The 15 Best Hot Drinks at Starbucks, According to Our Coffee-Loving Editors

It’s always iced coffee season in our book, but sometimes a warm drink hits the spot just right. We’re talking hot Americanos, chai tea and all the seasonal lattes. Luckily, Starbucks just released its autumn menu for 2023, which includes old favorites, like the apple crisp oatmilk macchiato and the ever-popular PSL, and two new beverages, the iced pumpkin cream chai tea latte and the iced apple crisp oatmilk shaken espresso. To get your taste buds in the spirit, we pooled our java-loving staff for their go-to orders (and customizations) to bring you this list of the best hot drinks at Starbucks to sip all fall and winter long—or any time, really.

The Best Starbucks Fall Drinks to Order in 2023, Including 2 New Beverages We Can’t Wait to Taste

best hot drinks at starbucks: starbucks blonde vanilla latte

1. Blonde Vanilla Latte

Best Overall

  • Available: year-round
  • Ways to Customize: ask for a 50/50 split of hazelnut and vanilla syrups to make it a French vanilla latte, add an extra shot for more caffeine

If you want to taste your coffee but still like it sweet and milky, this drink is the happy medium. Impossibly smooth blonde espresso meets vanilla syrup and steamed milk for a light-roast, high-caffeine latte that suits nearly all palates. (In case you’re wondering, blonde coffee is higher in caffeine than dark because the beans are roasted for less time, so less of it is “cooked” off.)

best hot drinks at starbucks: starbucks peppermint mocha

2. Peppermint Mocha

Best Holiday Latte

  • Available: winter
  • Ways to Customize: ask for half the pumps to make it less sweet, substitute white mocha for regular mocha for a more decadent flavor, add a shot to play up the bitterness in the mocha sauce

Liquid holiday bark—it’s as delicious as it sounds, friend. Decadent mocha sauce meets cool peppermint syrup, roasty espresso and steamed milk under a crown of whipped cream and dark chocolate curls. It’s super sweet because it’s made with two flavor syrups, but hey, if it’s on the menu, it’s the holidays. Treat yourself.

best hot drinks at starbucks: starbucks pumpkin spice latte

3. Pumpkin Spice Latte

Best Fall Latte

  • Available: fall
  • Ways to Customize: add a pump of cinnamon dolce, mocha or vanilla syrup, order a chai latte with pumpkin spice syrup if you’re not craving a ton of caffeine

The iconic bev turns 20 years old this fall. Over time, fans of the warm-spiced pumpkin syrup that gives the drink its magic have not grown sick of the PSL. “I’m such a sucker for the pumpkin spice latte and will always be rushing to get one the day they come out, no matter how hot it still is outside,” says assistant commerce editor Natalie LaBarbera. “I keep everything the same in mine but swap the regular milk for oat.”

best hot drinks at starbucks: starbucks blonde americano

4. Blonde Americano

Best Americano

  • Available: year-round
  • Ways to Customize: ask for room to add the milk of your choice, add classic or flavored syrup for sweetness, add steamed milk for a Caffè Misto-type drink with more caffeine

An Americano—espresso and water—is a solid choice for people who like their coffee black, or don’t feel like kicking off the day with milk and sugar. The blonde espresso will give you even more of a jolt without making the flavor too robust. “I like how simple this is and I never get sick of it,” says commerce editor Liv Kappler. “I’m very plain Jane when it comes to my coffee drinks because caffeine comes first, and I like the taste of the actual coffee blend not masked by tons of add-ons.”

best hot drinks at starbucks: starbucks chai tea latte

5. Chai Latte

Best Tea Latte

  • Available: year-round
  • Ways to Customize: add a shot of espresso for a dirty chai, swap regular milk for nondairy, add vanilla or cinnamon dolce syrup to make it sweeter, ask for a 50/50 split of apple juice and milk

You can get this creamy, spicy delight any time of the year, but it shines brightest in the fall and winter, since its black tea base is infused with warming spices like cinnamon and clove. “It’s creamy and sweet and tastes like a warm cashmere sweater to me,” says associate fashion commerce editor Stephanie Meraz. “It’s just the ultimate fall drink that isn’t too on-the-nose, and it’ll never go out of style.”

best hot drinks at starbucks: starbucks pistachio latte

6. Pistachio Latte

Most Elegant

  • Available: winter
  • Ways to Customize: add a pump of mocha sauce for a chocolate-pistachio vibe, substitute regular milk with nondairy, replace a pump of pistachio with vanilla

It was such a hit after launching in 2021 that it’s been revived ever since. Sweet pistachio syrup meets espresso and steamed milk for a nutty, luxurious choice that won’t disappoint. Even better, it’s finished with a salted brown butter topping that offers delicious nuance to your first few sips. “Because lactose is not my friend, I sometimes swap out regular milk for oatmilk because it still gets that creamy, frothy latte vibe,” says editorial assistant Delia Curtis.

best hot drinks at starbucks: starbucks caramel apple spice

7. Caramel Apple Spice

Best Caffeine-Free Hot Drink

  • Available: year-round
  • Ways to Customize: ask for kid’s temp so it’s drinkable right away, substitute vanilla syrup for half the cinnamon dolce syrup for a milder flavor, add a pump of chai concentrate for a more intensely spiced flavor

“I also LOVE the caramel apple spice for when I need a pick-me-up sans caffeine,” adds Curtis. If you’re wondering what it is, you’re not alone. This mix of steamed apple juice, cinnamon dolce syrup, caramel sauce and whipped cream is pretty slept on. It’s basically a cheater’s mulled cider, and it’s a great alternative for non-dairy drinkers who aren’t feeling a hot chocolate. “If you swap half the pumps for vanilla, I think that’d make it a bit milder in flavor,” Curtis suggests.

best hot drinks at starbucks: starbucks apple crisp oatmilk macchiato

8. Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato

Best Nondairy Drink

  • Available: fall
  • Ways to Customize: order it iced, order it with a different milk (regular or nondairy), add a pump of Cinnamon Dolce syrup to make it sweeter and more spiced

Back in action for its third year, this beauty is made with blonde espresso, brown sugar apple syrup, oatmilk and caramelized spiced apple drizzle, made from apple juice, apple puree, cinnamon and nutmeg. Comforting and aromatic with the scent of apple pie, you really can’t go wrong with this dessert-inspired treat.

best hot drinks at starbucks: starbucks caramel brulee latte

9. Caramel Brulée Latte

Best for Newbies

  • Available: winter
  • Ways to Customize: add a pump of vanilla or caramel syrup to make it sweeter and less nutty, ask for almondmilk instead of regular milk to make it nuttier, ask for a pump of toffee nut syrup to give it a salty edge

If you’ve never tried a Starbucks holiday drink, it’s basically impossible not to enjoy this one. It stars rich, buttery Caramel Brulée sauce, inspired by crème brûlée’s burnt sugar topping. The caramel brulée garnish mimics the crunch of caramelized sugar as well. While it has all the sweet, comforting traits of a standard caramel latte, it also has a spiced, almost smoky nuance to it that we get psyched for year after year.

best hot drinks at starbucks: starbucks honey almondmilk flat white

10. Honey Almondmilk Flat White

Best Flat White

  • Available: year-round
  • Ways to Customize: add a pump of vanilla to sweeten it, substitute oatmilk for a creamier mouthfeel

Steamed almondmilk and blonde espresso with a hint of honey unite for a no-frills drink that will gently coax you into your day. It’s smooth, energizing and pleasantly nutty. A flat white also has less steamed milk than a typical latte, so if you’re someone who usually suffers through shots to avoid the milk or calories, this may be a solid compromise.

best hot drinks at starbucks: starbucks caramel macchiato

11. Caramel Macchiato

Old Faithful

  • Available: year-round
  • Ways to Customize: ask for caramel syrup in place of vanilla, ask for an extra shot to cut the sweetness, ask for hazelnut syrup to play up the flavor of the espresso, ask for sugar-free vanilla syrup to reduce the sugar

Let it be known that Starbucks shouldn’t call this upside-down vanilla latte a macchiato. (FYI, a real macchiato is simply a shot of espresso topped with steamed milk.) But that doesn’t make this ever-popular drink, made with espresso, vanilla syrup, milk and caramel drizzle, any less delicious. Have it hot, have it iced—just be sure to ask for extra caramel sauce.

best hot drinks at starbucks: starbucks espresso con panna

12. Espresso Con Panna

Best for Busy Mornings

  • Available: year-round
  • Ways to Customize: add a half-pump of vanilla for some sweetness,request blonde espresso shots for more caffeine

If you don’t like your espresso plain but also don’t feel like downing 12 ounces of milk first thing in the morning, this gentler mix of espresso and whipped cream should do the trick. Starbucks’s whipped cream is infused with vanilla syrup, so it’s already slightly sweet. It’ll melt and naturally mix into the bitter, robust shots as it sits, so the drink will be less harsh on your palate once you sip. (If you prefer steamed milk to whipped cream, ask for an Espresso Macchiato instead of Con Panna.)

best hot drinks at starbucks: starbucks matcha frappuccino, hot matcha latte and iced matcha latte

13. Matcha Tea Latte

Best for Green Tea Lovers

  • Available: year-round
  • Ways to Customize: add a pump of vanilla to cut the earthiness of the matcha, add a pump of raspberry for a punch of color and tartness, request almond or oatmilk to play up the earthiness.

Matcha powder makes for a vibrant, delicious drink that’s begging to be posted on your IG story. Cut with steamed milk and sweetened just right, it offers a more modest dose of caffeine than any of the espresso drinks on the menu.

best hot drinks at starbucks: starbucks chestnut praline latte

14. Chestnut Praline Latte

Most Underrated

  • Available: winter
  • Ways to Customize: ask for a pump of vanilla syrup to soften the salty notes, ask for a pump of toffee nut syrup to play up the saltiness

It’s easy to neglect this flavor among so many seasonal heavyweights (looking at you, peppermint mocha), but we’re here to make a case for this underappreciated option. Steamed milk and espresso meet silky notes of caramelized chestnuts and warm spices for a cozy, sweet bev that won’t knock you over the head with holly-jolly flourishes—no bright red sugar sprinkles here. It’s roasty, balanced and topped with spiced praline crumbs. Need we say more?

best hot drinks at starbucks: bag of starbucks pike place coffee grounds

15. Pike Place Drip

Best When You Can’t Decide What to Order

  • Available: year-round
  • Ways to Customize: order a Caffè Misto to top it with steamed milk (think of it as a cheater’s latte), add a shot of espresso to make it a red eye

The house medium roast is always a safe bet if you’re overwhelmed by Starbucks’s sea of options. There’s usually blonde and dark roasts on deck too, but the medium is the most popular. Plus, the baristas are required to routinely brew a fresh pot, so you should never be stuck with a lukewarm cuppa. “Boring and not unique, but why mess with perfection?” inquires editor Abby Hepworth.

taryn pire
Taryn Pire

Food Editor

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s food editor and has been writing about all things delicious since 2016. She’s developed recipes, reviewed restaurants and investigated food trends at...
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