Stomachs contractedand the catering staff broke out in a cold sweat when a picture of a long,complicated custom Starbucksthe order went viral on Twitter. "On today's episode of why I want to quit my job," a barista named Josie jokingly tweeted about Edward's order, a caramel crisp frappuccino with 13 customizations, including banana syrup, cinnamon topping and seven servings of caramel sauce. (After the story went viral, the barista was fired for violating store rules, though the real Edward found it funny.)
There was a time when the idea of a plain soy latte or mocha Frappuccino was the punch line of dad jokes, eye rolls about people who didn't drink "real" coffee. That time is long gone, and a combination of factors has made Starbucks' extremely complex orders the norm rather than the exception, sometimes to the chagrin of employees.
Welcome to the Age of Appuccino.
Like any changein American consumer habits in the past yearpandemicis the driving force. Last spring, when many stores closed for weeks or months, the mobile app became essential. According to the latest Starbucks earnings report, 26% of orders from January to March 2021 were placed via the mobile app, up from 18% of orders a year earlier. For some stores, mobile ordering has increased even more. The number of stores where the mobile app accounted for more than 20% of orders during the peak period increased from 4,600 to 7,200 during the year.
When ordering through the app, adding customizations is easy, almost recommended. The customization menu UI also has a flattening effect that makes additions more acceptable. The addition of Splenda or an extra shot—pretty standard stuff you can order while standing in the store—carries the same visual weight as less common toppings like pistachio syrup or kiwi pieces. It also alleviates the potential embarrassment of ordering a strange drink in person, and gives the aspiring alchemist the extra time needed to think about what extra pumps to add.
However, there are some limitations. The application menu does not allow you to add some additives intended for lattes or espresso drinks to iced tea and air fresheners. But the mobile app is only part of the creation of a special drink – just a sweet cold foam on the drink.
The biggest contributorAdding to Appuccino's rise is TikTok, where personalized drink suggestions go viral, and Starbucks influencers (and even employees) brag about the drinks they make.
Teenagers and teenagerslongtime devoted fanssweet iced drinks like Frappuccino and that's the TikTok demographic. Bryant Simon, professor of history at Temple University and author ofEverything But Coffee: The Science of America fra Starbuckstold BuzzFeed News that ever-changing drinks like the customized Frappucino appeal to teens because, unlike adults who tend to stick with the same coffee for decades, teens want to experiment with new flavors and orders. Starbuck also has a special charm for young people who can't go to bars and want a place to hang out.
"For teenagers, Starbucks remains a place where you can act (a bit) like an adult, and you can be a place with minimal adult supervision (especially if you can pass as white)," Simon said. "Parents, on the other hand, basically trust the brand (relying on prices and locations will filter out the wrong kind of people)."
The TikTok effect is significant: Owen, a barista from Nashua, New Hampshire, told BuzzFeed News that last summer TikTok's viral drink — an iced white mocha with cold crema and a dash of caramel — was so popular that it accounted for about 1 out of 5 drinks he made during the afternoon shift.
New Jersey model Ava James Cloupe originally posted the iced white mocha recipe on TikTok. "I actually have a friend who works at Starbucks and she told me how good the sweetened whipped cream is," Cloupe told BuzzFeed News. “I already had an iced white mocha, so I added that, and of course I had to add caramel. Caramel makes everything better. She was surprised at how it went viral, but has since switched to espresso with sugar and oat milk. "I talked to a lot of people who worked there about it, and they always told me how annoying it was to make a drink because of the sweet whipped cream," Cloupe said.
Starbucks competitors have also taken notice of TikTok. Last summer, Dunkin added the "Charli," a drink designed by TikTok star Charli D'Amelio (an iced brew with three servings of caramel syrup) to its menu. The new menu item was so popular that in the winter Dunkin' added a second version, served with cold foam.
Anna Sitar is the star of the Starbucks Appuccino on TikTok. He has 9 million followers who happily watch as he tests various potions called "Starbies". He starts the films with the tagline - "another day, another Starbies!" then he describes a drink, often suggested by a fan, orders it from the drive-thru, and drinks it in his car. Her first sip is often frowned upon, then she smacks her lips and reaches the inevitable conclusion: it's delicious.
Sitar's appeal isn't just in her tastes – she's slim, white and attractive; also publishes dance videos and swimsuit tutorials. While this is probably the most popular Starbucks TikToker, there are many others. One of the popular viral drinks - dragon fruit mango air freshener, without water, mixed with strawberry puree and whipped cream on top - was first released by a professional makeup artistDima.
Then there are Starbucks baristas who post TikToks of themselves and create new and imaginative drinks to order. Lizzie Dye is the store manager and publisher at the London StarbucksTIK Tokthe creations he creates at work. Her version of Cloupe's icy white mocha got significantly more views than the original. "In all the time I worked there, no one ordered it from the store. But since this video was posted, I've lost count of how many people order it from the store every day," she told BuzzFeed News.
Dye's TikToks are so popular that she says she's being recognized by customers, with people even driving two hours just to visit her shop and buy a drink she made. Although the Starbucks company never contacted her to say anything about her account, she noticed that the official Starbucks TikTok account was following her.
Fanta Nabe, a barista from Bowie, Maryland, who has a popular TikTok account featuring his drinks, said the iced white mocha is still popular but dying out. "The raspberry lemonade with strawberry acai poured over the top is definitely up there," she told BuzzFeed News.
However, not all baristas hate them. Several of those interviewed by BuzzFeed News said they didn't mind making Appuccinos, and sometimes it was fun to see what interesting new things people ordered—provided it wasn't during a busy time.
"Personally, I like to order to order, it's fun to come up with ideas from the menu," Nabe said.
"Don't get me wrong, it can definitely be stressful when you're busy and someone orders something really complicated," barista Brittany Guidera told BuzzFeed News. "But one of my favorite parts of being a barista is being able to create something the customer will love. It's also cool because I get combos that I would never have tried, but they end up being our favorites." Through a colleague, she discovered a drink combination for iced matcha with brown sugar syrup and cold foam that she loves.
Admittedly, complicated drinks ordered in a hurry will frustrate employees if they believe they are slowing things down. I worked at Starbucks as a teenager in the late 90's and in my experience when orders are delayed customers get mad at the staff. The actual work of putting a few different liquids into a cup isn't really that bad - it's rude customers who can make the job go bad.
In many ways, "Edward" is just an insight into the decades-long battle for Starbucks' soul, and what exactly that is. For many Generation Xers, Starbucks in the 1990s was a symbol of corporate evil, a chain with middle-class pretensions ("venti") replacing real, authentic coffee shops. In the 2000s, the chunky Starbucks mug became a symbol of class and gender, like oversized sunglasses or a dog purse (a student could write a thesis on the difference between paparazzi photos of Britney Spears and Mary-Kate Olsen with their chunky mugs during the end of the 00s against Ben Affleck and his Dunkin quarantine orders). Starbucks isn't just about coffee; it is an ever-evolving presence in American culture. Love it or hate it, you'll still use its bathrooms.
Starbucks itself does an excellent job with sophisticated drink orders. It doesn't track data on the number of customizations people make to orders via apps or in stores, so it's impossible to know how TikTok-inspired drinks have sold over the past year, or even whether overall customization has increased.
Erin Shane Riley, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, told BuzzFeed News that custom orders became popular before TikTok. "Secret menu" items have become popular on Instagram and Pinterest, so much so that in 2016 Starbucks officially added the "Pink Drink" (strawberry acai coconut milk Refresher) to the menu. The corporate headquarters is surely aware of which drinks are going viral on TikTok and how popular they are on the app. "TikTok is a great way to listen to our customers," said Riley.
The pandemic accelerated changes to Starbucks' footprint, adding drive-thrus and more curbside service (2,000 curbside locations expected by the end of 2021). It also creates something completely new in the mobile app: physical locations only forretrievingordering in the mobile application – without sitting in a coffee shop or going in and ordering from the menu.
It has expanded its food menu to compete with other lunch spots and has added more non-coffee drinks such as fruit "Refreshers" and more iced teas. Non-coffee drinks appeal to teenagers and young adults who drink coffee less often, and also attract afternoon and evening customers who want a sweet snack and are not just looking for caffeine.
As for what Starbucks is now, the most telling indicator is the milestone: As of December 2020, Starbucks announced that iced drinks outsold hot drinks - even in winter.
These sugary drinks like "Edward" — fruity teas and lemonades, caramel frappuccino or iced white mocha — are the current form of Starbucks. It's not a coffee shop anymore.
To measure the distance between where it was and where it is, consider this: On TikTok, where Anna Sitar asked a Starbucks employee to make her a drink she wants, she is disappointed to realize that they gave her hot drink. In the comments, one fan wrote, "who else drinks hot coffee, you know?"
What is the TikTok coffee from Starbucks? ›
But TikTok users have found a way to recreate this drink in Starbucks by asking for a Venti Doubleshot on Ice with classic syrup and extra vanilla sweet cream cold foam. It's sort of like a twist on the regular iced vanilla latte - and it is amazing!What drink did Starbucks recently release inspired by TikTok? ›
TikTok Iced White Mocha
To order, ask for a venti Iced White Chocolate Mocha. Top it with sweet cream foam and load it with extra caramel drizzle. That means all around the inside of the cup and on top if you're feelin' feisty.
Get ready for an explosion of flavor and Instagram-worthy visuals with The TikTok Sunset Drink from Starbucks! Enjoy the sweet taste of mango and dragonfruit in the Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade Refresher, perfectly blended with a splash of peach juice for an added twist.Will Starbucks change your drink if you don't like it? ›
Conversation. if you don't like your drink or if it's been made incorrectly, you make ask your barista to remake it - no charge :) I ordered a drink and said NO coffee. They took a long time to make my drink, causing me to be a couple minutes late for work.What is the new TikTok coffee trend? ›
Adding Crushed Egg Shells to Coffee Grounds
This TikTok trend really took off. Apparently, if you add eggshells to your coffee grounds before brewing, it will help take the bitterness out of your cup of joe.
She's actually a major fan of the Venti Vanilla Bean Frappuccino, with no whipped cream, of course!
Starbucks is discontinuing one of its flavored syrups and people have thoughts. America's biggest coffee chain is engaging in a little bit of spring cleaning. On March 15, rumblings that Starbucks was discontinuing raspberry syrup, one of its signature flavorings, appeared via a viral TikTok video.How much is the TikTok Starbucks drink? ›
According to our calculations, it's about $5 for a grande. How to order: Ask for a tall Starbucks Reserve Iced hazelnut latte with sweet cream foam and caramel drizzle. Or if you don't have access to a Starbucks Reserve, try the vanilla sweet cream cold brew with two pumps of hazelnut syrup and a caramel drizzle.What does the TikTok drink taste like? ›
It's made with balsamic vinegar and sparkling water—and TikTok creators claim it tastes like real Coke.What is that trending TikTok drink? ›
The #borg TikTok trend, which has accumulated over 82 million views, depicts people dumping out about half of the gallon's water and filling it up with alcohol, typically a liquor like vodka, along with juice or electrolytes.
What is the Grinch Starbucks? ›
The Grinch-inspired Frappuccino features a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino with matcha powder — this is how you'll get that perfect green Grinch color. Top the frappuccino with whipped cream and a sprinkle of matcha powder. Finally, ask for freeze-dried strawberries that will look like the Grinch's heart!What drinks are trending on TikTok? ›
The beverage world has hopped on the trend, with videos of matcha lattes, mocktails, cocktails, boba, and boozy coffee drinks taking TikTok by storm. South Korean staple Dalgona coffee, known to TikTokers as whipped coffee, combines instant coffee with sugar, water, and milk.Can you sit in Starbucks without buying a drink? ›
Starbucks: You don't have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms.Does Starbucks deliberately get your name wrong? ›
A Starbucks spokesman told BuzzFeed News that the conspiracy theory is incorrect. "We've never asked or directed any of our partners to misspell names of our customers for any reason," he said.What is the latest coffee craze? ›
Dalgona coffee, otherwise known whipped coffee or cloud coffee, is the newest social media craze - and the thousands of TikToks showing people making the drink make it clear why.What is the new TikTok now thing? ›
Tap the Now button (lightning icon) to see an Explore Feed of TikTok Nows - or, as TikTok called it, "a daily photo and video experience" - from the "people who matter the most". You will also receive a daily prompt to capture a 10-second video or a static photo to easily share what you're up to.What is the fancy coffee trend? ›
It's called dalgona coffee — or whipped coffee: a mixture of equal parts instant coffee, sugar and hot water that is beaten until it reaches a creamy peanut butter-like consistency, which is then spooned over a glass of milk on the rocks.What is Taylor Swift's Starbucks? ›
Fans could order Swift's favorite Starbucks drink, the Grande Caramel Nonfat Latte.What does Lady Gaga get at Starbucks? ›
The new Starbucks Cups of Kindness collection features four vivid iced beverages hand-picked by Lady Gaga, including the new Matcha Lemonade and Violet Drink. The refreshing, nondairy drinks come in a rainbow of colors and are all under 150 calories for a grande size.What does Britney Spears order from Starbucks? ›
Celebrity: Britney Spears
Ms Spears loves a flavoured Frappuccino (Starbucks' trademark ice coffee drink). She does change up her flavourings. She loves them all.
What syrup is Starbucks getting rid of? ›
“As a standard course of business, we continually evaluate the ingredients in our stores, and have decided to discontinue raspberry syrup in the US,” a company spokesperson told McClatchy News in a statement. “Customers can expect limited inventory at stores throughout March as we remove it from our menu.”Why is Starbucks running out of Frappuccinos? ›
The Frappuccino fiasco comes in the wake of wide-ranging shortages at Starbucks and other businesses in recent months. International supply chain bottlenecks have left companies unable to procure items from construction supplies to consumer electronics.Why is Starbucks getting rid of raspberry? ›
A Starbucks memo shared on TikTok reveals that the raspberry syrup will be discontinued to essentially make room for new flavors.What is the Starbucks TikTok drink for kids? ›
If you're really looking to get your kid a treat at Starbucks, look no further than this TikTok creation. Ask for a Strawberry Créme Frappuccino with two scoops of vanilla powder, three pumps of white mocha, and two pumps of cinnamon dolce, and get a sweet drink that tastes exactly like a cheesecake.What is the 7 dollar drink at Starbucks? ›
"One iced white mocha with vanilla sweet cream cold foam and extra caramel drizzle." It might sound like a highly specific, complex coffee order, but some Starbucks workers hear it a dozen or more times a day.What is the 12 dollar Starbucks drink? ›
I did some research, and one beverage in particular stood out: The Jamaica Blue Mountain Reserve Siphon coffee. It's not one of those big, over-the-top drinks — it's only 12 ounces. But it's SO luxurious, it costs a whopping $12 for a cup!What is the TikTok caramel drink at Starbucks? ›
TikTok. You have to try this drink creamy caramel cold brew. Order a venti cold brew with sweet cream, 3 pumps of caramel and caramel drizzle around the cup.What is the Starbucks pumpkin spice TikTok drink? ›
venti cup, two pumps white mocha, two pumps pumpkin, add cream and then pumpkin sweet cream foam.