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The 5 Best Starbucks Drinks to Order This Spring

We aren’t going to tell you that Starbucks is behind the best coffee in the world. But for a giant company with locations on pretty much every street corner on the planet, the convenience is pretty tasty. And, if you order right, you can come away with something that resembles the work of a real barista.

Sure, there’s a lot to joke about when you’re this popular. The Pumpkin Spice Latte has become an annual event more than a drink, and people wait every year to see what the holiday cup might look like. We’ve all stood behind the person with a ridiculous order (extra pumps, any number of creamer substitutes, and oh, make it decaf), and many of us love a good, clean Starbucks bathroom during a road trip.

A red Starbucks cup in between three white Starbucks cups beside coffee beans.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

But let’s not forget that the mega chain does coffee, too. Not the most expensive coffee in the world nor fun grown-up drinks like Irish Coffee (St. Patrick’s Day is on its way), but a lot of coffee and tea-based options. If you find yourself in a Starbucks in 2022, a near certainty, try one of these five standout drinks out.

Pistachio Latte

Pistachios falling from above with a cup of pistachio latte on green and white mat on orange background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s no surprise that a company that specializes in a solid standard latte would make some good flavored ones, too. This relatively new addition to the menu puts forth the nutty flavor of pistachio, which complements the roasted elements of the espresso nicely. There’s even a salted brown butter topping if you want to make the thing a dessert, but we just like the drink as is. In fact, add an extra shot of espresso for the best balance of flavor, not to mention a jolt of energy.

Flat White

Hands holding a glass of flat white on green table.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Texturally, this drink is hard to beat, unless you go the nitro route. A blend of steamed milk and espresso, it’s softer than a traditional latte and often more caffeinated. The espresso flavor can’t really hide anywhere, so the drink is forced to flex the might of its bean sourcing. We suggest one right after lunch, when you feel like a nap, but work says otherwise. If you want something a little different, try the honey almond milk version.

Reserve Nitro Cold Brew

A glass of Reserve Nitro Cold Brew on blue-green background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Starbucks turns just about all of their drinks into iced versions, but they don’t all translate well. The ice can dilute the drink quickly, especially on a hot day (those days are coming, by the way). So, risk nothing with this cold brew option, always served chilled and retaining its integrity until the very last sip. Coffee critics were skeptical with the company’s decision to go the cold brew route as it can be tricky to pull off (no, you don’t just chill down regular coffee), but the results are of quality.

Matcha Tea Latte

A close-up of a cup of matcha green tea latte from Starbucks on wooden table.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Starbucks would be silly not to hop aboard the matcha train. This hot latte is easy on the eye and showcases matcha’s one-of-a-kind vegetal, green, leafy flavor. Try hitting it with a shot of blonde espresso and a little honey, although the regular version is quite good. Matcha fans will argue that you won’t crash quite as hard once the stimulating power of the drink wears off, and we tend to agree.

Pink Drink

A cup of pink drink with straw and strawberry bits on a table.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This is one of the chain’s most popular and refreshing drinks, a mix of strawberries, acai berries, coconut milk, and ice. It’s a pretty pink hue and sips like a warm spring breeze. You can add additional tea if you want more of a caffeine kick, although there is caffeine in the acai base. If you are coffee’d out for the day but still want a little something to mobilize you, this is the way to go.

Mark Stock

Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since. He spent years making, selling, and sipping Pinot Noir in the Dundee Hills before a full return to his journalistic roots in 2016. He's helplessly tied to European soccer, casting for trout, and grunge rock. In addition to The Manual, he writes for SevenFifty Daily, Sip Northwest, The Somm Journal, The Drake, Willamette Week, Travel Oregon, and more. He has a website and occasionally even updates it:

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What is a gruit, and where can you find one?
Gruit, the beer made without hops that you need to try
Beer snifter chalice glass

Most beers you know and love today have four primary ingredients: water, barley, hops, and yeast. That’s largely due to the centuries-old German beer purity law, or reinheitsgebot, which demanded that beer be made exclusively using these ingredients and set the standard for today’s brews. 
But beer is an ancient beverage — historians believe its story stretches back to 5th millennium BC in Iran and went on to be enjoyed by the likes of Egyptian pharaohs and the Greek philosophers. However, if Socrates or Tutankhamun ever enjoyed a pint in their days, the beer was likely missing one of those four critical ingredients: the hop.
In today’s hop-hungry climate of India pale ales (and hazy IPAs, New England IPAs, as well as milkshake IPAs, and others), it seems impossible that beer could exist without hops. The fact is that many other natural ingredients can serve as substitutes for the bittering, aromatic, and flavoring characteristics of hops. Today, if a beer relies on other herbs to fill the "hops" role, the beverage is classified as a gruit.

Gruit is the German word for herb. Instead of depending on hops, these brews use exotic additives like bog myrtle, horehound, elderflowers, and yarrow to offset the sweetness of the malts and create a more complex beverage.
Thanks to the creativity of modern breweries, you don’t have to travel back to the Middle Ages to find a gruit (though if you can, please let us in on your time travel technology). You can try them right now, but you will have to do some detective work.
“Authentic” gruits can be tough to find in the mainstream marketplace. That’s because some laws require hops to be present for a product to be sold as beer. Not having the “beer” title would limit distribution and sales channels for some breweries.  To illustrate how rare gruits are in the current marketplace, there are currently 32,576 American IPAs listed on the Beer Advocate database and only 380 gruits.
But don’t despair — this list will help you get started on the path toward discovering modern versions of the ancient ale. Start your gruit journey here:

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A new recipe from Julianna McIntosh, aka join_jules, makes use of ready to drink cans of Cutwater Long Island Iced Tea to make creating a punch even easier. McIntosh shows off her punch recipe in a new Instagram Reel, which includes making boozy ice cubes with edible flowers ahead of time. These cool the drink but don't water it down as they melt, which is a genius hack especially for hot summer parties.

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