Speak Starbucks-speak!

June 10, 2008

If you’re like me, you have to write down your Starbucks order.  Luckily, just about every Starbucks barista has been trained to press the “feed” key on the receipt printer and give me a slip of paper and pen even before I need to ask for it.  But then I spend what feels like a minute scrawling down my entire order.  Even more time when I’m ordering for several people.  And then I see the barista scribble the entire order into a few letters on each cup.

I’ve always wanted to learn the Starbucks language.  And now, thanks to Adam, here’s a list of the symbols, letters, and numbers that Starbucks baristas use when writing down your order — and that means you and I can just jot these down and give the barista our order.

“Venti iced X 2 TN N WC(with slash) M” — ahhh, that felt sooo good.

When using letters / numbers from this list, I’ve noticed that baristas tend to follow a particular order: first, let them know the size (venti etc), then whether it’s iced, then decaf, then shots, then syrup, then milk, then custom, then finally the drink itself.

I’ll update this list as I get more information, and/or move this to a separate page.

Happy imbibing!  And tell me in the comments what your favorite drink is, in Starbucks-speak.

(none) – regular strength
X – decaf
1/2 – half / half

(none) – the standard
1 – single
2 – double
3 – triple
4 – quad
5 – 5 shots
6 – 6 shots

(none) – none for me
V – vanilla
H – hazelnut
TN – toffee nut
C – caramel
P – peppermint
A – almond
R – raspberry
SFC – sugar free caramel
SFH – sugar free hazelnut
SFV – sugar free vanilla
1PV – one pump vanilla (you can add 1P in front of any of these syrups like 1PR, 1PSFH)
2PV – two pump vanilla (you can add 2P in front of any of these syrups like 2PA, 1PSFV)

(none) – the standard
2% – 2% milk
1% – 1% milk
N – nonfat
S – soy
O – organic
B – breve

(none) – none
R – room (space on top for you to add milk yourself)
R (with slash thru it) – no room
WC (with slash thru it) – no whipped cream
WC – with whipped cream
XH – extra hot
XF – extra foam
F (with slash thru it) – no foam
D – dry
W – wet
XD – extra dry
CR – with caramel sauce
2/3 full – 2/3 full

L – latte
M – mocha
A – caffe americano
BC – brewed coffee
PM – peppermint mocha
WM – white chocolate mocha
C – cappuccino
E – espresso
CH – Tazo chai tea latte
HC – hot chocolate
WHC – white hot chocolate
PHC – peppermint hot chocolate
CM – caramel macchiato
EM – espresso macchiato
CDL – cinnamon dolce latte
GL – gingerbread latte
SFGL – gingerbread latte with sugarfree syrup
SFCDL – cinnamon dolce latte with sugarfree syrup
PSL – pumpkin spice latte
CAS – caramel apple spice
VCR – vanilla crème
BT – iced black tea
PT – iced passion tea
GT – iced green tea
PTL – Passion iced tea lemonade
GTL – Tazo green tea latte
CF – coffee Frappuccino blended coffee
CRF – caramel Frappuccino blended coffee
MF – mocha Frappuccino blended coffee
STCF – strawberries and crème Frappuccino blended crème
VBF – vanilla bean Frappuccino blended crème
CFL – coffee light Frappuccino light blended coffee
CRFL – caramel light Frappuccino light blended coffee
EGF – eggnog Frappuccino blended coffee
PMF – peppermint mocha Frappuccino blended coffee
CHCF – Tazo chai tea Frappuccino blended crème
DCCF – double chocolate chip Frappuccino blended crème
JCF – java chip Frappuccino blended crème
VBFL – vanilla bean light Frappuccino light blended creme


29 Responses to “Speak Starbucks-speak!”

  1. Alison Says:

    Cool – I would appreciate knowing what Earl Grey is (its about the only thing I’ll drink). I assume its EG? :)

  2. proudgeek Says:

    LOL, Alison! I think you’ll have to spell Earl Grey out :-(

    I do know that Starbucks’ DoubleShot has an abbreviation – I think it’s DS, but I’m not sure.

  3. QueenAlpo Says:

    Been doing this a long time… BUT it doesn’t work at Safeway?! Guess they have their own code.

    Me = Venti N CDL w/ WC

  4. Alison Says:

    Spelling out Earl Grey is rather boring, no? I would like to be right up there with you coffee drinkers and write in geeky code.

    And coffee, ugh. How can anyone actually drink the stuff? Become an hon. Brit for the day!

  5. Bill Says:

    Don Cullen had a good idea – Order your starbucks custom rechargable gift card with your coffee preference on it!


  6. Tall, CM, SFC, N WC
    Wow, this is easy. And I might take up on that “business card” idea by Don Cullen!

    I usually order during off-peak hours (ah, a perk of having an odd job!) so I usually scribble: “tall caramel macchiato” and let them bullet-riddle at me– “Whipped? Sugar-free? 2% milk? Soy?”
    Err… I can ask for Soy? Oh cool.

    I remembered once I did ask for soy milk for me Frappuccino and they looked at me as if I have sinned. “You cannot add soy to Frappuccino. It won’t… taste good.”
    “Oh. Fat-free, then.”

    Could anybody explain to me the difference between caramel syrup and sauce?

    I was asked this ONCE by a location that I don’t frequent and I was so lost so I just stumbled “um uh sauce, I guess?”

  8. JS Says:

    This entry is cool, not to mention eye-opening…it’s gotta be tough to be a barista. The baristas at my corner Starbucks tell me that they also aim to memorize the order of roughly a hundred regular customers.

    If I understand this list correctly, my usual order would be a tall 1/2 A. Not too exciting, but thankfully not too expensive, either.

    Unfortunately, my work has taken me for a two-month excursion to the eurozone, where the dollar isn’t worth much. In the interests of finding a coffee shop where I could just sit with a book and some caffeine, I went to one of the local Starbucks and paid $4.50 not once but twice for mere cups of coffee…nothing elaborate like a triple latte with extras. After walking out of the shop, I did some mental currency conversions, realized what I had done, and swore a mighty oath. With fortitude, I will avoid Starbucks until I need to put in some long hours back at the office in the States.

  9. Zooey Says:

    I’m looking forward to the day when I can use the Starbucks drive thru. Why do only hearing people get to use the drive thru?

  10. Proud Geek Says:

    Zooey – oh, deaf people CAN use Starbucks’ drive-thru (and any other drive-thru’s). Just write down your order, get in the drive-thru line, skip the menu / loudspeaker, and give the person in the first window (or only window) your written order. Took me a long time to get used to doing it this way myself, but my partner has been doing it for years. Now that we have two young kids, drive-thru’s are a BLESSING! :-P

  11. Zooey Says:

    Ok! I’ll try it next time. Thanks

  12. m Says:

    I order a Green Tea Frap w/ SOY all the time! At least in LA, they don’t look at you funny or judge you for it … LOL

  13. StarbucksTrainee Says:

    well for the caramel sauce vs caramel syrup, the syrup is concentrated and used for the actual drink. the sauce is just caramel in a squeeze bottle for topping purposes

  14. proudgeek Says:

    Thanks, Trainee – that makes perfect sense now!

  15. zelman Says:

    Whipped Cream is technically “WC!”, though some baristas get lazy and lose the punctuation.

  16. Edmontonguy Says:

    My usual is a social drink (i.e. no caffine) and it’s a non-fat, tall, decafe mocha with no whip, no foam, extra hot and stirred. I get some dirty looks from barristas about the “stirred” part but they don’t all do it and then I get too much syrup at the bottom of the cup / end of the drink. But today I had the captial letter “T” in a circle on the sleeve of my cup. Never seen that before and it isn’t on your list. Was it a leftover from an aborted order? What does it mean? Cheers

  17. kash Says:

    the caramel sauce is thicker and contains dairy, the syrup is just a sugary flavouring

  18. Pink Says:

    Don’t forget about MIS – Caffe Misto, otherwise known as a Cafe au Lait.

  19. BaristaBoy Says:

    There are a couple things wrong with the order mentioned in this post:
    “Venti iced X 2 TN N WC(with slash) M”
    First, you dont need to state that you want two shots of espresso because a venti already comes with 2 shots. 1-2-2 (tall, grande, venti).
    Also, you dont need to write WC(with dash) because the iced drinks dont get whip by default.
    You dont write the size because all you have to do is look at the cup.
    And you dont need to write ‘iced’ because the cup is clear which means that it is a cold drink. Now if it were a FRAP, then you would do MF instead of just M.
    So the CORRECT way to write that would be:
    X TN N M.

    • BaristaNic Says:

      Iced venti drinks get 3 shots. All mochas get whipped cream, even iced.

      And to edmontonguy: the T may indicate name? But most stores the baristas usually have some kind of symbol or notifying of the person is rude (at least here in Cali) and they get decaf espresso. So if you still want that fix always have a great attitude with the person writing down the order.

      • EspressoEngineer Says:

        What Starbucks are you working at? All venti drinks only get 2 shots unless the customer asks for and pays for an extra one–iced or not. Whip cream is default for fraps only, not mochas. Also, the abbreviation for whip was changed to just a W for whip or an X for without (at least, in all of the units I’ve worked in). And, if the baristas are giving decafs to rude customers, they get fired. No exception. It doesn’t matter how rude someone is to you– you work in the service industry. Deal with it. Don’t be petty.

        I am also in California, and I have never been in a Starbucks that does anything in your comment.

      • Espresso engineer: all Venti drinks do not get 2 shots. All iced venti lattes get 3. Venti Double Shots and Americanos get 5 and 4, respectively.

      • That’s an awful way to do business. Way to brighten someone’s day!

  20. Annoyed Says:

    Annoyingly enough, I have a customized Starbucks card that codes 1 Pump Sugar Free Vanilla as 1P SFV, as generated by the Starbucks website.

    About 50% of the time, unless I specifically point it out, I end up with 1 Peppermint and Sugar Free Vanilla – yuck.

    I’ve actually had baristas argue with me that the card is wrong. D’oh!

    Poor training.

    • I’ve worked in 6 different Starbucks stores, and none of them use “P” for pump number. P is the symbol for Peppermint, so “2P” means 2 peppermint. We prefer 4V for four pumps of vanilla, and so on.

  21. You left out the skinny list–
    SKVL- skinny vanilla latte
    SKCDL- skinny cinnamon dolce latte
    SKM- Skinny mocha (FYI we also use this abbreviation in the “Syrup Box” on the cup to denote skinny mocha sauce, say, if you wished to add it to an iced coffee.

    Also, iced coffees. By default, they are sweetened, which we use our classic (CL) syrup for. So,
    ICM- iced coffee with milk; order it unsweetened if you wish.
    IC- iced coffee (also specify if you want it unsweetened it it will be sweet!)

    Also, as a Starbucks barrista, it is easiest if the actual drink (i.e. Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte) is stated first. Modifiers are easy to add on it change, but we like to have the proper drink in order as we’re modifying it.

    You’ve done a nice job assembling this list– keep it up!

    Take care,

  22. SBNM Says:

    GTL is Green Tea Lemonade and GRTL is Green Tea Latte. I believe

  23. Cosi Says:

    Grande iced CM … That’s me!

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