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The best and worst Starbucks secret menu drinks


Art by Jessica Calaguas

Starbucks is one of the most popular spots for us Eagle Rock students. Whenever I go after school or even in the morning, I see flocks of kids waiting in line to order or sitting out on the balcony with their friends. However, after going there week after week throughout the year, I became a little bored. I had gone there only to order the same drink over and over and over, and left longing for a way to switch up the Starbucks experience.


When I discovered the Starbucks secret menu, I fell in love. After deciding that I absolutely had to try some of these drinks, I came up with a rubric to accurately judge them based on appearance, taste, and how true they are to their name. To put it simply, some were amazing, and some were…not so great. I’ve compiled a list of drinks to avoid and drinks that you won’t regret ordering. Maybe you’ll even consider trying some of them the next time you go to Starbucks!


Butterbeer Frappe - $6.35

All photos taken by Lilah Hayes

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


How to order:

  • Grande Vanilla Bean Frappuccino (whole milk is suggested)

  • 3 pumps of caramel syrup

  • 3 pumps of toffee nut syrup

  • Top with whipped cream and caramel drizzle

  • Optional: line the cup with caramel drizzle


My Review:

All I can say is that I am in love. As a Harry Potter fan, I’ve always been obsessed with butterbeer, and learning that I could basically order one at Starbucks felt like fate. So, I decided this absolutely had to be tried - and it was amazing…ish.


As far as appearance goes, this drink is perfection. With the caramel drizzle on the sides and some whipped cream on top, I couldn’t wait to take a sip - but it was then that I was disappointed. When I tried this frappe, there were two thoughts that crossed my mind: “This actually tastes like butterbeer” and “OH MY GOD THIS IS SO SWEET”. I had to immediately put my drink down and wait for my face to un-pinch and my taste buds to calm down. If I were to order this again, I would definitely do two pumps of each syrup, if not one.


However, with winter coming and frappes going out of style in this cold weather, you might be longing for a hot drink - fear not! This frappuccino has a latte counterpart! I won’t be trying the hot version, but here's the recipe if you want to conduct your own experiment.


Snickerdoodle Latte - $5.45

Rating: ⭐⭐


How to order:

  • Grande Blonde Vanilla Latte

  • Add 1.5 pumps of white mocha syrup

  • Add 1.5 pumps of cinnamon dolce syrup

  • Steam cinnamon powder into the milk

  • Top with whipped cream and cinnamon dolce topping


My Review:

If you’re someone who enjoys sweet drinks, I do not recommend this latte. This was an extremely bitter, very coffee-y drink. I was so excited about it because I absolutely love snickerdoodles; the sugar paired with the cinnamon made for the perfect combo of sweetness and, well, cinnamon. However, this drink was a letdown. It didn’t resemble its name at all, except for a slight hint of cinnamon in the aftertaste. If you do like the very strong taste of coffee with barely any sugar, though, this drink is for you.


To add on to this pile of blegh, the presentation of the drink was very…boring. Yes, you can ask to add a bit of whipped cream on top, but that still doesn’t make me want to drink it. Ordering the snickerdoodle latte was such a horrible experience. Not only was it complicated, but I could just feel the barista’s eyes on me as I rattled off these instructions as if she was silently judging me in a not-so-silent way. All in all, this drink really isn’t worth all the trouble it’s going to put you through, and it definitely wasn’t worth six dollars.


Candy Cane Frappe - $6

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


How to order:

  • Grande Vanilla Bean Frappuccino

  • Add 1.5 pumps of peppermint syrup


My Review:

Even though the holiday season has already passed, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try this, and I cannot express how in love I am - it was a perfect ratio of peppermint to vanilla, it wasn’t overpowering or too sweet - it was just SO GOOD. The best part is that it was so easy to order. No awkward exchanges or apologies for how long it was taking, no judgmental glares from the people behind you in line. It was only $6, and although that might seem like a lot to some, it was nothing compared to some of the other drinks that I’ve ordered. The only downside to this drink was that it looked pretty boring - it was just a white frappe with whipped cream. Despite this, I honestly can’t wait until I can order this again, and I really suggest that you do the same - you won’t regret it.


Cookie Butter Latte - $8

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


How to order:

  • Grande Chai Latte with oat milk

  • 2 pumps of brown sugar syrup

  • 1 pump of chai

  • One shot of blonde espresso

My Review: If this drink could be summed up into one word, it would be . . . meh. To be honest, it really did not live up to my expectations. I got the hot version, and it basically burned my tastebuds off on my first sip. Despite my half-dead sense of taste, I could still come to the conclusion that this was just kind of a boring drink. Yes, it did somewhat resemble its name, and it was a good mix between sweet and bitter, but it was just, like I said earlier, meh.

To top it all off, this just looked like a normal drink that I would order - and although that isn’t a bad thing, it didn’t make the latte very appealing in the first place, and a drink that looks like that shouldn’t be $8. Yes, eight dollars. For most, that might not sound like a lot, but for a medium coffee that was really not that good, eight dollars is way too much to spend, and I wish I could get my money back. For those of you with a small sweet tooth and a big wallet, I would at least suggest trying it; you will probably view (and taste) it differently.


Finally…

Although I only chose a few drinks off the secret menu to try and judge, there are still so, so many more. If you want to conduct your own Starbucks secret menu taste-testing experiment, here is the website where I found all of these recipes. Have fun!

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