The 34 Most Popular Starbucks Drinks, Ranked Worst To Best
The Starbucks menu is always changing, with the coffee shop chain debuting new items not just every year, but every season. Its vast bill of fare was once a source of ridicule, which added to the self-important reputation of Starbucks, along with sizing names like grande, venti, and trenta, complicated drink orders, and high prices. “What’s the big deal?” Starbucks haters once complained, “it’s just coffee.”
But somehow, most of these Starbucks jokes have become a thing of the past. That may be due to the third wave of coffee, which refers to any business opened after 2000 that traffics in high quality java (via Los Angeles Times). It signifies chains like Blue Bottle Coffee, Intelligentsia, Stumptown — the types of spots where the cool kids tend to congregate (via Bloomberg). For the past 20 years, plenty of consumers have become more comfortable with spending (at least) $4 on a cup of coffee.
While other shops have taken the place of Starbucks (which has been around for far longer) as the “fancy” coffee option, the Seattle-based stalwart has persevered through its many changes. The company closed over 600 locations during the pandemic, mainly in shopping malls and cities, to focus on suburban drive-thru locations, according to Eat This, Not That. It also embraced its complicated drink reputation, and a few of these famous Starbucks beverages have risen above the rest. From coffee classics and Frappuccinos to multi-ingredient tea lattes, here are the most popular Starbucks drinks, ranked worst to best.
34. Pike Place Roast
Hot black coffee is an integral part of the roots of Starbucks. According to Britannica, the chain originally focused on selling high-quality beans — which remained one of its main products during the first decade of business. As Starbucks tells it, once investor Howard Schultz took over the business, he turned it into a café serving only brewed coffee.
Today, you can find several varieties of hot coffee on the Starbucks menu: Blonde Roast, Dark Roast, Decaf, and Pike Place to name a few. This last roast is the chain’s signature black coffee. It’s named for the original Seattle location of its first store, inside of the Pike Place farmers market. Along with its release in 2008, Starbucks changed its rules regarding coffee-making to ensure freshness: It began to require employees to grind the beans immediately before brewing and make a new pot every 30 minutes, according to the company. That’s another reason to credit this roast.
Pike Place Roast has remained a popular option for the already popular choice of black coffee. It’s a medium roast, which means it’s middle of the road for coffee strength. It’s the kind of thing most people want walking into your average coffee shop, but it’s not exactly what you want from Starbucks considering all the other options. Also, the flavor of the chain’s brewed coffees, such as Pike Place Roast, is often polarizing. For these reasons, it’s ranked dead last.
33. Caffè Americano
The Americano is another classic coffee shop staple. It’s a mild, milk-free option that is low in calories and high in caffeine. Historically, an Americano has always been simple. It’s just espresso that’s been diluted with water. According to Enjoy Java, it’s so-named for the American soldiers that invented the drink during WWII when the taste of Italian espresso was too strong for them, and they watered it down. Starbucks’ Caffè Americano is made pretty much the same way, with two shots of espresso and water.
Like the Pike Place Roast, the Starbucks Americano is a popular drink order, but it’s a little more interesting and satisfying than a plain old coffee. For one, a Caffè Americano is made with espresso, which gives the drink authenticity. It also avoids the burnt flavor that some people taste in Starbucks’ brewed coffees such as Pike Place (via Medium). What’s more, the process of pouring water over espresso produces a delicious, thin layer of crema, a yellowish-foam on top of the drink — when done correctly (via HomeGrounds). For these added features, it ranks above the Pike Place Roast.
The cappuccino is where things start to get a little more interesting. This classic barista item is yet another drink that Starbucks has borrowed from Italian coffee traditions — but this one is even older than the Americano. The first known record of the cappuccino was from the 1930s. At Starbucks, the cappuccino is also one of the chain’s oldest drinks. It’s been on the menu since 1986, reports Business Insider.
A Starbucks cappuccino is made with one shot of espresso for its short and tall drink options, and two for its grande and venti drink options. Then half steamed milk (2% by default) and half milk foam are added on top. The drink is naturally unsweetened. If you’re someone who tends to prefer lattes, you can ask for a wet cappuccino, which means your drink will be made with less foam and more milk, per the company.
This drink is slightly more exciting than the previous two. It’s comforting, and reminds you of a coffeehouse from the ’90s, a time during which Starbucks began to thrive, according to the chain. It isn’t usually made iced, which means it preserves some of its dignity. But the cappuccino is still more about Italy, or generic cafes, than about Starbucks. For that, this popular Starbucks drink stays near the bottom of the ranking.
31. Star Drink
The Star Drink is a relatively new addition to the Starbucks Refresher roster, making its debut in 2020. The addition of coconutmilk makes for a creamier beverage than the Kiwi Starfruit Refresher which serves as its base. According to The Impulsive Buy, “It’s much sweeter than the Violet Drink, Pink Drink, and even the Dragon Drink (all Starbucks Refresher flavors mixed with coconut milk).” For a line of drinks notable for being sweet, that’s leaning towards overkill. It’s no surprise that a grande Star Drink contains 23 grams of sugar (via Starbucks).
While the Star Drink includes freeze dried chunks of kiwi mixed into the drink, don’t expect to find its namesake fruit. In fact, a look at the ingredients list reveals that the only juice in the Kiwi Starfruit refresher base is white grape concentrate. Since the Star Drink isn’t as advertised, nor as tasty as the other Starbucks refreshers with coconut milk, such as the Dragon Drink or Pink Drink, we suggest skipping it.
30. Dragon Drink
Released in 2018, Dragon Drink is a combination of the Mango Dragonfruit Refresher plus coconut milk. Both the Dragon Drink and its Refresher base are prepared with actual pieces of dragonfruit (a.k.a pitaya). Upon its introduction, it was promoted by Starbucks as an afternoon pick-me-up, and generally Refreshers work pretty well for this particular use, as they contain caffeine, but fewer grams than some of the other drinks on the menu. It strikes the right balance since, according to AASM, too much caffeine, as much as six hours before bedtime, has been shown to cause worse sleep.
Similar to how the Star Drink doesn’t contain any starfruit, the Dragon Drink is mango-free and the only dragonfruit presence come by way of the freeze dried pieces added to the beverage (via Starbucks). Still, the flavor is heavy on mango, though notes of dragonfruit are barely detected. We don’t exactly love this aspect of the drink. If it’s going to be named Dragon Drink, shouldn’t it taste like dragonfruit? While not as fun, the title of Mango Drink is a better fit for this one. That’s not even where the failings end. Vogue argued that Dragon Drink is purely meant to be photographed and is much better suited for your Insta feed than for nourishment. We mostly agree.
29. Pink Drink
The famous Pink Drink is one of the more notorious Starbucks items. It got its start on the Starbucks secret menu, but it didn’t stay there long. The gorgeous cotton candy hue of this drink made it popular on Instagram — long before its eventual TikTok fame. The Pink Drink was then added to the real menu in 2017, where it’s remained a hit.
The Starbucks drink is simply the chain’s Strawberry Açaí Refresher made with coconut milk and one scoop of sliced strawberries, and the result is light, refreshing, and fruity. The flavor has been likened to that of a pink Starburst.
This is a quality of many Starbucks secret menu items that should stay secret — it’s unnatural for a coffee to taste like candy. What’s more, coconut milk isn’t an essential part of many other Starbucks drinks, and for a good reason: it tastes bad. You don’t see anyone adding coconut milk into their coffee for the taste in 2021 (not even the lactose intolerant). Despite its shortcomings, the colorful beverage surpasses its Star and Dragon counterparts, and its definitely more popular and creative than the previous coffee drinks.
28. Flat White
The flat white is a newer drink from Starbucks. It was introduced in 2015 as a permanent Starbucks menu item, but the chain definitely didn’t invent the flat white, which is a coffee shop staple of Australia and New Zealand.
This drink is close to a cappuccino in that it has steamed milk. However, there are significant differences with its predecessor. For one, the flat white is made with whole milk and ristretto which are essentially espresso shots made with less water, explains Perfect Daily Grind. The result? Ristretto shots taste more intense, have less caffeine, and appear darker in color than espresso shots. Whole milk and ristretto come together to make the flat white a more intense, creamy Starbucks drink than the cappuccino.
Also like the cappuccino, there are significant barista skills involved. One must know how to make ristretto as well as steamed milk. Additionally, the flat white’s signature, centered white dot requires some finesse: Baristas must perfectly center their milk while pouring to produce the decoration on top, notes Thrillist. This is cool and the drink is good. But you’re unlikely to even see that dot inside of your Starbucks cup. For that reason, the fact that Starbucks didn’t create this drink, and its more boring qualities, this drink shouldn’t be higher in the ranking. Again, this isn’t a classic enough menu item.
27. Hot Chocolate
Starbucks’ Hot Chocolate may not be particularly healthy, but it’s a comforting drink that’s perfect during the holiday season. When the Peppermint Mocha seems like too much, but a Mocha isn’t going to cut it, the Hot Chocolate is a good choice. It has little caffeine (25 milligrams in the grande) so you can enjoy it late in the day.
Taste of Home notes that it tastes like rich bittersweet chocolate and benefits from a topping of whipped cream. Business Insider voted Starbucks’ Hot Chocolate as the best among five fast food chains that serve the beverage. Creaminess, richness, and the lack of artificial-tasting flavors were among the reasons why the outlet said it earned top honors. A Chick Advisor reviewer confirms the drink’s appeal, writing, “This hot chocolate is fabulous. Its creamy texture allows the drink to melt down your throat and fill you with warmth. The drink is rich in flavor, and the whipped topping perfects it.”
While these are all great qualities, the Starbucks Hot Chocolate belongs in the bottom half of the most popular Starbucks drink ranking. One reason is it’s not universal enough. The Holidays only come once a year and that’s the best time to have it. Additionally, it’s a bit one-note. That’s great for winter, but a little too boring for the rest of the year. Plus, there isn’t any coffee or tea in it.
26. Iced Matcha Tea Latte
The Iced Matcha Tea Latte at Starbucks isn’t exactly authentic. It’s made with instant, pre-sweetened matcha powder, according to OhHowCivilized. To make its iced latte, the powder is mixed with 2% milk and ice. There’s actually more sugar in the instant powder than matcha. That’s probably the reason why the Starbucks Iced Matcha Tea Latte is much sweeter and milder in matcha flavor than other matcha lattes.
As The Foodies Fit Home put it, “Of course, there are likely some better matcha options out there for you.” Due to the drink’s high sugar content, it’s not the healthy tea that other matcha drinks can claim to be. Sure, you may get a bit of an antioxidant boost from whatever small amount of real matcha is in Starbucks’ powder — but it doesn’t seem like much.
If you’ve had the drink (and you appreciate matcha) you know it’s a little lacking. The taste is somewhat bland and milky. To make matters worse, the commonly chosen grande size usually ends up being mostly ice, with some unmixed matcha clumps at the bottom. Overall, the Iced Matcha Tea Latte still tastes good, but it’s not the most complex, satisfying, or inventive Starbucks tea drink.
25. Iced Dirty Chai Tea Latte
Here’s another secret menu item that’s worth mentioning. Personally, we think this barely qualifies as a “secret” item, since it’s a small modification to the Starbucks Iced Chai Tea Latte. It’s also not exclusive to Starbucks. You can get a dirty chai at most other cafes that serve chai lattes. The reason is: The drink simply includes the addition of one espresso shot, according to Starbucks Secret Menu.
What the Froth notes that the espresso changes the drink’s texture, writing, “Their typical chai tea latte is usually a thicker consistency than a regular vanilla latte, but the addition of the shot of espresso gave it a very latte-like consistency.” Also on the plus side, this drink has a lot of caffeine. There are 95 milligrams in a grande Starbucks Iced Chai Latte, plus 75 milligrams in the added espresso shot (via Consumer Reports). That gives the drink as much caffeine as most of Starbucks’ coffee-based lattes.
On the downside, the base of the Iced Dirty Chai Tea Latte is similar to the issue with ordering matcha at Starbucks: It’s unsurprising and inauthentic. The drink is made from a chai tea concentrate that’s already mixed with sweetener. This gives you an overall sweet flavor, but it would be better if it was made with real chai tea.
24. Iced Blonde Vanilla Latte
This wouldn’t be a proper roundup if we didn’t mention one of Starbucks’ coffee lattes. Iced coffee lattes are particularly popular with Starbucks customers, and this version is one of the best. Just ask Day of the Human, who writes, “This is the ultimate Starbucks Vanilla Latte … The flavor of this drink is much more complex than what I’m used to from Starbucks, and it’s delicious.”
The Iced Starbucks Blonde Vanilla Latte is an original drink created by the chain. It captures what’s best about Starbucks: fresh-tasting coffee and pumps of syrup. In fact, this drink is made with four pumps of vanilla syrup. That, along with 2% milk, perfectly complements the Blonde Espresso, a more mild-tasting espresso which is an invention of the company.
This drink has turned the chain’s many Vanilla Latte fans into Blonde Vanilla Latte superfans. The Daily Meal writes, “This goes out to all the people who like their coffee to not really taste like coffee: You will love this drink. It’s silky and smooth, and it does not taste burnt like the traditional dark-roast espresso.”
23. Nitro Cold Brew
Although lattes are great, they’re a bit passé. Cold brew coffee has kind of been the thing for a while now. The multi-hour brewing process results in a drink that is less acidic than your standard iced coffee. In 2015, Starbucks cold brew was introduced. Its nitro version is first made like the’ regular cold brew: coarsely-ground coffee is added to cold water, then left to sit for 20 hours. The coffee is slowly extracted from the grounds, then combined with water. For Nitro Cold Brew, nitrogen is then infused into the coffee, creating tiny air bubbles and an added layer of foam, Starbucks explains.
This Nitro Cold Brew is a thing of beauty. Brewed to be served cold, your ice won’t water it down. Per the chain’s menu, a grande contains 80 milligrams more caffeine than the regular cold brew. The extended process of making Nitro Cold Brew ensures a better quality — on average — than Starbucks’ regular espresso drinks. However, this drink is better when upgraded with Starbucks flavors, which is why we’ve ranked some of its variations higher.
22. S’mores Frappuccino
This S’mores-inspired drink is a well-liked Frappuccino from Starbucks. According to the menu, it emulates the campfire snack with marshmallow-infused whipped cream, milk chocolate sauce, and a graham cracker crumble. The frozen beverage, according to Brand Eating, “captured all the s’mores components and flavors very well,” while Chatelaine described it as the perfect summer dessert drink, with icy, familiar flavors hitting the spot after a long, hot day.
However, it certainly doesn’t have the fan base of some of its Frappuccino peers. That could be for a few reasons. Detractors like Alex Rowe write that you can’t taste enough coffee or chocolate flavors. Reviewers on Chick Advisor knock this Frappuccino for its high calories and cost and even fans of the drink are divided on why they enjoy it — some people like the whipped cream, some people hate it; certain drinkers think the chocolate is the best part, others think it’s the worst.
There is no denying that the S’mores Frappuccino is a sweet idea. It’s nice to see Starbucks applying the idea of nostalgia — normally found in drinks like the Peppermint Mocha — to cold drinks like Frappuccinos. But ultimately the beverage is not as delicious (nor is the recipe as solid) as some of the other, more popular Frappuccino drinks. It is still a Frappuccino though, making it a little more fun than plain-old cold brews.
21. Java Chip Frappuccino
The Java Chip Frappuccino is a fan-favorite Starbucks drink. The drink is made using ice, whole milk, Frappuccino chips (chocolate chips), Frappuccino roast (instant coffee), mocha-flavored sauce, mocha drizzle, whipped cream, and sweeteners. As a Frappuccino, it’s higher in both sugar and calories than other Starbucks drinks. Even compared to other Frappuccinos, the Java Chip still has some of the highest calorie and sugar content — there are 440 calories and 60 grams of sugar in each grande size.
Nutritional facts aside, the Java Chip Frappuccino remains one of the most popular Frappuccino flavors. Along with the Double Chocolaty Chip Crème Frappuccino, these cocoa-laced coffee drinks have enticed customers since the birth of the Starbucks Frappuccino in 1995. Mocha Frappuccinos, one of the initial flavors to be released by the coffee chain, launched Starbucks to new levels of popularity. There’s some prevailing appeal based on the amount of Java Chip fans out there. As one Chick Advisor reviewer wrote, “I love all frap flavors at Starbucks but this one is one of my favorites!”
20. Strawberry Açaí Refresher
The Strawberry Açaí Refresher is perhaps most notably the base of the Pink Drink, which should speak to its popularity, not to mention its attractive color. Though it lacking in coconutmilk, the mild, sweet, and nostalgic flavors of strawberry and açaí that are reminiscent of drinking a smoothie, but in the vessel of a juice drink. (Keep in mind, like other Refreshers, the actual fruit juice made from white grapes, though the drink does include freeze dried strawberries.)
It’s an ideal quencher for Starbucks fans who don’t enjoy coffee but want a caffeine boost. A grande serving of the Strawberry Açaí Refresher contains 45 milligrams of caffeine thanks to the inclusion of green coffee extract which, per Web MD, is derived comes from unroasted beans. Beyond offering a pick-me-up, the extract may be beneficial for certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Additional nutritional information for the Strawberry Açaí Refresher shows it’s pretty healthy overall, at least when compared to other popular Starbucks drinks. Per the menu, there are only 90 calories in the grande.
19. Irish Cream Cold Brew
It’s not hard to see how Starbucks came up with this one. The appearance of the Nitro Cold Brew is likened to that of Guinness, the famed Irish stout. So it seems only natural that another Starbucks drink would utilize Irish flavors. This one has the sweet taste of Irish cream, to remind you of drinking Baileys while you’re getting coffee — minus the alcohol.
The Irish Cream Cold Brew was released in 2019, as part of Starbucks’ holiday menu. This drink is a cold brew with two Irish cream syrup pumps, Irish cream foam, and a little cocoa powder, per Starbucks. It’s less sweet and more mild than some of the chain’s other winter offerings.
According to Thrillist, uniqueness is this drink’s strength: “The cold brew doesn’t use nostalgia as a crutch to taste good. It is good for the sake of being good — creamy and subtly sweet on top, while bitter and balanced beneath the cloud of foam.” This new and interesting drink provides a more neutral break within Starbucks’ sugary seasonal menus. Plus, It’s also a great upgrade to the basic cold brew. However, it’s neither the best holiday drink nor the best cold brew, ultimately, making it one of the worst of the best Starbucks drinks.
18. Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte
Making its debut during the 2021 winter season, the Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte was inspired by Spritz cookies, Holiday-shaped goodies often topped with sprinkles. Surprisingly, it was the first dairy-free Holiday beverage Starbucks ever released. Explaining the recipe, a company reprsentive said the intention was “to harness the buttery and vanilla notes of the cookie.” The drink’s sweet aroma comes from the inclusion of actual sprinkles (red and green) and sugar cookie-flavored syrup in the drink. Per the menu, the drink is also made with Starbucks blonde espresso.
While this one was released to a good amount of fanfare, we don’t think the drink lives up to the hype. In reality, the Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte is so subtle and lacking sweetness, that it tastes strangely bland. And yeah, the almondmilk is as gross as ever. However, its saving grace is in the idea. We hope that the release of this beverage, along with drinks like the Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso, is the sign of better bespoke, seasonal, non-dairy drinks to come.
17. Strawberry Creme Frappuccino
The Blended Crème line, which debuted in 2002, was the first type of Frappuccino that wasn’t prepared with coffee or tea (via Starbucks). While they lack caffeine, these drinks offer energy and fun in the form of sugar. They come in variety of flavors including the Strawberry Crème Frappuccino which is prepared with ice, whole milk, strawberry puree sauce, and whipped cream. There are 370 calories and 51 grams of sugar for a grande.
Reviews of this drink highlight the fact the strawberry flavor is pretty easy to taste. Coffee at Three explains, “If you love strawberries, you’re going to love this caffeine-free, frozen drink that blends strawberry syrup, milk, and ice together to make a delicious berry treat.” Others remark that the fruity flavor is more like dessert. A reviewer on Fast Food Menu Prices notes, “It’s a delicious mix of fruity and creamy flavors, reminiscent of strawberry ice cream but better.” Overall, the Strawberry Crème Frappuccino is a great option for Frappuccino lovers who might want to avoid both caffeine and coffee, while still getting something sweet.
16. Vanilla Sweet Cream Nitro Cold Brew
When it comes to Starbucks flavored syrups, vanilla shines. The Vanilla Sweet Cream Nitro Cold Brew takes the best of the prior two drinks and combines them. Like the standard Nitro Cold Brew, it’s a frothy and extra caffeinated. Like the Irish Cream, it’s topped with something sweet. However, this drink is sweeter and more complex in flavor than the previous two.
It’s simply Nitro Cold Brew topped with sweet cream. One fan on Reddit writes, “I know it’s going to be good when they hand me a cup of black liquid with cream on top that is slowly trickling down.” Unfortunately, the drink often has problems with the inconsistency which are also noted in the thread. Considering the issues customers often experience with this drink, the Vanilla Sweet Cream Nitro Cold Brew is still a middle-of-the-pack drink.
15. Toasted White Chocolate Mocha
Part of the Holiday drink menu, the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha features a twist on a classic … that’s a twist on a classic. We’re all familiar with the Peppermint Mocha, and Starbucks-heads are familiar with the White Chocolate Mocha. But the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha is an extra step up. The recipe is 2% milk (both foamed and steamed), two shots of espresso, four pumps of toasted white chocolate mocha sauce, topped with whipped cream covered in festive sprinkles.
It may sound like the ultimate drink for a Starbucks hater to, well, hate. But hear us out: The drink is delicious and has all the sweets you could want in a sugary Christmas coffee drink. Elite Daily describes it as “like a sweet white chocolate fudge my grandma would make at Christmastime.” The downside: White chocolate is notoriously loathed by many. Plus, it has some stiff competition in the Holiday drink space.
14. Matcha Crème Frappuccino
The Matcha Crème Frappuccino is a beautiful iced beverage with a striking green color. This drink’s ingredients include ice, milk, creme Frappuccino syrup, classic syrup, and a matcha tea blend (similar to what’s used in Starbucks green tea lattes). There are 420 calories, 61 grams of sugar, and 70 milligrams of caffeine in each grande drink. That makes this quite a potent drink, with an especially high caffeine content for a Frappuccino.
Though beloved for its photo-worthy look, fans of traditional Starbucks green tea drinks may find this Frappuccino to be lacking in flavor. As Brand Eating explains, “Matcha has a distinctive, deep taste that sets it apart from other green teas … In the Green Tea Frappuccino, that intensity is softened to mildness by milk and sugar.” Of course, this less potent drink may be the perfect solution to those newer to the matcha taste. If you want a mild yet sweet tea-based Frappuccino from Starbucks, this may be the one to get.
13. Iced Green Tea Lemonade
This satisfying drink is a fun riff on the classic Arnold Palmer iced tea and lemonade combo. Beyond the inclusion of green tea, a trendy beverage known for its many health benefits, lemongrass, mint, and lemon verbena are also blended into the drink. Additional positives for the Iced Green Tea Lemonade include its low sugar and calorie content. A grande only contains 50 calories and 11 grams of sugar. It’s night and day compared to another Starbucks green tea drink, the Matcha Crème Frappuccino, which includes 420 calories and 61 grams of sugar for the grande.
You can opt for a peach version of the drink, but we recommend leaving out the stone fruit. The standard version offers even mix of sweet (from the lemonade) and not sweet (from the green tea). Mixing in the peach makes things too sweet. While the Iced Green Tea Lemonade isn’t the best tea drink at Starbucks ,we prefer it to artificial products like the Refreshers.
12. Honey Citrus Mint Tea
Similar to the Pink Drink, this is another secret-turned-revealed menu item that grew popular on social media. Before 2017, you’d have to get it by ordering off the secret menu, reports Teen Vogue. But its popularity on Instagram convinced the company to make it official. A former Starbucks barista allegedly invented the recipe, according to Thrillist. Its secret menu name (Medicine Ball) comes from the drink’s use as a cold ailment, but the real name given by Starbucks is Honey Citrus Mint Tea.
The official recipe consists of Jade Citrus Mint green tea, Peach Tranquility herbal tea, steamed lemonade (you read that right), and two pumps of honey blend syrup. Some people choose to add a pump of peppermint syrup. While not everyone goes for this, we enjoy the blast of coolness to the hot beverage. This drink is the best non-dairy tea you can get at Starbucks.
11. Pistachio Latte
The Pistachio Latte is a drink that was first released as part of the Starbucks Winter menu in 2021. The drink, which made its return the following year, features an extra layer of nuttiness thanks to the addition of a brown butter topping. The base of the hot beverage consists of espresso and steamed milk.
The combination definitely works. The Impulsive Buy was particularly impressed with the pistachio sauce, while Thrillist wrote, “The pistachio and brown butter combine to form a primarily sweet drink with a mildly salty aftertaste.” This drink is great in a lot of ways. It pulls off what the latte is trying to achieve in terms of flavor with a sophisticated and successful balance of savory and sweet. It’s also not trying to be flashy by mimicking the green colors of the pistachio itself. Overall, we think it is worth buying when in need of a hot drink, but there are other seasonal lattes that just happen to be more exciting and delicious.
10. Chestnut Praline Latte
Back in 2014 when the Chestnut Praline Latte made its debut, It was the first new holiday beverage that Starbucks had released in five years. The inspiration? European holiday markets where similar flavors waft through the air. The seasonal sipper is finished with a topping of whipped cream and spiced praline crumbs. This adds a fun visual element to the drink, allowing you to see some of its nutty attributes. Spoon University wrote, “what sets the Chestnut Praline apart from the rest is its lighter taste, with more spice than sweet, evoking a desire to sit by a fire.” However, they complained that the chestnut was hard to taste. A reviewer from People offered a similar sentiment, writing, “To me, the drink’s flavoring is more praline, with a strong buttery, almost savory, taste.”
Like with other Starbucks drinks, the Chestnut Praline Latte fails by not bringing forward all the elements advertised in its name. However, it’s still more nuanced than the Pistachio Latte. It’s sweet, spiced, and sentimental. The drink is sophisticated, but not as boring as the Pistachio.
9. London Fog Tea Latte
The London Fog Tea Latte is outstanding. Like most of the top tier Starbucks drinks, it’s best served hot. According to Starbucks, the recipe is Earl Grey tea, steamed 2% milk, and four pumps of vanilla syrup. According to Spoon University, the drink is made misto-style, meaning that the liquid is mainly half black tea and half steamed milk. Many who’ve tried the London Fog say that it’s full of warm, comforting spices like bergamot (a citrus flavor that’s in Earl Grey tea).
You can even use this drink like the Medicine Ball. The London Fog is, according to a writer for What the Froth, “my drink of choice whenever I’m feeling a little under the weather, because it has a soft, soothing flavor with a creamy texture.” They add that the vanilla gives it a universal appeal, due to the popularity of the Starbucks syrup.
Overall, the London Fog is a smashing success (as the Brits would say). The tea is a little more flavorful than the Medicine Ball and not too sweet like the Matcha Latte. It’s for sure one of the best tea lattes (hot or iced) that Starbucks has to offer. It even has a soft, cloudy look that reminds you of fog rolling over Tower Bridge.
8. Apple Crisp Macchiato
Released in August 2021 as part of the fall Starbucks menu, the Apple Crisp Macchiato is a coffee-based drink that doubles as a dessert. Starbucks has a few macchiatos — which the chain defines as espresso shots topped with a small amount of foam and steamed milk (in equal amounts). It sounds a lot like a latte, but it’s not. There’s far less steamed milk and foam on a macchiato.
The grande size is two shots of espresso, 2% milk, three pumps of apple brown sugar syrup, and a crosshatch pattern on top made of spiced apple drizzle, per the menu. As far as fall drinks go, it pretty much hits the mark. It’s sweet, flavorful, nostalgic, and a nice variation from the Caramel Macchiato.
Let’s get one thing straight: This is not the best fall drink. But it may be the best September or November drink. As Taste of Home puts it, “If you want your fall drink to splash you with all the boldness of October, go for the PSL. If you like a more understated autumn flavor, pick up an Apple Crisp Macchiato.”
7. Peppermint Mocha
Even the occasional Starbucks drinker has likely tasted the delicious Peppermint Mocha. According to a Mashed poll, the Peppermint Mocha is the most popular Starbucks holiday drink. Since it happens to contain what Bustle called “a perfect balance of refreshing mint and warm chocolate,” it’s not hard to see why.
This drink is so magical, you might not want to know what’s in it, but in case you do, we’ll tell you! The drink is two shots of espresso, four pumps of peppermint syrup, four pumps of peppermint syrup, whipped cream, and dark chocolate curls. The last two are toppings which require the drink to be sipped quickly before it all melts.
Peppermint Mocha, which has been around since 2002 is the second drink made by Starbucks to mark the red cup season — which refers to the time of year when hot Starbucks cups are changed in color for the holidays. Even the company notes that it’s the most beloved holiday item.
6. Iced Toasted Vanilla Oat Milk Shaken Espresso
Starbucks released the Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso on March 1, 2022. Clearly, the chain is playing off of the huge success that is the Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso, another recent menu addition. It’s too soon to say how this drink will go down in Starbucks history, but some people are already huge fans. Insider wrote, “There’s a richness you’d expect with the word ‘toasted’ in the name, but the vanilla adds a lightness to the drink that really lifts the oat-milk flavor.” According to Foodsided, “it sure does give you that spring feel with just the right amount of foam.”
There are definitely some favorable elements to the Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso. Having a few outstanding strengths show it’s more complex than classic drinks like the Peppermint Mocha, while still being people-pleasing. But it’s not good enough to be in the top five beverages. The brown sugar element is unfortunately better in flavor and concept than the toasted vanilla. We also would have preferred that it deviated a bit more from its Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso predecessor — why is there a need to include two drinks on the menu that are so similar?
5. Caramel Frappuccino
The popularity of Starbucks’ caramel flavor does not go away with the addition of the Frappuccino element. According to a Mashed poll, 28% of voters selected caramel as the best Starbucks Frappuccino flavor. Ingredients for the Caramel Frappuccino include ice, whole milk, Frappuccino roast, caramel syrup, caramel drizzle, and whipped cream. There are 380 calories, 54 grams of sugar, and 90 milligrams of caffeine in a grande.
Since joining the Starbucks lineup in 1999, the frozen beverage remains an extremely popular option. Reviewers on She Speaks attested to this, writing “The only thing I ever get from Starbucks! I’m not a coffee-lover, but this is always a must!” Others note that the caramel Frappuccino is a great drink to beat the heat with one reviewer writing, “The Caramel flavor is very strong but not overwhelming, so satisfying for a hot summer day!” This one is clearly a Starbucks hall of fame drink.
4. Pumpkin Spice Latte
The Pumpkin Spice Latte is probably the most-memed drink on this entire list. “Basic” jokes are most often targeted at its drinkers, but critics of the Pumpkin Spice Latte surely have never tasted it before. If they had, they would think twice; this is both an infamous and delicious Starbucks drink.
We don’t have to tell you this drink is popular. What other entries on this list have their own acronym? Also, the PSL is even more historic than some may know. It’s almost as old as the Peppermint Mocha, as it was released the following year in 2003. It’s the most popular holiday drink of any season and over 200 million cups of it have been sold, according to Adweek.
As a pop culture icon itself, the PSL has brought Starbucks continued success. The brand now calls itself the home of “the original Pumpkin Spice Latte.” The success of this drink in no way detracts from its place in the ranking — if anything, it increases it. But the truth is, this drink can sometimes be a little mild. That’s probably the reason for its vast appeal. But it’s not always the punch of seasonal flavor that you want in a Starbucks drink. For that reason, it’s below the following options.
3. Iced Caramel Macchiato
The Iced Caramel Macchiato is one of the most popular Starbucks drinks made from one of the chain’s most popular flavors: caramel. The drink has been around for 25 years. Starbucks notes it’s one of the company’s top six cold coffees, and it’s a go-to drink year-round.
High caffeine content, relatively low calories (compared to the seasonal drinks), and vanilla syrup may be the reason for its enduring popularity. It’s also topped with a crosshatch of caramel drizzle (like the Apple Crisp and other Starbucks Macchiatos). Though extremely solid, it’s not the best beverage offering on the Starbucks menu. To put in Olympics terms, it’s a bronze medal drink. In other words, the Iced Caramel Macchiato will always be a top competitor — but it will never be number one. There’s a lack of creativity and yet an urge for approval that makes us think Starbucks was playing it a little too safe. But overall, the drink has worked out very well for the chain.
2. Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
No one should be surprised at this drink’s placement. The Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew became an instant hit when it launched with the 2019 fall menu. It was Starbucks’ first new pumpkin drink since the PSL, and it’s definitely an improvement over its predecessor. The drink, which contains cold brew, pumpkin cream cold foam with pumpkin spice topping, vanilla syrup, and ice is great.
There’s so much that’s both practical — as well as tasty — about this drink. Even if fall, where you live, means 90-degree heat, you can enjoy it. There’s something about it that both PSL haters and lovers can enjoy, because it’s sweet but not too sweet. It’s also nostalgic in its flavor and color, but refined and modern in its use of cold brew.
Overall, it has all of Starbucks’ best drink qualities in a cup: cold brew, vanilla syrup, and pumpkin flavor. It even has a beautiful orange hue in the cold foam (if you’re lucky) which mixes in with the rest of the drink. The Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew is simply number two because the number one drink does most of these positive qualities a little better.
1. Iced Brown Sugar Oat Milk Shaken Espresso
Though it may go against your values, oat milk is kind of the best of the non-dairy milks. That’s one of the many attributes that earns the Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso the top spot on this list. The grande size is made with more espresso than usual: three shots. That means there are 255 milligrams of caffeine per cup. It’s a strong drink that makes the trip to Starbucks — and the money spent on the drink — worth it. Despite the high caffeine content, it’s also pretty low in calories for the chain’s best creations, at only 120 calories per 16-ounce cup.
Baristas add ground cinnamon, Blonde espresso shots, and four pumps of brown sugar syrup together, then shake them. The result is a drink that’s already been perfectly mixed. Do you know how people with those green straws are always twirling their iced coffee cup to mix it? This drink makes it so that you never have to do it ever again. Also, the brown sugar flavor is nostalgic and sensory (just like how Starbucks wants to be). It’s there to remind you of simple memories like baking cookies while sipping your morning coffee.