Cracking the Starbucks code

Neha Seenarine, Staff Writer

Starbucks is a staple to Quinnipiac University students and the United States overall, but I can’t seem to figure it out.

Starbucks is notorious for misspelling customers' names, but the baristas still makes enjoyable drinks.
Starbucks is notorious for misspelling customers’ names, but the baristas still makes enjoyable drinks.

The Starbucks menu is a different language. I am used to ordering my coffee by just deciding on the size and how much cream and sugar I want. However, when I walk into Starbucks, my minimal coffee knowledge leaves my brain.

David Ferrara, a 19-year-old ex-Starbucks barista, got the hang of learning orders when he started working for Starbucks at Clemson University.

“I went to Starbucks a lot before, so it wasn’t too hard to pick it up,” Ferrara said. “A lot of the drinks, they’re all based on the same recipe, so the learning curve once you get past this — pretty easy.”

The three basic espresso drinks: a latte, a macchiato and a cappuccino have the same ingredients but remixed.

“Espresso drinks are basically the same thing, but just in different orders and then they use a certain amount of pumps based on the size and how much detail you want to give,” Ferrara said. “The only difference between the three drinks is the order of the milk, espresso and the flavor is put in.”

The new drinks introduced by Starbucks are already on the menu, though. It is a marketing ploy for customers to rush through the door trying the latest menu item.

“A lot of times when they’ll talk about a new drink, it already exists,” Ferrara said. “The new shaken espresso has been on the menu since Starbucks started. It’s called a Starbucks double shot. They took it, remade it and remarketed it because no one really knew about it.”

I stick to ordering an iced tea with peach juice. It tastes good, but I see other students ordering coffee drinks that look delicious. I’m uncomfortable walking up to them and asking what they ordered so instead, I looked up Starbucks orders on Pinterest.

David Ferrara used to work as a barista in a Starbucks at Clemson University.
David Ferrara used to work as a barista in a Starbucks at Clemson University.


The Pinterest results are filled with Starbucks recipes you can make at home. However, the majority of the searches are secret menu orders, which are drinks with a twist. You can add and remove ingredients. There are drinks to resemble the taste of different treats.

“I think I have one person that came up to me, he was like, ‘Can you make me a cheesecake for frap,’” Ferrara said. “I’m like that doesn’t actually exist, like go back on Pinterest and look up what it is. If you tell me exactly what it is, I’ll be more than happy to make it. Honestly, I’ll probably make some extra and try it because I like to taste test.”

The dreadful part of ordering Starbucks is telling the barista my name. I watch them write my name incorrectly every time. To be fair, I do not have a name you would see on keychains at tourist attractions. However, I am given a new identity at every Starbucks purchase. 

“I used to ask people how to spell their name,” Ferrara said. “Then it got to a point where I couldn’t spell everyone’s name right. There are so many different ways to spell ‘Katie” for some damn reason. I realized somewhere along that way that there was no way I was going to spell her name right unless I was willing to win the lottery.”

Ferrara recommended a “Dirty Chai” to broaden my Starbucks beverage horizons. I ordered an iced chai with sweet cold foam, brown sugar sprinkles and a shot of espresso. I would not drink this daily, but the warm flavors would be perfect for the fall.