Confessions of a Starbucks Snob: A Rundown of All Things Starbucks

When I was a freshmen in college, I got a job at Starbucks, which felt like a dream come true. And in a lot of ways it was. I loved learning about everything that goes into coffee and the drinks in general, and I thoroughly enjoyed making every drink.

The busier it got the better, as the time flew by and it felt like a game of beat the clock. Ever since I had a job there, my friends always ask me about what to get and just facts in general. I like to joke that working there turned me into a coffee snob because to be honest, it really did. I love knowing so much about the process and quality of coffee, which is something I always loved growing up  and still love to this day.

I almost get giddy when my friends ask me for advice because I get to let my inner nerd out! So here it is for everyone to enjoy, some of the basics of the confessions of a Starbucks snob. (And yes, in case you were wondering, it is for sure better than Dunkin’ Donuts.)

First, let’s talk about what the difference is between lattes and coffee. Let’s compare a vanilla iced latte to a vanilla iced coffee. A latte will use espresso versus coffee. The best way to describe espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee. A common misconception is that the espresso shot has more caffeine than the coffee, however this is not necessarily true. Especially when discussing Starbucks’ iced coffee, the iced coffee actually has the second highest amount of caffeine of anything on the menu (cold brew containing the highest content of caffeine).

So back to the difference between lattes and coffee — a vanilla iced latte will be made up of vanilla syrup, espresso shots, milk (cold, not steamed) and ice (all measurements of syrup, espresso, milk and ice depend on what size you order). A vanilla iced coffee will consist of vanilla syrup, iced coffee (this coffee is different than the regular drip coffee because it uses a stronger bean so that ice doesn’t water it down), milk and ice. That’s it. That’s the only difference. Just the espresso versus the coffee.

Let’s return to cold brew. What even is cold brew? Cold brew is brewed differently than other coffee. Drip coffee is brewed just as you brew coffee at home: filter + ground beans + hot water = coffee. Iced coffee is slightly different as it uses the stronger bean, as mentioned earlier, and then is brewed as regular drip coffee using hot water. Once this is finished, ice is added and then the coffee is refrigerated until used. Cold brew however is completely different from these forms of brewing as it doesn’t use hot water at all.

The coffee is brewed in room temperature water and has to sit for somewhere around 24 hours (different coffee shops let it sit for different amounts of time, but the time is always about 24 hours). After this is done and you have the coffee, you add ice. This coffee is actually so powerfully caffeinated that it is watered down when making the drink you order (at least this is what Starbucks did). So, as a recap, cold brew has the highest percentage of caffeine of anything on the Starbucks menu, next would come the iced coffee, then the drip hot coffee and finally espresso drinks (this is in general, as things can vary with add-ons and size comparisons).

One thing I want to mention is price differences and tips and tricks for how to keep a budget at Starbucks. We’re in college and let’s be honest, finals season can be rough on the mind but even rougher on the wallet. So, as I stated in the first fact, lattes and iced coffees are fairly similar in what goes into them. So if you are craving a vanilla latte, an iced coffee is going to taste somewhat similar for about a third less of the price of a latte. A good thing to remember is the espresso is usually more expensive.

These are just three of the most fundamental facts I think everyone should know when ordering at Starbucks to help guide you on your way. But researching more into types of coffee/espresso, drink components, ways of brewing, etc. is always interesting and will be sure to make you the Starbucks wizard of your friend group. I hope these facts provided a good starting base for you. And if you enjoyed learning about this, be sure to comment below for a follow-up article!