Starbucks Tips, Tricks, and Advice from a Real Barista

By Victoria Vadell on June 11, 2019


Starbucks is a beloved chain cafe found all over the world, but some people are still: the sizes are weird, how do I know if the person making my drink is good at it, etc. Well, these are some tips and tricks to make shopping at Starbucks more efficient and less confusing for you and the baristas (I am one of those baristas, believe me!).

via Pexels

1.) You don’t have to be intimidated by our sizes!

In every Starbucks barista’s online training they are taught to accept words small, medium, large, and extra-large as well as tall, grande, venti, and trenta! If the sizes confuse you there is no need to worry, just say one you normally would and the barista can normally figure it out from there.

Fun Fact: Our “strange” sizes originate from coffee shops in Italy!

2.) Latte v. Flavored Coffee

Many believe in order to purchase a flavored coffee you MUST get a latte, this is 100% false! The reason so many people believe Starbucks is outrageously expensive compared to Dunkin Donuts is that when you order a Vanilla coffee there, it is just flavoring and coffee, but at Starbucks when you say Vanilla Latte: it is not the same thing. A latte is espresso shots with steamed milk and flavoring if you so choose. So next time you want some flavored coffee for significantly cheaper, go to your local Starbucks and order a Pikes Place Roast with white mocha sauce and a little cream!

via Pexels

3.) Espresso shots in frappuccinos


Sorry about the outburst there, just needed to make that fact aware. The kind of coffee in a frappuccino is a kind of coffee concentrate so it does not MELT the frozen drink. Now if you want that extra kick of an espresso shot, you need to be aware of a few things. One, the drink will be more watery because the espresso is scalding hot and the frap is a frozen beverage. Two, the espresso and the frap will separate if left sitting for a long time. And three, it might end up double-cupped because putting whipped cream on a melted frap is super messy. If you’d like to avoid these problems might I suggest getting your shots affogato (this means poured over the top of your normally made frap), you still get your normal drink and the extra caffeine kick for less of a hassle on both ends!

4.) Mobile Ordering

Mobile ordering is perfect when sitting in traffic and wanted your coffee to be done when you get to Starbucks, but a common misconception is that when one mobile orders the order is the first priority: this is not what happens. It basically just prints the sticker with your drinks at the time you order it as if you were in line. So if you mobile order and it is not finished quite yet, it just means there were customers ahead of you in the mobile or real-life line.

Another tip: ALWAYS check the store you are mobilizing to, it happens a lot where people mobile to the wrong store and baristas have to stop the drinks in the queue to fix a mistake that was not even really their’s.

5.) Black Apron Myth

Just because a barista is wearing a black apron does not automatically mean they are better than everyone else at their jobs, contrary to what articles other places may say. The black apron was a limited program where baristas could earn an apron if they tried a list of different coffee combinations given to them in their interview. All the apron means is that they tried a lot of different coffees and they could have been there longer than others: they care more about the art of coffee, but the program is over now and not offered any longer. If you are skeptical about whether your coffee is being made correctly, just ask for the ingredients and if something is off, tell your barista! We would be more than happy to remake your drink to your standards.

Starbucks Barista Major in English with a concentration in Literary Studies and a minor in Mass Communications

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