Starbucks used to be a coffee shop. Sure, it’s still technically a coffee shop, but there are so many fruity drinks currently on the menu that it may want to consider rebranding as a juice bar.
And fans of the ever-present mermaid chain are loving it, even taking to TikTok to spread the word about fun, custom drinks that likely would never have occurred to the research and development folks at Starbucks HQ. Scroll through TikTok and you’ll be bombarded with sweet, fruit-forward (and often visually stunning) iced drinks that baristas are now whipping up constantly.
Some of the drinks are so complicated that they’ve caused quite a stir, leading to the firing of a barista and making people wonder whether it’s rude to place such an order. But there are more reasonable drinks that baristas actually want you to order. And because there’s no better time than spring and summer to enjoy a fruity beverage, we asked baristas across the country about the drinks that’ll make everyone happy.
The baristas’ names in this story have been changed because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Iced Guava Passionfruit
Main ingredients: white grape juice flavored with real guava, coconut milk, pineapple ginger syrup
Considering the tenuous state of world travel at this moment, it may just be easier to order a fruity drink like this, close your eyes and imagine you’re on an island. What’s not to love about a drink with flavors like guava, pineapple, ginger and coconut? “I love the Iced Guava Passionfruit,” said Brian, a barista in Franklin, Tennessee. “It’s got a nice tropical flavor, which is something we don’t have a whole lot of. It uses the pineapple ginger syrup really well, too.” And if you’re sugar-conscious, Brian says he orders it with one less pump of said syrup, which reduces the 33 grams of sugar found in a grande. Greg from Wichita, Kansas, also sings the praises of the pineapple ginger syrup in the Guava Passionfruit, saying it adds a serious “fruity punch.” Strangely, not many of the custom drinks we spoke to baristas about used this syrup, so if you’re looking to create an inventive custom drink of your own, it may be worth a look.
Very Berry Hibiscus
Main ingredients: white grape juice flavored with a mix of real berries, freeze-dried blackberries
A grande Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino has 64 grams of sugar, according to Starbucks’ menu. So when you consider that there are only 14 grams of sugar in a grande Very Berry Hibiscus, it’s not so bad. And that’s important to Paul, a barista in Tallahassee, Florida. “It’s one of my favorites on the menu. And while I think it’s good any time of day, I usually like to drink it in the afternoon,” he said. “It’s a little bit sweet, and I try to avoid sugar in the morning.” Even though many of the TikTok-famous custom drinks at Starbucks add multiple pumps of syrup, many of the drinks the brand has been introducing lately ― like the now completely sold-out Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso, with 13 grams of sugar ― have been noteworthy because of the relatively low sugar content. If you’re watching your sugar intake, this is one more option on the Starbucks menu.
Custom Pink Drink
Main ingredients: white grape juice flavored with real strawberry and acai, coconut milk, freeze-dried strawberries
The Pink Drink became a viral phenomenon in 2017 after ingenious Starbucks fans decided to swap coconut milk for water in the Strawberry Acai Refresher. It became so popular, the brand added it to the menu permanently. And people are not done futzing with the Strawberry Acai Refresher base, as you’ll see below. This Pink Drink customization is a favorite of Dublin, Ohio, barista Kaylinn because of its similar taste to a now-discontinued Life Savers brand called Creme Savers. “I like a Pink Drink with three pumps of white mocha in it,” Kaylinn said. “It tastes exactly like those old strawberry creme-flavored candies.” If history is any indication, perhaps a White Mocha Pink Drink will be introduced to the menu soon.
Custom Strawberry Acai Drinks
Main ingredients: white grape juice flavored with real strawberry and acai, assorted add-ins
We’ve already discussed how the Pink Drink is just a Strawberry Acai Refresher with coconut milk. But if coconut milk isn’t your thing, the Refresher base still offers a solid canvas on which to add other delicious flavors. One idea is from Amelia in Lansing, Michigan, a barista who likes the Strawberry Acai Lemonade Refresher with four pumps of raspberry syrup to boost the berry flavors quite a bit. Julie, a barista in Atlanta, also loves the Strawberry Acai, but instead of adding fruit flavors and making it even sweeter, she adds a hit of earthiness to the drink. “I love substituting green tea for the water in the Strawberry Acai drink,” she said.
Main ingredients: white grape juice flavored with a mix of real berries, lemonade, passion tea, cold foam
Sometimes Starbucks introduces limited-time-only drinks that don’t quite catch on enough to make it onto the permanent menu. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth ordering. Daphne, a barista in Henderson, Nevada, still loves the Sunset Drink that debuted back in 2018, as it’s a mashup of cold foam (prominently featured in its iced coffee line) and the fruit-forward drinks popping off today. “For aesthetic purposes, I love the Very Berry Hibiscus Lemonade with none of the inclusions” ― if you’re ordering in the app, just remove the freeze-dried blackberries ― “cold foam and a splash of passion tea,” she said. “It’s supposed to resemble a sunset. I’ve also tried it, and it’s pretty good!”