We’ve all seen a hundred posts about the supposed ‘Starbucks secret menu’ — a list of everything from super-fancy Frappuccino flavors to secret sizes. Unfortunately, for the most part, those are really just lists of big misconceptions. The truth about the so-called secret menu at Starbucks is that for a very long time, Starbucks baristas have been inventing their own flavor combinations and drink recipes. And once in a while, they get so popular that most baristas have heard of them — and that’s all the secret menu really is. Which means, of course, that you will not be able to order your secret menu item at every location, since the baristas there may have no idea what you’re talking about. The ingredients may not even be available all the time (many syrups are seasonal) or at every store. And that oh-so-secret ‘short’ size that secret menu drinkers get to smug about? That’s, well, not a secret. It’s just the grown-up name for the kid size cup, and it’s commonly ordered.
If that’s disappointing, don’t worry. Because I’m here to teach how you can actually order your favorite made-up flavors, and a few other little-known tricks and recipes that will save you the embarrassment of proudly ordering a Captain Crunch Frappuccino and getting nothing but a blank stare in return. Plus, how to order without annoying your barista, which saves both of you time and energy. Remember, Starbucks baristas deal with some of the worst rude behavior, so they’ll appreciate someone who knows what they’re doing.
Know How to Get What You Really Want
Want your caramel machiatto mixed up? Order it upside-down. Going to put a lot of milk in your hot or iced coffee? Order a tall in a grande cup, with room at the top (or a grande in a venti). In hot drinks, a grande and a venti are both made with two espresso shots — so order a grande for a stronger espresso flavor. Want your Frappucino extra smooth? Order it double-blended, or with whipped cream blended in the cup. Your can order your added shot in your Frappuccino floating on top, instead of blended in. Order your chai with no water, to make it creamier, or add an espresso shot to it (just ask for a ‘dirty chai’). You can order your iced tea combined with other iced tea flavors, such as half Passion and half black. Order your hot chocolate without the added pump of vanilla if you like it more bittersweet. You can order any flavor of Frappuccino with java chips, matcha, or espresso beans blended in. And my two favorite tricks? Order a Frappuccino blended with a banana instead of the sticky Frappuccino base. You’ll have to pay for the banana, but it cuts way down on the sugar content and still blends smoothly. And you can order an instant oatmeal cup with a pump of vanilla if you want to sweeten it a little, or order it made with hot milk to make it creamy.
Know Your Flavors
All you have to do if you want a fancy recipe drink is know what you’re ordering. If it’s particularly complicated, it’s a good idea to write down the recipe, stick it in your wallet and then just hand it to the barista. It will save you both time. Keep in mind that you will be charged for all the extra syrups and add-ins.
- French Vanilla Latte: One/two pumps Hazelnut added to Vanilla Latte
- Captain Crunch Crunchberries Frappuccino: Toffee Nut Syrup added to Strawberries N’ Cream Frappucino, add Java Chips optional
- Cookies N’ Cream Frappucino: Add Java Chips to Vanilla Bean Frappucino OR Add Vanilla Bean to Double Chocolate Chip Frappucino
- Grasshopper Frappucino: Add Java Chips, One Pump Mocha, One Pump Peppermint to Green Tea Frappuccino
- Banana Cream Pie Frappucino: Add a Banana to Vanilla Bean Frappucino (substitute for Frappucino base if desired)
- Undertow: two pumps Vanilla in a short cup, half n’ half 2/3 of the way up, two shots espresso poured over a spoon to float on top. Drink it like a shooter.
- Starbucks Double Shot: in a grande size, four pumps classic syrup, three or four shots espresso, half and half, ice to top.
- Pumpkin Pie Frappucino: Add chai to a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino
- Orange Creamsicle Frappucino: Frappuccino made with Orange Mango juice (or Valencia syrup where available) and Vanilla Bean
- Nutella Frappucino: Add Hazelnut to a Chocolate Cream Frappuccino (no Java Chips)
Want to order something not on the list? Check out this handy website, which offers barista-created recipes for all kinds of fun drinks.