Starbucks customized coffee drink

How to Order at Starbucks like a Pro: 10 Hacks for beginners

When it comes to coffee, everyone has different preferences. Some like it black, some like it sweet, and some like it with a little bit of everything.

No matter what your preference is, there’s a drink for you at Starbucks.

However, if you’re new to the coffee scene, ordering at Starbucks can be daunting, and if this is your first time at Starbucks, you might feel lost with the menu.

We got you!

Here’s the definitive beginner’s guide to Starbucks

After reading this article, you’ll feel like a Starbucks pro, and you’ll be ready to order the most delicious drinks exactly how you want them, and you’ll be an expert on all the Starbucks secrets.

To write this guide, we asked some actual Starbucks baristas and Starbucks fans to share their best Starbucks hacks, so keep reading to get insider secrets from actual experts.

Step 1. Know the weird names of the sizes

The first thing you need to know about sizes at Starbucks is that they have some pretty weird names. A Tall is actually the small size, a Grande is a medium, and a Venti is large.

If you want to order a hot coffee or tea, here are the sizes and their corresponding fluid ounces:

Starbucks sizes:

Short – X Small (Only available for hot beverages)

Tall: 12 fluid ounces (340 ml) – Small

Grande: 16 fluid ounces (470 ml) – Medium

Venti: 24 fluid ounces (710 ml) – Large

Trenta: 31 fluid ounces (910 ml) – X Large (Only available for cold, non espresso beverages)

The “correct” way to order at Starbucks

1. What size?

2. Hot or Iced?

3. Decaf? Blonde? (if regular espresso, skip.)

4. Drink name

5. Modifications (No whip, upside down, oat milk, almond milk, half the pumps of syrup, etc)

In the end, it would look something like this:

“Hi, may I have a Venti Iced Blonde Caramel Macchiato with oat milk and sugar-free vanilla?”


“Hi, may I have a Tall Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte with almond milk and an extra pump of syrup with whipped cream”

And allow your barista to confirm.

How to select your drinks at Starbucks

Now that you know the sizes and some of the most popular flavors, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of customizing your drink.

Note: Starbucks has its own drink names, but you can basically make your own ( some customer recipes get popular and some people call it “secret menu”), customizing basically any ingredient on your drink. Consider that any change may be subject to an extra charge.

We will touch on all the options available, and after that, I’ll share with you some of our favorite picks for you to try at your next Starbucks visit!

Starbucks main drinks in menu

Hot Coffees: Americano, brewed coffees, cappuccinos, espresso shots, flat whites, lattes, macchiatos, and mochas

Hot Teas: Black tea, chai teas, iced teas, herbal teas, matcha, and iced lemonade tea

Cold Coffees: Blended Coffee Drinks (Frappuccinos), cold brews, draft lattes and iced coffees

Hot Drinks: Hot chocolate, juice, steamers like pumpkin spice creme (seasonal), steamed milk and vanilla creme.

Frappuccino® Blended Beverages: Coffee frappuccino, creme frappuccino, which refers to the base of the beverages. Coffee frappuccinos are coffee-based, and cremes are cream based.

Cold Coffees: Cold brews, nitro cold brews, iced americano, iced coffees, iced shaken espresso, iced flat whites, iced lattes, iced macchiatos, iced mochas,

Iced Teas: Black teas, Iced chai teas, iced green teas, iced herbal teas

Cold Drinks

Cold drinks: Starbucks refreshers, bottled juices, bottled milk, bottled sparkling water

In each of the types mentioned below, you can find names of drinks that talk about what it contains and how it is sweetened. For example, under the category “cold coffees” and iced lattes, you can find an “Iced Starbucks Blonde Vanilla Latte” <- that’s the full name and the one you should use at ordering.

And this drink contains, by default: milk, 4 pumps of vanilla syrup, ice, and two shots of espresso.

Now let’s talk about customizations.

You can basically customize any drink at Starbucks to fit your own needs and preferences, the possibilities are endless.

Some of the most common modifications include:

Changing the type of milk.

You can ask for your drink with your favorite type of milk, and they offer Heavy cream, 2% milk, vanilla sweet cream, non-fat milk, whole milk, breve (half and half), almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk and oatmilk.

Note: Not everyone is aware of it, but based on what our expert baristas told us, all the non-dairy drinks at Starbucks have sugar. So this is something to consider if you are looking for sugar-free milk.

Adding more or fewer pumps of syrups

You can add more or fewer pumps of syrups to your drink, depending on how sweet you want it or if you want it sugar free.

Starbucks Syrups:

  • Vanilla syrup
  • Apply brown sugar
  • brown sugar syrup
  • Caramel syrup
  • Cinnamon dulce syrup
  • Hazelnut syrup
  • Peppermint Syrup
  • Raspberry syrup
  • Toasted vanilla syrup
  • Toffee nut syrup
  • Sugar-free vanilla syrup (The only sugar-free option in syrups)

Taking the example we mentioned above, on the Iced Starbucks Blonde Vanilla Latte, which by default contains 4 pumps of vanilla syrup, I may be able to change it to the sugar-free vanilla syrup or reduce it by 3 pumps.

You can also add/change sauces:

Mocha sauce

Dark caramel Sauce

Pumpkin Sauce

White chocolate mocha sauce

Add toppings to your drink

You can add toppings to your drink, generally within an extra cost.

The toppings are:

Pumpkin spice topping (seasonal)

Cinammon dolce sprinkles


You can also ask for a drizzle on your drink, again, this is generally an extra cost.

The drizzles are:

Caramel drizzle

Mocha drizzle

Spiced apple drizzle

Add Cold foam

This is a relatively new addition to Starbucks, and it has become quite popular.

You can ask for your drink with cold foam, which is basically a layer of dense milk on top of your drink.

The options for cold foam are:

Chocolate cream cold foam

Pumpkin cream cold foam

Salted Caramel Cream cold foam

Vanilla sweet cream cold foam

You can also add cinnamon powder and/or whipped cream

Changing the Ice of your drink

You can ask for no ice, light ice or extra ice.

There is a myth about this that say that You can also ask for “no ice” on your iced drink, and you may get more liquid, but our experts said that this is not how it works.

The quantity of the beverages will be almost the same regardless of the ice you choose.

Asking for a different type of coffee

You are not limited to the types of coffees that appear on the menu, you can ask for any type of coffee they have available. You can add a shot or more of espresso in any other coffee type drink.

Add more shots of espresso

You can add more shots of espresso to your drink and pick between the espresso roast options which are signature espresso roast, blonde espresso roast, decade espresso roast and more.

Other pro modifications you can do when ordering your drink.

Ask your drink upside down.

A latte is made with espresso on the bottom and milk on the top. So, an upside down latte would have milk on the bottom and espresso on the top. A caramel macchiato has milk on the bottom and espresso on the top, so an upside down one would have espresso first and then milk.

Starbucks Customizations Ideas to try on your next visit

We asked Starbucks fans what are they favorite Starbucks customizations, AKA secret menu recipes, and here are our favorite picks!

Definitely something to try on your next visit.

Iced Starbucks Blonde Hazelnut Latte with pumpkin

How to order:

“Hi, may I have a venti iced starbucks blonde hazelnut latte with 6 pumps new darkc caramel sauce, salted caramel cream cold foam, line the cup with caramel sauce, extra caramel drizzle, and 6 pumps white chocolate mocha sauce, please”

Oatmeal cookies in a coffee

How to order:

“Hi, may I have a venti iced brown sugar oatmilk shaken espresso with salted caramel cream cold foam, 3 pumps toffee nut syrup and caramel drizzle, please”

Pumpkin Spice frappuccino

pumkin pie frappuccino

How to order:

“Hi may I have a venti pumpkin spice frappe with 2 scoops of vanilla bean, 4 pumps of toffee nut, extra caramel at the bottom with caramel crunch and caramel and cinnamon dolce at the top, please”

Halloween Green tea!

Starbucks halloween drink matcha tea frappuccino

How to order:

“Hi, may I have a venti matcha creme frappuccino with two pumps of pumpkin sauce, please”

Barista tips for Starbucks beginners!

  • A pink drink comes with coconut milk. You don’t need to say, “a pink drink with coconut milk.”
  • Shaken espressos do not come hot. Do not order a hot brown sugar oatmilk shaken espresso. Order a blonde hot oatmilk latte with brown sugar syrup!
  • For youngsters, Starbucks offers the Frappuccino, which is a crème-based beverage! You may get them whatever they want as long as it’s crème based. When it comes to the Frappuccino, don’t worry about whether or not there are “caffeine-free” alternatives for your children!
  • Please bear with the new extra costs (additional caramel drizzle, blended, etcetera). You’ve discovered numerous Starbucks hacks to obtain a little more for free (no ice + large cup of free ice on the side = more product than the normal)
  • When you place mobile orders at the drive-thru, it actually delays the process of you receiving your drink. For example, if you order at 9 am and then come to pick it up at 9:03am, we have to wait for the system to register the mobile order before getting to your ticket. By contrast, if you came to pick up your drink at 9:20am, we would have had time to get through all the other orders ahead of yours and yours would only sit for about 5-7 minutes.
  • If you normally wouldn’t have whipped cream on your drink, but you want it made with a non-dairy milk, PLEASE specify that you don’t want the whipped cream! If it doesn’t say “no whip” we’ll follow the standard and add whip to your drink.
  • It’s quite reasonable for you to be irritated. We, like everyone else, are human! Please be patient and understanding; we all make mistakes. Negative customer interactions may scare new baristas learning and keep them from progressing into great and confident bartenders who ensure that everything is correct!
  • Seasonal beverages may be prepared all year if you know the recipe! So there’s no need to wait until the fall for that pumpkin spice latte.

You have a free Starbucks drink on your birthday.

According to the official Starbucks page, you can get a free drink on the day of your birthday and the only requirements are:

  • You must join Starbucks rewards at least 7 days before your birthday
  • Provide your birthday in your Starbucks rewards account information
  • and have made at least one star earning transaction prior your birthday.

Is water free at Starbucks?

Yes, Starbucks like other food business, offer free complimentary water in a cup. This not include bottled water. And you don’t need to buy something to get water for free.

disclaimer: This is based on our personal experience getting at our local Starbucks and asking for water, which it ends up in a $0 charge. Consider that your local Starbucks could be different but definitely something to try if you are thirsty around a Starbucks.

Final thoughts on How to order at Starbucks for beginners

Starbucks offers many different customization options for its drinks, which can be a little confusing for first-time customers.

This article provided tips from baristas on how to order at Starbucks and get the drink you want. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy your next visit to Starbucks!

5 takeaways from this starbucks guide for newbies!

  • And extra espresso shot can be added to your drink
  • You can change the milk of your drink for a non-dairy option or if you are in a low-carb diet, for a low-carb option like heavy cream or half and half
  • Frappuccinos can be ordered coffee based or creme based
  • Seasonal drinks can be made all year if you know the recipe (you just have to ask the specific customization)
  • You can ask for no ice, light ice or extra ice on your iced drinks

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