How to Upgrade Starbucks’ Best Fall Drinks, According to a Barista

By Morgan Nielsen |
FWX PARTNER SPOON U STARBUCKS MAIN

Photo courtesy of Starbucks.com

This piece originally appeared on Spoon University.

It’s official. Pumpkin Spice is back with a vengeance (and a twitter account). While there are some definite improvements to this years’ PSL (read: real pumpkin AND only vegetable-based coloring), it still may not be everyone’s cup of tea, no matter how much we want to love it.

GIF courtesy of Frappuccino.com

Hate pumpkin? Have a weird dislike for orange food due to an unfortunate childhood incident involving SpaghettiOs (it happens)? Or are you already pumpkin-ed out but don’t want to miss out on the warm and fuzzy feeling that is fall at Starbucks? Either way, here are some yummy and spicy fall drinks, no pumpkin spice allowed.

Cinnamon Dolce Latte

Photo courtesy of starbucks.com

This sweet cinnamon option is available year round, but it really shines when the weather starts to cool and you need some warm and fuzzy cinnamon hugs in your life.

What it is: A latte (espresso and steamed milk), paired with cinnamon dolce syrup, topped with whipped cream and cinnamon sugar topping.

#SpoonTip: Like it even sweeter? Add a pump or two of white mocha sauce for an even richer experience.

Classic Chai Tea Latte

Photo courtesy of starbucks.com

Okay, so this is probably the most well-known and loved drinks on this list. BUT it’s a warm and spicy drink, and therefore perfect for sweater weather. It’s also great for a little jolt of caffeine without committing to an espresso beverage.

Gif courtesy of giphy.com

What it is: Spiced black tea concentrate paired with steamed milk.

#SpoonTip: If you find yourself craving the ever elusive “Cheggnog” (a chai latte made with eggnog — it’s seriously amazing), add a pump or two of caramel syrup. Don’t ask us how adding caramel makes it taste like eggnog, but it totally does.

Salted Caramel Mocha/White Mocha

Photo courtesy of starbucks.com

While still a super popular seasonal offering, the salted caramel mocha is definitely overshadowed by the pumpkin spice latte. But if you’re looking for something a little more dessert-esque or trying to satisfy a sweet tooth, this one’s for you.

What it is: A mocha (or white mocha) latte mixed with toffeenut syrup and topped with whipped cream, caramel drizzle and caramelized salt topping.

#SpoonTip: If it’s out of season, you can always ask for a mocha or white mocha with toffeenut syrup and caramel drizzle. It’s literally the exact same drink minus the seasonal salt topping. And no, please don’t ask your barista to put regular salt on top. It’s just weird.

Gif courtesy of giphy.com

Teavana Oprah Cinnamon Chai Tea Latte

Photo courtesy of Starbucks.com.

Yeah, try saying that one five times fast. This chai tea latte is the classic chai’s spicier cousin. It’s less sweet than the original, and has a WAY stronger cinnamon profile than it’s predecessor.

Bonus: for every TOC sold, Starbucks donates to support the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation, so you’re pretty much a philanthropist. Win.

oprah happy

What it is: Spiced black tea concentrate mixed with steamed milk.

#Spoontip: If the “classic” chai is too sweet for your tastebuds but the “cinnamon” chai isn’t sweet enough, find a happy medium by asking your barista to do half of each concentrate. This will balance the sweetness of the classic with the cinnamon punch of Oprah’s version, creating the perfect blend of spicy yumminess.

Flat White

Photo courtesy of starbucks.com

By now, we’ve all heard the internet get mad salty about the Flat White. Well, if you follow Starbucks gossip on the internet you have. People say, “It’s just a more expensive latte!” but that’s not true.

If made correctly, the flat white is way more than just a latte. From a barista perspective, it challenged us to step up our game. If the drink is made correctly, the milk (whole milk) has to be steamed in a very specific way to make the characteristic “microfoam” that allows us to make that neat little dot on top of the foam.

The drink is also made with ristretto shots, which means that the machine pulls less water through the grinds to form the espresso, creating a shorter shot that is more concentrated and shows more of the bean’s roasty sweetness.

And, if we’re counting our pennies at the register, each size of the flat white DOES come with an additional shot compared to a latte of the same size.

For more Starbucks' upgrades go to SpoonUniversity.com.

Related: How to make a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Home and Save $488
Five Signs Pumpkin Spice Has Gone Too Far
Ode to the Pumpkin Spice Latte

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