My Guide to Starbucks

As anyone who is even remotely close to me knows, I am a Starbucks addict. I am that person whose order is ridiculously long, so long that the baristas ask me to repeat it twice. Because of my “extensive knowledge of the Starbucks menu,” as one person referred to it, my friends often ask me what to get. I’ve decided to compile here a list of my favorites, based on your current favorites.

If you like caramel apple spice but can’t handle the calories…

Try an apple chai infusion (also called an apple chai). This is currently my favorite. It seems to be the baristas’ current favorite too…last time I ordered it a barista across the store yelled “OMG IT’S LIKE THE TASTE OF FALL IN A CUP.” Um, okay. Glad someone gets as excited as I do. Basically, it’s a chai tea bag brewed in apple juice instead of water. It has the spice of apple cider but without the cals of the caramel-ey business. Be warned, it’s not as sweet as the cider. To sweeten it up, I order it with whipped cream. (You can splurge on the whipped cream!)

If you’re a chai latte person…

Mix things up and get a chai latte with raspberry syrup. I’ve been a huge vanilla chai person for a long time, but sometimes I’m feeling something different and still non-coffee. The raspberry is a perfect sweet compliment to the sharp, almost peppery taste of the chai. Yum. For something more wintery and still different, I also like ordering a chai latte with hazelnut syrup.

If you enjoy Refreshers…

Very Berry:
I have a couple of suggestions. For me, the Very Berry Refresher is just lacking. I know it’s supposed to be healthy, but why would I come to Starbucks for healthy if it doesn’t taste good? I ask for the Very Berry Refresher with raspberry syrup. It’s what I feel the VBR would have tasted like had they not sucked out the sugar to make it healthy. Another favorite of mine, even more so than the raspberry addition, is the Very Berry Refresher with lemonade in place of water. Yes, that’s exactly how you order it. The first time I ordered it, upon recommendation from someone else I know, the barista had no idea what I was talking about. I felt awesome for confusing a barista with my order (a sign of the severity of my addiction). If you explain, though, they usually understand. They make refreshers with water, so you just ask them to dilute the refresher stuff with lemonade instead. The result is delicious berry lemonade that’s…you guessed it…refreshing.

Cool Lime
The Cool Lime Refresher bores me too. Even more so than Very Berry. For something really different, try ordering a Cool Lime Refresher with Strawberry Puree. It looks a little weird, but it tastes like a strawberry limeade. AND you’re getting some fraction of a serving of fruit since there’s real strawberry in it… take that, haters.

Valencia Orange:
IMHO, someone at Starbucks finally got the Refresher recipe right with Valencia Orange. I like it plain. Regardless, if you’re wanting something out of the box, try a Valencia Orange Refresher with raspberry syrup. You’re probably thinking, “Does Taylor just add raspberry syrup to everything?” Awkward. I actually didn’t realize how many of my secret menu faves had raspberry syrup. Anyway, the combo tastes kinda a sour patch kid, which means I’ve obviously ruined any nutritional merit the VOR had. Oops.

If you like hot tea

Try an awake tea latte with vanilla syrup. The vanilla is an awesome compliment to the awake tea’s strong English Breakfast-ey flavor. It warms you up and feels like you’re ordering a “real drink at Starbucks” instead of just a hot tea. I like to get it with skim milk or soy milk to make it less heavy and a little better for you.

If you’re looking for a new latte

My winter favorite is a white chocolate mocha with peppermint syrup. It tastes like peppermint bark (yes yes yes) and adds something to the typical white chocolate mocha. It’s also fantastic in the summer over ice.

If you’re one of those people who only do crème frappuccinos…

You must try the snickerdoodle frappuccino. While some baristas might know the ingredients, order it as a chai crème frappuccino with cinnamon dolce syrup. It LITERALLY tastes like a snickerdoodle cookie. I can DRINK a cookie. Heaven.

And for those of you that would prefer to stick with your own picks…. here’s some general Starbucks wisdom:

  • Order any iced drink with “light ice.” Light ice means, obviously, that they add less ice so you’re getting a cup that’s actually more than half full of the drink you’re paying for and not just a cup of ice.
  • Order any latte with skim or soy milk. You probably won’t really notice the difference (I don’t!) and you’ll save a ton of calories. We all know its the sugary syrup and the espresso that’s the best part anyhow.
  • Same goes for ordering a drink without whipped cream. Often, the fraps come with it, and skipping the whip can let you enjoy your favorite frappucino without trashing your New Years’ resolution.
  • When in doubt, ask the barista if they have any favorites! Many of my favorites above have come from friends who are baristas or from asking the staff when I go to Starbucks.

I hope you enjoy! Starbucks may be a little overpriced and over-hyped, but with these hacks, at least you can feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

Stay warm and caffeinated. 🙂


Photos courtesy of:,,,,,

5 thoughts on “My Guide to Starbucks

  1. Pingback: Starbucks, Springtime, and Real Happiness | Pinstripes&Lipgloss

  2. Pingback: A Reintroduction | Pinstripes&Lipgloss

  3. Pingback: A Reintroduction - A Cup of Tay

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