Posted by: Modern Mom | March 5, 2015

I Don’t Speak Starbucks

Starbuck Language

I love coffee. It is the nectar of the Gods. Manna from Heaven. It makes me human. It makes me bearable. It makes me a better mom.

I love Starbucks. Mostly because they have drivethrough. Also because they have coffee. Fancy coffee. Coffee I can’t seem to figure out. Seriously. I never knew you could do so much to coffee. Mind. Blown.

Anyway, it was just this morning that I realized I don’t speak Starbucks.

I like to hit Starbucks on my way to bible study after dropping off my kids at school. It’s my once-a-week special me-time treat. I love this ritual. However, I always get the same thing. Because I don’t speak the language. I have forever ordered a grande, 1 shot (cuz let’s face it, me on TOO much coffee is just as scary as me on NO coffee.), vanilla latte.


I know, but I have that order down pat. I can rattle it off like I know what I’m doing every time. Because, let’s face it, nobody wants to be the guy in line who has no idea how to order a coffee, and holds up a very impatient line of hipsters waiting for their venti, half-caff, 1 sweet-n-low, light cinnamon powder, 6 pump white chocolate mocha. While the barristas are all rolling their eyes at the poor sucker who dared to enter a Starbucks without knowing at least the most rudimentary language.

“Uhhh… can I get a large coffee with cream?” We all know that guy. We all roll our eyes at that guy. We all WERE that guy at some point, but pretend like we know what we’re doing now.

I don’t know what I’m doing. Someone had to tell me what to order once, and I’ve been ordering the same thing ever since.

Today, on the way to Starbucks, I started thinking I wanted to change up my order and get something fancier. I actually almost had a panic attack over it. I had no idea what I would say to change my standard order. I started thinking I wanted something with caramel. Is that a thing? I wondered. I’ve heard people say fancy sounding things like caramel macchiato. It sounded well enough, but what the heck is a “macchiato”, and would I like it? I felt like I was about to walk into a test without having read the chapter.

It’s like trying to remember phrases of the French I studied in high school. Useless phrases that only made you sound like an idiot American when you actually met someone French. “Où est la bibliothèque?” Where is the library? Seriously? How often did they think we would use this phrase? Teach me something valuable that I’ll use regularly. Like how to order at Starbucks. Anyway…

Have you noticed that the drive-up menus no longer have ANY information on them?!? They have pictures of the food, and a listing of a few of the standard drinks, but nothing more. I need a decoder. A chart, of sorts, that walks me through the process.

Step 1: Pick a size. Your choices are tall, grande, or venti. We will not tell you which one is the “large”.

Step 2: Hot or cold? This step is designed to give you confidence.

Step 3: Pick a type of drink. This choice will lead you to any number of new menus having to do with types of milk. Good luck sucker!

Step 4: Enhance your drink. Change the heck out of it, we don’t care. We’re used to it. Choose the number of shots of espresso, syrup, sweeteners. Want foam? Want whipped cream? How about a sprinkle of something? Half-caff? Decaf? The possibilities here are endless. It’s like Willy Wonka up in there.

Step 5: Panic and order a vanilla latte. Cry in your car as you leave.

Seriously. I pulled up to the menu thinking I’d quickly find the caramel thingy and just order that. Alas, I did not. I saw the macchiato thing I’d heard about, but I honestly don’t know what that is and if I’d like it. See… I need my coffee to not taste much like coffee. I need it to be sweet and milky and just enough coffee to get me going. So I panicked. I asked for a caramel latte.

Wow. I really mixed it up.

Maybe I’ll get a translator and figure out how to order something I really like next time.



  1. Hahaha! I totally get performance anxiety at Starbucks too, and end up ordering the same thing

    Liked by 1 person

    • Performance anxiety! That’s awesome. There should be a support group. An underground, top secret, anonymous type support group so none of us could be recognized the next time we show up to Starbucks.


  2. Try a caramel flan.


    • I knew someone would come through for me. I may get stuck on that drink for the next decade. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I also hate when I go inside, where there still is a full menu, stand back (as to not get in the way of people who do know what they want) and the baristas glare at me and then after a while sarcastically ask if maybe I need some help. Maybe they are being genuine, but its never felt like that, so then I fall back to my regular. I have (for over 10 years) ordered a nonfat Carmel macchiato, its delicious, but who’s to say that I wouldn’t like something else better?

    Good luck next time, to all of us. Maybe we need to find a barista to give us some tips!


  4. Our only Starbucks in Newberg is NOT a drive thru. It’s in the Fred Meyers (which also does not have a child drop off area, which is apparently a thing elsewhere that I covet a LOT). Neither Dutch Bros drive thru is anywhere near on my way to anywhere. So instead, if a coffee drinking friend lets me know they are coming to the church I have them bring me something. They ask “what do you want?”
    The good news is, these are my friends. I don’t have to worry about performance anxiety since I, also, have no clue how to order anything at an actual coffee place. So instead I completely dump the burden on them. “Something hot, caffeinated, and doesn’t taste too much like coffee.” Thus far I have never been disappointed. I also never, EVER remember what they tell me they got me. Which means if I order for myself later, I’m still lost.
    Which leads me to the better news. Since we know we are not alone in our coffee language loss, we can thus assume baristas also know about us. I’ve twice now walked up to a coffee counter and asked for the exact same thing. “Something hot, caffeinated, and doesn’t taste too much like coffee. Surprise me.” Both times I haven’t been disappointed, and the barista seemed pleased at the opportunity to be creative. So if the caramel flan gets boring (I’m gonna have to try it, too!) just try making your order quick and easy…and not very specific. I think one barista asked if I liked cinnamon before she decided what to make me, so you could probably toss in a quick “I like caramel”, too. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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