Starbucks for Beginners


I love coffee, but ordering at a coffee shop like Starbucks quickly becomes more complicated than I ever thought an order of coffee would be! Tall or grande, hot or iced, sweetened or unsweetened – sometimes the questions seem endless. I thought I would provide a quick guide to understanding the basics when ordering at Starbucks. Hopefully this will save you a little bit of stress while stopping in to relax and read a book or catch up with an old friend.

  • Sizes: Small is called Tall, medium is Grande and large is Venti. But don’t worry, it is ok to just order a small, medium or large – the barista will know what you mean and shouldn’t give you a hard time.
  • Hot or iced: Many drinks, like lattes, mochas, and even brewed coffee are available either hot or iced. The default is hot, so if you want an iced drink, make sure to specify.
  • Skinny: When you order a “skinny” drink, it will be made with skim milk and sugar-free syrup. Not all drinks can be made “skinny,” but many can.
  • Coffee: Starbucks has an impressive variety of coffee beans. You can find mild, medium and dark varieties. Each has unique flavor notes – some might be more floral and citrusy, while others might have berry or chocolate undertones. Learning how to “taste” coffee can be very fun! If you are at a Starbucks during a slow period, tell a friendly barista that you want to learn more about the different types of coffee.
  • Milk: 2% is the standard for most drinks. Nonfat/skim, 1%, whole, half & half, heavy whipping cream, and soy are also available by request. Some might cost a little bit more.

The world of Starbucks can be overwhelming, but getting the basics down will help you order your drinks with confidence. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the barista and ask for suggestions. Once you find a drink you love, write it down so you know how to order it next time!