Did you know that espresso is actually the OG coffee?
Way before we started watering down these little concentrated shots of bean brew into the modern Americano-style coffee many of us are familiar with today, espresso was all there was.
It was either sipped or gulped down all at once—sometimes for a jolt of energy and others as a palate cleanser after meals or between courses.
And back in the days when espresso was king, you can be sure there was no topping up your shot with a splash of brown sugar syrup or whipped cream.
Nowadays, thanks the passion and creativity of coffee lovers all over the world, there are more than a few unique and complex espresso drinks that go way beyond a simple shot of espresso with their ingredients list.
So, what are the best espresso drinks at Starbucks?
In particular, Starbucks’ espresso drinks are something of a phenomenon, with elaborate creations ranging from the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte to lesser-known and simpler concoctions like the Iced Shaken Espresso.
All in all there are a ton to choose from, so we took the liberty of sampling all of them (not at once. You’ll die.) to pull out the absolute Starbucks best espresso drinks.
Read on to discover what they are!
The Best Espresso Drinks at Starbucks
As we go down the list we’ll tell you the name of each beverage, what it’s made from (in addition to espresso, of course), and some nutritional info like best calorie content.
Beware! Some of our favorite espresso drinks from Starbucks may not actually even seem like they’re made from espresso.
1. The Espresso Macchiato
A classic favorite that can’t be excluded from the list is the simple Espresso Macchiato.
Out of all the espresso drinks on our list and on Starbucks’ menu, this one may be the most straightforward.
By default it’s 2 shots of Starbucks’ classic espresso with 2% foamed milk on top, which makes it just a teeny bit sweeter and takes a bit of the bitter edge off of a regular doppio espresso.
Of course, as with most espresso drinks at Starbucks, you can change your milk option to a vegan or skim alternative, add flavors, toppings or sweeteners, or even make it a triple or quad shot drink.
But one of the best little perks of this classic espresso drink is that if you leave it just as-is, it barely even registers as something you’ve consumed, making it an extremely diet-friendly choice.
Here’s where it clocks in, nutrition-wise:
15 (!!) calories
Zero grams of sugar
Zero grams of fat
2. Pumpkin Spice Latte
We’re not gonna make you wait for the one everyone knows (and plenty don’t want to admit they love).
Next up on the list is the phenomenon that is the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
This seasonal favorite is the Starbucks hallmark of autumn, for good reason!
What most people don’t realize is that when you order this famed beverage, you’re actually enjoying one of Starbucks’ espresso drinks, as their signature espresso is the base of the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
By default it’s 2 shots with 2% steamed milk that’s also foamed. It’s topped with whipped cream and served in a Grande sized cup.
It’s standard flavorings include pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.
This little taste of pumpkin pie in a warm cozy cup comes in at:
50g of sugar
14g of fat
So it’s definitely not the leanest option on the menu, if that’s a concern.
3. Iced Caramel Macchiato
The first entry on our list of faves representing Starbucks’ exquisite cold coffee drinks is the Iced Caramel Macchiato.
Based on 2 shots of espresso (a doppio) by default, this sweet, refreshing and frankly gorgeous looking iced coffee drink is made by pouring the espresso over milk of your choice and then adding a generous dollop of vanilla syrup.
All that happens over ice before the drink is drizzled with caramel syrup on it.
If you have a sweet tooth and love the taste of caramel (think caramel flavored chocolate) this may be your new first choice amongst Starbucks’ espresso drinks.
This espresso-based Starbucks drink comes in at:
34g of sugar
7g of fat
4. Iced Chocolate Almond Milk Shaken Espresso
Based on the name, you may be shocked at how reasonable this one comes in at in terms of calories and sugar compared to some of the others on the menu.
This cheeky little number is based on Starbucks’ Blonde Espresso, but ups the game with a standard 3 shots of espresso instead of the average 2.
This is basically an iced shaken espresso drink with chocolate malt powder mixed in with a moderate topping of almond milk.
You can of course swap your milk choice for oat milk or dairy milk, per your preferences.
Your little taste of chocolate almond milk heaven is a surprisingly cheap date at:
- 110 calories
- 16g of sugar
- 3g of fat
5. Espresso Con Panna
Perhaps the simplest, most straightforward item on our list, the Espresso Con Panna is just espresso with whipped cream on top.
Don’t count Espresso Con Panna out for lack of creativity though.
The whipped cream goes a long way to smooth out the bite of the espresso, whipped cream makes this drink taste like it has a lot more going on than it does.
Did we mention Espresso Con Panna is one of the lowest calorie options on the list, too?
Keeping it simple yet delicious is rewarding, too, as the Espresso Con Panna has only:
Zero grams of sugar
2.5g of fat
6. Caramel Macchiato Espresso
The hot counterpart to the iced version we listed at number 3 is unique enough to warrant its own entry.
This one is based on frothy steamed milk and 2 shots of Signature Espresso.
It has the same vanilla syrup and caramel syrup as its colder sibling, but the reason this one stands on its own is the steamed milk.
You go for a cold espresso macchiato to refresh and satiate your sweet tooth.
The steamed milk of the hot Caramel Macchiato, on the other hand, smoothes out the beverage and makes it a lasting joy to sit and sip.
The Caramel Macchiato comes in at:
33g of sugar
7g of fat
7. The Peppermint Mocha Espresso Drinks
This one is a doozy. The Peppermint Mocha is almost as well loved as the Pumpkin Spice, and similarly, it’s also one of Starbucks’ seasonal (well, holiday in this case) espresso drinks.
The Peppermint Mocha is fully loaded, starting with 2 shots of Starbucks’ Signature Espresso Roast and steamed milk of your choice (ranging steamed milk from oat milk or almond milk to dairy milk).
On top of the basics, Peppermint Mocha then brings in sweet mocha sauce and peppermint syrup, before being topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
It’s definitely a festive fit for the holidays with a flavorful minty twist and creamy textured milk on top of Starbucks’ beloved dark roasted espresso.
Unfortunately not marketed as a meal replacement, this one may set you back:
54g (!!) of sugar
16g of fat
8. Regular Ol’ Starbucks Cappuccino
There’s a reason the classic Starbucks Cappuccino is still one of the most popular Starbucks espresso drinks for coffee lovers.
It’s a timeless classic that’s a great way to enjoy many rich espresso without over-flavoring it with lots of ingredients, sweeteners and toppers.
A cappuccino is simply your choice of espresso shots (up to 4 in a cup, but the standard is one or two) with an equal counterbalance of steamed milk + foamed milk.
You can of course substitute for many types of milk, including oat milk.
There’s no added sugar unless you ask for some, and same goes for fancy syrups and flavorings.
We recommend giving it a try as-is and enjoying the deep flavor profile of a true espresso drink.
This classic comes in at:
12g of sugar
5g of fat
9. Blonde Espresso Vanilla Latte
The Blonde Espresso Vanilla Latte isn’t actually too far off from the humble cappuccino.
The main differences here are that Starbucks uses its Blonde Roast Espresso as the base (still 2 shot), and adds some vanilla syrup to the mix before serving.
It’s overall a lighter roasted espresso drink that’s sweeter as well.
Perfect for those who prefer a somewhat smoother tase without overdoing it on the flavorings or watering down Americano style.
Nutritionally, this one clocks in at:
35g of sugar
6g of fat
10. Iced Flat White Starbucks Drink
This one is another oldie-but-goodie Starbucks drinks.
The simple mix is on the stronger side of the list of Starbucks’ espresso drinks, coming it with 3 shots by default in a great Grande size cup.
No brown sugar syrup or chocolate syrup here though.
The Iced Flat White is simply blended with whole milk, almond milk or oat milk and poured over ice, which gives it a timelessly well balanced taste and texture that’s both refreshing and strong.
This yummy punch-in-a-cup packs:
11g of sugar
8g of fat
Summing one list Up: The Best of Starbucks’ Popular Espresso Drinks
Like any list of favorites, what makes your best Starbucks drinks ultimately comes down to taste.
But within ours best Starbucks drink is a variety of classics as well as modern twists, from hot to cold and strong to—well, liquid candy.
Other noteworthy favorites Starbucks drinks like the Espresso Frappuccino, the simple Iced Latte and the addicting Apple Crisp Macchiato are of course worth trying out as well, but if you’re looking to test the range of Starbucks’ drinks based on their famous espresso, this list will set you down the right path.