A Guide to Starbucks Lingo (Learn Every Term Guaranteed!)

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Have you ever walked into a Starbucks and felt confused by the unique language used to describe their menu? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Many people are initially overwhelmed by Starbucks lingo and terms, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to order your favorite drinks with confidence.

In this article, I’ll help you navigate through Starbucks’ language and familiarize you with the terms they use for Starbucks sizes, flavors, and other options. By the end of this guide, you’ll feel like a pro when placing your order, making your Starbucks experience even more enjoyable! So, get ready to decode the Starbucks lingo, become fluent in the Starbucks language, and order a Venti with confidence!

What is Starbucks Lingo?

Starbucks Lingo refers to the unique terms and phrases used by Starbucks customers and baristas when ordering, customizing, and talking about their favorite drinks.

Familiarizing yourself with this lingo can help make your Starbucks experience more enjoyable and efficient.

When you walk into a Starbucks, one of the first things you’ll notice is the size names. Instead of using small, medium, and large, Starbucks has its own terminology: Tall (12 oz), Grande (16 oz), Venti (20 oz for hot drinks and 24 oz for cold drinks), and Trenta (30 oz for iced beverages). Keep these sizes in mind when choosing your drink.

Espresso drinks come with many customization options. For example, you can order your espresso drink with ristretto (concentrated) or lungo (diluted) shots. If you prefer a strong flavor, opt for a ristretto shot. On the other hand, if you like your espresso mellower, go for lungo.

You can also choose the type of milk for your drink. Starbucks offers a variety of dairy and non-dairy milk options, such as whole, nonfat, 2%, soy, almond, and coconut milk. Specify your preference when you order.

If you’re looking for something different, explore the world of Starbucks’ secret menu. These are unofficial combinations and customizations that creative customers and baristas have come up with over the years.

One example is the Cotton Candy Frappuccino – a blend of a Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino with raspberry syrup. Just remember that since these items are not officially part of the menu, be prepared to explain the recipe to your barista.

Now that you’re familiar with Starbucks Lingo, go forth and confidently order your next delicious beverage, customized to your liking!

Where Does Starbucks Lingo Come From?

You might have noticed that Starbucks has its own unique language when it comes to naming its drinks and items. But where does this lingo come from?

As a global coffee chain, Starbucks aims to create a consistent and distinct experience for its customers. In doing so, they developed their own terminology to help make ordering a fun and special process.

One aspect of Starbucks lingo involves the size of your beverage. Instead of the usual small, medium, and large, you’ll encounter Tall, Grande, and Venti at Starbucks. Interestingly, this decision stems from the company’s Italian-inspired roots.

While “Tall” is an English word meaning large or big, “Grande” is Italian for big, and “Venti” means twenty, representing the 20-ounce size of the cup.

Now let’s talk about the drink names themselves. You’ll encounter unique terms like Frappuccino, a blend of “frappe” and “cappuccino,” which reflects the icy, blended nature of the drink combined with the coffee base.

Other names like Macchiato, which means “stained” or “spotted” in Italian, refer to the method of preparation—espresso “staining” the milk in this case.

Lastly, Starbucks baristas use specific codes when marking your cup to ensure your drink is made correctly. This system includes shorthand like “B” for Breve, meaning your drink is made with half-and-half instead of milk.

Another example is “XH” for extra hot, ensuring your beverage is steaming, just the way you like it.

Embracing Starbucks lingo not only helps you place your order effectively, but also adds a personal touch to your coffee experience. So next time you visit Starbucks, confidently order your favorite drink using their unique language – you’ll feel like a pro!

Beverages Explained

Coffee-Based Drinks

At Starbucks, you’ll find a wide variety of coffee-based drinks, perfect for satisfying your caffeine cravings.

For a simple option, try a drip coffee. Sizes are tall (12 oz), grande (16 oz) and venti (20 oz).

If you’re looking for something a little stronger, the red eye (drip coffee with one espresso shot) or the black eye (drip coffee with two espresso shots) are great options.

Starbucks also offers a lighter blonde roast for those who prefer a milder taste.

Espresso-Based Drinks

In this section, you’ll find beverages made with Starbucks’ rich and smooth espresso. If you’re a fan of the classic cappuccino, it’s a perfect blend of espresso, steamed milk, and a layer of foam.

Similar to a cappuccino, a latte is made with espresso and steamed milk, but with less foam. For a sweeter option, a mocha combines espresso, chocolate syrup, and steamed milk, topped with whipped cream.

A macchiato is another popular espresso-based drink, which consists of a shot of espresso topped with a dollop of milk foam. If you prefer a more concentrated espresso flavor, try a ristretto, made by pulling a shorter espresso shot.

You can also customize your espresso-based drinks with extra shots or different milk options, like soy or almond milk.

Tea-Based Drinks

Get cozy with Starbucks’ tea selection, starting with the popular chai tea latte, a combination of black tea, spices, and steamed milk.

If you want to add a little extra kick to your chai tea, order a dirty chai, which includes a shot of espresso. You can also choose from various iced teas, such as green, black, or herbal options.


When craving something fruity and refreshing, Starbucks refreshers are the perfect pick-me-up. One of the most popular options is the pink drink, made with the Strawberry Açaí Refresher and coconut milk.

These beverages often include inclusions, like scoops of strawberries or blackberries. Starbucks also offers a range of seasonal drinks, so keep an eye out for new and exciting flavors throughout the year!

Other Beverages

Don’t worry if coffee or tea isn’t your favorite. Starbucks has a variety of other beverages to choose from, like hot chocolate, frappuccinos (blended ice beverages), and even smoothies. No matter your preference, there’s something for everyone at Starbucks!

Customizing Your Order

Size and Caffeine Options

When you’re at Starbucks, knowing the lingo can make your ordering experience so much smoother. Let’s start with the basics – sizes.

Starbucks has unique names for their cup sizes, like Tall (12 oz), Grande (16 oz), and Venti (20 oz for hot drinks, and 24 oz for cold drinks). So the next time you want a medium drink, ask for a Grande!

Now, let’s talk about caffeine options. If you want to control the amount of caffeine in your drink, you can easily customize it. For example, you can order a half-caf (half-caffeinated) drink, or even a completely decaf (decaffeinated) one!

Adding Flavors and Toppings

Starbucks offers a variety of flavors and toppings to jazz up your drink. If you’re a fan of sweet, creamy drinks, try a Vanilla Latte or a Caramel Macchiato. You can also add extra flavor with syrups, like vanilla or caramel. Just ask for them when placing your order.

If strong coffee is more your style, go for an Americano or an Affogato (a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of ice cream). You can also add a touch of foam to your drink by asking for froth.

For a healthier option, consider ordering a skinny version of your favorite drink. This means it will be made with nonfat or low-fat milk, sugar-free syrup, and without whipped cream.

Speaking of whipped cream, it’s a delicious topping that can be added to most Starbucks drinks. Just request it when you order your drink, and enjoy the creamy goodness on top of your beverage!

Remember, whenever you visit Starbucks, don’t be afraid to customize your order and use the lingo. It’ll make your experience more enjoyable and you’ll get the perfect drink tailored to your taste buds!

Barista and Customer Interaction

Common Terms Used by Starbucks Baristas

As a customer at Starbucks, you’ll notice that baristas use certain terms to communicate effectively while taking your order.

Here are 10 common Starbucks lingo terms that can help you understand what’s going on behind the counter:

  1. Barista – The person who prepares and serves your coffee.
  2. Doppio – A double shot of espresso
  3. Grande – A medium-sized Starbucks drink (16 ounces)
  4. Solo – A single shot of espresso
  5. Tall – A small-sized Starbucks drink (12 ounces)
  6. Venti – A large-sized Starbucks drink (20 ounces for hot, 24 ounces for cold)
  7. Whip – Short for whipped cream, often added on top of various drinks
  8. Quad – Four shots of espresso, used in larger or stronger drinks
  9. Caramel drizzle – Caramel sauce, often added as a topping on certain drinks
  10. Misto – A coffee drink made with half coffee and half steamed milk

How to Order Like a Pro

To make your Starbucks ordering experience smooth and efficient, keep these tips in mind when placing your order:

  1. Know your size – Choose between Tall, Grande, or Venti to indicate your preferred drink size.
  2. Specify your drink type – Let the barista know if you want a hot or iced beverage.
  3. Choose your base – Specify the type of coffee you want, such as brewed coffee, espresso, or a specific blend.
  4. Add your milk – If you prefer, ask for a specific type of milk or a non-dairy alternative like almond, soy, or oat milk.
  5. Customize your drink – Add any desired syrups, flavorings, or toppings like whipped cream or caramel drizzle.
  6. Mention any modifications – If you have specific preferences like extra hot, decaf, or extra foam, let the barista know.
  7. Speak clearly – It’s essential to articulate your order clearly so the barista can understand your preferences and make your drink just the way you like it.

By using these terms and tips, you’ll be able to communicate effectively with the barista and order your perfect Starbucks drink with confidence. Enjoy your coffee!

Starbucks Secret Menu Lingo

Popular Secret Menu Items

You might be surprised to discover that Starbucks has a secret menu with creative and delicious drinks not found on their regular menu. Let’s dive into some popular secret menu items and their unique lingo:

  1. Butterbeer Frappuccino: Inspired by the famous drink from the Harry Potter series. To order, ask for a Crème Frappuccino with caramel and toffee nut syrup.
  2. Pink Drink: A fruity and refreshing beverage. Request a Strawberry Acai Refresher, but replace the water with coconut milk. The pink drink used to be a secret menu item but is now on the regular Starbucks menu.
  3. Thin Mint Frappuccino: A delightful mix that resembles the famous Girl Scout cookie. Just order a Green Tea Frappuccino and add chocolate and peppermint syrup.
  4. Twix Frappuccino: Recreate the taste of the popular candy bar by asking for a Caramel Frappuccino with a pump of hazelnut syrup, java chips, and caramel drizzle.
  5. Nutella Latte: Combine chocolate and hazelnut flavors by requesting a Latte with a pump of chocolate syrup, hazelnut syrup, and caramel drizzle on top.

Creating Your Own Starbucks Masterpiece

Creating your own secret menu drink is as simple as understanding Starbucks lingo and customizing your order. Here are some common terms that’ll help you create your perfect beverage:

  • Breve: Half-and-half instead of milk.
  • Dry: A cappuccino with more foam and less milk (usually 50/50).
  • Wet: A cappuccino with less foam and more milk.
  • Skinny: A lower-calorie version of a drink with nonfat milk, sugar-free syrup, and no whipped cream.
  • With whip: Adding whipped cream to a drink.
  • Double: An espresso-based drink with two espresso shots.
  • Extra hot: A beverage heated to a higher temperature than standard.
  • Affogato-style: Ice cream or gelato topped with a shot of espresso.
  • No foam: A drink with the foam removed, resulting in more milk.
  • Upside down: A caramel macchiato with the layers reversed, starting with caramel drizzle and then adding the shots.

Create your personalized drink by mixing and matching lingo terms and experimenting with flavors!

Don’t be afraid to ask your barista for suggestions or to try new combinations. The possibilities are endless when it comes to Starbucks’ secret menu lingo.

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Featured image credit: Starbucks