Starbucks can be a tricky place. Drinks are constantly changing, there seems to be a specific jargon and people expect you to know what you want. But most people still have some mistaken ideas about Starbucks. Even the regulars who know how to rattle off their “triple venti vanilla nonfat extra hot plus whip latte” can get tripped up sometimes. Here’s five common misconceptions about Starbucks, and the truth behind them.
Grande vs. Venti
Imagine heading to Starbucks before a long night of studying, eager for some caffeine to get you through the night. You know you want your favorite hazelnut latte with nonfat milk, but you’re stuck between sizes. Grande or Venti? In the end, you decide you need the extra caffeine and you spring for the Venti.
Unfortunately, there’s no real difference between a Grande or Venti. A lot of people mistake size for number of shots: while a tall does get one espresso shot, the grande and venti both get only two. So don’t waste your money springing for a bigger size –it’s just extra sugar and milk.
The “Secret Menu”
The Secret Menu is a thing, but 100 percent not affiliated with Starbucks. You can’t just walk up to the register and order a Butterbeer frappuchino – be prepared to describe everything that goes into that cup or you’re not getting what you want.
Expect to pay a hefty price after you’re finished, all those extras are going to add up. Baristas don’t know the Secret Menu, although a popular misconception is that they’ve just picked up on it because so many people order.
Sure, some baristas like to play around and might know what you want, but you can’t just assume they do. Also, take note of the fact that some recipes contain seasonal/promotional flavors and syrups and can’t be made year round. Some stores will have these syrups at certain times, while others don’t.
Espresso vs. Coffee
A common misconception seems to be the idea that the espresso drinks are extremely caffeinated. The real truth is, if you’re planning to stay up the whole night, you’re better off with a coffee. One espresso shot contains 75 milligrams, whereas a cup of black coffee has 330 milligrams. (See other popular Starbucks drinks ranked by caffeine content here.)
Although ounce for ounce, the espresso really is stronger, no one’s going to fill up a 12 oz cup with only shots. That’d be both extremely expensive and probably bad for your health.
Do You Want That Sweetened?
Baristas will usually ask this question at the register, after someone orders an iced coffee or iced tea. Most people seem to think that this means that the sweetener is added, but it’s actually the contrary.
The recipes for iced coffees and iced teas all contain classic syrup by default, so when the question is asked, it’s to make sure you know what’s going in your drink. It’s extremely common that a customer doesn’t want their drink sweetened, but they don’t ask for it unsweetened and are unhappy with their drink.
Asking for your drink unsweetened is one of the easiest ways to cut calories at Starbucks, too. There you go, cleared up a misconception and helped you with your diet. You can thank me later.
Actually, this one may not be a misconception, because it’s been put out there by baristas already that iced caramel macchiatos and upside down caramel macchiatos are kind of a no-no. Despite the fact that it’s been said, these two are some of the most popular drinks ordered at Starbucks, so it might be necessary to say it again.
An upside down caramel macchiato, firstly, is essentially a latte with caramel drizzle. The whole point of a caramel macchiato is that it’s made in a different order than the latte, with shots on top rather than the bottom. Getting it upside down puts the shots on the bottom, just like a latte.
Iced caramel macchiatos are the same. The straw is at the bottom, so you’re going to be drinking the milk first and taking the coffee later. That is, if you haven’t already swirled your drink and mixed everything together. Sure, these two variations are yummy, and sure, go ahead and keep ordering them, but please don’t think you’re drinking an authentic macchiato by this point.