While I love a good pour-over coffee or cappuccino, I drink iced coffee year-round, rain or shine. When I find myself at Starbucks, my typical order is a cold brew or sometimes, if I'm feeling adventurous, one of the newer creations with cold foam on top. Besides Frappuccinos, Starbucks now has a huge selections of cold coffee drinks to choose from—how do you pick?
I tasted my way through almost the entire cold coffee menu at Starbucks to find the very best drinks to order. In the end, I'm including almost all of them in this list because, well, tastes and (dietary restrictions) vary. Like I said, I typically veer toward simple, coffee-forward drinks, but that doesn't mean a caramel macchiato is bad! In fact, it was pretty good. Whether you're looking for a sugary drink to soothe a sweet tooth or a creative cold brew that'll mix up your typical order, I've got you covered. There are also a few drinks I'd steer clear of.
But first, a breakdown of the cold coffees menu:
When it comes to non-espresso drinks on the Starbucks cold coffees menu, you'll find iced coffee, cold brew, and nitro cold brew. Back in the day, Starbucks didn't have cold brew—only drip coffee that's been chilled. It appears that Starbucks, like many other coffeeshops, are veering more into cold brew (comprising much of the menu) which offers a smooth, flavorful drink with less acid and bitterness than a traditional iced coffee.
Then we have a series of cold brews topped with cold foam—a creamy foam that's often flavored.
Next, we have the espresso drinks. Most are pretty self explanatory, like an iced Americano, lattes, and macchiatos. A flat white is typically made with whole milk and an additional shot of espresso. Shaken espressos also have an additional shot of espresso in addition to flavored syrup or powders, and milk shaken with ice.
Nitro Cold Brew
Starbucks' Nitro Cold Brew is pure luxury. Everything you like about cold brew—like its smooth and creamy taste and texture—is maximized due to the infusion of nitrogen. This creates an extra airy, almost sweet (but sugar-free!) drink with a layer of crema on top.
Compared to regular Starbucks Cold Brew Coffee, this one is much lighter in texture and flavor. The only downside is that it's often sold out.
Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso
Surprisingly, out of all the flavored iced coffee drinks, this one was by far my favorite. Espresso is shaken with oat milk, brown sugar syrup, and topped with cinnamon powder. The brown sugar syrup and oat milk complement each other perfectly to create a warm, toasty—albeit iced—drink. Let's just say I hope this one stays on the menu.
Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew
The Oleato line of olive oil coffee drinks is the newest addition to the Starbucks menu. My favorite was the Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew, which is topped with an olive oil-infused cold foam and slightly sweetened with vanilla syrup.
The only downside is that the Oleato drinks aren't available at stores nationwide. You can check out my review of the full Oleato line here.
Vanilla Sweet Cream Nitro Cold Brew
Nitro Cold Brew has a splash (although this one looks like more than a splash) of vanilla sweet cream for a luscious, subtly sweet drink. It's also available with cold brew, which is just as good—although sweeter because it contains pumps of vanilla syrup. A grande comes in at just 70 calories and 4 grams of sugar, so it's a great option for anyone watching their sugar but still looking for a sweeter drink.
Iced Chocolate Almondmilk Shaken Espresso
I'm anti-sweetened coffee, but I've still been falling in love with these shaken espressos. Like oat milk and brown sugar, almond milk and chocolate just work—I mean, this is why chocolate covered almonds exist. Unlike the brown sugar version, this one has no added syrups, but rather the addition of chocolate malt powder. Think chocolate malt, but instead of dairy, you get espresso.
Iced Oatmilk Honey Latte
While I ordered an Iced Honey Almondmilk Flat White, which should have one more shot of espresso than a latte, this is what my receipt said—and I can’t complain. It’s made with Starbucks Blonde Espresso Roast, oat milk, honey blend, and a toasted honey topping. The honey adds a more complex flavor beyond the classic syrup that just works.
Iced Caffè Mocha
I thought this would be be too sweet, but the bittersweet mocha sauce pairs perfectly with the espresso for a balanced, bold beverage. No Hershey's syrup here! I didn't get the full flavor until I mixed it up, so make sure to give it a good stir before taking a sip.
Cinnamon Caramel Cream Nitro Cold Brew
If you like cinnamon and you like caramel, but don't love them enough to go for a Cinnamon Dolce Latte or Caramel Macchiato, try this drink. Nitro Cold brew is sweetened with cinnamon caramel syrup and topped with cinnamon sweet cream cold foam and cinnamon dolce sprinkles.
This drink is also available with cold brew. And while I ordered the nitro version, it’s difficult to say whether that’s what I received.
Iced Caramel Macchiato
So I've never had a Caramel Macchiato before. It's sweet. It's decadent. It's rich and creamy. With pumps of vanilla syrup and a drizzle of caramel on top, the caramel isn't too overpowering and is complemented by the vanilla. Once you mix the drink, however, you'll probably slurp clumps of caramel. Whether that's a good or bad thing, you can decide.
Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso
If you're a regular vanilla latte drinker, you've gotta try mix of espresso, oat milk, and toasted vanilla syrup. While the vanilla flavor is strong (and slightly artificial tasting), I still drank it all.
Iced Caffè Americano
Do you like the bold taste of espresso but want something cold to sip on? The Iced Caffè Americano is your best bet. Compared to a latte or cappuccino, the Americano also has an additional shot of espresso.
If you want some added sweetness, opt for the Iced Shaken Espresso, which includes classic syrup and a bit of milk.
The Drinks That Could Be Better
Pistachio Cream Cold Brew
Coffee? Pistachios? How could you go wrong? I was stoked to try this one, but other than the cold foam on top, there wasn't much pistachio flavor. Even when mixed together, it was extremely subtle. I don't want to feel like I'm drinking a pistachio, but I do want the flavor to come through if I order a drink called Pistachio Cream Cold Brew.
Salted Caramel Cream Cold Brew
Another drink that I thought would work work given the bitterness of coffee, the sweetness of caramel, and that saltiness that keeps you coming back for more. But, again, the salted caramel didn't come through strong enough. The mild flavor might be good in some drinks, but this one just fell short.
The Drinks That Completely Missed The Mark
To each their own, but these drinks were not my favorite.
Years ago I was a fan of unsweetened Starbucks Iced Coffee, but now, it just tastes bad. Maybe it’s because iced coffee is out and cold brew is in. I’ve switched to a daily cold brew for its rich, smooth flavor compared to a seemingly more bitter, watered-down iced coffee. This is to say, if you’re someone that thinks cold brew tastes too strong or like your coffee sweetened, you might be a fan of Starbucks Iced Coffee because it comes sweetened with classic syrup.
Iced Starbucks Blonde Latte
This just tasted like milk. Starbucks Blonde Espresso Roast is much lighter than the signature Starbucks Espresso Roast, so much so that it hides behind the flavor of milk. Talk about a light roast! If you don't like the taste of coffee, or perhaps love the flavor of milk (I won't judge), this might be your pick.
Allison Arnold is the Associate SEO Editor at Delish, where she writes about kitchen gadgets and food and culture. She likes exercising almost as much as eating, and has a thorough Google Maps ranking system for her favorite restaurants and bars. You can find her spewing hot takes on the food world and planning her next trip, all with multiple cans of seltzer open at a time.
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