I worked as a Starbucks barista in Chicago for almost a year. Between tasting everything I made during training plus the free drinks and meals I received each shift, I’ve tried nearly everything on the menu.
I prefer things to be sweet and cold, but you can use these recommendations as a baseline and adjust your order to your own preferences.
Read on for my favorite things to order at Starbucks.
An iced caramel macchiato is currently my favorite order when I’m looking for a fancier drink — as long as the barista doesn’t skimp out on the caramel drizzle (the most important part).
I’m usually not even a huge fan of caramel, but something about the way it mixes with the espresso and milk gives it an irresistible flavor.
Although I usually go for soy milk, Starbucks uses a sweetened vanilla variety, so I stick to almond milk to avoid overloading my sweet tooth.
If I’m looking for something simple, with a touch of sweetness, a soy-milk latte is the way to go.
With the vanilla soy milk, there’s no need to add syrup unless you’re looking for a jolt of added sugar.
As someone who doesn’t like to pay for air, this is a better alternative to a cappuccino since there’s less foam and more milk.
When I’m trying to reduce my sugar consumption, unsweetened iced tea is the ideal choice.
I prefer black tea because I find it a bit stronger, but green tea is also a solid choice. As long as the barista steeps it properly, neither should taste bitter.
I usually like to get as much ice as possible, so I ask for it without added water because the ice dilutes it enough.
I love a good matcha Frappuccino, especially on a summer day. It reminds me of a milkshake, but with a bit of caffeine.
The drink has the perfect blend of sweet and earthy notes.
If you’re ordering it with nondairy milk, soy will give it that creamy texture Frappuccinos are known for. But it won’t come out as creamy with almond.
When I need a hefty pick-me-up, a nitro cold brew is unbeatable.
Compared to a regular cold brew, a nitro one is smoother, so it doesn’t need ice to water it down.
Even though it’s smooth, I still need some sweetness. The vanilla sweet cream is a beautiful blend of heavy creamer and vanilla syrup that sits on top of the coffee until you’re ready to mix.
When I need a break from heavy caffeine and want something fruity and light, I’ll go for a strawberry-acai refresher.
It’s by far my favorite refresher flavor, but you can’t really go wrong with any of them.
It may just taste like fruit punch, but it’s the perfect way to stave off the summer heat and quench your thirst.
Pastries are one of my favorite things to pair with coffee.
Starbucks has a broad selection, but one of my favorites is the glazed doughnut — it’s the perfect pastry for when I get the occasional hot drink.
If I’m not in the mood for a cold pastry, I’ll order a warmed-up blueberry scone. The heat moistens it, making it taste fresher.
Starbucks’ blueberry scone is also a bit fluffier than traditional ones, which I like.
It goes exceptionally well with a black coffee, like the Pike Place or dark roast.
When I worked early morning shifts, the sausage, cheddar, and egg sandwich saved me if I was really hungry.
It’s greasy, filling, and was always a customer favorite — I was lucky if there were any left to grab during my break.
If I wasn’t starving but still wanted something tasty in the morning, the bacon, Gouda, and egg sandwich always satisfied.
It’s smaller, so you might not feel like you’re getting your bang for your buck, but the quality is worth it.
The Gouda pairs nicely with the bacon, and if you’re worried about soggy bread, the ciabatta roll toasts to perfection.
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