First World Problem: How Do I Order a Sweetened Latte at Starbucks?

This is as Firsty as First-World problems get but it bugs me.

I like my lattes sweetened but it’s all but impossible to add granulated sugar to foamed milk. So for a while I would ask for the cup first so I could add sugar to the cup before they added the espresso and milk. It works, but it’s a pain and the baristas think I’m weird.

After a while I just got sick of it and paid the extra 80-cents for them to add caramel or vanilla syrup but sugar is free at Starbucks and I don’t like having to pay extra for sweetening. If I was at home I would put the sugar in first or add simple syrup at the end as I do with cold-brew coffee.

So finally I asked them to just add simple syrup. To which they respond by getting confused and asking what flavor so they can do their robotic 80-cent dispensing of flavored syrup.

I tell them I just want the simple syrup they use to sweeten their iced coffee. They say they don’t know what I mean, they use Basic Syrup in iced coffee. Yes, OK. Call it whatever you want. They then tell me that’s 80 cents (!!) I respond “But your sugar is free, right? (Yes) And sweetened iced coffee with “basic syrup” doesn’t cost extra, right? (Correct)”


So it seems I have to ask specially for the barista to add a couple packets sugar before they add espresso. This, again, kinda confuses them and while they are polite enough about it they kinda make me feel stupid. I tried asking one how I should order to avoid this rigmarole and they didn’t really have an answer save me paying 80 cents for flavored syrup.

What is up with this? How should I order this drink? Surely most people who want a sweetened foamed-milk drink don’t add granulated sugar themselves, do they?

Moved to the Coffee Society, er Cafe Society (from IMHO).

I sprinkle the granulated sugar on top and mix it in with a spoon or stir stick. I don’t care what happens to the foam as long as it says in the cup until I finish drinking it.

I don’t care about the foam either except that it makes it very difficult to stir granulated sugar into the drink such that the sugar dissolves (like when you add it to coffee). Thus, simple syrup would work a lot better but Starbucks has a really strange (to me, anyway) policy about that.

You dump the granulated sugar on top, wait until it sinks all of the way through the foam, then stir.

Can you just give them the packets of sugar to add when you place the order?

I can but they are odd about it. I’ve been asked, “Do you want the sugar in first or at the end?” At the end? Like I’m just too lazy to do that myself?

Or they ask if I want it stirred. (???WTF???)

This seems like it’d be an issue for anyone who orders a sweetened latte. I never considered waiting for the sugar to float to the bottom as DPRK suggested. That seems like a long wait and also some sugar is going to stay, undissolved, in the foam.

They already have simple syrup sitting there, ready for iced drinks, why can’t they use that without adding 80 cents? Sugar is free at Starbucks and everywhere else and Starbucks doesn’t charge to add it to iced coffee.

Also that isn’t easy to do considering I wouldn’t know who is actually making the drink. Sur, I could ask the person I’m ordering from but that’s right about where they either forget to do it or resent having to do it or something. Plus, I don’t want to make their lives hard. This is a really simple request but they’ve left me no way to do it without causing quite a stir (teehee).

I’m curious, DPRK, what you would do if you ordered an iced coffee? I would think you wouldn’t be happy with granulated sugar in that case.

Do any of their default iced coffees not contain sugar already? I was at Starbucks a few weeks back and wanted an iced latte, but everything had sugar. I special-ordered one without sugar (which they managed successfully).

At any rate, try using the stick (or even your finger) to make a small hole in the foam, then pour the granulated sugar through that. If the coffee is hot, it should dissolve easily with mild stirring.

That’s a good question. When I’ve ordered them it was usually a hot day and they were selling a lot, they could have made it in advance in bulk. They asked if I wanted it sweetened or not but I don’t know what the default was.

But I believe they might make each one “fresh” (that is–already brewed, but not iced or sweetened yet) I’m pretty sure they use separate (hot) coffee for the iced drinks because it’s stronger than usual to make up for the melting ice.

ETA-- maybe they have 3 types already brewed up:

  1. regular unsweetened hot coffee (regular hot joe, add sugar if you want);
  2. extra-strong unsweetened hot coffee (for non-sweet, iced);
  3. extra-strong sweetened hot coffee (for sweet, iced)

Thanks. I’ve done that before. It works well enough–as I said, it’s a true 1st World problem.

But when the simple syrup is right there and it makes so much sense??? I’m honestly a lot more confused than bothered by this.

The coffee shop i go to has simple syrup where the customers can reach it. I think that’s the right answer.

Honestly, if you are asking them to specially add sugar/syrup, it costs them more. I have to think that most of their cost is labor, not ingredients.

Anyway, i endorse using the stirrer stick to shove some of the foam aside, and then pour the crystallized sugar through that hole into the hot coffee. I’ve done something similar when i used to add a lot of cocoa to a cappuccino. I didn’t want a lot of cocoa sitting on top of the foam, and i didn’t want to destroy all that lovely foam, either. So i sacrificed just a little foam on the side.

Yes. I think that’s the best solution, too.

As for making special requests–I have tried SO MUCH to avoid that. I do not WANT to make a special request. I just want a latte with sugar. Very easy, very-simple.

But anyone who works in a café knows you can’t add sugar to a latte unless you want to spend an hour toying with it. Therefore, presumably, they also know that the way to sweeten a hot latte is with simple syrup.

They already seemed to have grasped this about sweetening their iced coffees, why is a hot latte beyond their ken?

If it were me, I’d just hand the person taking the order the sugar packets and ask, “Can you guys add this sugar with the espresso? I don’t want to add it afterward and mess up the milk foam.” Sometimes they just need a little guidance.