We need to talk about whatever's happening with Starbucks' drinks (2024)

Let me first give a disclaimer: I don't want to yuck anyone's yum. I don't want to disparage people's beverage tastes. I embrace change! I am by no means a coffee snob, and I love trying a fun new treat or flavor.


Whatever is happening on the Starbucks menu right now is making me feel like I'm a senior citizen.

Currently, some of the "spring favorites" on the Starbucks app include a Lavender Oatmilk Chill, an Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha, Spicy Dragonfruit, and an Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso.


And these are just the standard menu offerings. Over on TikTok, Starbucks employees go viral by showing off an endless amount of customizations.

In a recent video, a handsome young barista shows how to make "pink sauce" (to order: venti vanilla bean Frappucino with two scoops of dragonfruit and whipped on top and bottom). Another one of his creations is a "Milky Way Frappucino" (venti caramel crunch Frappucino with extra caramel and mocha drizzle, extra crunch and cookie crumbles, substitute sweet cream).

It's not just 'mocha-choca-venti-chino-lattes' anymore

It's a hacky outdated joke to scoff at people ordering a "mocha-choca-venti-chino latte" as some jab at blue-haired elitists or whatever. (This has always been a somewhat misguided target: I think, generally, the Frappucino stuff is for suburban teenagers; coastal liberal elite coffee snob orders are probably more likely pour-over served black. But I digress.)

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But when I see the sheer amount of dairy products and sugar going into these drinks, I feel like a '90s standup comedian. What the heck is going on with these drinks these days?!?!


I'm no coffee purist, I like mine with half-and-half and Sweet 'N Low. I often drink day-old coffee over ice at home. I enjoy gas station coffee.

We need to talk about whatever's happening with Starbucks' drinks (1)

I recently was in a Starbucks — which reported slower-than-expected sales this past week — and found myself stammering in confusion at the menu like a boomer, unsure if I was supposed to order with milk and sugar or if those were still self-serve. (The self-serve stations at Starbucks are a pandemic casualty, and probably for the better). After ordering a coffee with milk and Sweet 'N Low, I was informed they no longer carry "the pink packet" and, in fact, haven't in several years (I did actually know this but had forgotten).

In that humiliating moment, I imagined this must've been what it would be like to be a 43-year-old in 1999, learning to order a size "venti" for the first time.

I know very well the hesitant, mildly annoyed speech of those befuddled middle-aged people struggling to place their orders because I worked in a Starbucks as a teenager in 1999, a time when the chain was still new enough that the size names befuddled many.


The rise of complicated, multi-ingredient sweet drinks has coincided with the rise in popularity of the Starbucks app, accelerated by the start of the pandemic in 2020 when many locations couldn't take walk-in orders. Not only are there more options for a customer to add in extra pumps of syrup, drizzle, or whipped cream, but the app also makes it easier for the barista to actually make the drink — they have all the ingredients printed out on a sticker label, exactly how the customer wants it.

Back in my day, we would use a wax pencil to mark a cup with a form of shorthand to signal what the order was, and then the employee who was working the drink station would have to make it. I can tell you that we got a lot of people's drinks wrong!

I tried the newer Starbucks drinks myself

We need to talk about whatever's happening with Starbucks' drinks (2)

I acknowledge I'm a bit of a crank when I say: The Starbucks menu is out of control. But I don't want to be an uninformed crank. So I went out on a fact-finding mission Friday to my local Starbucks. I ordered the Oleato Golden Foam Iced Shaken Espresso with Toffeenut for myself, a Cinnamon Caramel Cream Nitro Cold brew for my husband — who asked me to get him "anything with real coffee in it" — and a Frozen Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade Refresher for my 7-year-old.

The adult drinks were sweet and creamy, like coffee ice cream. (I should note here that my grande iced drink was 360 calories, which does seem like a dessert treat rather than a morning coffee. It was tasty for a few sips, but my husband and I couldn't finish ours.)


Meanwhile, my son slurped down his fruit slushy and loved it, which sort of confirmed what I had been suspecting: These sweet new additions are for kids, teens, and non-coffee drinkers looking for a little afternoon treat. And hey, that's great — a caramel milkshake is a better teen trend than vaping. But it also reinforced what I already knew: Starbucks makes me feel 1,000 years old.

We need to talk about whatever's happening with Starbucks' drinks (2024)


What is the Starbucks drink everyone is getting on TikTok? ›

I actually found this one on TikTok, so I wanted to try something new. This is going to be a venti iced caramel macchiato with vanilla, sweet cream, cold foam, and five pumps of a white mocha sauce. It sounded a little crazy, isn't it? Sound like a freaking thousand calorie heart attack, like, waiting to happen.

Will Starbucks make you a new drink if you don't like it? ›

If a customer is not satisfied with their hand-crafted beverage, our baristas will be happy to remake the beverage and make the moment right for the customer.

Do Starbucks workers have to memorize all the drinks? ›

Yes, Starbucks employees are expected to memorize the recipes and preparation methods for a wide variety of coffee and tea drinks, as well as food items and other menu offerings.

Who comes up with the Starbucks drinks? ›

Called the New Beverage Innovation and Development Lab (formerly known as the Liquid Lab), Starbucks has a secure research and development space at their headquarters in Seattle. It's here that all of your favourite beverages are ideated and brought to life by their team of food scientists and product managers.

What is the girl on Starbucks? ›

“It's the siren. She is not a real person, but we kind of think of her as one. She's the biggest symbol of our brand, really, other than our partners (employees).

What is the 10 minute rule at Starbucks? ›

The 10-minute rule at Starbucks involves remaining open 10 minutes after the posted closing time and unlocking the doors 10 minutes before the posted opening time.

Do Starbucks workers get free drink? ›

In-store beverage and food benefit: Store partners working in company-owned Starbucks stores may consume any handcrafted beverage free of charge while working, as well as seven free food items from the pastry or ready-to-eat case per week.

Can Starbucks workers see you? ›

Sharing a video in her Starbucks uniform, the employee revealed they actually have a camera set up at the first station where you reel off your order to the speaker, meaning the baristas can see whatever you do in your car while you're ordering.

Is Starbucks getting boba? ›

Summer 'boba' drinks at Starbucks

“We started with fruit pieces, but we wanted something even bolder,” Vuong said. “So, we thought, 'Let's put fruit-flavored pearls in the beverage and try it out. ' It's very fun the way it delivers the flavor when it pops in your mouth.”

Who actually owns Starbucks? ›

Starbucks (SBUX) Ownership Overview

The ownership structure of Starbucks (SBUX) stock is a mix of institutional, retail and individual investors. Approximately 58.72% of the company's stock is owned by Institutional Investors, 2.42% is owned by Insiders and 38.86% is owned by Public Companies and Individual Investors.

What happened to Starbucks in 2024? ›

"Starbucks' growth seemed unstoppable" during the pandemic, said The New York Times, but latte addicts now seem to be pulling back: The company's revenue dropped 1.8% in the first quarter of 2024, driven by falling same-store sales in the United States and abroad.

What is the TikTok coffee from Starbucks? ›

A venti iced coffee. Make sure you have no classic. A pump of white mocha, three pumps of sugar free vanilla, a splash of the sweet cream in a light caramel drizzle.

What is a Starbucks drink that everyone likes? ›

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.

How to order the sour patch drink at Starbucks? ›

Sour Patch Kids Refresher

Even better, we've got a drink version, too! To order, ask for a venti Strawberry Acai Lemonade with three pumps of classic syrup and three pumps of raspberry syrup. Finish off with a splash of Passion tea on top.

How do I order the TikTok drink? ›

According to @starbucksdenton, you ask for a venti iced white mocha, three shots blonde roast, three pumps of hazelnut syrup, caramel drizzle around the cup, vanilla sweet cream, and extra caramel drizzle on top.

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