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Understanding Starbucks Speak.

Updated on August 31, 2012

I'll have an iced grande white chocolate raspberry chip frappuccino with non-fat whipped cream...

Okay, that's not really what I order at Starbucks, and ordering at Starbucks really isn't that complicated. There's a method to ordering which can make your order easy to understand, so the barista can make your drink as quickly as possible.

First thing's first.

Decide what you want.

  • Brewed coffee
  • Tea
  • Espresso drinks (lattes, cappucinos, etc.)
  • Non-espresso drinks (hot chocolate, caramel apple cider)
  • Cold drinks (coffee drinks or creme drinks)

Tell the barista if you want a hot or an iced drink.

There are 4 sizes for hot drinks drinks: short - 8 oz., tall - 12 oz., grande - 16 oz., venti - 20 oz.. There are only 3 sizes for iced drinks: tall - 12 oz., grande - 16 oz., and venti - 24 oz..

Then tell the barista what size you want.

If you say that you want an "iced grande ..." the barista should already be reaching for the 16 ounce plastic cup for iced drinks.

Now, what are you drinking? So many choices!

  • Brewed coffee, coffee of the week. (Don't forget to ask to leave room for cream if you want it!)
  • Tea. Starbucks offers green tea, black tea, or herbal blends. If you order the 2 smaller hot drinks, you get 1 tea bag. If you order the bigger hot drinks, you get 2. If you want iced tea, they will shake it with water, lemonade, and their sweetener syrup, unless you specify that you want it unsweetened.
  • Espresso drinks. Cappucinos and lattes are espresso drinks blended with steamed milk. I believe cappucinos have less milk than lattes.
  • Non-espresso drinks. The caramel apple cider is a delicious drink for fall!
  • Cold drinks. Frappucinos are blended coffee or creme drinks, like a milk shake. Iced drinks are made the same way as a hot drink, but are then served over ice cubes. (Not blended.)

If you are ordering an espresso drink, and are looking for "extra" caffeine, you'll have to order an "extra" shot. Just because it comes in a bigger cup, doesn't mean that it's got more caffeine.

Short and tall espresso drinks come with one shot. Grande and venti drinks come with two shots. An iced venti comes with 3 shots. If you want an extra shot or shots, you can specify it at the beginning of your order by saying "double," "triple," or "quad."

So if you want an iced grande mocha, but you want one extra shot, you would ask for a "triple iced grande mocha ."

Insert the name of your beverage into your drink order and specify if you want any additional shots of espresso.

Where I think drink ordering gets complicated is all the customization. You can specify if you want flavored syrups - vanilla, hazelnut, French vanilla, mocha, cinnamon dolce, toffee nut, raspberry, melon, or caramel. Some of the syrups do come in sugar-free varieties, so be sure to ask, and make sure that you specify sugar-free when ordering. There is an extra charge for adding syrup.

Here are some examples of what you might hear:

Triple grande mocha. (That's what I always get. A grande espresso and chocolate drink with an extra shot of espresso. That's where the "triple" comes in, remember?)

Grande Java Chip Frappucino. (That one's easy; it's right on the menu board.)

Skinny Vanilla Latte. (Latte with sugar free vanilla syrup and nonfat milk.)

Iced tall black tea, unsweetened. (Black tea, on ice, no sweetener.)

Iced quad venti caramel macchiato with whipped cream. (Caramel macchiato with an extra shot of espresso, served on ice, with whipped cream on top.)

Tall Pumpkin Spice latte. (Starbucks always has "seasonal" drinks such as Pumpkin Spice, Gingerbread, and Chocolate Peppermint.)

Double tall raspberry mocha with whipped cream. (A 12 oz. mocha with raspberry syrup, an extra shot of espresso, and whipped cream on top.)

Choose the type of milk or non-dairy creamer you want. Some milks/creamers may be an additional charge. Your options are whole, 2%, nonfat, breve (half and half), heavy whipping cream, soy milk, and organic milk. You can also make your drink "skinny" - which means nonfat milk and sugar-free syrup.

You can also add whipped cream to any drink at no charge.

Customize your drink with milk, syrups, and whipped cream.

It sounds difficult, but here's the trick - once you have your drink recipe all made up, ask the barista if they have any drink cards. Most stores have these by the register. You can write down your drink and refer to it when you order later. Some people just hand their card right to the barista as they order.

Remember these 4 steps:

  1. Iced or hot (if you're not ordering a blended drink)
  2. Size (short, tall, grande, venti)
  3. Beverage (coffee, mocha, latte, frappucino)
  4. Customize (shots of espresso, milks, syrups)

And don't forget, when you're ordering, be polite. Speak directly to the barista, and look at them when you talk. Sometimes Starbucks can be very busy and crowded, so you want to make sure the person making your drink hears you. If the barista passes your drink order on to someone else, they should call out and repeat the order so you can hear it. When they hand you your drink, they'll probably repeat it one more time. When you get your drink, taste it. If it's not what you ordered, let them know, and I'm sure they'd be happy to make it right.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Iced grande double chochelte chip frappe

    • Three-Legged Dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Three-Legged Dog 

      7 years ago from USA

      Probably a mocha frappucino with whipped cream... if it's blended like a milkshake. Or an iced mocha if it's just a coffee/chocolate drink with whipped cream. :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What the hell is a cold chocolate called topped with whipped cream

    • Three-Legged Dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Three-Legged Dog 

      7 years ago from USA

      LOL... I don't think ordering at Starbucks needs to be all that complicated. If you're really concerned about whether or not your soy milk is organic or at which temperature it's stored, ASK YOUR SERVER, of course!

      This post wasn't intended to be a collegiate-level Starbucks ordering course, I was just sharing what I know from being a customer. One regular customer to other customers, that's all. Not claiming to be an expert or an employee of the place.

      I did mention customizing, iced drinks, syrups, etc. And I'm pretty sure that every Starbucks has a menu board for customers to peruse - so they can see what teas are offered, what seasonal drinks are available, and what goes in each drink if they need any clarification before placing their order.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Needs more info. I still don't understand anything any better than before...and I work at a Barnes & Noble! To avoid confusion, I generally just order coffee or tea. Here are my questions:

      1) Are there any other espresso drinks other than cappucinos and lattes? And specifically how much do they differ?

      2)In what drinks do you usually ask for extra espresso shots?

      3)When do you ask for flavored syrups?

      4)What are the other non-espresso drinks? I believe there are a lot more than just caramel apple cider. What is in the drinks? This area is the most confusing of all.

      5)Be more specific about what Frappucinos are: What does "blended coffee" mean? What is it blended with? What is a "creme" drink?

      6)Aren't there other drinks not covered here? Like smoothies? What is in them? And aren't there things they add to them, like Whey powder? What are all the choices?

      7)What flavors of tea do they have, exactly? and what can you get iced? Can you get iced with unsweetened lemonade?

      8)What is their sweetener syrup made from? What kind of sweetener is used for sugar-free?

      9)Is the organic milk whole, 2%, 1%, or skim?

      10)Is the soy milk organic?

      11)How exactly are the mochas made? with brewed coffee or syrup? How many varieties of mochas are there? How can I customize them?

      12)What about hot chocolate?

      13)What are their seasonal drinks, and what is in them?

      14)What drinks can you get "iced"?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hey, I like your post. And I like the idea of you sharing what you know to the people who are probably into the same thing but don't know that much (like me). This would help and I will definitely try what you suggested. Keep it up. Thanks for sharing!

    • drej2522 profile image


      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Peppermint Mocha Trio...iced!

    • mrozlat profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      i usually just point and grunt... works for me :)

    • Eaglekiwi profile image


      9 years ago from -Oceania

      Hi there

      I love coffee ( maybe a lil too much ) and trained to become a Barista....I enjoyed learning the history ,since my first attempts at actually rolling the milk were ,well pretty pathetic....but alas persistance paid off and ....its all become fun

      The very best customer I like is the one who uses very little jargon

      theres the lady who likes cappacino but in a latte glass

      then the student who wants a double shot at a single shot price

      aww I love it all

      btw best coffee is always made with 'fresh beans' ( 3days from opening) no matter the fancy name , make sure its fresh you deserve the flavor!

      P.S We like Fair Trade Coffee or support local roasters

    • profile image

      Cup of Joe 

      9 years ago

      Not to gripe, but your post does not really cover "I just want to order coffee." From what I gathered in this post, if I just want to order coffee, I pick a size, say coffee, and leave room for cream. Not much help.

    • profile image

      Organic Tea 

      9 years ago

      I am starting a organic products now, this hub is very helpful. Thanks


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