A Collegiette's Guide To Starbucks

Have you ever heard someone say “I don’t need coffee/caffeine to function” and just rolled your eyes? Me too. Let’s be reasonable here, we all need a little pick-me-up from now and again, and as a hard-working and always slaying collegiette that “now and again” is more likely multiple times a week, if not every day. I pride myself on the amount of coffee I drink, one cup every morning, no matter how much sleep I got the night previous.

Now don’t feel fooled, but I do not go to Starbucks EVERY DAY. Unfortunately, I’m not made of money and that can get very pricey. However, I do make your good-ol’ cup of joe in my Black & Decker coffee maker (pro tip: get one with a timer, so it brews as your alarms go off and it’s ready for you as your roll out of bed). That being said, I have done my time as a barista in a local coffee shop, and I have likely spent in the upwards of $400 at Starbucks in my time as a human being, and that’s not including the free drinks I’ve received just by sitting at the bar at my local Starbucks Coffee.

Just as a forewarning: I will use terminology in this article that is comparable if not exact to the terminology that Starbucks uses in their brandings and in their stores for their products.

I’m sure you already have your established drink at Starbucks; your norm, your regular.

But, next time you go to Starbucks, do keep these things in mind, and try out some of my favorite drinks:

  1. In general, the blonder the coffee (the lighter the roast), the more caffeine is present.

While, okay, the real deciding factor isn’t actually the roast of their coffee, it’s how the coffee is measured (scooped vs. weighed), it can be said that ~in general~ a blonder roast will contain more milligrams of caffeine.

  1. Coffee vs. Espresso (in a latte)

Just for the sake of information, the difference between a coffee and a latte is the difference of the concentration of the beans being brewed. In just a coffee…it’s just drip coffee, similar to one you could make at your home, in your dorm room, or elsewhere. In a latte, that coffee flavor you taste is espresso, and those are “poured” out in what are called “shots”. According to an article by Maddie from Kicking Horse Coffee, espresso has more caffeine per ounce, but in a “tall” drink from Starbucks, the caffeine content is higher in a cup of drip-coffee than in a latte, 120 mg to 90 mg, respectively. A “cheaper” and lifehack sort of method is to know how many shots of espresso are going into your drink. A “Tall” drink has 2 shots of espresso. A “Grande” drink also has 2 shots of espresso. A “Venti” has 3 shots of espresso.

  1. What’s an Americano?

An Americano is likely the closest thing that you can make to coffee from shots of espresso. In other terms, an Americano consists of two (or three) shots of espresso with hot water on top. It will taste stronger than a normal cup of drip-coffee because the concentration is significantly higher in espresso shots.

  1. Green Coffee Extract? In a Refresher? What!?!

I’m sure you’ve seen those canned Starbucks Refresher drinks. Generally carbonated, occasionally made with coconut water, these canned drinks are a lighter energy drink, likely a better alternative to drinking a Monster, a Red Bull, or a 5 Hour Energy drink. The reason these don’t take like coffee is because they aren’t made with coffee beans; they are actually made from green coffee extract, which is a derivative of coffee beans. Don’t worry, I’m not to bring math into this. However, you should know that green coffee extract is also sold as a vitamin supplement and has been endorsed by Dr. Oz. Rumor has it that the vitamin supplement is good for your metabolism. I’m not really into supplements, so I’m going to stick to my Refresher drinks. These guys have ~50 mg of caffeine, so if you are in a crunch, these guys will be your friend as a quick pick-me-up.

  1. Okay, Lauren. I feel pretty informed now. What should I get the next time I’m at Starbucks?

For obvious reasons, my opinion on coffee and my flavors is likely going to vary greatly from yours. However, we should all give everything a try because we don’t know what it is we are going to like!

I really love these:

  • London Fog – This drink isn’t even coffee-based. This is Earl Grey Tea with steamed milk. Seriously, give it a try.
  • Latte with white mocha and hazelnut (1 pump white mocha, 3 pumps of hazelnut in a grande) - Hot or iced, with any kind of milk is good.
  • White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha – These drinks are just good for the soul, and the white chocolate is even better.
  • Passion Tea with Lemonade and Peach flavoring – just as good as the new Sangria, this drink is always good and is actually slightly cheaper.
  • Caramel Macchiato with Soy Milk – I really love soy milk, and for whatever reason, it makes these taste even better (like we ever thought that was possible)!
  • White Hot Chocolate – not a menu item, minimal caffeine, but AMAZING! Ask for a hot chocolate but to be made with white chocolate flavoring as opposed to milk chocolate mocha.