I, a Former Barista, Tasted and Ranked All the Starbucks Summer Drinks—Here’s My Honest Review

Um, they have boba now?

starbucks summer drinks: summer berry starbucks refresher, summer berry lemonade starbucks refresher, and summer skies starbucks refresher, side by side

It’s 2024, so as a former Starbucks barista, I’m never surprised when I see something unconventional on the coffee chain’s menu, whether it’s spicy lemonade or olive oil-infused joe. This year, the company launched an Insta-worthy lineup of drinks for spring and summer that include unprecedented highlights, like lavender cream cold foam and boba-like pearls. The bevs may look enticing, but are they worth the spend? I tried six of the featured Starbucks summer drinks to find out. Read on for my honest review and my ranking from blah to bae.

The 15 Best Iced Drinks at Starbucks, as Chosen by Our Coffee-Loving Editors

6. Summer-Berry Lemonade Starbucks Refresher

  • What’s In It: raspberry-blueberry-blackberry Refresher blend, lemonade, raspberry-flavored pearls

Hear me out: I’ve sipped many passion and green tea lemonades in my day. But I wasn’t a fan of this particular mashup. The lemonade totally overpowers the refresher’s flavor, even with the help of berry-flavored pearls (which I also don’t love, but more on that next).

5. Summer-Berry Starbucks Refresher

  • What’s In It: raspberry-blueberry-blackberry Refresher blend, raspberry-flavored pearls

TBH? It’s giving melted blue freezer pop in a plastic sleeve. Its flavor is sort of like diluted Glacier Freeze Gatorade—not bad, but not outstanding. As for the pearls, they’re super fragile and lowkey fall apart once they sit for a while. They have a vague, strawberry lollipop-ish flavor (not tart enough to pass for raspberry, IMO), and their skins get left behind in your mouth sometimes without offering any chew or noteworthy texture. Sorry, miss me with this one.

4. Summer Skies Drink Starbucks Refresher

  • What’s In It: What’s In It: raspberry-blueberry-blackberry Refresher blend, coconut milk, raspberry-flavored pearls

This was my favorite of the summer refreshers. Evidently inspired by the ever-popular Pink Drink, the coconut milk base enhances the berry flavor of the refresher so it’s more complex and rounded without being cloying. (Plus, the tropical notes are decidedly summery.) I still wasn’t a fan of the pearls, though.

3. Lavender Crème Frappuccino

  • What’s In It: lavender base, vanilla syrup, milk, whipped cream

Anyone else having Grimace shake flashbacks? The drinks may look alike in color, but this blended beverage tastes very different. Its pluses are that it’s rich, creamy and vanilla-forward, but the lavender (which hit the Starbucks menu in the spring) feels artificial and a bit potpourri-ish. That said, it’s not totally unpleasant. But if you’re not a big lavender person, skip it—it comes on pretty strong here.

2. Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha

  • What’s In It: matcha powder, oatmilk, lavender cream cold foam

I’m not a lavender or matcha girly, but this was my second favorite Starbucks summer drink of the lot. The lavender is much subtler in cold foam form than in the Frappuccino, and its sweetness and floral notes pair seamlessly with the earthy matcha latte base. I’m not mad at it, friends.

1. White Chocolate Macadamia Cream Cold Brew

  • What’s In It: cold brew, macadamia syrup, white chocolate-macadamia cream cold foam, toasted cookie crumbles

It’s no shock, but coffee is what Starbucks does best, and this smooth, nutty delight is proof. My particular cold brew tasted essentially unsweetened despite the macadamia syrup that’s supposed to be in it, so I eventually stirred in the foam after a few sips for a more balanced flavor. The lush foam and crunchy cookie bits on top just might have been my favorite part.

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...