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Starbucks ‘Secret Menu’ Picks That Don’t Suck

As an ex-Partner for Starbucks, I can’t help but cringe and almost feel queasy in disgust when I see “secret menus” such as this being shared on social media. For one, Frappuccinos can be quite unhealthy to begin with. Some options are actually already packed with so much sugar that a Venti cup may be loaded with as many calories as a full, sit-down dinner.

In some recipes posted online, the authors who label themselves as “fanatic customers” indiscriminately pile on as many as 6-8 pumps of syrup per drink, and let me tell you: that much sugar is gonna end up on your butt and thighs as disgusting cottage cheese grade cellulite. Complicated drink orders are not a problem for baristas, but some might dissuade you from mixing a syrup with another in an unlikely combination for all the right reasons. Baristas, especially the ones for Starbucks, do get free drinks and they often try out as many weird combinations to come up with great recipes that easily become favorites among themselves.

If you are in the business of compulsively collecting stickers for your next Starbucks planner especially now that the Planner promo is almost over , you may agree that your usual drink gets a little boring and monotonous after a few visits. So as a matter of public service (ha!), let me share  with you a few tried and tested recipes that Starbucks baristas themselves enjoy from time to time.

Note the absence of exaggerated measurements and outlandish attempts to copy flavors such as Snickers or Butterfinger or what have you (I mean, if you wanted candy bar milkshakes, you can just make it at home and safe yourself from the insulin shock).

Just wonderful combinations of ingredients that won’t give you an upset stomach. By rule of thumb, the syrup counts for most Frappuccino recipes are 1 pump for Tall drinks and 2 pumps for Grande and Venti drinks.  This list features a lot of Frappuccinos because they are some of the easiest drinks to personalize and customize.

1. Chai Cream Frappuccino
I don’t remember seeing this drink in the menu cards anymore. Starbucks’ chai concentrate is actually pretty good. If you are craving something spicy, request your barista to whip this up. Most baristas would be familiar with the recipe, but just in case, ask for a cream-based Frappuccino with the appropriate pumps of chai concentrate. Ask for whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg on top.

2. Mint Java Chip Frappuccino 
I’m not sure if Starbucks offered this as a seasonal drink before, but the combination of mint and chocolate is something that some people actually dig. Order your usual Java Chip, but request for a single pump of Mint syrup for that refreshing and cooling burst of flavor.

3. Caramel Java Chip Frappuccino 
Ask for your regular Java Chip drink, but with an added pump of caramel syrup and a drizzle of caramel sauce on top instead of chocolate. This add’s a smooth, buttery flavor to the normal and boring Java Chip recipe. This is pretty sweet, but if you need something comforting, this is a great drinking to have to kick the blues away.

4. Strawberries and Creme and Chocolate Swirl 
Order a Starwberries and Creme Frappuccino, and request for chocolate drizzle on top of your whipped cream for a luxurious and indulgent addition. You can also ask your barista to swirl (not blend!) mocha syrup in your strawberries and creme, to have a dazzling marbling of strawberry and chocolate against a cream base.

5.  Vanilla Caramel Frappuccino 
A combination of these two syrups produce a sweet but not so overpowering treat. The cream base actually makes it taste a bit like smooth caramel ice cream. Have the whipped cream blended in, and ask for a drizzling of caramel sauce.

6. Irish Creme Mocha 
Irish Creme is a very underrated syrup. Almost nobody asks for it, as it is an acquired taste. However, if you want a malty, almost liquor-like flavor on our mocha, try it on your next visit. Just request for a pump of Irish Creme on your regular Mocha Frappuccino.

7. Caramel Hazelnut Frappuccino 
The Toffee Nut Frappuccino is a seasonal treat, and it is one of my favorite flavors. If you crave for one during the off-season, a close hack would be to add equal parts caramel and hazelnut syrups to your cream base. A pump each for a Venti should do the trick. Top with caramel drizzle.

8. Mint Strawberry Frappuccino 
I really love mint, and during my time in Starbucks, I abused this syrup by putting it in all sorts of concoctions. I experimented with Mint syrup in my Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino one time, and really really loved it. If your favorite store carries the Peppermint syrup, even better.

9. Caramel Coffee Jelly 
This one’s not on the menu either, but if like me, you think that the normal Coffee Jelly Frappuccino is a little bitter because of the espresso jelly cubes, balance it out with a pump of Caramel syrup and add caramel drizzle on top of the whipped cream. You’ll love it.

10. Hazelnut Matcha 
This one is my absolute favorite. Ask for a Green Tea Frappuccino and tell your barista to substitute the Classic syrup with  two pumps of Hazelnut syrup instead. It tastes like green tea ice cream and is very indulgent.

11. Caramel Espresso Frappuccino Affogato
There is something about the nuttiness of espresso and the velvety, buttery sweetness of caramel that just works. Order an Espresso Frappuccino with an added pump of Caramel Syrup, and request for the shot to be done affogato style over caramel sauce. The barista will make a plain Coffee Frappuccino, drizzle a crosshatch pattern with caramel sauce, and pour a fresh shot of espresso over the pattern. This one’s not for the fainthearted, as the extra shot of espresso may prove to be a little too much for the uninitited. This drink packs a tremendous amount of caffeine and sweetness, making it a perfect choice for those nights when you are fighting to stay awake while finishing some work.

12. Hazelnut Mocha Frappuccino 
Try this out if you are a Nutella addict. Ask for an added pump of Hazelnut syrup in your boring old Mocha Frappuccino (or hot Mocha).

Let me know if any of these tips introduced you to your new favorite Starbucks drink.

You’re welcome.

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