The 7 Best Iced Coffees At Starbucks: Summer Cheatsheet 2023
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Searching for a cold, refreshing iced coffee but feeling overwhelmed by the menu at Starbucks? Yeah, we feel you.
When you’re on the hunt for the best coffee Starbucks may seem like an obvious stop.
But from the secret, off-menu drink orders to blended, milkshake-resembling coffee drinks, the coffee retailer’s concoctions can be a bit of a departure from, well, coffee.
But fear not, fellow coffee enthusiasts. Starbucks has a variety of iced coffee beverages that will satisfy even the most selective coffee consumers. The best coffee at Starbucks may not be the most obvious.
The trick is knowing which coffee drink to order and how to order a Starbucks iced coffee; we’re here to help you with that.
Ordering an iced coffee shouldn’t be complicated, so we’ve rounded up the best iced coffee orders at Starbucks to keep you cool and caffeinated all summer.
Table of Contents
The Best Coffee From Starbucks
Starbucks is known for its coffee innovation, and the iced coffees on the menu certainly live up to its reputation. But the best coffee from Starbucks is sometimes a different version of your usual order.
For example, some beverages simply taste better hot, while others shine over ice. Knowing how to order a Starbucks iced coffee will change your coffee experience.
But what exactly is iced coffee anyway?
Iced coffee is a general term used to describe several different types of iced caffeinated beverages. There are flavor nuances in each preparation that make them unique.
Let’s look at the various types of iced coffees and their differences before diving into the best iced coffee orders at Starbucks.
Iced coffee is just what it sounds like. It is coffee brewed hot, then poured over ice. Done.
Iced coffee is straightforward to prepare and totally delicious.
Starbucks offers basic iced coffee or iced coffee with milk options on the menu, and all of the Clover brewed coffees over ice. (Note: in our opinion, the Clover varieties are some of the best coffee at Starbucks.)
The flavor of iced coffee is less pronounced than some of its cold coffee counterparts due partly to the hot extraction process and the dilution of the coffee from the ice.
Iced coffee is more bland overall and lacks the subtle nuances of cold brew coffee.
Cold Brew Coffee
What’s cold brew coffee?
The brewing process makes cold brew different from other cold coffee drinks.
The term “cold brew” refers to the brewing method, not the serving temperature. Cold brew steeps slowly (like 12+ hours slow) at room temperature versus regular coffee brewed hot in mere minutes.
Cold brew coffee is extraordinarily smooth and less acidic than traditional iced coffee.
Starbucks offers various cold brew options, and you’ll find a few gracing our list below. Those on nitro are unquestionably some of the best coffee from Starbucks.
Nitro Cold Brew
Here’s a trade secret for how to order a Starbucks iced coffee: order your cold brew on nitro when available. But what’s nitro cold brew?
Nitro cold brew is cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen for an ultra-creamy, velvety texture. It is sinfully delicious and arguably the best coffee at Starbucks.
Nitro cold brew is served without ice, an essential factor to consider when ordering. While you won’t experience additional dilution from the ice, your beverage won’t stay cold very long unless it’s in an insulated cup.
Like iced coffee, Iced espresso is brewed hot and poured over ice. It’s delicious as is or when combined with your favorite milk.
When milk is added to an iced espresso, it’s instantly transformed into an iced latte, iced flat white, iced macchiato, or iced mocha.
The type of milk and order in which the ingredients are combined are the main differentiating factors between these beverages, other than the mocha, which also includes cocoa in all preparations.
Starbucks is most well-known for its espresso-based beverages; iced espresso drinks are no exception.
You’ll notice that these preparations are listed separately on the Starbucks menu, adding to the confusion.
For all intents and purposes, an iced macchiato and an iced latte will taste nearly identical despite the differences in preparation, so don’t get too wrapped up in the names of the drinks.
Focus on the ingredients, and you can’t go wrong. If you don’t own an espresso machine, ordering espresso drinks at Starbucks is the way to go.
The Best Iced Coffees At Starbucks
If you want the best iced drink Starbucks offers, look no further. Our top pick of the best iced coffees at Starbucks is a nitro cold brew. This particular cold brew is a newer addition to the Starbucks lineup, and we can’t get enough.
The Starbucks Reserve coffee is a unique small-lot roast with exceptional flavor and depth. The nuances of the roast shine through in this bright, chocolatey, smooth cold brew.
In our opinion, this nitro cold brew might be the best coffee Starbucks serves. Perhaps earning it a ‘Best of Starbucks coffee’ award? Why not.
This cold brew is served without ice, making it an exceptional value compared to other iced coffees from Starbucks.
Add milk or sweetener to your liking, or consume this beauty just as she comes. This cold brew has 280 mg of caffeine and 0 sugar as served.
The Iced Shaken Espresso is a delightfully refreshing drink for summer. But we take it one step further and swap the traditional espresso for Starbucks Blonde Espresso. This is when knowing how to order a Starbucks iced coffee is handy.
We find the blonde espresso less bitter than the regular espresso, making it particularly delicious over ice. We also love the subtle fruity notes of the roast.
The shaken espresso is essentially a few shots of espresso mixed with a bit of syrup and a splash of milk. Just about perfect if you ask us.
But if you prefer it less sweet or without milk, customize it to your liking. As served, the Iced Shaken Blonde Espresso has 225 mg of caffeine and 14 g of sugar.
This is a pretty special iced coffee. It tops our best iced coffees at Starbucks because of its addictive salty-sweet characteristics.
This cold brew comes in a nitro version, but we prefer to order this flavor without the nitro. The caramel cream gives this cold brew a richness that benefits from a bit of dilution from the ice.
It’s a little extra for us on nitro, but if you like a rich, sweet beverage, it might be right up your alley.
This is one of the more indulgent iced coffees on our list but could be the best iced drink Starbucks offers, with 280 mg of caffeine and a whopping 23 g of sugar. But 100% worth it.
We love a classic iced latte, and the Starbucks Reserve Iced Latte is no exception. The small-lot reserve espresso has a delicious roasty quality without any bitterness.
It’s a bit more robust than the blonde roast but lacks the harshness sometimes associated with Starbucks espresso roast, making it perhaps the best coffee in Starbucks.
Lattes are notoriously milky and smooth and go down oh-so-easy. Customize this iced latte as you like with any milk or sweetener, but we like it just as it comes.
The standard preparation for this iced coffee is two shots of reserve espresso with whole milk. As served, the Reserve Iced Latte has 135 mg of caffeine and 16 g of sugar and is, hands down, one of the best iced coffee orders at Starbucks.
This Iced Flat White from Starbucks is like summer in a cup. It’s a much lighter version of a flat white with almond milk instead of conventional whole milk.
The Iced Honey Almond Milk Flat White is made with Starbucks Blonde Espresso, almond milk, and a touch of honey for the perfect balance of sweetness and nuttiness.
But what is a flat white? Only the best coffee in Starbucks (or anywhere if you ask us).
Ristretto espresso shots make a flat white different from a latte. A ristretto shot uses the same espresso roast as a traditional shot, but less water is pushed through the grounds, resulting in a smaller, more concentrated shot with a sweeter, richer taste.
The Iced Honey Almond Milk Flat White is absolutely perfect as served, with 225 mg of caffeine and 17 g of sugar.
No list of the best iced coffees at Starbucks would be complete without the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew. This drink is basically perfect and regarded by many as the best iced drink Starbucks makes.
This is a go-to order for us when anyone is making a Starbucks run. It’s easy to order and even easier to drink. Much like the Caramel Cream Cold Brew, the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew has a beautiful sweet foam cascading through the cold brew, sweetening it just enough.
It’s light, refreshing, and just the right balance of sweetness and milk. As served, the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew has 185 mg of caffeine and 14 g of sugar.
Last but in no way least is the classic Iced Americano. We feature it in our roundup of the best iced coffees at Starbucks because this fabulous iced coffee option is often overlooked (primarily out of confusion over what it actually is).
An Americano, or Iced Americano, is the European version of “American” coffee. It’s essentially espresso with a shot of water over the top, creating a light crema layer.
The result is a surprisingly robust and beautifully smooth cup of iced coffee with depth and nuance. We love it with a splash of milk and sugar, but it is wonderfully refreshing as is.
It’s a shame it’s so often overlooked because Americanos, whether iced or hot, are some of the best coffee Starbucks offers.
As served, this classic has 225 mg of caffeine and 0 sugar.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which blend does Starbucks use for iced coffee?
Starbucks uses the Terraza blend for iced coffee beverages. It is a blend created specifically for iced coffee and is smooth with sweet cola notes. It was roasted to be delicious, either with or without milk.
The Terraza blend is not available for retail sale. If you want to make Starbucks iced coffee at home, try using a medium blend like Kenya.
Regardless of which blend Starbucks uses for iced coffee, our tip for how to order a Starbucks iced coffee is to order whichever coffee you like over ice. We especially like the clover coffee varieties served over ice, so get creative with your order!
And remember, sometimes the best coffee in Starbucks isn’t even on the menu.