Overcoming the pressures of ordering at Starbucks


Claire Grunewald

Print Chief explains how to order at Starbucks like an expert. The most important thing to do is try new things.

For those of you non-coffee drinkers, a long line filled with impatient Starbucks regulars may be very intimidating. Ordering at the largest coffeehouse company in the world may seem to be a daunting task. Frankly, Starbucks can be found just about anywhere, so you might as well learn how to navigate through one. If you’re looking to conquer this fear and become a true “Starbucker,” follow these quick steps.

Re-defining the word Starbucks

First of all, Starbucks does not mean just coffee. For those of you who cringe at the word “coffee,” stop right there. Although I don’t understand how anyone’s taste buds could disagree with the beautiful brewed beverage, I’m here to tell you that you have options. Starbucks offers everything from coffee and tea to lemonades and hot chocolate.

Deciphering the board

For a newbie, the list of options at Starbucks may be very confusing. The important thing is not to focus on the titles. There are endless drinks to decide between, not including the specialty drinks they often have on a side board during the holidays. If you’re feeling really uncertain, I would suggest choosing a holiday drink from the side board just to be safe. The seasonal favorites are never disappointing. The main thing to remember is don’t be afraid of the board.

Finding “it”

In order to really sound like a regular and find your groove, you’re going to need a signature drink. You need to find that one drink that you can order like you didn’t even have to memorize the board. That’s what we’re shooting for here. The biggest thing you need to know is don’t be afraid to try, try, try.

If you’re not really into coffee but know you want a cold drink, then try ordering a coffee-free frappuccino such as a vanilla bean or a double chocolaty chip. If you do enjoy the taste of coffee, don’t be afraid to experiment with classic drinks such as the  café mocha or café latte. If you’re into the fancier drinks, and want to sound super sophisticated ordering, try a grande caramel ribbon crunch frappuccino. All the power to you.

Learn to love the lingo

The drink sizes range from tall to grande to venti to trenta. Although you may feel ridiculous ordering “tall” instead of “small” or “grande” instead of “medium,” it’s what sets Starbucks apart from other chains. If you slip up your first time and order a small, don’t worry, they’re going to serve you a tall, which is its equivalent. If you’re looking for a standard size drink, I would recommend a grande. If you’re feeling a bit more daring and are drinking something like a tazo tea, then venti may be right for you.

If you’re curious, grande means large, venti means 20, and trenta means 30. Starbucks uses this to gauge the ounces. Just like the drink options, don’t be afraid to experiment with the sizes, but for most people, grande is the way to go.

Putting it all together

Now that you’ve got all of this together in your head, it’s time for you to order. Remember that if you’re still having trouble, don’t be afraid to ask the barista for help, unless there is a really long line. Once you’ve figured out your type of drink and size, let’s make sure we are saying it right.

First comes the size of the drink, and then the type, and then any special amendments. For example, you would order a grande caramel macchiato, nonfat, no whip. Don’t forget you can always ask for an extra shot of espresso for 75 cents or you can add your own cream and sugar to any drink, for example.

Hopefully these five steps offer you a bit of direction in order to boost your confidence while standing in that daunting line. The biggest thing to take away is not to be afraid to try new items and go out of your comfort zone.

Once you have mastered all of these steps, you can even download the Starbucks App on your phone, which offers you discounts and rewards. So next time you walk into Starbucks and get used to the particular concentration it takes to order, you can officially call yourself a “Starbucker.”

Hanna LeBuhn is the Print Chief for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.