Starbucks barista making an espresso

(Photo by Sorbis on Shutterstock)

Ask any Starbucks regular what their favorite drink is and you’ll likely get an answer within seconds. But what do the baristas themselves prefer when it comes to their daily coffee or caffeine fix? We scoured Reddit to find out, and the results might surprise you.

In an analysis of three recent threads on the r/starbucks subreddit, baristas shared their go-to beverages, ranging from simple iced coffees to complex, multi-step concoctions. While opinions varied, a few clear favorites emerged from the hundreds of responses. And one trend that’s very clear is most like it cold!

After analyzing the three lists of favorite Starbucks drinks mentioned by baristas, here are some of the most frequently repeated orders:

1. Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso
This relative newcomer to the Starbucks menu has quickly become a barista favorite, with many adding their own tweaks like extra shots, pumps of white mocha, or cinnamon powder.

2. Iced Chai Tea Latte
A classic choice, baristas love to customize their iced chais with additions like brown sugar syrup, shots of blonde espresso, or flavored cold foams.

3. Iced White Mocha
The iced white mocha was another top pick, often paired with blonde espresso shots and alternative milks like oat or coconut. Baristas also liked to add toppings such as sweet cream cold foam, caramel drizzle and cinnamon dolce for an extra indulgent treat.

4. Iced Matcha Latte
For those looking for a coffee alternative, the iced matcha latte was a popular choice. Baristas experimented with sweeteners like brown sugar or vanilla syrup, as well as fun mix-ins like chai or strawberry puree.

5. Iced Blonde Espresso (Variety)
Whether it be a shaken espresso, americano, latte or flat white, blonde shots were definitely the espresso of choice among baristas. These drinks were often paired with alternative milks and flavored syrups.

6. Refreshers and Iced Teas
Another popular coffee alternative, baristas like to customize their with lemonade, juice inclusions (peach, pineapple) and flavored syrups. Popular combinations included Strawberry Açaí Lemonade with raspberry syrup or Passion Tango Tea with liquid cane sugar.

7. Cold Brew (Variety)
A simpler option, baristas mention using a variety of additions like sweet cream foam, hazelnut or toffee nut syrup, and toppings like caramel drizzle or cinnamon powder.

8. Frappuccinos
Overall, baristas seem to enjoy putting their own creative spin on the Starbucks classic, with non-standard builds like using cold brew or blonde shots instead of frapp roast, adding sweet cream, or mixing in syrups and inclusions not typically included in the recipe (e.g. Java chip with white mocha).

Starbucks Cold Brew
Starbucks Cold Brews are among favorites for baristas. (Photo by Mr. Kosal on Shutterstock)

Creative Concoctions

While many baristas stuck to tweaks on menu classics, others shared their own unique “secret menu” creations. Standouts included:

  • A “deconstructed” brown sugar oatmilk shaken espresso with ristretto shots, white mocha and a splash of oat milk
  • A matcha lemonade mixed with peach juice and blended for a slushy texture
  • An iced London Fog (Earl Grey tea latte) with brown sugar and cinnamon
  • Cold brew topped with dark caramel cold foam and caramel crunch topping for a “caramel macchiato” vibe
  • A passion tango tea mixed with strawberry açaí base and liquid cane sugar for a fruity refresher
  • A Caramel Apple Spice drink modified with no cinnamon dolce, steamed with spiced apple drizzle, and topped with caramel and whipped cream.
  • The Pink Drink customized with scoops of vanilla bean, lighter on the strawberry, and extra coconut milk, revealing a creamier and more dessert-like version of the popular refreshment.
  • An innovative take on the Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino, where classic syrup is substituted with white mocha, sometimes adding java chips and mocha drizzle for an indulgent twist.

Made To Order: 10 More Suggestions

Still looking for something new? Here are 10 specific takes on some of the Starbucks’ barista favorites:

1. “Before work: venti brown sugar oatmilk shaken espresso with an extra shot.”

2. “After work/closing: matcha lemonade, no water, heavyhanded on the matcha scoops.”

3. “Tall oatmilk matcha frap with 2 pumps white mocha.”

4. “Grande vanilla sweet cream cold brew with one extra pump of vanilla, light ice and chocolate cold foam. Throw some toffeenut in the cold foam if you’re feeling a little extra too.”

5. “My favorite drink is an iced matcha latte with brown sugar syrup and oatmilk.”

6. “The thing I drink most often is ice soy chai with brown sugar and sometimes a blonde shot.”

7. “Grande white mocha iced and three pumps of brown sugar and blonde ristretto shots. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll do vanilla sweet cream foam with cinnamon.”

8. “Venti iced brown sugar shaken espresso, two pumps of white mocha, extra apple drizzle.”

9. “Passion tea, no water, add strawberry purée, half the sugar. Delicious also good in black or green tea.”

10. “Venti iced americano with peppermint, a splash of oat milk and sweet cream cold foam. To me, it tastes like Christmas in a cup!”

Keeping It Simple

Despite having access to virtually unlimited flavor combinations, a surprising number of baristas said they tend to keep it simple with their drink of choice. Plain iced coffees, americanos and even just a cup of hot Pike Place were common picks, especially for those opening shifts.

And of course, many baristas joked that water was their true BFF during a long shift slinging drinks.

Tips for Ordering

While most baristas are happy to make modifications, they advise being aware of peak busy times when placing a complex order. Many suggested using the mobile app for elaborate customizations to make things easier.

Most importantly, baristas emphasize the value of kindness when making special requests. A little patience, understanding and a smile can go a long way in brightening their day – even more than an extra shot of espresso.

About Steve Fink

Steve Fink is the founder and Editor-In-Chief of He is a veteran journalist who previously served as Vice President of News Engagement for CBS Television Stations' websites. Beginning his career as a sports producer at WJZ-TV in Baltimore in 2001, he previously served as Managing Editor of and before joining the company’s corporate digital team in 2010.

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