I have been drinking coffee at Starbucks for over 20 years and making espresso-based coffee drinks at home for more than 25 years.
The most frustrating thing about the best Starbucks coffee drinks is that Starbucks don’t know how to make the coffee drinks that they sell.
I worked in an office in the centre of London for 15 years and I had to pass a Starbucks on my way from the train station to the office and that meant I went into Starbucks every day for my coffee and caffeine fix.
Starbucks has done pretty well over the last 25 years and has become by far the world’s largest coffee chain with over 30,000 outlets but they are pushed into second place in the UK by Costa who have about double the number of shops that Starbucks have in the United Kingdom.
I have literally been into Starbucks thousands of times and I can honestly say that I have almost never been served with the drink I ordered.
I got really sick of it a good few years ago and stopped going on a regular basis and now I probably only go in once a month and only if I’m meeting up with someone for a catch-up.
I recently went in and found some words on the wall explaining the incredible journey that the beans Starbucks use go on before they arrive in each shop and ultimately in your cup.
The care and attention that they give to delivering great tasting coffee is very commendable and at the end of the message it stated “handcrafted by your local barista”.
Nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, a barista is not someone that just makes coffee. Anyone can make a cup of coffee.
A barista is supposed to be a coffee artist, an expert in making coffee and coffee-based drinks. I have experienced the opposite of this repeatedly and I’ll give you one example from my most recent visit.
I ordered a Cortado. It’s an extremely simple drink to prepare. One part espresso and one part steamed milk. They even have special Cortado glasses that makes it incredibly difficult to get it wrong.
I didn’t watch the drink being prepared and when it reached the section at the end where the drinks get served up I was presented with my Cortado in a cappuccino cup.
Certainly not the end of the world as long as I got my Cortado that should be 50/50 milk and espresso but when I looked inside the cappuccino cup it was filled to the top with milk and was about as far away from a Cortado as you can get. The funny thing is I didn’t even get a cappuccino which is supposed to be one third espresso, one third steamed milk and one third milk foam.
What I got was a latte. (1 part espresso and 4 parts milk). I mentioned to the “barista” that I ordered a Cortado and she said that they had “run out of Cortado glasses”
Not great but not a deal-breaker. It never even entered her mind to tell me they didn’t have any Cortado glasses never mind the fact she was going to give me a latte instead.
She didn’t even know that she was giving me a latte and when I mentioned that there was far too much milk in the drink she just looked at me blankly and asked if I would like another one.
She proceeded to pull another double espresso into a flat white cup and fill that to the top with steamed milk which was again far too much milk.
At that point, I gave up and made do with 2 failed attempts to make a very simple coffee drink.
I basically got the opposite of handcrafted, I got something cobbled together by someone that didn’t have a clue and didn’t care. I can honestly tell you that I have experienced the same thing over and over again for years. It’s not a one off.
Starbucks offer a whole range of different coffee drinks but if you order a milk-based drink you almost always get a latte no matter what drink you order. Bizarre.
What’s the message here? There are several.
Don’t accept a poorly crafted coffee at Starbucks
Send it back until you get the drink you ordered. Why should you pay £3 for a cup of coffee and accept something different from the one you want?
When was the last time you went to a restaurant and ordered a steak and when they brought you chicken you just accepted it and ate that instead? Never, right?
It’s exactly the same with coffee. Work out the drink you like best and don’t accept chicken when you ordered steak.
Here is a detailed breakdown of some of the most popular coffee drinks that Starbucks offer and how they should be made:
A really interesting thing that I also discovered is that Starbucks themselves don’t even state on the Starbucks website how they will “handcraft” your coffee.
The amount of milk that is added to milk-based espresso drinks like Cortado, Cappuccino and Latte is hugely important but they don’t even tell you about it own their own website.
If the management at the top of the business can’t even be bothered to tell you how a latte or a cappuccino or a cortado is going to be served to you when you go into one of their shops then how can you expect a barista at the coalface to have any clue whatsoever.
It’s not uncommon for there to be a big disconnect within large corporate companies where different parts of the business are all doing their own thing but don’t bother making sure it fits in with the rest of the business.
On the wall, it says your drink will be handcrafted but the website doesn’t tell you how the drink is made up and the baristas are clueless.
I know this all sounds like a rant but the reality is that you are paying big money for a coffee and you should demand the product you get reflects the price you pay. It just doesn’t happen at Starbucks.
Which leads me on nicely to my next and most important point. Do it yourself at home and it will be cheaper and better.
Make coffee at home that is far better than Starbucks
The coffee beans that Starbucks use that they charge you £3 per drink for are widely available in most supermarkets for about £3.99 for 250 grams.
You will get around 15 double espressos out of that so it works out about 27p per drink. Add about 5p for the milk and you are looking at about 32p per drink.
As discussed above, Starbucks are mostly unable to produce the drink you order so why not make a better coffee at home using the same beans that Starbucks use for about 10% of the price they charge.
That’s what I have been doing for the last 10 years and it’s a complete no brainer for better cheaper coffee.
The coffee they use isn’t even that great so feel free to explore and try other coffee beans for an even better experience.
Here are some articles that will help you choose great coffee beans and guide you easily through some cheap options to start brewing your own coffee at home:
What is the best Starbucks coffee drink?
This article is different from all the other articles that claim to tell you about the best Starbucks coffee drinks.
All they do is list a bunch of some of the weird and wonderful variations of Frappuccino’s and most of them don’t even have coffee in.
Almost all of those strange concoctions have more sugar in them than your entire recommended sugar intake for the whole day so our advice is to stay away from them.
The best Starbucks coffee drinks are simple milk-based coffee drinks like latte or cappuccino.
Just make sure you get what you ordered, not something made up by the so-called barista.