How to Order at Starbucks So Baristas Don’t Judge You
In terms of basic and ubiquitous chains, Starbucks is about as basic and ubiquitous as it gets—and yet, its rules and rituals still manage to confound even the most seasoned of coffee drinkers.
Before I swindled Lifehacker into paying me to tweet, I worked as a Starbucks barista for a little over a year, waking at 2:45 most mornings to get to the store by 4 a.m. for opening time. In that short, horrifically sleep-deprived time, it became very clear that most people could stand to learn a bit more about the dos and don’ts of ordering at Starbucks. Here’s a guide from me to you.
Order Ahead Using the Starbucks Mobile App
Plain and simple: If you don’t want the barista to judge you or your order, use the Starbucks app so they never get the chance. A couple of tips if you do it this way:
You should only order via the app if you go to Starbucks regularly
This is because the app only allows you to pay through its rewards program, which requires you to load the app with a gift card or with money from your credit card. So, if you only plan on going once, you’ll probably have a couple bucks leftover on the card you’ll never use again. But if you’re a regular customer, it’s probably worth it.
Double check your order details before you submit it
Few things are more annoying to a barista than making a drink exactly as it was ordered, then having to trash it and remake it because the customer made a mistake when ordering.
Many drinks, like iced teas, are sweetened unless you specify otherwise
If you don’t want your iced tea sweetened, tap, “flavors” then hit the minus button until it says “no liquid cane sugar.”
Your drink might not be waiting for you where the regular orders are
If you don’t see your drink on the handoff plane—that’s Starbucks’ term for what most humans calls “a counter”—where baristas call out in-store orders, check to see if there’s a separate zone on the counter for mobile orders. Sometimes these are located by an exit so that people in a rush can nip in and out without elbowing their way through a crowd. If you don’t see an area like this, you can simply ask the barista where you should pick up your mobile order. This has the added bonus of getting the barista’s attention; they’ll be more likely to make sure your drink didn’t get lost or misplaced.
Of course, if you’d rather just order in person, that’s perfectly all right. But I have a few tips if you do so—and some pitfalls I want to help you avoid.
When You Order in Person
If you don’t know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino, ask! (Cappuccinos have more foam and less steamed milk than a latte, if you were gonna ask.) If you’ve never had one of the winter seasonal beverages, like the chestnut praline latte, you can simply ask the barista to describe it. Nobody expects customers to know everything, and it’s way easier to sort out issues before you’ve ordered than after you already have a drink in your hand.
Be aware of how much espresso and sweetener is added, by default, to each size
Starbucks makes everything according to a standard recipe, and the quantity of each ingredient varies based on the size you order. Here’s a quick overview:
- Short: One shot of espresso; two pumps of syrup. (This is an eight-ounce size you can order for hot drinks only, even though it’s typically not advertised very well.)
- Tall: One shot of espresso; three pumps of syrup.
- Grande: Two shots of espresso; four pumps of syrup.
- Venti (hot): Two shots of espresso; five pumps of syrup. (Note that the amount of espresso is the same as a grande. If you want more espresso in your hot latte, maybe stick with a grande and just ask for an extra shot. It’ll have less milk, sugar and calories—and it’ll probably cost a little less.)
- Venti (iced): Three shots of espresso; six pumps of syrup. (An iced venti beverage is slightly larger than a hot venti—I don’t know why— hence the extra pump and shot of espresso.)
- Trenta: Seven pumps of syrup. (Starbucks doesn’t serve espresso beverages in this size.)
There’s one big exception (I can think of) to the above: Americanos get an additional shot of espresso…..Read More>>>