Just because there’s a Starbucks around every corner doesn’t mean you’re drinking the right caffeinated beverage when you visit. The colossal Seattle-born franchise has a bigger menu than you may realize, with countless options to tweak and trick out your favorite drink accordingly.
What’s the best Starbucks drink? That’s a contested debate worthy of a camera lens and a moderator. What we do know is that it’s not the Pumpkin Spice Latte. The wildly autumnal offering may be incredibly popular, but it’s not as intriguing as some of the other menu items. In fact, many of the company’s best creations are its most straightforward. In short, while a frilly drink is fun now and again, you should probably try something with less flair and more flavor.
Here are five fine Starbucks options worth exploring:
This velvety number is an ideal mix of steamed milk and espresso. The micro foam creates a mouthfeel that’s decidedly different from your standard-grade latte and there tends to be a higher ratio of coffee to liquid, which means a faster start to your day. Coffee purists tend to appreciate the style as the coffee flavor is rarely buried under other ingredients.
Hazelnut Bianco Latte
Sometimes you need a little sweet to accompany your perk. This latte harnesses the wonderfully unique flavor only hazelnuts can provide through a house-made and nut-infused milk. Admittedly, a lot of the chain’s drinks can wade way too far into sweet territory. But this latte is fairly dialed-in, especially if you ask the barista to go light or even add a little hot water to the finished product. The added heft is especially needed now as we burrow into autumn and winter starts to show up on the horizon.
Iced Pineapple Matcha
Granted, it’s not exactly the season for a tall, cold beverage (of which Starbucks makes many) but this one is worthy of the list. The flavors meld well without masking the distinctive tones matcha brings to the fore. And the tropical flavors don’t just stop at pineapple, as there’s some added ginger and coconut milk, too. Better still, it’ll have you thinking about sandy feet, crashing waves, and sunshine.
It’s impossible to beat an espresso atop the cobblestone streets of some Italian city. This drink will at least evoke such romanticism. The appeal of the drink lies in its relative simplicity, a sweet espresso drink hit with steamed milk and foam. It’s rich, it’s bitter, and it’s lasting, despite the petite size. We suggest some biscotti or a simple muffin to cut into the macchiato a bit.
Cup of Joe
Yep, let’s go back to the basics. Regular old coffee beans are what launched Starbucks into the mainstream back in the early 1970s and they continue to buoy the brand today. You don’t need a drink with six pumps of sweetener in it to be satisfied and energized. Go with a classic like the Pike Place Roast and hit it with a few drops of any number of dairy or dairy substitute options (oat milk, almond milk, etc.). It’s probably not going to best your favorite local roastery, but for a global giant it tends to be pretty solid.
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