For a number of Penn State students, an occasional trip to an on-campus Starbucks has become an essential part of their routines. It’s completely understandable why, considering the variety of food and drink choices. Their customization is an endless possibility and their flavors surpass expectations. With the line at the HUB-Robeson Center’s branch spanning endlessly across the ground floor — it’s no secret how beloved the brand is.
Those behind the counters of Starbucks share the customers’ love for the drinks they serve. The baristas often tend to have their own go-to drinks, having experimented with the many flavors and ingredients they have at their disposal. These might be drinks they like best or even drinks that they enjoy making the most — but it’s almost certain that you can trust their opinion on them.
Considering that there would be nobody else best suited to giving us recommendations, VALLEY asked the baristas at the HUB Starbucks what their favorite drinks to order are. Here’s what they said.
Iced Caramel Macchiato
Several of the baristas instantly recommended the Iced Caramel Macchiato — described by Starbucks as a drink made from “rich, full-bodied espresso with vanilla-flavored syrup, milk and ice,” topped off with a caramel drizzle.
The drink has the perfect balance of syrupy sweetness and coffee bitter and can be perfect for any time of day. If it’s later in the day, you could order it with decaf espresso instead— you know, just so you avoid accidentally ruining your sleep schedule. For those who’d prefer non-dairy milk, oat milk was the most popular choice amongst the baristas to go with the flavor profile of this drink.
Paradise Drink with Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam
With the semester nearing its end in a few months and summer peeking around the corner, this refresher is the perfect addition to your day. The base has a mix of pineapple and passionfruit flavors, shaken in with coconut milk and dried pineapple fruit pieces.
The baristas recommended this drink with a topping of vanilla cold foam; sweet cream blended to create a foamy, frothy top that’s best described as tasting almost like ice cream. All in all, this is a perfect, summery refresher for those looking to brighten up their day.
Iced Blonde Vanilla Latte
The Iced Blonde Vanilla Latte is a spin on the classic latte, with the blonde espresso adding a smooth and slightly sweet flavor to the coffee. The drink comes with a standard amount of vanilla syrup, which further accentuates its sweeter tones. This drink could also be tried with almond milk, in order for the flavors to be at the forefront even more.
Pink Drink with Chocolate Cold Foam
The Pink Drink is, dare we say, a Starbucks staple for a lot of Penn Staters. Originally a “secret menu” item, the demand for it was so high that the brand decided to make it an official member of the menu. It uses a strawberry base and is shaken in with dried strawberry pieces and coconut milk.
The HUB baristas suggested topping the classic drink off with Chocolate Cold Foam, made from malt powder and sweet cream. The blend of the chocolaty flavors with the sweeter, fruitier strawberry certainly makes for an interesting, but memorable drink.
Iced Chai Latte with Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam
The Iced Chai is one of Starbucks’ most popular drinks. It contains black tea, infused with a number of spices including cinnamon and clove. The baristas describe this drink as a perfect blend of sweet and spicy flavors and suggest topping it off with the previously mentioned vanilla cold foam.
This creates a gradient of flavors in the drink, the spice and flavor hitting you by breaking through the sweetness of the vanilla. Needless to say, this combination could make for the perfect drink!
Matcha Frappuccino with Java Chips and Malt
Matcha is an increasingly popular flavor at Penn State, with all sorts of combinations and flavors being customized to elevate the smooth, almost grassy tea flavor of the drinks. The Matcha Frappucino is one such drink, made with blended ice and classic syrup, finally topped off with a generous amount of whipped cream.
One of the baristas recommended this drink, with malt powder and java chips added to it. The chocolate chips add to the sweetness of the drink, and elevate its earthy tones.
Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso
This drink, understandably so, has a chokehold on the students of Penn State, according to our baristas. And, of course, they couldn’t relate more. One of the highly recommended drinks of the bunch was the Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso, with its smooth espresso texture and earthy-sweet tones of brown sugar and cinnamon.
This drink could be topped off with vanilla cold foam, maybe even with a few pumps of brown sugar added in there, for that little bit of extra sweetness.
Iced Blonde Oatmilk Latte with Chai and Brown Sugar
Part of why the latte is such a great drink is because of the freedom you have with its flavors. One barista highly recommended an iced oat milk latte, with blonde espresso shots and half pumps of chai and brown sugar syrups. This drink has the perfect combination of smooth espresso and rich oat milk flavor, with the syrups giving it an unexpected but unique sweetness. The drink could also be made with almond milk instead, for a smoother feel overall.
All in all, it’s safe to say that your drinks are in the right hands. Everyone’s “perfect drink” is different and unique to them. Who knows, maybe one of these could be your new go-to! Let us know if you try any of the barista recommendations by tagging us @VALLEYmag on Twitter or @valleymag on Instagram!