Why Starbucks’ Secret Menu is a Myth

If you’ve spent any time on social media (especially TikTok) in the past years, you’ve likely heard about Starbucks’ “secret menu.” As a former Starbucks barista, I am here to tell you that the secret menu is a myth.

In fact, there is only ONE offering I can think of that would truly qualify as a “secret menu” item. Everything else is just made up to get social media views and clicks.

Starbucks iced drink held by hand with letter board behind it writing out modifications

Why is the secret menu not real?

Starbucks’ secret menu is not real because it doesn’t actually exist as a menu anywhere. What does exist, is that Starbucks allows you to customize your drink orders.

But, this is the case at nearly every restaurant and coffee shop. There is nothing special about Starbucks offering customizations. Imagine if everyone was talking about Applebee’s having a “secret menu” because you are able to ask them to remove tomatoes from your burger!

Starbucks is really just a “build your own” restaurant, just like a frozen yogurt shop or Chipotle.

And Starbucks enthusiastically encourages you to make your drink your own. They state, “With more than 170,000 ways to customize beverages at Starbucks stores, customers can create a favorite drink that fits their lifestyle.”

There’s no secret about it!

What is the ONE secret item?

There is one offering that for a long time has been a secret menu item. But, if you use the Starbucks app to order, this is listed front and center.

The item is the short cup size.

Yes, there is a secret hot cup size at Starbucks that most people have no idea about. It’s the smallest size available and is eight ounces.

Why does this size exist?

Back in the day, the original sizes at Starbucks were short (8 oz), tall (12 oz), and grande (16 oz). But of course, it didn’t take long for them to realize people wanted an even larger size which is when they added the venti (20 oz) and dropped the short off the menu.

But, this size has always been available to order for any hot drink. It’s also used for kid sizes, which is one major reason they keep this size available.

So, does anyone actually order a short? As a former barista, the answer is yes. It’s not super common, but several people do use it as an option. And beyond kid’s drinks, it can be used for other drinks like a doppio con Panna.

(Related: See what Starbucks offers for their newest fall, holiday, winter, spring, and summer seasonal menus.)

Why do people think there is a secret menu?

Blame social media.

It’s become increasingly popular on social media to create posts and videos about ways to create fancy and beautiful drinks. These often get a lot of traction because people love the idea of ordering something that sounds delicious and knowing it’s a “secret.”

Starbucks has increasingly added ways you can modify your drinks, and has come out several times saying they encourage their customers to create and modify drinks to their liking.

The ways you can modify a drink are exponential, so this allows an unending amount of “secret menu” drinks to proliferate.

And, with the addition of the app for ordering, it’s simple to see all the options and have them at your literal fingertips. This has allowed anyone to easily see and dream up ways to order a drink any way they like.

Tips for ordering “secret menu” drinks

You might be now thinking, “Can I still order my secret menu drink?” The answer is yes, but keep these things in mind to make it go smoothly.

Remember that since the secret menu is not a real menu, baristas do not actually know what the drink is, so you will have to know the ingredients and tell them. They have no training on, and no way of knowing what a “Skittles Frappuccino” is or “The Sunset Drink,” or any other social media creation.

So, come prepared to order it.

Have a screenshot or write the ingredients down and tell your barista yourself. Or, better yet, order it through the app where you can put in all the customizations on your own.

If you come in with an attitude of appreciation and willingness to work with your barista, they will be more than happy to make you any social media secret menu creation or anything you dream up on your own.

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