Let me set the scene: you’re walking around campus, the temperature is finally cool enough so you can wear a sweater without dying of heat exhaustion and you’re listening to that fall playlist you’ve been curating for months. It’s a perfect fall day at UT, yet you still feel that you’re missing something…
Of course! How could you forget the perfect fall drink? Fall is all about 2 things: cute outfits and cozying up with the best fall drink. Luckily, Austin has a large variety of coffee shops to choose from. Here are some of my top picks for the best fall drinks that you can get near UT:
Cinnamon Sugar Freddo
Espresso with brown sugar and cinnamon. If cinnamon and sugar isn’t a fall pairing, then what is?
Cold brew mixed with Earl Grey tea and lavender, sweetened with honey. I know this doesn’t sound like your typical fall drink, but hear me out— it’s a surprisingly well-made blend of citrus, sweetness, and caffeine!
Lucky Lab Coffee Co.
Fan of Thai tea, but also need a pick-me-up before your 8 a.m. class? This drink is a perfect mix of warm spices and caffeine to get you through the day.
Maple Cinnamon Oat Cold Brew
If you could pour the spirit of fall into a cup, it would taste exactly like this drink. Maple, cinnamon and oat milk work so well together!
Starbucks Iced Apple Crisp Macchiato
A golden trio of apple, cinnamon and caramel drizzle. At first I was worried this drink would be too sweet, like most Starbucks drinks, but don’t worry— it’s a perfect blend of coffee with a crisp apple taste!
Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
It’s basic, I know, but how could I leave it off this list? Pumpkin spice is the epitome of fall flavors. Instead of getting a usual pumpkin spiced latte, though, try this cold brew for an extra boost of caffeine.
Whether it’s a spicy and warm espresso or an ice-cold apple macchiato, there’s a drink for everyone. Soon, when the leaves change and the temperature drops, you’ll be craving the perfect fall drink to match the mood. Now that I’ve given you the knowledge of the best fall drinks, go out and take on the season!
Since its founding in 1971 as “Pike Place Market” in Seattle, Washington, Starbucks has become a worldwide coffee sensation. After the company went public in 1992 it took off and is now the largest coffeehouse chain in the world. So naturally, it has to have a lot of options. From a certified Starbucks barista to you, here’s how to get exactly what you want.
The Milk Situation
Starbucks offers an astounding 9 kinds of milk— 4 of which are nondairy— to their customers.
The nondairy milks are: almond, soy, coconut, and oatmilk.
The dairy milks are: nonfat, 2%, whole, half and half, and heavy cream.
The combinations with the milks alone are endless, but there are a few more things to keep in mind.
Vegetarian / Vegan
Looking at the Starbucks menu from a customer perspective can be overwhelming— especially when no one seems to know what is and isn’t vegan-friendly. In the one year I’ve worked at Starbucks, I’ve seen so much misinformation get spread around, so here are two important things to keep in mind if you don’t want to consume milk.
1. Caramel drizzle has dairy.
2. Mocha doesn’t.
In fact, all nonseasonal Starbucks syrups are vegan except for White Chocolate Mocha and Dark Caramel Sauce.
If you’re looking to avoid dairy, just ask for any drink (besides a White Mocha or Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino) and swap out the dairy milk for one of the nondairies. Make sure to say no to whip cream because we use heavy cream to make it, caramel drizzle because of the dairy component, and also say no to cinnamon dolce topping because it’s made with butter.
If you don’t want to consume honey, it’s important to know that our Chai concentrate is made with it. So avoid Chai Tea Lattes and instead go for a brewed Chai tea with some nondairy milk.
People Who Don’t Want Caffeine
As a barista, I get this question more than you would think working at a coffee shop: What’s caffeine-free? Starbucks surprisingly has a lot of options, and one of the best ones is decaf.
Open till close Starbucks serves decaf espresso for that yummy coffee flavor without the leg-shaking side effects. We can add it to any drink you want so the options are, once again, endless.
If you don’t want the flavor either, but still want something creamy, you can order whatever syrup you want with steamed milk, hot chocolate, or one of our herbal teas, Mint Majesty and Peach Tranquility.
Need something iced instead? Our Passion Tango tea is caffeine-free. Or if blended is your preference, just ask for the creme version of whatever Frappucino you would like (besides chai, since it’s pre-caffeinated.)
And no, our refreshers are not caffeine-free. So if your eight-year-old orders a Pink Drink expect them to be hyper later on.
Personally, I think if you’re getting a keto drink from Starbucks the best thing to do is order water. But, if you need to know some options, I got you covered.
Keto diets generally mean less than 50 carbs a day. So any type of black coffee, hot or iced espresso, or brewed tea will do just fine as it will bring you to a grand total of zero carbs.
When figuring out what milk to add in, a lot of people seem to think heavy cream is the top contender. However, Starbucks heavy cream contains 16 grams of carbohydrates per cup, which is actually more than quite a few milks.
The lowest carb milks come from the nondairy selection. Almond milk has 5 grams per cup, and coconut has 8. If you’re looking for a dairy selection, half % half has 8 grams per cup, nonfat has 12, and 2% has 14. So it’s better to ditch the heavy cream altogether and go with a lower carb milk to keep it in that low-carb diet.
If you’re looking to add some sweetness to the drink, our two sugar-free syrup pumps (sugar-free Vanilla and sugar-free Cinnamon Dolce) both have 1 gram of carbs per 2 tablespoons, which is about 3 to 4 pumps.
So to recommend the lowest-carb drink, a sugar-free syrup with 4 pumps and almond milk customized to coffee, espresso, hot tea, or iced tea is your best bet.
Iced tea lemonades are also a solid option if you’d like something without milk, as the lemonade ranges from 7 to 15 grams of carbs per drink depending on the size.
Whether it’s getting off the caffeine-craze, or going on a diet, Starbucks will find a way to meet your needs. If you’re still unsure, ask a barista because we’re there to help, but this guide is a great way to answer some basics to get you through the endless menu and dietary options. Our mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit, so hopefully, even with the restrictions, we can do that for you one cup at a time.
“Mango dragonfruit with no water, blended with strawberry puree and topped with whipped cream”
I am completely obsessed with the color of this drink. It made me even more excited to give it a try. To be upfront, I was unsure about this drink at first sip. It had an interesting tanginess, most likely from the dragonfruit, that I wasn’t sure if I enjoyed. However, with every new sip that I took, it became better and better. The whipped cream on top added a perfect contrast with the tang of the drink itself. The one downside that I noticed was how quickly this drink melted. So, if you order this on a hot day, make sure and drink it up fast! Although this definitely isn’t a daily drink because of its bold and sweet flavors, it was a nice treat.
Cookie Butter Latte – 8.5/10
“Iced chai latte with brown sugar syrup and oat milk”
This combination was created by @nina.estrada. She claims that it “tastes just like Trader Joe’s cookie butter.” I personally grew up on Trader Joe’s cookie butter, so I was excited for this drink. From the very first sip, I was astonished at how similar the two actually tasted. This drink is essentially cookie butter in liquid form. If you have never tried cookie butter, it gives off gingerbread vibes. This drink is sweet but also filled with spices.— and also dairy free, which is always a plus. This drink is also Lizzo-approved… which should speak for itself!
The Moon Drink – 9/10
“Iced matcha latte with two pumps of chai”
This combination was created by @swanmuse. She attests that it “tastes like drinking the moon herself.” Although I’m not exactly sure what the moon is supposed to taste like, this description is somehow exactly spot on. I am a huge fan of matcha and of chai separately, but I’ve never thought of putting the two together. This combination gives the freshness of matcha and the spice of chai. I also added the vanilla sweet cream foam on top, since it’s the secret sauce to everything. It perfectly balances out the two flavors with a little bit of sweetness. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of matcha, I believe you would still enjoy this drink. And of course, if you like both, this is the perfect drink for you!
Ombre lemonade – 9/10
“Lemonade with raspberry and strawberry acai poured on top”
Personally, I think this was the most aesthetic drink of the five that I tried. Not only was it beautiful and seemingly glowing, it was delicious! It tasted exactly like sweet strawberry lemonade with a hint of tang from the raspberry. This drink is absolutely perfect for hot weather. Summer is just around the corner, and I can guarantee that you’ll catch me with one of these in hand. This is also a fairly simple drink to order, which is always nice. If you love sweet and tangy drinks or you are just a lemonade fan in general, I highly recommend this ombré lemonade.
The Iconic TikTok Drink – 10/10
“Iced white mocha with vanilla sweet cream foam and extra caramel drizzle”
This combination was created by @annaxsitar, and it spread around TikTok like wildfire. I was excited to finally be able to try it, and now that I have, I don’t regret it at all. I absolutely fell in love, and it is now my go-to coffee order. The vanilla sweet cream foam and the extra caramel drizzle added the perfect touch of sweetness. While I’m not usually the biggest coffee drinker, I would gladly drink this every day if I could. The next time you’re thinking about what to order from starbucks, give this one a try!
Not a coffee person? Try matcha! Matcha drinks are great alternatives to coffee because they keep you energized without the sometimes uncomfortable “buzz” that coffee gives you.
Matcha is made when green tea leaves are crushed into a powder. The powder is whisked and added to hot water or milk (or a milk alternative) to make a matcha latte. It has a slightly bitter taste that can be sweetened to your liking with things like syrups and honey. I decided to go to coffee shops around Austin and see who can make the best matcha drink.
BanditCoffee & Matcha Bar – 10/10
706 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703
Bandit has a whole menu for matcha drinks so one can expect them to be pretty good. My go-to is the honey lavender matcha and it never disappoints. This drink is the perfect balance of sweet and floral mixed with that signature matcha taste.
Bennu Coffee – 9/10
515 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
What I like about Bennu is the variety of syrups they have. I added rose syrup to my matcha and loved it. Their matcha tasted smooth and the rose added a delicate element that’s not overly sweet.
Jo’s – 7/10
1300 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
I have no complaints about Jo’s. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but it’s good if it’s the only place nearby. I add vanilla to mine to make it sweeter.
Mozart’s – 5/10
3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703
Mozart’s makes a very average matcha. I’ve gotten it quite a few times and every time the powder hasn’t mixed all the way which leads to you drinking big clumps of matcha powder; not the most enjoyable taste.
Starbucks – 3/10
504 W 24th St Suite B, Austin, TX 78705
Starbucks matcha gives good effort but the texture is way too chalky. I only go to Starbs for my matcha needs if I’ve been given a gift card and I need to use it up. The price is the same as many other places, but the other places do it better.
What it is: LOTS of espresso over ice, mixed with classic syrup , and topped with 2% milk.
Why we love it: The Doubleshot is a great way to get your caffeine fix while also staying cool in the Texas heat. It is an awesome mix of strong and sweet, just like us Longhorns.
How to make it your own: The Doubleshot is one of the most easy to customize drinks on the Starbucks menu! You can substitute any syrup on the menu (caramel, vanilla, hazelnut, sugar-free cinnamon dolce, etc.) for the classic syrup or ask for no syrup at all. You can also swap out the 2% for a variety of kinds of milk (almond, whole, heavy cream, etc.).
Barista tip: Try adding vanilla bean powder for a bit of added sweetness and texture!
2. Chai Tea Latte
What it is: Black tea infused with an element of spice, a hint of water, and 2% milk.
Why we love it: The Chai tea latte is the perfect way for tea lovers to get a kick of caffeine. It is also a great combination of spicy and sweet.
How to make it your own: Chai tea lattes can come hot or iced. Plus, you can switch the standard 2% milk for any milk (coconut, soy, breve, and so on). If you are in the mood for a richer drink, you can request no water and all milk for the hot version of the chai tea latte (the iced version automatically comes with no water added).
Barista tip: Try adding vanilla syrup (regular or sugar-free) to make your tea, and day, a little sweeter.
3. Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino®
What it is: Whole milk, vanilla bean powder, ice, and coffee blended together and topped with whipped cream.
Why we love it: Between the coffee and the sugar in this drink, it’s sure to give you an energy boost to help you make it through any study session. It’s also the perfect treat to congratulate yourself with for a job well done or just for going to all your classes that day.
How to make it your own: The whole milk in frappuccinos can easily be swapped out for a different type. You can also add java chips or hazelnut syrup to create a more complex and unique flavor.
Barista tip: Add an affogato shot (a shot of espresso poured over the whipped cream and Frappuccino) for some extra caffeine and a stronger taste.
4. Guava Passionfruit Drink
What it is: Coconut milk, a guava juice blend, and pineapple-ginger syrup shaken over ice.
Why we love it: This is the perfect summer drink. It’s fruity, bright, sweet, and most importantly cold. Plus, the vibrant pink color of the Guava Passionfruit Drink makes it a great addition to anyones Instagram.
How to make it your own: The coconut milk in this drink can be swapped for any other milk on the menu. If you’re not a guava fan, you can also ask to substitute a peach juice blend in place of the guava. Plus, depending on how much on a sweet tooth you have, the number of pumps of pineapple-ginger syrup is completely customizable.
Barista tip: Try getting the Guava Passionfruit Drink blended with creme base for a delicious slushie-like version.
5. Cold Brew with Dark Cocoa Almondmilk Foam
What it is: Cold brew (brewed for 20 hours), ice, and a topping of almond milk blended with mocha syrup and cocoa powder.
Why we love it: This is the drink you have been waiting for, dairy-intolerant folks! There is just almondmilk in this delicious drink. The strength of the cold brew mixed with the sweetness of the chocolate foam makes a yummy and low-calorie (only 40 calories in a grande) treat.
How to make it your own: Even though “almondmilk” is in the name of the drink, you can still swap it out for any other milk. If you’re a chocolate-lover, you can ask for pumps of the mocha syrup in the cold brew as well as in the foam.