How to Order Coffee at Starbucks – A Guide to Starbucks Lingo

Are you somewhat confused about which terms to use when placing an order at Starbucks? Do words like blonde, reserve, upside down, and lungo make you feel like you're encountering a foreign language?

This article will eliminate any confusion you have about ordering coffee at Starbucks as we’ll clarify the most popular confusing terms you can use to order coffee there.

Let's get going!

If you'd like to learn about what “Quad” means at Starbucks, check out the entire article I dedicated to it here.

I also wrote an entire article about Starbucks “Trenta” size which you can find here.

How to Order Coffee at Starbucks

What Does Blonde Mean at Starbucks?

A “blonde” coffee at Starbucks is a coffee that has been made with blonde roast beans. These beans are roasted for less time than medium or dark roast beans which results in a milder flavor and lighter color coffee.

Many coffee drinks can be made with blonde roast beans. Blonde espresso can be used in lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, and other espresso drinks. Starbucks describes its blonde espresso as smooth and subtly sweet.

It doesn’t appear that iced coffee can be made blonde since it is already premade, but you can order a blonde iced espresso instead.

Starbucks sells its blonde roast beans for you to make at home. You can find Starbucks Blonde Roast K-Cups on Amazon here, and Starbucks Blonde Roast Whole Bean Coffee here.

What Does Skinny Mean at Starbucks?

Espresso and frappuccino drinks at Starbucks can be requested to be made “skinny.” Ordering a drink “skinny” means that it will be made with nonfat milk, no whipped cream, and sugar-free syrup if available. This will reduce the overall calorie and fat content of the drink.

For example, a regular pistachio latte is made with 2% milk, pistachio sauce, and 2 shots of espresso. A skinny pistachio latte is made with nonfat milk, pistachio sauce (there is no sugar-free pistachio sauce available), and 2 shots of espresso.

It's worth noting that while “skinny” drinks can be a good option for those who are looking to cut back on calories or sugar, they may not be the best choice for everyone. Some people prefer the taste and texture of drinks made with whole milk, and others may be sensitive to the artificial sweeteners used in sugar-free syrup. As always, it's important to listen to your body and make choices that work for you.

What Does Ristretto Mean at Starbucks?

At Starbucks, “ristretto” refers to a type of espresso shot that is made by using less water to extract the coffee than a regular espresso shot. Ristretto is Italian for “restricted” or “narrow.” The idea behind a ristretto shot is to create a smaller, more concentrated shot of espresso with a richer, less bitter flavor and thicker crema.

Ristretto has less caffeine, fewer coffee solids, and fewer oils but at a higher concentration.

To make a ristretto shot, the barista will use the same amount of coffee as for a regular espresso shot but will use less water. This results in a shot with a more intense flavor profile. Ristretto shots are often described as having a sweeter, more complex taste with a slightly syrupy texture.

You can order a ristretto shot as a standalone espresso shot or as part of a drink. For example, you could order a ristretto latte, which would be made with ristretto shots instead of regular espresso shots. The flat white is a drink that is already made with ristretto by default.

What Does Long Shot Mean at Starbucks?

A long shot at Starbucks, also known as a “lungo” which means long in Italian, is an espresso shot that is made by passing 3-4x more water through the coffee beans. This results in a more bitter shot that is larger in size as well.

The benefits of a long shot are that you get more caffeine, more coffee solids, and more aromatic oils from the same amount of coffee.

The drawback of lungo shots is that as you pull more water through the coffee, the ratio of coffee solids extracted to water continually lowers which dilutes the espresso. Furthermore, the additional coffee solids that are extracted are the more bitter parts of the bean leading to a bitter espresso.

What Does Reserve Mean at Starbucks?

At Starbucks, “reserve” refers to both a type of Starbucks store and a line of small-batch, rare, and exotic coffees that are sourced from around the world. These coffees are sold at Starbucks Reserve locations and some regular Starbucks locations. The beans are supposedly higher in quality, more complex in flavor, and more limited in availability than Starbucks' regular coffee offerings.

Starbucks reserve locations brew their special beans using the Clover brewing system to showcase their unique flavors and aromas. The Clover is a drip coffee machine that gives extra control over the temperature of the water and the time in which the grounds are in contact with the water.

Learn more about the Clover Coffee Maker here.

The Reserve stores will have all of Starbucks' reserve bean options available, while regular stores may only have one, in season reserve exotic coffee option available.

It’s important to note that some reserve stores don’t have all the ingredients of a regular Starbucks, so their menu is limited to Reserve drinks. If you want your pink drink with coconut milk, you’ll have to go to a regular Starbucks location.

What Does No Classic Mean at Starbucks?

“No classic” is a customization option at Starbucks that means to exclude the classic syrup that is added to some drinks. If you order a drink with “no classic” at Starbucks, the barista will leave out the classic syrup when preparing your drink. Drinks that normally include classic syrup are iced coffee, shaken espresso, and matcha creme, and strawberry creme frappuccinos.

Ordering a drink “no classic” can be a good option if you prefer your drink to be less sweet or if you have dietary restrictions that limit your sugar intake.

What Does Upside Down Mean at Starbucks?

At Starbucks, “upside down” is a term used to customize certain beverages, such as lattes or macchiatos. When you order a beverage “upside down,” it means that the order of the ingredients in the beverage is reversed. In an upside-down latte, the espresso shot is added on top of the milk rather than put into the glass first.

A caramel macchiato is the most popular drink to order upside down and is made with the caramel pumped into the base of the drink rather than drizzled on top.

What Does Double Blended Mean at Starbucks?

“Double blended” is a customization option at Starbucks that can be added to Frappuccinos. When you order a frappuccino “double blended,” it means that the drink will go through the blending process twice instead of once.

The first blending will break down the ice and mix the ingredients together. Then, the drink is blended again to make it even smoother and creamier. This can create a more consistent texture and can also help to mix in any additional flavors or ingredients that are added to the drink.

It’s important to know that a double-blended frappuccino will melt faster than a regularly blended one.

This article was written by Josh, the founder, and owner of You can learn more about Josh on our About the Team page.


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