The Best Starbucks Drinks

Barista pouring coffee
Ramin Talaie / Contributor/ Getty Images

You are not alone if you entered a Starbucks for the first time and had no idea what to order. The menu is vast and there are a long list of drinks to choose from. Once you hear someone order their "Venti caramel waffle cone creme soy Frappuccino, whipless," your mind is boggled. What do you do?

While you can simply order a "tall" (that's the smallest size at Starbucks) cup of drip coffee, the coffee house has so much more to offer. These tips will help you narrow down your choices.

What Is the Best Drink at Starbucks?

The question of which is the best drink on the Starbucks menu is subjective. There's a lot to choose from, so the chances of ten people in the same Starbucks ordering the same drink is not likely.

What we can tell you is which drinks are the most popular. In America, that has to be the flavored caffè​ lattes. It's a combination of espresso and steamed milk with your choice of flavored syrup such as caramel, vanilla, and cinnamon. It's a perfect beginner's drink for any new coffee drinker and can be ordered hot or iced.

Illustration for The Most Popular Drinks at Starbucks
Illustration: Catherine Song. © The Spruce, 2018

Starbucks Drinks You Have to Try

Though everyone's taste is slightly different, here are some of the best drinks that make a regular appearance on most Starbucks menus. Remember that most drinks can be ordered hot or cold, nondairy milks are available, and you can often adjust the sweetness levels. Don't be afraid to talk to your barista to figure out the perfect drink for you.

  • Frappuccinos: A signature drink of the coffee house franchise, you cannot find a true Frappuccino anywhere else. The freshly-blended, chilled Frappuccinos are nothing like the bottled version you can buy at the market, so be sure to order one during one of your visits. They come in a variety of flavors from green tea to peppermint and java chip to strawberry. Each is served with a healthy dollop of whipped cream, though you can go "whipless."
  • Seasonal Lattes: This is where Starbucks really shines, particularly when autumn and winter come around. If you are dying for a pumpkin spice latte (PSL), don't miss Starbucks' version. As the holidays near, you'll find flavor options like chestnut praline, gingerbread, and eggnog.
  • Espresso: If you like your coffee drinks strong, go for espresso. Choose a doppio (double shot) of espresso or caffè Americano for a straightforward drink or a cappuccino for some added foamy milk of your choice.
  • Caffè Misto: Starbucks brewed coffee is good, but if you want to ramp up your order just a little bit, try a Caffè Misto. It is a one-to-one mix of fresh-brewed coffee and your favorite steamed milk.
  • Peppermint White Hot Chocolate: In addition to coffee, Starbucks serves hot chocolate. This version uses white chocolate mocha sauce, peppermint syrup, and steamed milk. It's great for those winter nights when your sweet tooth hits.
  • Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato: This fun drink combines Sumatran coconut milk with white chocolate mocha and espresso. The caramel drizzle is just the icing on the cake and it's a great drink year-round.
  • Iced Lattes: Beyond hot espresso drinks and Frappuccinos, Starbucks is really good at making iced coffee drinks. Some favorites include caramel brûlée, vanilla, and hazelnut.

Starbucks Around the World

It's important to remember that Starbucks is everywhere, so there are some regional preferences when it comes to the most popular drinks. For instance, polls have shown that the Frappuccino is popular in California while espresso is the drink of choice up the coast in Seattle. Iced lattes are preferred in the South and warm lattes are hotter in the North.

Starbucks is also a worldwide chain of coffee houses and the menus do change from country to country. Each country also has its own preferences. In Italy, espresso is typically considered to be the best coffee drink, while in France, cafè au lait is more popular.