Starbucks Drinks Simplified

Basic Drinks


Plain black coffee, brewed less than an hour ago. If you want the barista to leave room for you to add milk or half and half, let him know. Also available in decaf and mild.

Iced Coffee

Plain coffee, usually House blend, brewed double-strength so the ice won't dilute it and kept in the fridge. This is not just regular coffee poured over ice.


Starbucks has a lot of varieties of tea: black, green, herbal, blends, decaffeinated, you name it. It's generally priced by the number of tea bags rather than the size of the cup, since hot water doesn't cost much of anything.

Iced Tea

Plain tea brewed at several points during the day and kept in the fridge. Usually available in black and passion (herbal), sweetened or unsweetened (with basic sugar syrup), with or without lemonade added.

Misto / Cafe au Lait

A drink consisting of half coffee, half steamed milk and a bit of foam. It can be made decaf, nonfat, etc. "Misto" is the Starbucks name, cafe au lait is a more generic term.

Espresso Bar Drinks


Espresso, steamed milk, and foam, not sweetened in any way unless you ask for syrup or sugar in it.


Like a latte, only much more foam; normally half milk half foam, unless "wet" or "dry" is specified (see below). This is also not sweetened, and an "iced cappuccino" doesn't really exist at Starbucks. Since iced drinks are made without foam, an iced cappuccino is the same as an iced latte.

Caramel Macchiato

Basically, a vanilla latte with a bit less vanilla and extra foam, and with gooey, yummy caramel sauce drizzled on top. If it doesn't taste sweet enough when you first try it, mix it up a bit. If it's still not sweet enough, ask for more vanilla -- caramel sauce doesn't really dissolve well, so by the time it strongly flavors the drink there's way too much. Iced caramel macchiatos, like hot ones, have the shots and caramel poured on top, so when you get it it won't look mixed at all. Just make sure you stir it before you drink. Macchiato, by the way, is pronounced "mah-kee-YAH-toe."


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 ordered hasn't finished brewing and you don't want to wait for it, the barista may offer you an Americano instead.


Espresso and steamed milk mixed with chocolate and served with whipped cream on top. Despite being chocolatey, these are not terribly sweet; if you don't want to taste the espresso, ask for flavor syrup or sugar to be added, or try one of the other mocha drinks instead. Also, these are not blended. If you're looking for one of those milkshake-looking things, you want a mocha Frappuccino.

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.

Mocha Valencia

A mocha with Valencia (orange) syrup and an extra espresso shot added, with whipped cream and orangey sprinkles on top. These taste like the chocolate oranges you can buy in various stores. This doesn't appear on the menu as often as it used to, so newer baristas may not be familiar with the exact recipe.

Cinnamon Spice Mocha

A mocha with cinnamon syrup added, served with foam and cinnamon on top rather than whipped cream. They have less chocolate than regular mochas, to keep them from being like Mocha Valencias (i.e., so sweet that an extra shot has to be added to balance it). This has also been off the menu for some time, so newer baristas may give you a blank look if you order it.

Toffee Nut Latte

A latte flavored with the new Toffee Nut syrup, which tastes, well, toffee-like. Similar to a combination of hazelnut and vanilla. Served with whipped cream and crunchy toffee sprinkles. While originally introduced as a winter seasonal drink, it seems to be a permanent addition to the menu.


Just espresso. A solo espresso is a single shot, which is a bit less than an ounce. A doppio espresso is two shots. A triple espresso is three, and a quad shot is four (and only for the brave).

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. Ordered by the number of shots, rather than cup size.

Non-Espresso Bar Drinks

Hot Chocolate

Chocolate and steamed milk, with a little vanilla added because the mocha syrup is not very sweet, and served with whipped cream.

Steamed Milk

Just steamed milk, usually with a dollop of foam on top. Usually these are ordered with flavor syrup added, which used to be called a "steamer" but is now a "creme".

Vanilla Creme

Steamed milk with vanilla syrup and whipped cream. Not to be confused with the Vanilla Creme Frappuccino, which is a cold, blended drink.

Chai Latte

Sweetened Chai syrup (tea and spices) added to steamed milk. If you don't want it so sweet or so milky, you can also get Chai made with a tea bag -- black tea and spices, none of that sweetened syrup stuff. There is caffeine in both versions, since it's made with black tea. These taste really good with chocolate (surprisingly enough) or just one pump of gingerbread syrup.

Steamed Cider

Apple juice / cider (not sure what the distinction is) steamed to a nice hot temperature. You can also get just plain, cold, apple juice.

Caramel Apple Cider

Steamed cider with cinnamon syrup, whipped cream, and caramel sauce. Sweeter (and pricier) than plain steamed cider.

Coffee-Based Blended Drinks

Coffee Frappuccino

A pre-made coffee / sweetener base blended with ice, resulting in kind of a milkshake looking concoction. Normally served without whipped cream unless it's requested. All coffee-based Frappuccinos are available in decaffeinated form.

Mocha Frappuccino

A coffee Frappuccino with chocolate syrup mixed in, normally served without whipped cream unless it's requested.

Caramel Frappuccino

A coffee Frappuccino with caramel syrup added, served with whipped cream and caramel sauce drizzled on top. One of the sweetest coffee-based Frappuccinos, and also one of the most popular.

Java Chip Frappuccino

A mocha Frappuccino with chocolate chip-like things blended in, served with whipped cream and chocolate drizzled on top.

White Mocha Frappuccino

A coffee Frappuccino with white mocha syrup mixed in.

Espresso Frappuccino

A coffee Frappuccino with a shot of espresso added. Actually, any Frappuccino can have shots added (it costs extra, just like adding a shot to any other drink). A more recent (and tastier, in my opinion) way to add caffeine is to order a Frappuccino 'affogato style' -- meaning, with an espresso shot and mocha or caramel on top.

Creme-Based Blended Drinks

Vanilla Creme Frappuccino

Basically, a vanilla milkshake. This is a base of nonfat milk and soy (to thicken it) blended with vanilla syrup and ice, with whipped cream on top. No coffee, no caffeine. Other syrup flavors can be used instead of vanilla; mint works well, as does Valencia (orange).

Chocolate Creme Frappuccino

A creme Frappuccino made with chocolate instead of vanilla. Like a chocolate milkshake, or a mocha Frappuccino without the coffee.

Green Tea Frappuccino

A creme Frappuccino made with green tea flakes. Tasty, very green, and probably seasonal. The green tea may add some caffeine.

Chai Creme Frappuccino

A creme Frappuccino made with the same Chai syrup used to make the Chai latte, with whipped cream on top. These have caffeine, since there's black tea in the syrup.



8 oz. The smallest size Starbucks offers, but you'll probably only get this size if you ask for it by name; anyone asking for a "small" will get a Tall, which is the smallest size for which the prices are actually on the menu. Only hot drinks can be served in the Short size.


12 oz. This is what you'll get if you ask for a "small" drink.


16 oz. This is the "medium" size. Pronounced "GRAWN-day."


20 oz. hot, 24 oz. cold. For some reason the iced Venti cups hold four more ounces; for this reason, Venti espresso drinks have an extra shot of espresso in them, and cost a few cents more than their hot equivalents. Pronounced "VENN-tee," and reportedly means twenty in Italian.



Made with decaffeinated espresso, pulled from decaffeinated espresso beans. This doesn't mean caffeine free, but there's very very little caffeine in a decaf drink.


Made with half regular, half decaf espresso.

Espresso Shots


Made with just one shot of espresso. This is the normal amount for all Tall-sized drinks except Mocha Valencias and Americanos.


Made with two shots. This is the normal amount for all Grande- and hot Venti-sized drinks except Mocha Valencias and Americanos. Also the normal amount for Tall-sized Mocha Valencias and Americanos.


Made with three shots. This is the normal amount for Grande- and Venti-sized Mocha Valencias and Americanos. Also the normal amount for most iced Venti-sized drinks.


Made with four shots. Hope you weren't planning on sleeping anytime soon.


This is so rarely requested that even many baristas don't recognize it. A normal shot of espresso takes about twenty seconds to pull; a ristretto shot is stopped at fifteen seconds, making a slightly smaller, less bold shot.

Flavor Syrup


Flavor syrup can be added to any drink, including regular coffee, frappuccinos, iced tea and Chai. The syrup is basically sugar water with some kind of flavoring, and is usually mixed in the following amounts: 3 pumps in a Tall, 4 in a Grande, 5 in a hot Venti, 6 in an Iced Venti. Caramel macchiatos have one pump less in each size. Coffee-based Frappuccinos get one pump in a Tall or Grande, two in a Venti. The famed Gingerbread Latte, a latte flavored with gingerbread syrup, is only available during the holidays. Year-round syrups include vanilla, sugar-free vanilla, hazelnut, sugar-free hazelnut, Irish creme, almond, mint, Valencia (orange), raspberry, caramel, and toffee nut.



All normal bar drinks can be made with nonfat milk instead of whole. Blended drinks are made from pre-mixed concentrate, so the milk can't be changed, but most are fairly low in fat anyway, especially if you skip the whipped cream.

Lowfat / "Percent"

Drinks can also be made with lowfat milk, which is actually a 50-50 mixture of whole and nonfat. Be aware, this may require the barista to steam two separate pitchers of milk if it's a hot drink, so it may take a bit longer.


Made with half and half instead of regular milk. This makes it a bit thicker, a bit sweeter, a bit more expensive and a lot more fattening.


Depending on your location, you may be able to order a drink with soy milk rather than regular milk. It's pretty good, even if you don't have dietary/religious reasons for avoiding cow milk. It does cost extra, though.


Some stores also have organic milk available. It'll cost extra, and they may have to go looking for it, since almost no one orders it (in my area at least).


This is the vital component of the much-anticipated holiday drink, the eggnog latte. It's only available during the winter; see Seasonal and Discontinued Drinks for details.



Lattes and caramel macchiatos are served with a certain amount of fluffy foamed milk on top. You can always ask for more or less, or no foam at all.

Wet / Dry

Cappuccinos are made with much more foam than lattes; Starbucks standards dictate half milk, half foam. A dry cappuccino has more foam, a wet cappuccino has less. There's a fine line between a very wet cappuccino and an extra-foam latte.

Whipped Cream

Whipped cream is made fresh in the store every day, and it's yummy. Mochas, white mochas, and vanilla cremes automatically come with whip; most other things don't. If you really want whip, or really don't, make sure to tell the barista when you order, because it's a lot easier to write it on the cup than it is to take it off or add it once the drink has been made. And also realize that whipped cream is quite laden with calories; getting your mocha made with non-fat milk doesn't do you much good when you triple the amount of calories with a dollop of whip.

Extra Hot

Some people like their drinks extra extra piping hot. Others just want it to still be drinkable an hour later. In any case, if you order something extra hot, don't drink it too fast, because it could be up to or possibly over 170 degrees. Anything over that is technically scalding the milk, but if you want it at 180, go ahead and specify that.

140 degrees

No, this is not the newest boy band. If you find normal drinks too hot to drink, and want to save your tastebuds from a fiery death, order your drink at a hundred and forty degrees -- this is still quite warm, but not tongue-roasting.


By Starbucks rules, any drink that's going to be served to a child must be no hotter than 130 degrees. Keep this in mind when you go cheap and order the $1.00 kid's hot chocolate.

Sugar / Sweet 'n' Low / Equal / Splenda

Baristas are prohibited from adding anything you hand them to your drinks, but the various sweeteners available on the condiment bar are also stocked near the espresso bar, so you can ask to have two Equals, or three sugar packets, or whatever, added to your drink while it's being made. This mixes it in better and saves you time, plus it doesn't cost extra.

Caramel Sauce

There's two forms of caramel flavoring: caramel syrup, which is the sugar water stuff used to flavor caramel Frappuccinos, and caramel sauce, which is gooey, genuine caramel. This is drizzled on top of caramel Frappuccinos, caramel macchiatos, caramel mochas and caramel apple ciders. You can ask for it on other stuff, but be sure to specify sauce rather than syrup, and it may cost you extra.


Just about all drinks can be served over ice rather than steamed. Iced and blended is a whole different thing -- those are Frappuccinos. Taking a regular iced mocha, for example, and blending it, does not work. Also, iced Venti-sized drinks cost a bit more and have an extra shot, because iced Venti cups contain four more ounces than hot Venti cups.

Extra Ice / Light Ice

Depending on your iced beverage preferences, you can always ask for more or less ice than usual. You know. Just because.

Upside Down

This pertains to caramel macchiatos -- normally these are made with the shots and caramel dropped on top. Making one upside down means that it'll be more thorougly mixed, and the caramel melted a bit.

Double Blended

Double-blending a Frappuccino makes it smoother and more liquid.

Seasonal Drinks

Eggnog Latte

Probably the most widely-anticipated winter holiday drink. People start asking about it in September, but on average these aren't sold until mid-November sometime. The drink is real eggnog, mixed with a tiny bit of milk to help it steam (Don't bother asking for non-fat. Trust me on this.), espresso, and nutmeg on top. Eggnog makes a hell of a racket when it's steamed -- sounds like an F-16 taking off, so be ready to plug your ears if you're lurking near the espresso bar.

Eggnog Frappuccino

Almost never ordered, since most people don't know it exists, but this is available whenever the 'nog latte is. It's basically a coffee Frappuccino made with more eggnog than Frap base, and served with whipped cream and nutmeg.

Gingerbread Latte

Another classic Christmas drink, which if ordered nonfat and without whipped cream is much healthier than the eggnog latte. A basic latte flavored with Gingerbread syrup, and topped with whipped cream and nutmeg.

Peppermint Mocha

Introduced during the 2002-2003 holiday season, this is a mocha with peppermint flavoring syrup, served with whipped cream and little red sprinkles. May be available year-round, depending on the store.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate with peppermint syrup, whipped cream, and red sprinkles.

Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino

A mocha Frappuccino with peppermint syrup blended in, whipped cream, and those ubiquitous red sprinkles.

Graveyard of Discontinued Drinks - these are no longer available


These blended, fruit-flavored, Italian ice-style drinks were available at some point before my time. Rumors vary as to why they're not carried anymore, but if you were hoping for one of these, you're several years too late.


A berry / tea concentrate blended with ice, usually served without whipped cream. It tastes kind of like a berry Slurpee would, if there were real berries and a hint of tea in it. All of the Tazo blended drinks contained caffeine from the tea, and were not available in decaffeinated form.

Tazoberry and Cream

A Tazoberry with, well, cream added. These were sweeter and lighter in color than regular Tazoberries, and served with whipped cream.

Tazo Citrus

A orange / lime / green tea concentrate blended with ice, usually served without whipped cream.

Tazo Citrus and Cream

A Tazo Citrus with cream added. These were sweeter and lighter in color than regular Tazo Citruses, served with whipped cream, and tasted kinda like an Orange Julius would taste if it were made with real oranges.

Raspberry Mocha Chip Frappuccino

This was available durring the summer of 2001, but was discontinued in the following months. It was like a Java Chip Frappuccino, only instead of the usual chocolate chunks blended in, there were special raspberry-flavored chocolate chunks. Served with whipped cream and such. A lot of people, including your truly, are still annoyed at Starbucks for getting rid of this drink.

Chocolate Brownie Frappuccino

A Mocha Frappuccino with chocolate chunks blended in, served with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate on top. These have been replaced with the very-similar Java Chip Frappuccino.


A deeply missed beverage. A Chantico was a very concentrated hot chocolate -- it has been compared to drinking brownie batter. Special 6-ounce cups were made for it, since few people could drink any more than that. Extremely rich, very sugary, and loaded with calories. Introduced during late Winter 2005, when Starbucks was making a push to get more people in during dessert hours, the Chantico's failure may be due in part to its low sales during the summer months.

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