You have heard people mention it, but what is a handcrafted drink at Starbucks and how do you know that is what you are ordering when you go to Starbucks?
In this article, we will take a closer look at what exactly is a handcrafted Starbucks drink so that you can make an informed selection.
What is Not a Starbucks Handcrafted Drink?
If it’s not prepared by baristas using the knowledge they acquired in training, it’s not a handcrafted drink. If a barista brews you a cup of tea or coffee, that doesn’t automatically make it handcrafted.
This is because – even though it was prepared by a barista – they didn’t employ the specific set of skills that distinguish baristas from everyone else working behind the counter in a coffee shop.
If the drink comes in a box, a bottle, or a carton, it’s not handcrafted. Water, milk, soft drinks, and fruit juices are not handcrafted. The same goes for anything taken straight from the fridge and poured into a glass or a cup.
What Is A Handcrafted Drink At Starbucks?
If it has a shot of espresso in it, it’s a handcrafted drink.
If a drink is prepared according to a recipe of more than four ingredients – milk, sugar, hot water, and whatever – it’s a handcrafted drink.
What follows is an inventory of Starbucks Handcrafted Beverages. I suggest you bookmark it so that, the next time you’re standing in line, and you don’t recognize a name on the big board, you can come back here and look it up.
For the sake of clarity, there’s an asterisk next to the drinks that are not exclusive to Starbucks. These styles of coffee drinking were already well-established long before Starbucks came into existence.
- Espresso* – This is both a process and a beverage. Nearly boiling water is pushed through the coffee under a minimum of 8 bars of pressure.
- Espresso Con Panna* – An espresso topped with whipped cream.
- Caffe Americano* – an espresso mixed with hot water.
- Latte* – A Caffe Americano but with steamed milk instead of water.
- Cappuccino* – Caffe Americano topped with steamed milk foam and cinnamon or powdered chocolate.
- Irish Cream Americano – A Caffe Americano mixed with Irish Cream Syrup, topped off with steamed milk foam and cinnamon or powdered chocolate.
- Pistachio Latte – An espresso with hot milk, pistachio sauce, and a salted butter cookie topping.
- Cinnamon Dolce Latte – A latte with cinnamon syrup.
- Macchiato* – An espresso with steamed milk foam. The difference is that the espresso is added last, leaving a brown stain on milk foam, hence the name (macchiato means ‘stained’).
- Caramel Macchiato – A macchiato with vanilla syrup and caramel sauce.
- Honey Almond Flat White – Shots of ristretto (concentrated espresso) mixed with almond milk and a hint of honey.
2. Blended Beverages
These are really more of a liquid dessert than a beverage. If you’re watching your weight, be careful: the calorie count of some of these is astronomical.
- Frappuccino: A frappé cappuccino. A frappé is an instant coffee mixed with ice. The combination is a coffee base with ice and syrup, topped with whipped cream. Frappuccino© is a registered trademark
- Chocolate Cookie Crumble Frappuccino – Coffee and java chips with a layered topping of whipped vanilla cream, chocolate cookie crumble, and mocha drizzle. (Starbucks’ mocha sauce is actually a chocolate sauce. It doesn’t have any coffee in it.)
- Espresso Frappuccino – Coffee, espresso, milk, and ice mixed in a blender.
- Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino – Roast coffee, vanilla bean powder, milk, and ice topped with whipped cream.
- Caramel Frappuccino – Coffee, caramel syrup, milk, and ice mixed in a blender with a layered topping of whipped cream and caramel sauce layer.
- Java Chip Frappuccino – Mocha sauce, java chips, coffee, milk, and ice with whipped cream and a mocha drizzle topping.
- Chai Crème Frappuccino – Chai (spice tea), milk, and ice with a whipped cream and cinnamon topping.
- Pistachio Coffee Frappuccino – Blended pistachio flavoring, instant coffee, milk, and ice, topped with whipped cream and salted nut sprinkles.
- Mocha Frappuccino – Roast coffee, chocolate sauce, milk, and ice.
- Matcha Crème Frappuccino – Sweetened matcha (powdered green tea), milk, and ice with a topping of sweetened whipped cream.
- Vanilla Bean Crème – Vanilla bean powder, Crème Frappuccino syrup, milk, and ice with a whipped cream topping.
3. Iced Coffees
- Cold Brew Coffee – Instead of hot water, it’s made by soaking coarse-grind coffee beans in water at room temperature for 10 to 20 hours.
- Pumpkin Cold Foam Cold Brew – Cold brew coffee and vanilla syrup, topped with pumpkin cream foam and pumpkin spice powder.
- Nitro Cold Brew – Nitrogen-infused cold brew generates microbubbles, making the coffee smooth and frothy with a foamy head.
- Vanilla Sweet Cream Nitro Cold Brew – Nitro Cold Brew topped with vanilla sweet cream.
- Iced Caffe Americano – Cold water poured over 3 shots of espresso to produce a crema, topped off with ice.
- Iced Shaken Espresso – 3 shots of espresso sweetened with syrup and a splash of milk.
- Iced Oat Latte – Oats milk and espresso topped off with ice.
- Iced Pistachio Latte – Pistachio flavoring, espresso, milk, and ice with a buttery salted topping.
- Iced Caramel Macchiato – Ice, milk, and espresso sweetened with vanilla syrup and drizzled on with caramel sauce.
- Iced Caffe Mocha – espresso, mocha sauce, milk, and ice topped with whipped cream.
4. Iced Teas
- Iced Black Tea – Sweet black tea with ice.
- Iced Black Tea Lemonade – Sweet black tea with ice and lemonade.
- Iced Royal English Breakfast Tea Latte – Indian tea, milk, and ice sweetened with liquid cane sugar.
- Iced London Fog Tea Latte – Earl Grey (black tea and bergamot citrus extract), milk, vanilla extract, and sugar.
- Iced Chai Tea Latte – Black tea, cinnamon, cloves, spices, milk, and ice.
- Iced Green Tea Lemonade – Green tea blended with mint, lemongrass, lemon verbena, lemonade, and ice.
- Iced Matcha Lemonade – Powdered green tea, lemonade, and ice.
- Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade – Discontinued but might return when Starbucks has finished revising its tea menu.
- Iced Matcha Tea Latte – Green tea powder, milk, and ice.
- Iced Passion Tango Tea Lemonade – Hibiscus, lemongrass, apple, lemonade, and ice.
5. Cold Drinks
- Pink Drink – Strawberry acai juice, coconut milk, freeze-dried strawberries, and ice.
- Lemonade – Water, lemon juice, sugar, and lemon oil.
- Star Drink – Starfruit flavoring, kiwi fruit flavoring, coconut milk, kiwi fruit chunks, and ice.
- Kiwi Starfruit Refreshers – A Starbucks Star Drink under another name.
- Dragon Drink – Mango and dragon fruit flavoring, coconut milk, ice, and diced dragon fruit.
- Strawberry Açaí Refreshers – Strawberry, passion fruit, and açaí flavoring, notes, ice, and diced strawberry.
- Mango Dragon fruit Lemonade – Lemonade, sweet mango, dragon fruit flavoring, ice, and diced dragon fruit.
- Very Berry Hibiscus Refreshers – Fruit juice, blackberries, lemonade, green coffee extract, and ice. Soon to be discontinued.
- Violet Drink – Fruit juice, blackberries, green coffee extract, coconut milk, and ice.
- Blended Strawberry Lemonade – Lemonade, strawberry puree, and ice blended into a slushy.
6. Seasonal Beverages
The availability of these drinks depends on the time of year.
- Pumpkin Spice Latte – See above.
- Pistachio Latte – See above.
- Toffee Nut Latte – See above.
- Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha – See above.
- Sugar Cookie Oat Latte – See above.
- Star Drink – See above.
- Pink Drink – See above.
- Peppermint White Chocolate Crème Frappuccino – See above.
- Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino – See above.
- Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew – See above.
- Vanilla Creme
- Steamed apple juice
8. Specialty Hot Teas
- Chai Latte – See above.
- Matcha Tea Latte – See above.
- London Fog Latte – See above.
The Starbucks Rewards Program
The Starbucks Rewards Program is widely touted as one of the best – if not the best. And so it should be, considering the prices they charge.
To benefit fully, you have two choices: download the app or get a registered Starbucks card. Either way, you’re going to have to load some cash onto the card or app to qualify for 2 stars per dollar spent. You can also scan your member barcode in the app, then use any Starbucks Card whether it is registered or not.
The app has one major advantage over the card: it allows you to avoid queues by ordering ahead.
If the slow accumulation of stars is too trying, you can earn thousands of them by enrolling in promotions, member-only games, and Bonus Star challenges.
There are also Double Star days.
Bear in mind that rewards and loyalty programs are not there to benefit you. Their sole purpose is to encourage you to buy a particular product from one vendor and one vendor only. The potential savings are merely an inducement.
Please Note: All of this information was correct at the time of writing. The Rewards Program is not a global policy. Rules vary from country to country, territory to territory, and even from one Starbucks to another. If you engage with the Program, make sure that you acquaint yourself with the terms and conditions of your local branches, especially those you frequent most.
If gaming the system appeals to you, there are several ways you can cheat. The most obvious is to use your stars to buy add-ins and syrups that, mixed with an espresso or latte, make a drink that would cost far more if you had ordered it by name. It’s up to you to decide if the benefit is worth the effort.
Handcrafted drinks cost 150 Stars. A brewed coffee costs 50 Stars.
Alternative to Starbucks Handcrafted Beverages
For what you spend at Starbucks in two weeks, you can buy a single-serve espresso maker so small it sits on the corner of your desk. Kiss goodbye to queues, palaver about stars and cards and apps, and squandered dinero.
Recipes for all of the Starbucks syrups and add-ins already exist online. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t buy a blender, or even better your own espresso machine, make them at home and keep a selection in a desk drawer (reserved exclusively for that purpose, of course). That being said, it is hard to beat the Starbucks experience.