Understanding What Everything Means at Starbucks
This guide to Starbucks lingo will help you understand all the coffee jargon and terminology used at Starbucks so you can order the perfect drink.
If you’re a new Starbucks customer, you’ve probably come across some words that you have no idea what they mean.
Even the drink sizes short, tall, grande and venti are unconventional.
The truth is, a lot of the lingo you hear at Starbucks can be confusing, especially to new customers.
Regular customers are unsure of some terminology used at the coffee giant, as well.
If you’re wondering things like what are ristretto, long and affogato shots, or what’s the difference between cold foam, milk foam and crema, then this Starbucks glossary is for you.
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Starbucks Lingo (Terms & Meanings)
This guide to Starbucks lingo takes the confusion out of all the jargon and coffee terminology you hear at Starbucks or see on the menu.
Each Starbucks term is listed with an explanation of what it means so you really understand how to order the best drink.
Affogato means “drowned” and typically refers to a dessert of ice cream or gelato with espresso poured over it.
At Starbucks, affogato or affogato-style is jargon for a shot of espresso poured over a frappuccino.
RELATED: Easy & Delicious Affogato Recipe
An Americano is an espresso beverage that combines espresso and water. Starbucks Americanos are made with one more shot of espresso than other espresso drinks of the same size.
For instance, a grande Americano has 3 shots of espresso, whereas a grande latte has 2 shots.
Black Eye & Red Eye
A black eye from Starbucks is a cup of drip coffee with two shots of espresso added to it. A red eye has one shot of espresso added to a drip coffee.
Breve at Starbucks is the same thing as half-and-half. It’s marked on the cup with a “B.”
Breve is also what an espresso drink with half & half instead of milk is called at many coffeeshops.
A cappuccino is a traditional hot espresso beverage. To make this coffeehouse classic, Starbucks baristas combine espresso shots with a deep layer of milk foam.
Milk foam options are dry, extra dry, regular, extra wet and wet.
Chai is a tea, not coffee. In fact, chai literally means tea. Specifically, chai is a blend of black tea and spices like cinnamon, cardamom, star anise and clove.
Starbucks chai tea lattes (hot and iced) are very popular drinks that bring together sweet and spicy chai tea concentrate with milk. Starbucks also offers a chai tea bag for hot brewed tea.
Starbucks cold brew coffee is coffee that is slowly brewed in room temperature water for about 20 hours. Since the coffee never comes in contact with heat, the drink is less acidic and often described as sweet and smooth. Cold brew is served over ice.
RELATED: Starbucks Coffee Guide: Cold Brew
Cold Foam & Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam
Starbucks has two main types of cold foam toppings for cold brew beverages. Plain cold foam is simply blended non-fat milk that turns into a pillowy cloud when it’s aerated.
Vanilla sweet cream cold foam is a mixture of heavy cream, milk and vanilla syrup that’s also blended into a creamy cloud.
Con panna means, with whipped cream. An espresso con panna is simply an espresso beverage with a dollop of whipped cream on top.
RELATED: Easy & Delicious Espresso con Panna
A shot of espresso has three parts: heart, body and crema. Crema is the lighter-colored, foamy layer on top of the shot.
When an espresso shot is first pulled from the machine, its three layers (heart, body and crema) are visible. Quickly, these layers merge and the taste of the espresso changes, as well.
Starbucks baristas are supposed to use a shot within 10 seconds. After that time, it’s a dead shot and new one should be pulled.
A dirty chai is a chai tea latte with a shot of espresso.
RELATED: Starbucks Dirty Chai Latte Copycat
Double Blended is Starbucks lingo for a frappuccino customization where the barista blends the drink two times. A double-blended frappuccino is smoother, thinner and easier to drink.
A Doubleshot is a former Starbucks menu drink that has two shots of espresso in it. It’s now listed on the menu as an Iced Shaken Espresso.
A Doubleshot is also a Starbucks ready-to-drink canned coffee beverage available for sale in stores.
At Starbucks hot brewed coffee is often referred to as drip. Drip coffee is not espresso.
Drizzle refers to any sauce that’s drizzled on top of a drink, like caramel sauce on top of a caramel macchiato.
The two types of drizzle at Starbucks are caramel and chocolate.
Espresso is a coffee beverage that’s made by pulling a small amount of water through finely ground espresso beans with high pressure. Espresso is very strong and is often combined with milk.
At Starbucks there are nine basic types of espresso drinks.
A flat white is a creamy espresso beverage that has a dot of foam on top. Starbucks makes flat whites with rich whole milk and ristretto shots. Additionally, flat whites get one more shot of espresso than other espresso drinks of an equivalent size.
Frap Roast or Coffee Frappuccino Syrup
Coffee-based frappuccinos get their flavor from coffee frappuccino syrup, or, as the baristas call it, “frap roast.”
Frap roast is a special powdered coffee that is mixed with water and used exclusively in frappuccino recipes.
This coffee base also contains sugar and an emulsifier to sweeten and thicken these blended beverages.
A Starbucks Frappuccino is a blended beverage that’s usually topped with whipped cream. These thick, shake-like drinks come in a wide variety of flavors and are available two ways: with coffee or as a creme frappuccino without coffee.
RELATED: Caffeine in Starbucks Frappuccinos
Green Coffee Extract
A naturally occurring, caffeinated substance derived from unroasted, green coffee beans. All Starbucks Refreshers Beverages contain green coffee extract.
Grounds for your Garden
Bags of used coffee grounds Starbucks gives away for free for anyone to use in their garden.
Starbucks coffee beverages can be ordered half-caf which means they contain half caffeinated espresso or coffee and half decaffeinated espresso or coffee.
Handcrafted Starbucks drinks include espresso-based beverages, Frappuccinos, Refreshers, cold coffee, nitro drinks, iced tea and seasonal drinks.
Basically, the only drinks that are not considered handcrafted are hot brewed coffee, hot tea, and ready-to-drink options like bottled water or juice.
Starbucks iced coffee drinks are made with hot brewed coffee that’s been chilled. Iced coffee is served over ice.
Fruit inlcusions are pieces of freeze dried fruit that are shaken into Starbucks Refreshers Beverages. They have strawberry, dragonfruit and kiwi.
Some hot drinks at Starbucks, like hot chocolate, steamed juices or milk steamers, are available in kids size. Starbucks kids size drinks are served in a tall size cup (8 fl. oz.) and may be a lower price than a regular tall size beverage. In addition, kids size hot drinks are steamed to a lower temperature, 130°F.
A latte is a handcrafted beverage that combines espresso and steamed milk. A basic latte at Starbucks is called a Caffe Latte.
Flavored syrups and toppings like whipped cream are often added to lattes.
Macchiato means “marked” or “stained” and Starbucks has two types of macchiatos on the permanent menu: espresso macchiato and caramel macchiato.
An espresso macchiato is a classic drink where a small amount of steamed milk marks or stains the espresso.
A Starbucks caramel macchiato is the opposite with the espresso poured into the milk. It’s also flavored with vanilla and has caramel on top.
Starbucks matcha powder is a mix of finely ground green tea leaves and sugar. Starbucks matcha drinks are caffeinated and include matcha lattes and a matcha frappuccino.
In addition, a scoop of matcha can be blended with sweet cream to make a matcha cream cold foam topping.
RELATED: Best Starbucks Matcha Drinks
Starbucks has myriad milk options that can be substituted in for the standard milk used in each drink recipe.
Dairy-based milk options are non-fat, 2%, whole, breve and heavy cream.
Starbucks milk alternatives are plant-based milks and include almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk and soy.
Starbucks baristas use different milk steaming techniques to add air to the milk and create milk foam.
The amount and type of milk foam depends on the kind of drink ordered. For example, lattes are mostly wet milk with a light layer of foam, whereas a cappuccino has a thick layer of aerated milk foam.
A misto is simply half drip coffee and half steamed milk.
A mocha at Starbucks combines espresso, chocolate mocha sauce, and milk and is topped with whipped cream and other toppings or drizzles.
Starbucks has two mocha sauce options: dark chocolate and white chocolate. Seasonal holiday options often include toasted white mochas.
Nitro Cold Brew
A Nitro Cold Brew is a Starbucks cold coffee beverage that combines cold brew coffee and nitrogen. The nitrogen makes the coffee very cold and creates a sweet flavor sans sugar. Nitro cold brews are not served with ice.
A pour over is a method of brewing an individual cup of coffee with coursely ground coffee beans and hot water. A barista may offer to make a pour-over when there’s not any decaf already brewed or as a way to make a decaf iced coffee.
Starbucks has a treat for your pup. Ask for a puppaccino to get a short cup full of whipped cream.
Refreshers are an original Starbucks shaken beverage that bring together a flavored, caffeinated juice base, fruit inclusions and ice. They can also be mixed with lemonade or coconutmilk.
Strawberry Acai Refreshers and the Pink Drink are examples of popular refreshers.
Ristretto & Long Shot
Starbucks can pull espresso shots three ways: the standard method, ristretto shots and long shots.
Ristretto shots are extracted with less water and less time, are more concentrated and have the least caffeine.
Long shots are the opposite of ristretto. They are extracted with more water and more time which results in a less concentrated flavor.
Short, Tall, Grande, Venti & Trenta
These are Starbucks cup sizes. Starbucks iconic white cups with the green logo are for hot drinks and come in the following sizes: short (8 fl. oz.), tall (12 fl. oz.), grande (16 fl. oz.), and venti (20 fl. oz.).
Cold cup sizes are tall (12 fl. oz.), grande (16 fl. oz.), venti (24 fl. oz.), and trenta (30 fl. oz.) for some drinks. Of note, a venti cold drink has four more ounces than a venti hot drink.
Solo, Doppio, Triple & Quad
These are Starbucks names for the number of espresso shots you can order. Solo is one shot; doppio is two shots; triple is three shots and quad is four shots. Each shot has .75 fl. oz. of espresso.
A skinny Starbucks drink typically refers to lattes. Non-fat milk, sugar-free syrup, no-whip.
A steamer, also known as a milk steamer, is simply steamed milk. It can be ordered plain or with flavored syrup and whipped cream.
Syrups & Sauces
Flavored Starbucks coffee and espresso beverages get their flavor and sweetness from sugar-based syrups or creamy sauces. The amount added to each drink is measured by the number of pumps the barista adds to the cup.
Starbucks has syrups and sauces that are part of the permanent menu and they also have limited-time, seasonal flavors.
There are four kinds of tea lattes on the Starbucks menu and each combines a concentrated tea with steamed milk for a hot tea latte or cold milk and ice for an iced tea latte.
Options include the popular chai tea latte and matcha latte and less popular London Fog tea latte and Royal English Breakfast tea latte.
Upside down is a customization typically for caramel macchiato beverages that reverses the order the milk and espresso are layered into the drink.
A properly made upside down caramel macchiato begins with vanilla syrup, then gets the espresso before the milk (like a latte) and is topped with caramel sauce.
Lattes and mochas can also be ordered upside down.
Starbucks Coffee Terminology
Arabica & Robusta
These are the two species of coffee beans. All Starbucks coffees are arabica.
Blend & Single Origin
Single origin coffee come from a single country or location. Whereas, a blend combines two complementary single origin coffees.
Blonde, Medium & Dark Roast
Starbucks regularly brews three types of coffee roast: blonde, medium and dark.
Veranda blonde roast coffee beans are roasted the least amount of time and have the most caffeine. Dark roast coffee is roasted the longest and has the least amount of caffeine. Pike Place medium roast falls in the middle.
A Clover machine is a way of brewing a single cup of coffee at limited Starbucks locations. This means you can select from a wide variety of coffee blends. Furthermore, Clover-brewed coffee contains more caffeine than its drip-brewed counterpart.
Core & Seasonal Coffees
Starbucks core coffees are available year-round. Conversely, seasonal coffees are available for a short time and until they run out.
At Starbucks you can order decaffeinated hot brewed coffee that’s made with decaf Pike Place roast. Most locations also offer decaf espresso. Make note, decaf coffee still contains some caffeine.
More Starbucks Jargon
Starbucks coffee master training for baristas is an in-depth learning program which provides a deeper-knowledge of all-things-coffee. Coffee Masters are easily identified by the black apron and are an excellent source for all your coffee and coffee-pairing questions.
Customization or Modification
A customization is a request made by a customer to modify a standard drink recipe in one or more ways. On the Starbucks app use the green “customize” button to see all the possible options available.
Starbucks hot brewed coffee and hot brewed tea can be hot to hold, even with a coffee sleeve. These drinks are often served in a double cup—one cup for the drink itself and a second cup on the outside. Tea bag tags are often tucked between the two cups, as well.
Starbucks Happy Hour is a promotional event that they run occasionally on select Thursday afternoons and early evening hours. The offer is usually a buy one handcrafted beverage, get one free. Watch your Starbucks app upcoming happy hours and offer details.
Rewards & Stars
Starbucks Rewards are a way to earn bonus stars to use toward future drinks. The stars can be redeemed towards free drinks, free food and free drink customizations. Get the Starbucks app to become a Rewards member.
A siren is a mythical, nautical creature that Starbucks adopted as its logo in 1971.
The Starbucks Siren symbolizes the original Seattle Starbucks location on the Puget Sound, as well as the fact that all Starbucks coffee travels long distances across the water to reach its final port destinations.
Seasonal Drink or Seasonal Menu
Starbucks has two types of menus—the permanent menu (which I often call the official menu) and seasonal menus. Seasonal menus offer limited-time beverages made with limited-time flavored syrups and sauces.
Starbucks primary seasonal menus are for fall, the holidays, winter and summer.
Secret Menu & TikTok Starbucks Drinks
The “Starbucks Secret Menu” is not a real menu and the baristas do not know the recipes.
Secret menu drinks are simply popular, customized drinks that go viral on social media. They often have fun names like Gummy Bear or Sunset Drink.
TikTok Starbucks drinks are also social-media famous drink customizations. Many times they have numerous modifications.
A sleeve or coffee sleeve is the corrugated cardboard ring that goes on some hot drink cups, making them easier to hold.
Wondering what the green stick is called that plugs the sipping hole in a hot cup lid? Officially, it’s known as a splash stick. It’s also referred to as a stopper, as well.
Water and ice are major components of Starbucks beverages. As such, they use a triple-filtering process to remove impurities from the water.