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When you run out of time to make coffee at home in the morning, you can usually find a Starbucks on your route to help you out. Instead, of the plain old cup of Joe I make for myself at home, at Starbucks, I usually opt for something that has a bit of flavor, maybe a topping, and a few sprinkles. Because why not? If I’m shelling out a few extra bucks for coffee, I want to feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.
If you’re in a rush, you might want to narrow down the three or four boards of menu items, beforehand. Many of us have our old faithful Starbucks order down, but that has never stopped me from reading the menu each time to make sure I’m making the best choice. If you are in the mood to try other tasty options, or just want to make sure your regular order is still the best out there, we’ve put together a helpful list of the Best Starbucks Drinks.
We’ve scoured the menu for popular drinks and palette-pleasing combinations. Then we categorized them according to their type. On this list, you can find the best vegan drink, kids’ drink, healthy drink, and more! This list is like the firework grand finale where they load up all the bests at once. Only instead of flash powder, we’re loading this article up with tasty coffee drinks.
Our overall best drink goes to the Starbucks Reserve Dark Chocolate Mocha. This drink combines a small-lot coffee roast with real cocoa powder and ground chocolate. Then it is topped off with steamed milk. You can find this drink at Starbucks Reserve locations or at limited Starbucks stores that serve Reserve espresso.
We’ll give you some helpful tips for how to order the Best Starbucks Drink, and then give you a list of ready-made choices that are sure to delight your tastebuds.
How to Choose (or Create!) Your Best Starbucks Drink
When choosing the best drink for you, there are many more choices on the menu than just a drink name. You can customize the temperature of the drink, your milk choice, and even add in extra flavors and toppings. To make sure you are getting The Best Drink you have to be familiar with all the options out there. Here are some of the choices you have, and also a few pro tips for ordering.
Hot or Cold?
First, would you like it hot or cold? This decision can depend on the weather outside or your mood for the day. Sometimes I choose an iced caramel macchiato in the middle of a cold winter day just because it sounds good. Turn the heat up, and everything is fine.
Do you like to taste the espresso base in your Starbucks drink, or are you just after the pick me up you get with the caffeine jolt? Espresso is life for me, so I like to choose a drink that showcases that delicious nutty coffee flavor. However, there are Starbucks drinks that contain caffeine (and even contain coffee!) without the taste. You could go for a black tea, green tea, or a chai latte. Also, the refreshers are made with green coffee extract but have none of the coffee flavor.
The size of the drink is another decision to make. The most common sizes are the Tall, Grande, and Venti. If you order a coffee drink, how many shots of espresso you will get depends on the size you choose. Here is a quick guide:
- Short (8 oz): You’ll get 1 shot of espresso and 2 pumps of syrup in this hot-only drink size.
- Tall (12 oz): This size includes 1 shot of espresso and 3 pumps of syrup
- Grande (16 oz): With a grande you get 2 shots of espresso with 4 pumps of syrup.
- Venti (20 oz): You still get just 2 shots of espresso like the grande, but with five pumps of syrup.
- Venti Iced (24 oz): The iced venti is slightly larger than the hot size. It contains 3 shots of espresso and 6 pumps of syrup.
- Trenta Iced (31 oz): The Trenta is the newest size on the menu and is only for iced orders. You’ll get 7 pumps of syrup, but no espresso at this size.
Note: Since an Americano is essentially just espresso and hot water, this drink will have an extra shot of espresso at each size.
Pro Tip: If you want a hot venti drink, but you want to keep your coffee ratio the same, you may want to buy an extra shot of espresso.
Whether you like your coffee creamy, or are looking for a milk-free option, Starbucks has plenty of options. Pick the milk appropriate for your tastebuds and diet:
- Half & half
- Heavy cream
Most Starbucks drinks will come with 2% milk unless you request otherwise.
You can go for a simple cup of joe or cold drink, or you can try out the wide variety of flavors Starbucks offers. Here are some of the flavors available at Starbucks:
- Vanilla syrup (regular or sugar-free)
- Caramel syrup (regular orsugar-free)
- Cinnamon dolce syrup(regular or sugar-free)
- Hazelnut syrup (regular or sugar-free)
- Toffee nut syrup
- Peppermint syrup (regular or sugar-free, available seasonally)
- Raspberry syrup
- Classic syrup (also known as simple syrup)
And then you have the sauces. These are much thicker than flavor shots and mix nicely into hot drinks, and not-so-nicely into cold drinks. Here are the most common sauces:
- Mocha Sauce
- Dark Caramel Sauce
- White Chocolate Mocha Sauce
- Pumpkin Spice Sauce (available seasonally)
Pro tip: An extra flavor shot usually costs around 60 cents. However, most Starbucks won’t charge you extra for syrups that are already in your drink order. For example, if you order a vanilla latte, most baristas will add in an extra shot of vanilla syrup at no extra charge.
Toppings are fun for adults and kids alike. Depending on your order, your drink could come topped with a cold foam, steamed milk foam, whipped cream, drizzles, crumbles, and/or spice. Even if it doesn’t come with topping, you can ask for it as an extra.
Pro tip: Whipped cream in most stores is a free add-on.
Order your best drink:
To order your Starbucks masterpiece like a pro, you can put the drink name in the following order:
- Milk type
- Type of drink (latte, macchiato, tea, etc.)
- Customizations (extra toppings, light ice, no-whip, etc.)
For example, I’d like an Iced Grande Vanilla Soy Latte with Caramel Drizzle.
So, there’s a wrap on what the Starbucks menu has to offer. Let’s take a look at these top of the chart best Starbucks drinks.
|Best Starbucks Drink||Caffeine (Grande Size)||Milk Type||Topping|
|Starbucks Reserve Dark Chocolate Mocha||135 mg||Whole milk||Milk foam|
|Cinnamon Dolce Latte||150 mg||2% milk||Cinnamon Dolce Sprinkles, Whipped cream|
|Toasted White Chocolate Mocha||150 mg||2% milk||Holiday sugar sparkles, Whipped cream|
|Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew||185 mg||Sweet cream splash||None|
|Caramel Macchiato||150 mg||2% milk||Milk foam, Caramel drizzle|
|Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino||95 mg||Whole milk||Mocha drizzle, Whipped cream|
|Nitro Cold Brew||280 mg||None||None|
|Java Chip Frappuccino||105 mg||Whole milk||Mocha drizzle, Whipped cream|
|Vanilla Milk Steamer||0 mg||2% milk||Whipped cream|
|Chestnut Praline Crème||0 mg||2% milk||Chestnut praline topping, Whipped cream|
|Iced Matcha Green Tea Latte||80 mg||2% milk||None (Try a cold foam!)|
|Venti Blonde Roast Filter Coffee||475 mg||None||None|
|Mango Dragonfruit Refresher||45 mg||Coconut milk||None|
|Honey Almond Milk Cold Brew||205 mg||Almond milk||None|
|Butter Beer Frappuccino||0 mg||Whole milk||Whipped cream, Caramel drizzle|
1. Best Overall: Starbucks Reserve Dark Chocolate Mocha
Our best overall goes to the Starbucks Reserve Dark Chocolate Mocha. If you already love Starbucks’s Caffe Mocha, and are a fan of dark chocolate, this variation will make your tastebuds tingle with delight.
The espresso shot uses small-lot Reserve coffee grounds. With Reserve coffee, Starbucks partners with small family-owned coffee growers around the world. These green coffee beans are then roasted at Starbucks Roastery to bring out nuances of flavor.
After your shot is pulled, the barista then adds real cocoa powder and ground chocolate then tops it off with steamed milk. The cocoa and ground chocolate compliment your coffee in the best ways. This drink is more subtle than your regular Caffe Mocha. At the same time, the coffee profile contains more nuances to delight the palate of the coffee connoisseur.
The Starbucks Reserve Dark Chocolate Mocha specialty drink can be found at Reserve locations or at limited Starbucks coffee shops. It might be worth a trip to experience this tasty brew.
2. Best Latte: Cinnamon Dolce Latte
Lattes are some of the most popular drinks on the Starbucks menu. And the Cinnamon Dolce Latte doesn’t get nearly the amount of attention as it deserves. This drink gives you sugar and spice in your cup of coffee. And it is everything nice!
The cinnamon tones down the sweetness of the syrup and adds a nice fall and winter feeling to your drink without going overboard. It’s topped off with whipped cream and cinnamon dolce sprinkles. Delicious!
3. Best Seasonal Drink: Toasted White Chocolate Mocha
Starbucks pull out a lot of fun seasonal drinks to try each year. While the Pumpkin Spice Latte may be the most popular (and possibly most controversial) seasonal drink, Starbucks does offer other selections that take your tastebuds in a fall and winter direction. Peppermint mochas seem like they should be a great idea, but the mint always clashes a bit with the coffee flavor in my cup. However, I do get excited when Starbucks pulls the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha back out of the wraps.
White Chocolate Mocha is one of the most popular Starbucks drinks on the menu. And the “toasted” addition hits the refresh button on this long-time favorite bringing in more new flavors to love. The white chocolate takes on a caramelized flavor, and then you have the creamy whipped cream on top. This delicious drink is topped with Holiday Sugar Sparkles giving you a bit of the “merry and bright” part of Christmas directly in your cup. Toasted White Chocolate Mocha is a Starbucks drink it would be hard not to love.
4. Best Cold Brew: Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew
Cold brew coffees are less acidic and more mellow than your regular cup of coffee. However, the slow-steep brew method will give you more caffeine per ounce. One of my favorite parts of ordering a cold brew is the cold foams you can choose to go with it. The cold foams are whipped so that they sit on top of your brew and then slowly mix into your drink. This is pleasing to the palate and also adds to the aesthetic of your drink.
A grande Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew comes with 2 pumps of vanilla syrup and a splash of sweet cream cold foam. You even get a special lid for this drink that allows you to get an even mix of cold brew and cold foam as you sip. This drink is perfect pick me up on a hot sunny day.
5. Best Hot Drink: Caramel Macchiato
You can’t talk about Starbucks and not mention the Caramel Macchiato. This drink is an iconic Starbucks classic. The macchiato part of the drink is essentially an upside-down latte. The barista pours in the warm milk and caramel first, and then add the shot of espresso over the top.
When poured by experienced hands, the drink will layer into stunning tri-colors. However, (and unfortunately), Starbucks hides the beauty of this drink in a paper cup. The caramel flavor blends nicely into the steamed milk and coffee making this a rich, creamy hot drink in a timeless order. It also makes a tasty iced coffee drink.
6. Best Chocolate Lover’s Drink: Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino
For the chocolate lovers out there, this drink is sure to satisfy the cravings. This drink combines, fun, sweetness, and of course, chocolate. At the bottom of your glass is whipped cream and chocolate cookie crumble. Then a combination of Frappuccino® Roast coffee, mocha sauce, and Frappuccino® chips blended with milk and ice is poured over the top.
This dessert drink is topped with vanilla whipped cream, mocha drizzle, and more chocolate cookie crumble. That’s definitely a load of drinkable chocolate!
7. Best Unsweetened Drink: Nitro Cold Brew
The Nitro Cold Brew is a cold brew coffee that is infused with nitrogen for an even sweeter, smoother brew. You will also get a drink that is higher in caffeine through this process. While a regular grande cold brew contains 205 mg of caffeine, a nitro cold brew of the same size contains 75 mg more!
This drink as-is has only 5 calories and 0 carbs and can be a good healthy (and vegan) choice at Starbucks. If you are not counting calories and carbs, a salted caramel cold foam can top this smooth coffee drink off nicely.
8. Best Frappucino: Java Chip Frappuccino
The Java Chip Frappuccino is basically coffee, chocolate, and drinkable ice cream. With mocha sauce, frappuccino chips, coffee, milk, and ice in your drink, where can you go wrong? The java+mocha frappuccino is then topped off with whipped cream and delicious mocha drizzle to give you arguably the best coffee frapp the Starbucks menu has to offer.
9. Best Kid-Friendly Drink: Vanilla Milk Steamer
This creamy drink makes a kid feel like they are drinking a warm vanilla latte just like you, except the steamer contains no caffiene. This lightly sweetened drink is contains less sugar and less carbs than a white hot chocolate of the same size. It tastes like the bests parts of vanilla bean ice cream in a warm and creamy form.
The Vanilla Milk Steamer is topped off with whipped cream and is a delightful drink for both kids and adults alike.
10. Best Caffeine-free drink: Chestnut Praline Crème
If you are needing to go off caffiene, the Chestnut Praline Creme has a lot of good flavors that help you forget that it has no coffee in it. The drink centers on steamed milk and carmelized flavors of chestnuts and praline crumbs. Whipped cream and spiced praline crumbs finish off this sweetly spiced drink. You get the feeling that you are out a fair that takes place during the Christmas season. The Chesnut Praline Creme only comes out at the holidays, so catch it while you can.
11. Best Tea-lovers drink: Starbucks Iced Matcha Green Tea Latte
For the tea-lovers out there, Starbucks has menu items that are just for you! You can choose from herbal teas, chai lattes, black teas, or green teas. The Matcha Green Tea Latte is a popular choice for both its flavor and its green tea health benefits. A grande size contains 80 mg of caffiene which means that you get a bit of a caffiene boost but this drink shouldn’t leave you wired.
Try topping this iced drink off with a sweet cream cold foam for added deliciousness… because who says a cold foam is just for coffee drinks?
12. Best Caffeine Jolt: Venti Blonde Roast Filter Coffee
If you need a pick me up that socks the caffeine to you, a venti blonde roast filter coffee will do the job. This cup of coffee packs in 475 mg of caffeine making it the strongest hot cup of coffee at Starbucks. You can dilute it a bit with a milk option and/or flavor shot, or just go for straight up caffeinated coffee.
12. Best Vegan Drink: Mango Dragonfruit Refresher with Coconut Milk
Don’t let this fruity drink fool you, it is also a coffee drink in disguise. Not only do you get exotic mango and dragonfruit flavors, but you also get a shot of caffeine from the green coffee powder in this drink (albeit much less than the average cup of joe).
Ask your barista to add in coconut milk to make this drink to add a little creaminess to the drink while preserving the tropical theme. Tik Tok users don’t stop there, but also add in some blended strawberry puree. This drink has just become a dairy-free corner of vegan paradise.
13. Best Healthy Drink: Honey Almond Milk Cold Brew
Many think that eating healthy is synonymous with eating tasteless boring foods. But it doesn’t have to be that way! This drink is full of flavor, and still only racks up 50 calories in a grande size. For comparison, the popular white chocolate mocha of the same size contains 430calories. That’s a big difference!
The Honey Almond milk cold brew takes a gentle twist on the regular smooth cold brew we know and love. You’re adding in a splash of almond milk and 2 shots of Starbucks’ honey blend to achieve this sweet and balanced drink. For just 50 calories, we think it’s a pretty good trade off.
14. Best Starbucks Secret Menu Drink: Butter Beer Frappuccino (inspired by Harry Potter)
The Starbucks Secret Menu is fun for inspiring you with ways to change up your regular order. These drinks were concocted mostly by current and ex-Starbucks baristas. Some drinks off this menu (like the Pink Drink) became so popular that Starbucks added them to the regular menu. We found the Butter Beer Frappuccino off this Secret Menu.
Whether you are a fan of Harry Potter, or just love to feed your sweet tooth a delicious treat, this Butter Beer Frappuccino will be a winning choice. Since it is not a Starbucks regular menu item, you’ll need to save the recipe to let your barista know how to make it.
Here’s how to order a chilly butter beer frapp that would make H.P. proud:
- Ask for a Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino with whole milk (if you want to make it extra-creamy).
- Then add in 3 pumps of toffee-nut syrup and 3 pumps of caramel syrup.
- Top it off with whipped cream and some caramel drizzle.
When we think about it, this drink actually even tastes a bit magical.
The Starbucks menu definitely has plenty of drinks to try and new drinks and Starbucks secret menu concoctions will continue to be added to the mix. We scoured the menu to find the best picks to delight your tastebuds and mesh with your diet goals. We hope this guide helps you pinpoint the best Starbucks coffee drink for you that will rock your world.
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