The Drink Ordering Code Starbucks Baristas Love To Hear

Sometimes, a Starbucks order can sound like a different language. We've all heard someone rattle off a long-winded, multisyllabic, bewildering coffee order at the counter and watched as the cashier and barista don't even blink as they ring it up and get right to work on what sounded like the equivalent of Morse code.

Yet, the baristas are trained to decipher complicated coffeehouse lingo — and it actually makes their job easier when you put all of your requests and customizations into one breathless phrase. But, there is a right way to put everything in order, and it's actually the way baristas are trained to write the cups. In short, when you order a drink at Starbucks, the ideal order follows this structure: iced or hot, decaf (or not), size, syrup, milk modifications (including temperature adjustments), name of the drink (eg: caramel macchiato), and any other extras.

If you are already ordering this way, congratulations! You happen to be exactly the type of customer that baristas adore. If you're a novice or just plain intimidated to try and place your vanilla latte order with such speed and fortitude, relax and start slowly. Need a guide to help you remember? Just follow the order of those little boxes down the side of the cup. So, if you're craving a big, cold, dairy-free latte with no caffeine that tastes like hazelnut and want whipped cream on top, request an "Iced, decaf, venti, hazelnut, almond-milk latte with whipped cream."

More good Starbucks etiquette

Of course, beyond just ordering the right way, there are other things that tend to disrupt the flow of a barista's work — as well as the flow of the morning rush of customers. In order to not be "that person" who holds everything up, you should know that there are other ordering etiquette tips to keep in mind when you visit the café. 

For one, have an idea of what you want to order by the time it's your turn. A minute of waiting to decide what you want to order can feel like an hour to a busy barista behind the bar. Secondly, if you want to order something off the menu (like those Starbucks "secret menu" drinks), know exactly what goes in it and be ready to offer that info. Baristas are trained to know what's on the menu, and while some of them may know what goes into a venti Butterbeer Frappuccino, don't expect that they all will. So be prepared to share how many pumps, shots, syrups, and drizzles go into the beverage of your dreams.

How to order menu hacks at Starbucks

Once you've become a master ordering traditional drinks at Starbucks, you can begin the fun journey into becoming a customer that knows how to get the most bang for your buck at the coffee chain. A perfect place to start is by "ordering up" a standard cup of coffee so you don't make the mistake that actually leaves you with less in the cup

For example, a tall size at Starbucks should give you 12 ounces of coffee, but if you ask for room for cream, you'll receive less coffee than what you've paid for in order to provide space for the add-ins. Instead, order a tall coffee in a grande cup. You'll get your full 12 ounces plus plenty of room for your cream at no extra cost.

Another idea: If you're with a friend and you are both craving a sweet, icy Frappuccino, you can save major bucks by splitting a large rather than ordering two tall sizes. Just order a venti sized Frap (which holds 24 ounces) and ask for two tall sized cups. You'll then both have a 12-ounce, tall-sized Frappuccino for almost $5 less than you would have paid for the two smaller sizes. Just remember to order in the Starbucks code to get on the barista's good side.