HOME > Chowhound > Chains >


Strangest Starbucks Drink?

What's the strangest Starbucks drink you've ever heard about? Either standing in line, or ordered yourself?

My nomination is some gal in front of me today who ordered an Earl Grey tea steamed in milk, no water.

Egad. My head is still spinning on that one.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The grossest thing I've seen someone order (and consume) was a Quad Grande Caramel Machiatto. At that that point, there's nothing machiatto about it..just a huge vat of milk, caramel, and espresso. And it probably cost $10.

    4 Replies
    1. re: bonefreakchef

      I wonder how do you order a proper machiatto (espresso & foam). Since the way Starbucks make machiatto is not really machiatto.

      1. re: M_and_H

        You just ask for a machiatto. It use to be on the menu and I would get it all the time.

        1. re: M_and_H

          you'd say: single (or double or triple or however many shots you want) espresso macchiato.

        2. re: bonefreakchef

          The caramel machiatto is my drink of choice at Starbucks. I have a bunch of giftcards and I prefer to spend the $$ on the sugary sweet drinks (dessert in a cup) instead of boring coffee.

        3. I have actually had an earl grey with steamed milk - its called a London fog. I know it usually has water too, but I prefer with skim milk only.

          6 Replies
          1. re: CanadaGirl

            With water, it's fine (not my cup of tea). But just milk is just odd. Odd. Very odd.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              So would your head spin if I let you know one of my favourites is actually a chai made with the tea bag ( not the yucky concentrate) steeped only in milk? Yummy

              1. re: CanadaGirl

                condensed milk?

                I remember going on safari in Kenya in 1979 and waking up with the dawn from our tents and the night watchman had made chai with sugar, condensed milk and seeped tea bags. Not sure I could stomach it again but in the bush it worked.

                1. re: smartie

                  Nope. Just regular skim milk. Sort of like a chai latte (which I know isn't a "real" thing) but, I think better. I make a version at home by bringing milk to temp on the stove and steeping the tea for a bit.

                  I don't like really sweet things, so the condensed milk version wouldn't work for me.

                  1. re: smartie

                    I regularly make chai by steeping in skim milk and then adding a dollop of condensed milk to sweeten it. Works quite nicely in my opinion -- I really like the flavor and body that the condensed milk brings to the cup. But it sounds like in your case it was condensed milk plus extra sugar? That could bring on a diabetic coma :-)

                  2. re: CanadaGirl

                    I've had a chai latte with soy milk (No water) and it's really good. The soy milk gives it a bit of a custardy taste.


              2. A "Tea Misto" (tea made with steamed milk) is something I hear ordered every once in awhile -- a "London Fog" is an Earl Grey tea misto with vanilla syrup.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Boston_Otter

                  Yes - thanks for clarifying. However, last time I ordered a misto is was informed Satrbucks no longer calls it that. They want it to be called a "tea latte" now, and have for a couple of years! Misto makes more sense to me though.

                2. Don't know if this counts, since it was at a Barista's in India, not Starbucks, but a "cappuccino without milk." Isn't that.....coffee?

                  1. I once overheard a woman ask if the hot water for tea went through, or any where near, the espresso machines. Because she wanted tea, but was deathly allergic to coffee. Starbucks seems like an odd destination for someone with such a malady.

                    1. You've never heard of steeping a tea bag in hot milk instead of water? Seems like a pretty normal thing to me. Can't say as I do it a lot, but I always drink my tea with at least some milk added.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        You've never heard of steeping a tea bag in hot milk instead of water?

                        No, never.

                        And, personally, I find tea with any bit of milk (or dairy) disgusting.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          "You've never heard of steeping a tea bag in hot milk instead of water?

                          No, never.

                          And, personally, I find tea with any bit of milk (or dairy) disgusting."

                          Sorry to have offended you.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            I thought so also, then I had to spend some time in London.

                            Tea there is brewed to a strength I never had experienced; the bitterness hit my tongue as black coffee does. Milk is very complimentary.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              It's considered commonplace in most of the world to drink tea with milk/cream. Just saying.

                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                it sounds like a personal hangup. or, perhaps over a billion chai-drinking indians, folks in u.k, ireland, etc are just backward...

                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                I guess you're not a fan of indian chai then.

                              3. re: ttoommyy

                                My tea must have at *least* a splash of milk in it too. Tea steeped in hot milk sounds delicious to me, I am going to try it.

                                Call me crazy, but I also like a splash of milk in my iced tea too.

                                1. re: gator28

                                  "Call me crazy, but I also like a splash of milk in my iced tea too."

                                  Same here! Thai iced tea is a combination of tea and dairy also.

                              4. A Starbucks employee once misheard my order (soy chai extra hot) and a got a chai with an extra shot of espresso in it. Yuck. But apparently there are people who actually order that.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: cookie monster

                                  At Boba/Tea shops, I can never decide and end up always with a coffee milk tea.

                                  At tea shops, there is liquid sugar added to the coffee and tea drinks (and I ask them not to when I order), so I could see chai as a flavor added...hm...

                                  1. re: cookie monster

                                    It's often called a "dirty chai". Doesn't sound appealing to me personally.

                                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                                      I do often order dirty chai. It's actually quite good, and it was how I learned to like coffee, strangely. I started with a half shot in a chai, then increased it, then started switching over to coffee, which I now love. But a double dirty chai *is* a wonderful thing.

                                    2. re: cookie monster

                                      I drink that whenever I go to Starbucks... it's called a dirty chai

                                      ETA: I prob. should have read further down first...

                                    3. One of the baristas in my local Starbucks told me that a guy had come in and ordered 20 shots of espresso. Apparently it took a venti and a grande cup to hold it all. This was on Thanksgiving this year, so we were speculating that he had an all night shopping marathon planned continuing into Black Friday! Had to do something to counteract that tryptophan....

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jbsiegel

                                        Or maybe making dessert? Tiramisu perhaps?

                                      2. i worked at Starbucks for almost 8 years. grossest request ever was someone who wanted a "half cider half latte" i tried to talk her down from that ledge, but she was determined to have it... so 5 dollars later she had herself a cup of hot curdled awfulness.

                                        there was a woman who came in every single day for a venti irish cream white mocha, but with triple the amount of syrup: the cup was nearly two thirds syrup before anything else went in.

                                        I'll also never forget the lunatic who wanted whipped cream at the bottom of her drink. she became increasingly irate as i remade her drink three times before it became clear what she expected, i.e. for the whipped cream to not only be put in first, but for it to remain at the bottom of the cup, underneath the liquid components of the beverage, in defiance of the physical laws governing things like gravity and density.

                                        a far more common horror was the ordering of drinks made with (liquid) heavy whipping cream in place of the milk, or unholy flavor combinations (banana + peppermint, anyone?)

                                        15 Replies
                                        1. re: dagnolia

                                          Buhahaha, these are all awesome! Although I did have to google cider to confirm my suspicions that, like with so many things, there is a British meaning for the word and then a slightly different American one...otherwise that particular drink would have me even more worried and your comment about talking her down would have been even more apt!

                                          1. re: dagnolia

                                            Awesome about the woman who wanted the cream to stay at the bottom of the cup! I could see certain members of my extended family doing exactly that, and screaming when it invariably floated up to the top...

                                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                              Sometimes I think about her. I wonder where she is now and what other grand disappointments she has suffered due to misunderstanding basic, obvious facts about reality.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                hah! well, i had to chime in because a teabag steeped in milk seemed pretty tame compared to some of the things i've heard.

                                                and i just thought of another one: a woman who, every day, ordered a venti cappuccino with 14.5 packets of sweet & low. i had to hold my breath while making it... or else get a mouth & nose full of the vile stuff.

                                              2. re: dagnolia

                                                Heavy Whipping cream in place of milk = probably someone who eats low carb (assuming it was a sugar free drink).

                                                1. re: summeranne

                                                  Yeah, I did that once, latte made with heavy cream. It's good, but good not enough to drink the insane calories in however much heavy cream that is, like about 10oz in a tall, something like that (before the espresso)?

                                                  The reality is if that's what I have to do to drink a coffee drink, I really shouldn't be doing it. ;-)

                                                  1. re: summeranne

                                                    I get that, but a venti somethingorother made with heavy cream is about 1800 calories.

                                                    1. re: dagnolia

                                                      One Tablespoon of heavy whipping cream is 50 calories (I have a carton in front of me). To get to 1800 calories would be 2.25 cups...

                                                      Less than one carb per Tbs. The low carb diet is great...

                                                      But there is a balance. I don't want to have to go on a low cholesterol diet...

                                                      1. re: Cathy

                                                        A venti is 24 oz, so that sounds about right!!

                                                        1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                          Venti should only be 20oz of hot drink. 24oz is only for cold.

                                                          Still, 20oz is 2.5 cups so the 2.25 is probably pretty close, maybe a little less than that because there are 3 shots in there right? I only had a tall when I got one, so that's "only" 12oz of it, or, well, the espresso has some volume so that's why I was estimating 10oz for a tall (which is a 12oz cup). The tall was still probably about a 1000 calorie drink. That's pretty silly. If I want a 1000 calorie drink I think I would much more enjoy a milkshake. ;-) (A GOOD one, not some crap from Starbucks, heh.)

                                                          1. re: CrazyOne

                                                            Good point on the volume. The thought of drinking that much cream makes my stomach hurt

                                                            1. re: CrazyOne

                                                              There's this guy that I see in the local Starbucks that always buys some kind of espresso (not sure how many shots) in an iced venti cup, with a second venti cup of only ice. He then proceeds to divide the espresso between the two cups and add half and half to both all the way to the top.

                                                              Then there's the woman who stood there and alternately put one packet of Splenda in her tall coffee and about 10 packs in her pocket until the bin was empty.

                                                              Then the woman with the venti hot chocolate made with heavy cream. They asked her if she wanted whipped cream on it - LOL.

                                                              1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                I also know a guy on Atkins who regularly goes to Starbucks for a Venti cappuccino made with heavy cream and sugarfree sweetener. Ugh. (He also enjoys such delicacies as a midnight snack of 4 hot dogs topped with cheese and bacon. And you wonder why you're 150lbs overweight? "On Atkins you CAN do this and still lose weight!" Umm... Okay, rant over.)

                                                                And then there is a guy I sometimes see at my local store who ignores the large jar of sugar and stands there dumping packet after packet after packet after packet of sugar into his coffee. Like, 20 of 'em. And it's not like he's going for the Sugar in the Raw or artificial -- just the normal white sugar packets. I guess he likes the papery flavor in his intensely sweetened drink?

                                                                And then there was the woman who recently asked me to hand her a packet of sugar, so I gave her one of the Sugar in the Raw packets. She replied "no... I don't want the healthy stuff."

                                                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                  Hot dogs and cheese are both carb grey areas, there can be a ton of hidden carbs in those - ESPECIALLY in hot dogs. Binders are awful for it.

                                                                  Also, knocking on him for attempting to do something about his weight in the first place? Tsk tsk...

                                                                  Atkins is a brand-name diet, but Phase 1 is scientifically based on the Keto diet. Essentially, it changes the fuel source of the body.

                                                                  The results don't lie, just Google it. There's also an amazing and active Reddit community for it: /r/Keto

                                                  2. Coffee.
                                                    Bought some the other day, made a pot, tasted it and threw it all out. Yuck.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                      1. re: viperlush

                                                        I just bought some for the first time, ground. Made a pot. Yuck. Hated it. It was right at the same time as I saw this thread.
                                                        Also, most people that I know never order just an American coffee at Starbucks. ever.

                                                        1. re: wyogal

                                                          So bad, but not strange.

                                                          Funny that you don't know anyone who orders just American coffe. The BF will only order black coffee @ Starbucks because he hates everything else that he's tried (and because it's the most reasonably priced thing on the menu). But then again the Starbuck near his office has the Clover brewing system so he gets to try the specialty beans.

                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                            Most of the people I hear at Starbucks either order a simple drip coffee or an insanely complex $5 candybar in a cup. Me, I get stuff brewed on the Clover.

                                                              1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                I don't think any of the Starbucka near me have a clover. But that's okay, as an independent place around the corner from where I work has one and they offer some really interesting coffees. They don't even offer drip coffee. Love the clover!

                                                        2. sounds pretty yummy and really not that hard to comprehend if you ask me! definitely wouldn't classify that as strange...

                                                          1. see, the whole reason i came onto this thread was to read the insane wackadoodle barista orders that i can't even translate, like:

                                                            "small half-caff-nofun-mocha-vanilla-soy-frappeiced-with-a-depth-charge-sugar-free-caramel-syrup-half-whip-sprinkles-but can you pick the blue and red ones off and just leave the pink ones... hey you didn't put the syrup on top of the whip, there goes your tip"

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                              Reminds me of an old "Frasier" episode--Niles rejected his brew 2 or 3 times. Many minutes later, when he asked when his coffee would be ready, the barista said, "Oh, we have a whole team working on that."

                                                            2. I worked at Starbucks in college, and we had a regular customer who would order 6-8 shots of espresso at a go, and he normally came in twice a day. Once he came in and ordered 12 shots and told me he'd only be coming in once that day, but I mentioned it to a co-worker later and she told me he'd come back later and ordered another 6 shots. I didn't see many other crazy orders, although my husband is always embarrassed by my orders at Starbucks now, since I always have a super-long, customized order (for example, grande tuxedo peppermint mocha, no whip). Also, I lived in Canada for a bit, and London Fogs (tea and steamed milk) is quite popular there; that's actually what got me into drinking tea.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: chp

                                                                Did we work at the same starbucks? We had a guy who came in and ordered 6-8 shots at a time, sometimes he would down them and then go through the line again.

                                                                Another guy was waiting for us every morning to open and would order a grande white mocha with 6 shots and like double the syrup. He also may have added a few packets of raw sugar.

                                                              2. Not the strangest drink but the strangest request I had working 9 months at Starbucks. We did so little decaf that we brewed it one cup at a time as it was ordered. Not a whole batch. One woman didn't want it done that way, she wanted it brewed through the drip machine. The difference would be negligable and I quite honestly think she did it to be a PITA but......
                                                                I never could wrap my head around what she wanted. The manager came over and when she figured out what it was she declined the lady.


                                                                1. Love the replies so far!

                                                                  My SO orders a "quad espresso over ice in a venti cup with some skim milk on top." He does not want any water, and he does not want any extra ice put into the cup (so venti cup filled iwth ice, then pour 4 shots over and do not add more ice, then add skim milk). The amount of skim milk depends on how much of the ice has melted. He once tried to explain the exact color he was looking for (to quantify the amount of milk) at the drive-thru. I was cracking up and finally just told the poor drive thru person to put in an inch of milk. Ever since then we go inside to get his drink or he gets to order an iced NF latte.

                                                                  1. I offered to run out and get starbucks at work one day and one of my colleagues (who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer) asked me to get her a caramel “Machiavelli” with heavy cream (double whammy.) I didn't have the heart to correct her and the looks on the faces of everyone else in the room were priceless – confusion, bemusement, pity. But good for her knowing the word Machiavelli.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: adido

                                                                      i think that lady is going to be really confused when someone later refers to machiavellian politics or intrigue.

                                                                      1. re: adido

                                                                        You know, there are times when we need a facebook-style "Like" button on this board!

                                                                      2. I worked there several years ago in college and one regular was a lady on Atkins diet(she told us) whose drink was a venti sugar free vanilla latte made with heavy cream.

                                                                        1. Anything with green tea or "matcha" especially if there are dairy products in it. Totally disgusting, in my opinion.