The Best Starbucks Drinks

Barista pouring coffee
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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 many coffee 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. And yet, where do you begin? 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. What you enjoy most may not be what someone else likes. There's a lot to choose from, so the chances of 10 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 perfect beginner's drink for any new coffee drinker because it's a combination of coffee and steamed milk with your choice of flavored syrup.

  • Cinnamon, caramel, and vanilla are popular syrups and great for your first latte.
  • You can order the latte warm or iced, depending on your mood.

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 to the coast in Seattle. Iced lattes are preferred in the South and, quite appropriately, 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 their own preferences.

In Italy, espresso is typically considered to be the best coffee drink, while in France, cafè au lait is more popular. These are general preferences for coffee and are not exclusive to Starbucks. Depending on where you live, there will be new favorites.

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

Starbucks Drinks You Have to Try

The menu at Starbucks changes quite a bit and there is a lot to choose from. Though everyone's taste will be slightly different, here are some of the best drinks that make a regular appearance on most Starbucks menus.

  • Any Standard Espresso Drink: The baristas at Starbucks pull a mean shot of espresso and you really cannot go wrong with any of the popular espresso drinks. From a doppio (double shot) of espresso to a cappuccino, or even a caffè Americano, they're all good.
  • Frappuccino: 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.'
  • Cafe 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, quite simply, a 1-to-1 mix of fresh-brewed coffee and your favorite steamed milk. You can order it in any size you like, but the grande is recommended. It's the middle size (venti is the largest) and is not too much or too little coffee.
  • Seasonal Lattes: This is where Starbucks really shines, particularly when autumn and winter come around. If you are dying for a Pumpkin Spiced Latte, don't miss Starbucks' version (or the Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino). As the holidays near, you'll find Chestnut Praline Lattes, Gingerbread Lattes, Eggnog Lattes, or whatever they come up with this year on the menu as well.
  • Peppermint White Hot Chocolate: Starbucks doesn't just serve coffee drinks. Their hot chocolate is pretty good, too. This is one of the best because it's a fun twist on the average cocoa recipe. It uses white chocolate mocha sauce, peppermint syrup, and steamed milk. It's great for those late winter nights when your sweet tooth hits.
  • Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato: Drinks like this are so much better when someone else makes them for you because there is some fuss that goes into it. Yet, it's worth it and that's why it's a hidden gem on the Starbucks menu. It 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.
  • Complex Iced Lattes: Beyond hot espresso drinks and Frappuccinos, Starbucks is really good at making iced coffee drinks. The menu is so vast in this area that it's hard to place a bad order. Yet, look beyond the standard iced lattes and order up something special (the more words in the name, the better). Some favorites include the Iced Caramelized Honey Latte, Iced Cinnamon Dolce Latte, and the Iced Chile Mocha.