Starbucks has reached every corner of the world and impressed a large majority of those to pass through the coffee shop's doors. For 16 years, the company has been named in Fortune Magazine and has been ranked as the number one food and beverage industry in 2018. Caramel macchiatos, white mochas, and original Pike Place coffee have helped the company get to where it is today, with many additions along the way. Sure, you can get your caffeine just about anywhere else, but it might be lacking the flair (and the cost) that Starbucks offers.
So, how else does Starbucks stay at the top? Perhaps, it's the social media appeal that drinks like the Unicorn and the Crystal Ball (this one was less of a hit, but actually tasted great—you can still order it by getting a creme-based frappuccino with peach infusion) get, or maybe, it's the devotion of the regular customers. Whatever it is, we're impressed.
No one can reach the top without their flaws, though. That's why we've put together a list that includes the good and the bad. We've already looked at menu options here in the States; now, let's take it international.
Starbucks has locations in six continents and in over 45 countries, each with unique beverages not available to the rest of the world. Ranging from a small twist on familiar drinks to entirely new creations that we'd love to try, good to bad, and with or without caffeine, they seem to have done it all. To make it easier for you, we've put together a list of the best and worst drinks international Starbucks stores have to offer.
20 Avoid: Cereal Latte With Oat Milk
Cereal is delicious, and so is oatmeal. But what even is oat milk? As you may have guessed, it's basically just oats and water with a few extra steps. That doesn't sound too bad, but it doesn't make a good latte.
As far as milk alternatives go, oat milk seems to be the least risky for allergens, so it's a win on that field. However, it could be substituted into any drink. Mixing it with cereal ingredients just sounds like a recipe for bad oatmeal. We'll stick to the traditional oats. Still interested? This one is available in France and the UK.
19 Try: Banana Split Mocha Frappuccino
Who doesn't love banana splits? They've been around for over 100 years for good reason. A banana cut in half, topped with the classic trio of ice cream, chocolate, strawberry, and pineapple syrup, with whipped cream and a cherry. Thank you, David Strickler, for creating this traditional dessert.
It's only fitting that one of the most popular desserts would come together with one of the most popular coffee shops. Chocolate banana blended, layered between strawberry whipped cream and vanilla whipped cream, topped off with waffle pieces—too bad it's only available in Hong Kong. This one's a must-try if you get the chance!
18 Avoid: Avocado Blended Beverage
Avocados are definitely "in" this season after having gained massive popularity through social media, so this drink is no surprise. It only makes sense to incorporate the popular fruit (although it seems like a vegetable) into a trendy, photogenic beverage. Loaded with potassium, fiber, and fatty acids for your heart, it's one of the healthiest fruits on the planet.
Even with all that, though, there doesn't need to be an avocado blended beverage. They taste great as an add-on or in guacamole, but this drink is made to look and taste like an avocado. If you want to brighten up your social media channels with a picture of this one, it's available in South Korea.
17 Try: Sakura Blossom Frappuccino
Starbucks doesn't often let major holidays go without a drink to honor it. In Japan, each spring is brought in with hanami or the cherry blossom festival. The sakura blossom frappuccino is just the right shade of pink, topped with chocolate and rice petals. Looks alone make us want to try this one.
It's blended with milk, ice, and sweet cherry blossom flavoring, and it sounds delicious. If frappuccinos aren't your thing, it's also available as a latte, hot or iced. You'll still get the petal topping and delicious taste but with added espresso.
16 Avoid: Caramel Coffee Jelly Frappuccino
Now, this just sounds extreme. With the bubble tea craze going on, Starbucks just had to get involved, but it'd be too much to ask for bubble tea in stores. So instead, they created jellies to put into frappuccinos. We aren't sure how Starbucks makes the jelly, except that they use dark roast coffee, but typically, it's made with coffee, sugar, and gelatin.
The rest of the drink is a caramel frappuccino blend, topped with whipped cream and caramel drizzle. Leave out the strange coffee jelly, and we're sold. We'll stick with the frappuccinos here, without coffee jelly, and the UK can keep their jelly.
15 Try: Tahitian Vanilla Macchiato
Tahiti is known for its black pearls, beaches, volcanoes, and now, the Tahitian vanilla macchiato as well. This beverage is made with signature Starbucks espresso, sweet Tahitian vanilla (which has a caramelly taste), and steamed milk, topped with a vanilla syrup crosshatch and vanilla bean specks.
Macchiatos already taste amazing, so you can only imagine what one might taste like with Tahitian vanilla instead of the classic vanilla syrup. Unfortunately, this drink is only available in Asia. If you have the chance to visit a Starbucks in Asia, you should definitely give this drink a try. It’s available hot or iced, so it’s good any time of year.
14 Avoid: Christmas Panettone Latte
Somehow, fruitcake remains a holiday classic, but we aren't sure why. Panettone is Italy's version, but it doesn't get much better. Starbucks may have chosen to call it "panettone" instead of "fruitcake" to avoid the negative reactions bound to follow.
Traditionally, panettone is a sweet bread with candied fruits and raisins mixed in, and its latte counterpart is quite similar. Starbucks combines espresso with bread and butter flavor and tops it with dried cranberries, apples, and oranges. It doesn't get much worse, but this one's available in China if you choose to try it alongside the banana split mocha frappuccino.
13 Try: Yogurt Frappuccinos
If you go to Mexico, you can try the slightly healthier version of a frappuccino. Blended with yogurt, it's practically a smoothie. Sounds delicious. They have different fruit flavors: mango, pineapple coconut, and berry, so if one doesn't sound appealing, then another might. Being healthy is more fun when it's colorful and fruity.
You just might have to book your next vacation to Mexico so you can try this one. Relaxing on the beach with a yogurt frappuccino in your hand and your toes in the sand sounds like a perfect getaway. Who could resist? Hopefully, these come to US stores soon.
12 Avoid: Pistachio and Rose Mocha
Many people love pistachios, and many people love the smell of roses, but whoever thought of mixing the two with mocha and espresso? Crafted with signature espresso, steamed milk, pistachio, rose, and mocha flavors, it sounds more like a garden than a beverage. The drink is topped off with pistachio and rose whipped cream and crumbles, just to amplify the flavor there needs to be less of.
There are many other ways to get your pistachios, and we think the roses should stay in a vase or a fragrance. If you're interested in this one, it's available in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
11 Try: Maple Latte
Not to be confused with the American version, the maple pecan latte, the maple latte consists of espresso, steamed milk, and maple syrup, topped off with whipped cream and maple crumbles. It's a perfectly sweet syrup latte, great for those who prefer the coffee taste and even those who don't. The sweetness is enough to balance the espresso for anyone, and you can ask for more pumps if it isn't.
This one is available in Europe, and we can't wait to try it. Maybe someday, it'll migrate to the US, but for now, we have vanilla lattes and maple pecan lattes.
10 Avoid: Sweetmeat Frappuccino
Now, you may not have heard of sweetmeat, but it definitely sounds unappealing. It actually just refers to sweets, like candy. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Here’s the catch—the beverage is based on a Latin American dessert called “doce de leite,” which is made by cooking a can of sweetened condensed milk, unopened, at a simmer for 2 hours, then refrigerating the concoction for another 3-4 hours.
While we don’t recommend the sweetmeat or doce de leite frappuccino, it's available in Brazil Starbucks locations if you’re brave enough. For now—and most likely forever—it's not available in US stores. Perhaps, it’s for the better.
9 Try: Cream Coffee Pudding Frappuccino
The cream coffee pudding frappuccino is only available in Asia right now. It's made with coffee pudding with cream and topped with espresso whipped cream and espresso powder. Pictures don't do it enough justice for how it sounds. Creamy coffee pudding with more sweet coffee flavor to top it off? Heavenly, almost.
We'd take a trip to Asia just to try this one, but in the lineup with the cherry pie frappuccino and the other Asia-exclusive beverages here, there's no reason not to go. If only a trip were that simple. Be sure to try this one for us if you get the opportunity.
8 Avoid: Cajeta Frappuccino
Cajeta is caramelized goat's milk, similar to the caramelized sweetened condensed milk, doce de leite previously mentioned. It's popular in Mexico, where this frappuccino has hit Starbucks stores. We'd rather stick to the classic caramel made from sugar. Something just seems odd about caramelized milk.
Although this one may be popular where it's on the menu, we're satisfied with the caramel frappuccino and the ultra caramel frappuccino (made with dark caramel between layers of whipped cream) here at home. If you're brave enough for it, you can try this one alongside the yogurt frappuccinos also available at Mexican Starbucks locations.
7 Try: Algarrobina Frappuccino
Another drink from Peru, and with good reason. Algarrobina is a syrup derived from the Peruvian Black Carob tree, used to sweeten everything from milk to cocktails. This one could be the Peru version of the maple latte, substituting their own native syrup for the maple, and we are all for it. The only difference is, this one has added chocolate, blended together with chocolate chips.
To top it off, there are whipped cream and Algarrobina toppings. Starbucks just keeps adding reasons why we should visit Peru. Algarrobina syrup would probably taste delicious in other beverages as well, such as a regular cappuccino.
6 Avoid: Caramel Flan Latte
If you didn't already know, caramel flan is a custard dish similar to creme brulee but with a softer top layer. It tastes like caramel pudding with less sweetness to it. For this beverage, the only clear distinction between it and a regular caramel latte is the whipped cream. If you order a caramel latte, you'll get milk, espresso, and caramel syrup, but this drink also has caramel whipped cream and caramel drizzle.
While it sounds okay, it isn't much more than a caramel latte with added whipped cream and a caramel drizzle, so we won't be dying to try it anytime soon.
5 Try: Brigadeiro Frappuccino
Brigadeiro is a traditional Brazilian chocolate truffle typically served as a dessert, but it sounds like it'd be tasty anytime. What sounds better than a chocolate truffle frappuccino? This one's blended with coffee, chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate chips, and milk and is topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. To make it even better, the cup is lined with brigadeiro syrup.
If that doesn't sound irresistible, we aren't sure what will. Although this is only available in Brazil, you can order a similar version in the US—java chip frappuccino with white mocha and mocha drizzle in the cup (and dark chocolate curls if available).
4 Avoid: Manjar Blanco Latte
When you translate the Peru Starbucks website, "manjar blanco" becomes "white delicacy," which sounds odd. We looked into it and found that manjar blanco is another milk dessert mixed with vanilla and sugar and simmered until it thickens into a pudding-like substance. It doesn't sound terrible on its own, but in a frappuccino, it can only go one of two ways: extra milk-tasting vanilla frappuccino or a glorified vanilla frappuccino with a new name.
It may taste good, but it definitely isn't worth the try. The vanilla bean and cafe vanilla will do just fine. Still want it? Head on down to Peru.
3 Try: Choco Lucuma Frappuccino
When we first heard about this drink, we had to find out what "lucuma" was. The choco portion sounds great, but chocolate isn't good with just anything. Unsurprisingly, the lucuma is native to Peru, and it's a fruit. Described as tasting similar to a caramelly, maple sweet potato, it's definitely a must-try.
Due to the lack of availability of lucuma in the States, this one will likely stay in Peru, which means we have to go. This one's even arguably healthy since it involves fruits. Even if it weren't, though, we'd want to try it anyway.
2 Avoid: Butterfly Pea Lemonade Cold Brew
You've probably heard of this one. It's new, and social media is all over it. Not surprising since it looks appealing, but the combination of flavors in this drink is absurd. First of all, lemonade and coffee shouldn't mix. Especially not cold brew—the bitterness of the coffee would stand out against the sweet lemony taste of lemonade. Add in the earthy and bitter taste of butterfly pea, and you've got a mess.
This one will be available for a limited time starting February 20, so try it if you have the chance. We expect this one will run out quickly, but we won't be in line to see.
1 Try: Pokemon GO Frappuccino
We couldn't finish going around the world without stopping at home, and this one's definitely one you should try. Although it was a brief promotional beverage, the Pokemon GO Frappuccino is still available in stores, and it's worth the money. It's a vanilla bean frappuccino with raspberry (vanilla bean with raspberry also can be ordered as a cotton candy frappuccino) with berry inclusions blended in.
Most baristas will make this one with whipped cream on the top, but we've seen some add a layer in the middle for the Pokeball effect. Next time you drive by a Starbucks, don't forget to pick up one of these.