As one of the most popular specialty coffee roasters and servers in the world, Starbucks has built a solid reputation in the industry with excellent branding and by providing variety and customizations that tailor a java fix to suit a customer’s personal tastes (and imagination). While Starbucks offers a universal, standardized ‘official’ menu that greets us when we walk into any one of their establishments, you can always indulge in what seems like an endless assortment of off-the-menu orders – unique beverage creations best known as the ‘Starbuck’s Secret Menu.’
What Exactly is the Secret Menu at Starbucks?
The many creative ways to customize a latte, Frappuccino, macchiato, cup of tea, and other beverages at Starbucks is often referred to as the ‘Starbucks Secret Menu.’ Although plenty of baristas are quite capable of recommending inventive ways to enhance a particular drink, there is no real standardization when it comes to what some perceive as ‘secret’ customized drink recipes – with options that taste like your favorite candy bar, dessert, or even a childhood cereal.
Despite the image of a “Secret Menu’ (complete with familiar references, logo and signature drink styles) floating around the Internet which continues to fuel the rumors that such a thing truly exists, there is no guarantee you’ll get the Neapolitan Frappuccino, Biscotti Frappuccino, or “the Nutella” of your dreams when ordering by name.
Also, if you look closely at the image shown, the multiple misspellings of ‘Frappuccino’ throughout further confirm that this is not a menu put out by Starbucks’ management.
Therefore, when you request a ‘secret’ Starbucks drink from this menu, and get an odd look from your barista, it isn’t because it is a secret, it’s because their training did not include instruction on how to make a Captain Crunch Frappuccino simply because it isn’t on the standard menu.
Instead, the best way to enjoy something from the “Starbucks Secret Menu” is to know which ingredients (and how much) goes into making the specialty concoctions you’d like to order.
Just Some of the Many Starbucks ‘Secret’ Menu Drinks:
Although unique Frappuccino recipes seem to get all the glory, Starbucks off-the-menu beverages also include teas, Refreshers, lattes, and holiday drinks. While there are literally thousands of different ways to order a specialty drink at Starbucks, the following represent some of Star
buck’s most popular ‘secrets’:
Captain Crunch/ Crunch Berry Frappuccino: To enjoy a Frappuccino that brings back childhood memories of digging into a bowl of Captain Crunch with Crunchberries, ask for a Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino with hazelnut syrup. Interestingly, there is an ongoing debate on whether hazelnut- or toffee nut syrup (or both) will create the perfect blend, and that just might be a matter of personal opinion.
One way to specifically request this drink is ask the barista to add caramel syrup (½ pump for a Tall, 1 pump for a Grande, 1 ½ pumps for a Venti); toffee syrup (1 pump for a Tall, 1 ½ pumps for a Grande, 2 pumps for a Venti); and hazelnut syrup (½ pump for a Tall, 1 pump for a Grande, 1 ½ pumps for a Venti) to a Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino.
Fruity Pebbles Frappuccino: Ask a barista to add vanilla syrup, raspberry syrup, and classic syrup to a Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino to create a beverage that tastes like Fruity Pebbles cereal. A bit of orange mango juice will also enhance the overall fruity flavor.
A Tall order is made with 2 pumps of vanilla syrup, ½ pump of raspberry syrup, and ½ pum
p of classic syrup. Increase syrup measurements by ½ a pump for each larger size.
Caramel and Nut Chocolate Bar Frappuccino: Toffee nut syrup (1 pump for a Tall, 2 pumps for a Grande, and 3 pumps for a Venti) added to a Java Chip Frappuccino with a caramel drizzle in the cup and as a topping is believed to taste much similar to that of a Snickers candy bar.
Caramel Cookie Bar Frappuccino: Better known as a ‘Twix Bar Frappuccino,’ ask for a Caramel Frappuccino with hazelnut syrup (1 pump for a Tall, 1 ½ pumps for a Grande, and 2 pumps for a Venti); java chips, and whipped cream blended in. The cup should be coated with a caramel sauce, and the drink is lastly topped with mocha drizzle.
Fall-in-a-Cup Latte: Pumpkin flavors are a seasonal favorite in autumn, and it’s quite easy to overdo it on the Pumpkin Spice Lattes. To enjoy something similar that pays the ultimate homage to fall, order a Pumpkin Spice Latte with caramel syrup and Chai Syrup topped with whipped cream, pumpkin powder, and a drizzle of caramel.
The suggested orders for a Tall, Grande, Venti, and cold Venti are as follows:
• Tall: 1½ pumps caramel syrup + 1 pump Chai Syrup
• Grande: 2 pumps caramel syrup + 1½ pumps Chai Syrup
• Venti: 2½ pumps caramel syrup + 2 pumps Chai Syrup
• Cold Venti: 3 pumps caramel syrup + 2½ pumps Chai Syrup
Christmas in a Cup Latte: To enjoy the festive flavors of winter holidays all year round, order a Cinnamon Dolce Latte with white mocha syrup (1 ½ pumps for a Tall, 2 pumps for a Grande, 2 ½ pumps for a Venti) and peppermint syrup (½ pump for a Tall, 1 pump for a Grande, 1 ½ pumps for a Venti), which is then topped with whipped cream.
Thin Mint Frappuccino: When you can’t wait for Girl Scout Cookie season to arrive, satisfy a Thin Mint craving with a Tazo Green Tea Crème Frappuccino blended with chocolate syrup (1 pump for a Tall, 2 pumps for a Grande, and 3 pumps for a Venti), peppermint syrup (1 pump for a Tall, 1 ½ pumps for a Grande, and two for a Venti), and java chips.
Another Girl Scout Cookie-inspired favorite is the Samoa Cookie Frappuccino, which is recreated by ordering a Mocha Coconut Frappuccino made with 2 pumps of caramel syrup and extra coconut flakes blended into the drink. Caramel drizzle as a topping is optional.
Cake Batter Frappuccino: Start with a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino, and request one pump of almond syrup for a Tall, 1 ½ pumps for a Grande, or two pumps for a Venti to enjoy a guilt-free cake batter fix. It is not uncommon to find that a Starbucks does not carry almond syrup, where in which case, hazelnut syrup is an acceptable substitute.
Additionally, some consumers have heightened the drink’s appeal by asking a barista to add a cake pop (if available) into the mix before blending the ingredients.
Candy Cane Frappuccino: Order a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino with 1 pump of peppermint syrup for a Tall drink, 1 ½ pumps for a Grande, and 2 pumps for a Venti.
Biscotti Frappuccino: Out of all the Starbucks Secret Menu drinks, the one with the most controversy surrounding it is probably the Biscotti Frappuccino. This off-the-menu item is made by purchasing a package of biscotti cookies separately and requesting the barista to blend them into a Frappe. The question arises whether or not baristas are actually permitted to add biscotti to the blender, and an even deeper assessment has been that using biscotti with nuts poses an allergy risk for other customers. Therefore, don’t be surprised if this request is ultimately denied.
Banana Cream Pie Frappuccino: The combination of a Vanilla Bean Creme Frappuccino with vanilla and hazelnut syrups, whipped cream and a whole banana (a separate expense), will create a taste experience similar to eating a slice of banana cream pie.
Prefer apples? Your barista can create an Apple Pie Frappuccino, which starts with a cream base filled to the first line, apple juice filled to the second line, 1 pump of Cinnamon Dolce syrup for a Tall (1 ½ for a Grande and two for a Venti); and 1 pump of caramel for a Tall (1 ½ for a Grande and two for a Venti). The drink is then topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel. If allowed, request ground-up biscotti as a crunchy topping.
Hot Butterbeer Latte: In order to truly appreciate the meaning behind this whimsical drink creation, you’d have to brush up on your Harry Potter. Butterbeer is a special, non-alcoholic drink (for humans) mentioned throughout the Harry Potter book/movie series. To enjoy a Starbucks version, tell the barista to add 2 pumps each of caramel syrup, toffee nut syrup, and Cinnamon Dolce syrup to a Tall whole milk steamer, which is then topped with whipped cream and salted caramel bits. Syrup measurements increase to 3 pumps for a Grande and 4 for a Venti.
Also, in order to achieve just the right consistency for this drink recipe, it is highly recommended to opt for whole milk instead of swapping for skim or 2% milk.
Grasshopper Frappuccino: If your favorite ice cream flavor is mint chip, or you’re a fan of Grasshopper cookies, order a Mocha Frappuccino blended with java chips and peppermint syrup (1 pump for a Tall, 2 pumps for a Grande, and 3 pumps of a Venti).
Cinnamon Roll Frappuccino: To satisfy a cinnamon roll craving without actually eating one, ask your Starbucks barista to add white mocha syrup and Cinnamon Dolce syrup (one pump for a Tall, two for a Grande, and three for a Venti) to a Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino, which is then topped with Cinnamon Dolce powder.
Zebra Mocha: The combination of a White Chocolate Mocha and a regular mocha is often referred to as a ‘Zebra Mocha.’ This Starbucks drink has many other names, such as a ‘Penguin Mocha,’ ‘Marble Mocha, and ‘ Black and White Mocha’.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappuccino: Ideal for a Valentine’s Day splurge, start with a Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino with added java chips and a topping of mocha drizzle.
Strawberry Cheesecake Frappuccino: Ask a barista to add strawberries and milk to the bottom line with a crème base, vanilla bean powder, white mocha syrup, and Cinnamon Dolce syrup to make a Strawberry Cheesecake Frappuccino. The exact recipe for a Tall order is 2 pumps crème base, 1 scoop vanilla bean powder, 2 pumps of white mocha syrup, and 1 pump of Cinnamon Dolce syrup. Increase each measurement by 1 for each larger size.
Raspberry Cheesecake Frappuccino: Adding raspberry syrup (1 pump for a Tall, 1 ½ pumps for a Grande, and 2 pumps for a Venti) to a White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino will create a drink with a raspberry cheesecake flavor. To satisfy a sweet tooth, up the syrup amount by ½ a pump for each increase in size.
Triple C’s: Aptly named for various reasons, a Triple C’s consists of a Cinnamon Dolce Latte with added caramel syrup and chocolate mocha syrup – ( ½ pump each for a Tall, 1 pump for a Grande, and 1 ½ pumps for a Venti). However, as with every Starbucks Secret Menu Drink, being able to direct your barista on what goes into making the drink will most likely save you both a lot of time, energy, and frustration.
Marble Mocha Macchiato: Ask your barista to add White Mocha to the bottom of a cup (with no whip), and a shot of espresso on the top with mocha drizzle, to create this marbled drink.
Cookies & Cream Frappuccino: A White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino blended with java chips and a dash of peppermint syrup creates a cookies-and-cream effect.
A similar drink for cookie lovers to consider is the Oreo Frappuccino, which blends a Double Chocolate Chip Frappucino with white mocha sauce (instead of regular mocha). The drink is then topped with chocolate whipped cream. To achieve a drink with more of a crème than chocolate cookie flavor, ask a barista to blend a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino with java chips, which is then topped with mocha syrup or cookie crumbles (or both).
Cookie Dough Frappuccino: To enjoy a guilt-free cookie dough indulgence, start with a Chai Creme Frappuccino with soy milk and 2 pumps of Cinnamon Dolce syrup for a Tall drink (2 ½ pumps for a Grande and three for a Venti). Blend the ingredients with java chips and whipped cream. Add a chocolate whipped cream topping and a drizzle of mocha syrup.
Red Velvet Frappuccino: Also called a ‘Red Tuxedo,’ order a half White Mocha and half regular Mocha Frappuccino blended with raspberry syrup (1 pump for a Tall, 2 pumps for a Grande, and 3 pumps for a Venti). The drink is then topped with whipped cream.
S’mores Frappuccino: Starbucks can recreate a campfire favorite when you order a Grande Java Chip Frappuccino (or double chocolate chip if preferred) with 1 pump of Cinnamon Dolce syrup, 1 pump of Toffee Nut syrup, and whipped cream blended in. The drink is then topped with whipped cream, and Cinnamon Dolce sprinkles.
Nutella-Inspired Specialty Drinks: There are two primary ways to satisfy a Nutella craving when ordering from the “Starbucks Secret Menu.” The first is called The Nutella, which is a Café Misto with added mocha syrup and hazelnut syrup, and a few drops of caramel drizzle. The measurements for both syrup flavors are 1/2 pump for a Tall, 1 pump for a Grande, and 1 ½ pumps for a Venti.
Another related drink to consider is the Grande Nutella Frappuccino, which is made with a regular Coffee Frappuccino with 2 pumps of mocha syrup, 1 pump hazelnut syrup, and whipped cream blended in. The drink is then topped with whipped cream. A caramel drizzle is optional.
Ferrero Rocher Frappuccino: To enjoy a beverage that delivers the crispy, nutty, creamy and chocolaty decadence of Ferrero Rocher candy, ask your barista to craft a Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino (or Java Chip Frappuccino) with added mocha syrup (2 pumps for a Tall, 3 pumps for a Grande, and 3 ½ pumps for a Venti) and hazelnut syrup (1 pump for a Tall, 1 ½ for a Grande, 2 for a Venti). Add a hazelnut drizzle and top with whipped cream.
To enhance the nuttiness of the drink, add nutmeg powder.
For an extra chocolate-flavored rush, add mocha drizzle.
The Coldbuster: Also referred to as “The Medicine Ball,” your barista can brew a tea creation geared towards fighting the sore throats and sinus flare-ups associated with the cold and flu season. With the recent change to Teavana Tea being served in Starbucks, an updated recipe includes a Venti Cup filled with one bag of Peach Tranquility and one bag of Jade Citrus Mint tea. Add half hot water and half steamed lemonade to the cup, and a bit of honey for its anti-microbial and healing effects. Some choose to request a pump of peppermint to cap off the drink.
It is also recommended to sip the Coldbuster while it is as hot as you can take it without burning yourself, in order to reap the most soothing benefits.
The Dirty Hippy: A Dirty Chai Tea Latte is a chai tea latte with an added shot of espresso, and when it is made with soy milk instead of regular milk, it is commonly known as a Dirty Hippy.
Mojito Refresher: While holding the lime wheels until after blending the beverage, start with a Cool Lime Refresher, and add 1 pump of classic syrup for a Tall (1 ½ pumps for a Grande and two for a Venti), and ½ pump of peppermint syrup for a Tall (1 pump for a Grande and 1 ½ pumps for a Venti). Add ice and blend ingredients to create the non-alcoholic version of this popular island drink.
Purple Rain Refresher: Ask your barista to add Cool Lime Refresher to the first line of a cup, followed by water or lemonade to the second line. Blend the ingredients, and slowly add raspberry syrup (3 pumps for a Tall, 4 pumps for a Grande, and 6 pumps for a Venti) to the drink, which is then topped with a lime.
Although not a specialty drink, the following requests have been associated with the Starbucks Secret Menu simply because they are not as heavily marketed as other standard options:
• The “Short” Drink: Choose a smaller, less expensive option to having your Starbucks coffee served by ordering a ‘Short’ drink, which some baristas will tell you is not a secret, but instead, a size not widely advertised at the chain.
• The ‘Trenta’: The largest size available at Starbucks in the United States is the Trenta, which is only available for iced drinks, and provides 31 ounces of beverage. Ordering this larger size will cost you roughly $0.50 more than a Venti.
• A Green Eye: Adding an extra shot of espresso to a regular drip coffee is nothing new, but for the ultimate rush, order a Green Eye (sometimes referred to as a Blue Eye), which includes three shots of espresso. A Red Eye equals one extra shot, while the Black Eye has two.
• “Super Cream” Frappuccino: If you’re a fan of whipped cream, ask for a ‘Super Cream’ Frappe, and half a cup of whipped cream is blended in your drink.
• French Press: If you ask, Starbucks will brew any of the coffee sold in their establishment in a French Press.
• Affogato-Style Frappuccino: The chances of your barista knowing what an “affogato-style” Frappe means is greater than with any of the other requests mentioned here, which means a shot of hot espresso is added to the top of your beverage (instead of it being blended in).
Once Again, Know What You’re Ordering before Making a Request
Since the majority of Starbucks Secret Menu items are dreamed up by baristas and coffee lovers from all over the world, there are a few things to note if you want to get the most out of your Starbucks coffee experience.
One of the number-one complaints a Starbucks barista has about people coming in with ‘secret menu’ requests is that most have no clue about what they are ordering. It is important to remember that the above-mentioned names for ‘secret’ Starbucks drinks are not universal, and certain concoctions could be called several different things, especially from one city to the next. Additionally, even if a barista is familiar with a reference to a ‘secret’ drink, keep in mind that one barista’s understanding of what goes into something like an Oreo Cookie Frappuccino may differ from the next.
Want to make life easier for both of you? Ditch the creative names, and memorize the ingredients and ratios for specific sizes so that you can tell a barista exactly how to make a Starbucks Secret Menu drink. For more complicated recipes, write your request on a slip of paper to save both the barista and yourself the time and energy of going back and forth in a fog of miscommunication.
Also, expect to pay a little extra when ordering the ‘secret’ drinks at Starbucks. Don’t be surprised when a barista charges you for every syrup, sauce, and powder used to make one of the specialty beverages mentioned above.
To ensure a positive experience when exploring off-the-menu creations at Starbucks, always keep in mind the importance of knowing the recipe, and not just the name. This guarantees that you’ll receive the same drink every time it is ordered…no matter which Starbucks you visit. While you are at it, make sure to come in with a great Starbuck’s portable mug that you bought with Starbucks Coupons :)