Starbucks has a special place in my heart.
Of all the times I’ve moved, one thing has stayed the same: Starbucks. Wherever I go in the world, it carries that comforting familiarity.
As a teenager exploring Boston, Starbucks was the first place I got to live my weird childhood dream of writing in coffeeshops. I’d bounce between the Barnes and Noble Starbucks at the Pru and the one by New England Conservatory where I took voice lessons.
As a student at Oxford, when I needed a break from Britishness, I took to the touristy Starbucks on Cornmarket Street.
On a day trip to London, my friend Ania and I discussed our mutual love Starbs, and, being us, examined why in great detail. Starbucks is a familiar face during travels, but we’re fascinated by how each storefront adapts to its surroundings.
We started a secret Instagram project, @starbucksdumonde, to chronicle the Starbucks storefronts we encounter on our travels. Starbucks architecture remains my niche curiosity.
‘Knowing yourself’ as a heroine may seem overwhelming. But if you know your signature Starbucks drink, you’re part way there.
Reflecting on my Starbucks drinks orders is a fun, sensory way to remember the different stages of my heroine’s journey, and to notice what’s important to me. Let’s begin.
My Signature Starbucks Drinks Through the Years
Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino
When I was a freshman in high school, I was in a musical with Star, a senior (with a very cool name). She left me with a referral for my first job, but also my first Starbucks signature drink.
The Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino was being discontinued, but she assured me that if I ordered it, they’d still make it for me. I felt so deliciously in the know.
At the Cornmarket St Starbucks on my first visit to Oxford, my new friend Julia introduced me to Starbucks’s surprisingly good classic hot chocolate.
This was my starter hot drink before I liked coffee. We kind of felt too cool and original for Starbucks at this point, but also made the intentional decision that we liked the hot chocolate anyway.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
The funny thing is, I never particularly cared for the Pumpkin Spice until I couldn’t have it.
The PSL craze didn’t hit the UK until recent years, and I found myself craving this American obsession. Now it’s an annual emblem of autumn.
I remember introducing Heleen to her first PSL when we were in Glasgow for theatre purposes. A very important ritual.
On the day that Taylor Swift’s reputation came out, Kaite came over for a listening party. She texted on the way, asking if she should bring Starbucks ‘because it’s what Taylor would do’.
I requested a peppermint mocha, and my favourite red cup drink is forever associated with that day. (This would have been even more on theme if we were listening to Red, or even ‘Blank Space’, but whatever.)
At that time of year when the PSL and red cups aren’t available, my signature indulgence is a London Fog. It’s the perfect drink for the afternoon, when it’s past my coffee deadline. Anything Earl Grey makes me think of Steve, as it’s his favourite tea, and I find myself ordering it when he’s away.
I remember discovering the London Fog at Frederick’s Cafe with my sister, and later learning from my friend Denée that the London Fog is not of UK origin, but from the Pacific Northwest. Now it has double meaning.
Petite Vanilla Bean Scones
Not a drink, but the one thing that’s never changed about my Starbucks experience is a love for these little scones. They’re the first thing I pick up when I land in the US (scones are different here, and they’re never vanilla bean flavoured).
I share them with my mom at the Charles Street Starbucks in Boston. We start with the trio, and sometimes end up ordering more…
How has your signature Starbucks order changed through the years?
In reflecting on these drinks, I was surprised to notice that they’re less about the flavours and more about the people I shared them with.
Connection is just a coffee cup away – even if the person you’re connecting with isn’t there with you.
P.S. I collect Starbucks You Are Here mugs to honour all the places I’ve lived. The extra meaning, that Starbucks is my home away from home, was not intended, but as I write this, is blowing my mind.