Twix Frappuccino, Butterbeer Latte, Liquid Cocaine—most baristas groan whenever someone places a complicated order from the Starbucks "secret menu." As a new barista, I immediately start running around like a chicken with my head cut off, looking for a recipe that doesn't exist in the drink cards. Then a few minutes pass by before my coworkers realize that I have no idea what I'm doing. By the time they ask me what the heck is taking so long, the line is backed up to the door and I still don't know what goes in your complicated drink.
Ordering from the Starbucks secret menu can be extremely frustrating for your barista. (It's called the secret menu for a reason.) So I asked a veteran barista who has been working at Starbucks for over three years what he thought about people ordering from the secret menu. Here's what he let me know:
Secret Menu Drinks are Regular Drinks off the Menu With a Few Changes
"The names that people often order with are very confusing, and they have little to no details about what's actually in the drink. Instead, its much easier when the customer tells us exactly what the recipe is so we can make it without wasting time researching."
Most recipes you find online will let you know what base drink to start with, and what changes to make to achieve the "secret" concoction. It may be as simple as switching the milk, or adding a few pumps of syrup to a regular latte. Simple changes like these can be easily explained when ordering. Let's break this down a little more.
Start With the Base Drink
The base drink is the recipe that the barista will follow closely for your "secret" beverage. For example, the Maple Mocha Frappuccino's base drink is the White Mocha Frappuccino. A Pink Drink has a base of a Strawberry Açaí Refresher. If you specify that base drink initially, there will be no problems with your order and no aggravation for your barista. If by chance there is no base drink listed for your recipe, skip ahead to the next step.
Let your barista know if you want a change in the type of liquid in the base drink. Some secret menu Frappuccinos have no standard base because it can start with lemonade or apple juice instead of milk, which is the typical standard.
In this case, start by telling the barista that you want a Frappuccino with whatever liquid the recipe calls for. In all other cases, this is also the time to change any milks or specify changes to the liquid base of the drink. For example, for the Pink Drink, say you'd like coconut milk instead of water.
Ask for the Additions
Many of the Starbucks secret menu drinks have a combination of added syrups to give you a new flavor. The recipes online will specify exactly how many pumps of each syrup goes into the drink according to the size. Only telling us the type of syrup that goes into the drink doesn't help, because our standard numbers probably don't correspond with the secret recipe.
Instead, ask for the number of pumps of a specific syrup. For example, the Maple Mocha Frappuccino gets one pump of Toffee Nut for tall, two for grande, and three for venti. This is also the time to specify any toppings that you want on your drink—like caramel drizzle, mocha drizzle, whipped cream, etc.
Putting It All Together
These three steps can be combined into a single sentence. Using our previous example of a Maple Mocha Frappuccino, let's combine the info into a single sentence order that's easy for your barista to understand: "Grande White Mocha Frappuccino with two pumps of toffee nut syrup."
But a more complicated order would be the Thin Mint Frappuccino: "Grande Green Tea Frappuccino with two pumps of mocha, one and a half pumps of peppermint, and java chips with whipped cream."
Don't be intimidated by ordering from the Starbucks secret menu, we really are happy to make the drinks. Just make sure to follow this guide when you order, and you'll get a perfectly made drink in a reasonable amount of time, without any saltiness from your loyal baristas. Talk about a win-win.