What Quad Means at Starbucks + How Much Caffeine is in their Quad Drinks

Only a day ago, I found myself at my local Starbucks grabbing my standard beverage when the person in front of me requested an “Iced Quad Latte”. I'm no stranger to iced lattes, yet the phrase “quad” in the coffee lexicon was unfamiliar territory for me. This ignited my interest, leading me to wonder, “what exactly is a quad coffee and how can I order it at Starbucks?”

The word “quad” can be used while ordering at Starbucks to get 4 shots of espresso in a drink. Four shots of espresso, which is around 300mg of caffeine, can be added to coffees, lattes, cold brews, chai tea lattes, and more.

In this article I’ll share with you everything you need to know to order a quad drink at Starbucks, including exactly what quad means, how much caffeine is in quad drinks, and some super tasty quad drink ideas. Let’s get started!

You can learn about all types of Starbucks lingo like “lungo”, “blonde”, and “no classic” in my guide to ordering at Starbucks here.

If you'd like to learn how much caffeine in 4 shots of espresso varies at other coffee shops (from 184mg-500mg) check out my article, How Much Caffeine is in 4 Shots of Espresso.

To learn the Starbucks quad over ice trick, check out my article: How to Order a Quad Over Ice

What is a Quad Drink at Starbucks

When a drink at Starbucks is ordered “quad” it means that the customer would like 4 shots of espresso in the drink.

If you’re not familiar with espresso, it's just a type of concentrated coffee made by forcing highly pressurized hot water through tightly packed ground coffee beans. A “shot” of espresso is 1 ounce, so the 4 shots in a quad is 4 ounces.

The most common drinks to order with a quad shot are drinks that already have espresso in them such as cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos.

A common misconception is that ordering one of these drinks “double” or “quad” means 2x or 4x the espresso. But “quad” actually means that the drink has 4 shots of espresso in it in total. So if the drink normally is made with 2 shots of espresso and its ordered quad it now has 4 shots of espresso, not 8.

As for how many shots of espresso Starbucks drinks have in them normally:

A Tall (12oz) espresso drink will have one shot of espresso in it, while a grande (16oz) and venti (20oz) will have two.

If you're a fan of Starbucks coffee and own a Keurig you should check out this variety pack of Starbucks medium/dark roast K-cups on Amazon (Pictured Below)

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How Much Caffeine is in 4 Shots of Espresso?

An important question that people who want to order a quad drink at Starbucks have is “how much caffeine is in 4 shots of espresso?”

The type of coffee and brewing process used by Starbucks leaves their espresso shots with an average of 75mg of caffeine. For reference, the average cup of coffee has 100mg of caffeine in it.

This means that a quad Starbucks drink with 4 shots of espresso in it has around 300mg of caffeine. This is quite a bit, considering that the FDA recommends adults only drink up to 400mg of caffeine a day.

Pst! If you're a caffeine feen like me and haven't heard of a drink called a nitro cold brew, check out the article I wrote all about the nitro, including a comparison of its caffeine content to other coffee drinks here.

Caffeine is especially important to consider if you’re ordering the four shots in a drink that already has caffeine in it such as a cold brew, iced coffee, or regular coffee.

If you'd like to avoid the caffeine while still enjoying the espresso, Starbucks decaf espresso has about 3mg of caffeine per shot, so in four shots there’s around 12mg of caffeine.

To help you know how much caffeine is in quad drinks ordered at Starbucks, I created the table below ordering popular tall (12oz) sized Starbucks drinks by caffeine if they’re ordered quad.

caffeine in Starbucks quad drinks

Starbucks Quad Drink Ideas

So now you know what a quad drink at Starbucks is and how much caffeine is in each one, but what’s a good drink at Starbucks to order with four shots of espresso?

If you want do keep it simple and straight to the point you could just order a “quad espresso” or a “quad espresso over ice”

You can also add milk and/or a few pumps of a syrup such as caramel, mocha, peppermint, or raspberry for some flavor. Just be sure that if you’re drinking the quad espresso hot and you want milk that you order it with steamed milk so that the milk is hot and doesn’t cool down the espresso.

If you’re a regular consumer of espresso beverages like cappuccinos or lattes, ordering a quad version could be a great way to get an extra burst of energy on those days when you need it, while still being able to enjoy the same drink you always do.

Or if you’re a fan of the flavor of Chai Tea Lattes but wish they had a higher caffeine content, you can add 300mg of caffeine to them by ordering a quad chai tea latte.

Starbucks fans! If you're unfamiliar with ordering your Starbs drink in Trenta size, check out the article I wrote on ordering Trenta at Starbucks here.

starbucks pike place roast

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Final Thoughts

Ordering a Starbucks drink “quad” just means asking for four shots of espresso in the drink. Four shots of espresso will add 300mg of caffeine to any drink that doesn't already have espresso in it such as a coffee or cold brew, and will add a significant amount of caffeine to those that already do such as lattes and cappuccinos.

I hope that this article and the quad drink caffeine table could be helpful for you. If you’d like to learn more about Starbucks, espresso, and pretty much anything coffee, be sure to check out the rest of my website!

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


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