to the potent cold brew, this drink has a much more defined coffee taste and packs quite a decent amount of caffeine in one serving.
The strong flavor of the cold brew is complimented perfectly by the sweet and smooth Vanilla Cream. You might think this drink is similar to the Iced Vanilla Latte, but the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold brew is a lot smoother in taste since it has cold brew instead of cold espresso, it has less ice, and the vanilla cream is heavier than vanilla syrup. This drink also contains no milk, unlike the Iced Vanilla Latte which comes with milk. You can try to make a dupe of this drink at home using this recipe.
3. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte
You can’t talk about Starbucks and not mention their industry-changing Pumpkin Spice Latte. Colloquially called the PSL, this is one of the most recognizable of all Starbucks drinks. Often called a ‘basic Starbucks drink’, the PSL is anything but basic with its blend of real pumpkin, a host of spices, and a whopping 50g of sugar.
Released in 2003, the Pumpkin Spice Latte has dominated the seasonal autumn menu and has become a pop culture icon. Whether you get it hot or iced, this drink is sure to give your taste buds a thrill unlike any other coffee thanks to the array of spices used including fall favorites like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cloves. The flavor has become so popular that Pumpkin Spice variants have thronged the market, leading to Starbucks differentiating itself as the home of the original Pumpkin Spice Latte. Craving a PSL but it’s not the season yet? Make it at home with this recipe!
4. Starbucks Flat White
The humble Flat White wasn’t invented by Starbucks but was introduced on their permanent menu in 2015. A Flat White is quite similar to a Cappuccino except it’s made with a shot of ristretto combined with steamed milk while a Cappuccino has espresso, steamed milk, and foam. A ristretto is a type of espresso that’s brewed with less water so it has a stronger flavor, darker color, and less caffeine.
The Flat White first came to prominence in the Australian and New Zealand coffee scene before becoming a global staple in coffee shops. Brewing a good Flat White takes a certain degree of barista skills: first, you must know how to brew a good espresso and ristretto shot, and second, creating the signature centered white dot requires knowledge of how to properly make steamed milk and how to pour it correctly. You may not always see this iconic dot in your Starbucks Flat White but this is still a great basic Starbucks drink that will satisfy your caffeine needs throughout the year.
5. Iced Matcha Tea Latte
Almost as Instagram-worthy as the Pink Drink, the Starbucks Iced Matcha Tea Latte is a green-hued cold beverage (there’s also a hot variant) that combines the soothing notes of matcha with the sweetness characteristic of many Starbucks drinks.
Made with pre-sweetened matcha powder, 2% milk, and ice, the Iced Matcha Tea Latte may not be the most authentic drink on the menu but it’s still worth a try if you want to explore Starbucks drinks without coffee. This drink isn’t caffeine-free so keep that in mind. Also note that like many Starbucks drinks, this Iced Matcha has a significant amount of sugar so it isn’t as healthy as drinking regular matcha. While matcha has powerful antioxidant properties, the fact that this is a pre-sweetened powder and not fresh leaves it lacking in the usual health benefits.
Treat it as an occasional amusement and not a healthier alternative.
6. Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew
How can cold brew get even better? By making it Nitro Cold Brew! The process is similar to regular cold brew with one important addition: after steeping coarsely-ground coffee for 16-24 hours and extracting the coffee, nitrogen gas is added into the final brew. This adds tiny air bubbles that give the brew extra foam and a lighter mouthfeel.
The longer brewing time also gives you a smoother and better-tasting coffee than hot coffee, iced drinks, and standard cold brew. If you’re looking for a major caffeine boost, Starbucks claims that the Grande version of the Nitro Cold Brew contains on average 80mg more caffeine than a cold brew of the same size. You can also customize the basic Nitro Cold Brew with the usual selection of Starbucks syrups, creams, and flavorings.
7. Caramel Frappuccino
The best caramel coffee at Starbucks has to be the candy-like Caramel Frappuccino. Launched way back in 1999, the Caramel Frappuccino is the most popular caramel drink at Starbucks with fans loving the distinct caramel flavor that’s intense but not overpowering. Making this drink requires ice, espresso, whole milk, caramel syrup, caramel drizzle, and dollops of whipped cream. As you can imagine from reading the ingredients, this is a very high sugar and high calorie drink.
Caramel is the most popular flavor addition at Starbucks so it’s no surprise that they have a range of caramel beverages, both hot and cold. This particular Frappuccino is a common choice for the summer months and for those who want their coffee to taste sweet and as unlike normal coffee as possible. You can make the iced version at home with this recipe or brew up a hot caramel latte with this brewing guide.
8. Starbucks Blonde Roast
Starbucks Blonde Roast is not a specific drink on their menu but rather an additional option among their available roasts.
Lighter than light roast, the blonde roast is one of the best options in Starbucks for black coffee. Their usual dark roast might be too intense and strong for a basic black coffee and so the blonde roast is a good alternative. The lighter roast level imparts a creamy, delicate flavor with higher acidity and brightness that’s lacking in darker roasts.
The Starbucks Blonde Roast is roasted a bit more than other blonde roasts which you can notice since a normal blonde roast lacks a coffee-like taste but you can definitely taste the coffee notes in a Starbucks Blonde Roast. The blonde roast at Starbucks brews well as an Americano, Cappuccino, Latte, or Flat White.
9. Chai Tea Latte
For the days you don’t want coffee (shocking, I know), there’s always the Starbucks Chai Tea Latte. Made of black tea infused with warm spices like cinnamon and clove, this hot drink can be surprisingly refreshing and packs quite a bit of caffeine. Inspired by Indian chai, this sweet and spicy drink can be ordered hot or iced.
As is typical of Starbucks drinks, their Chai Tea Latte is much sweeter than authentic chai and is made of a pre-mixed powder and not fresh chai and spices. If this isn’t a problem for you, then this drink is a good replacement for your usual coffee without sacrificing caffeine. You can also customize this drink (this is Starbucks after all) with additional syrups and flavorings. A popular variant is the Dirty Chai Tea Latte which features a shot of espresso along with the other ingredients.
10. Iced Brown Sugar Oat Milk Shaken Espresso
Once you get over the supremely long name, the Iced Brown Sugar Oat Milk Shaken Espresso (take a minute to memorize that!) is the best vegan option at Starbucks. When it comes to vegan milk, oat milk is the best option for coffee thanks to its creaminess and fat content. Add to that some excellent espresso and a heavy dose of sugar and you get this fan-favorite drink.
The Grande size of this drink has a whopping 3 shots of espresso, making this one of the most caffeinated drinks at Starbucks. It also has a low calorie count, coming in at 120 calories in a 16oz drink. This makes it one of the best options for those who want a healthy coffee without sacrificing taste or caffeine.
The Iced Brown Sugar Oat Milk Shaken Espresso is made with blonde roast espresso, 4 pumps of brown sugar syrup, cinnamon powder, and oat milk blended together. This results in a creamy and delicious drink that you won’t even have to stir.
Do you have a favorite on this list? Let me know what’s your go-to Starbucks order is!