I’m not usually a big Starbucks fan; their coffee is way too bitter and burnt-tasting to me. But every autumn and winter, they come out with the Pumpkin Spice latte, the Peppermint mocha, and the Caramel Brulée, Eggnog and Gingerbread lattes, so I indulge myself for a few months before abandoning them in January.
This year, instead of leaving my toddler to watch me drink a specialty coffee every time we go grocery shopping, I decided to let her get her own little beverage, and I had to learn a whole new side of Starbucks.
The biggest hurdle to overcome at Starbucks is caffeine. While caffeine is not, in and of itself, necessarily harmful to children, children hyped up on caffeine are at a much higher risk of being murdered by their parents after six days of sleeplessness. So anything with caffeine is out, at least for the next several years.
The other problems include size/expense, like how much I’m willing to pay for a drink for a tiny person who will likely only drink half of it, and temperature, which is something that didn’t occur to me at all initially.
So I did a little research, and came up with some good-to-know info for keeping your kids in expensive drinks.
How to buy your kids drinks at Starbucks:
1) Check out the kids’ menu. The Starbucks website lists a couple of very basic, simple drinks for the extremely picky child. There are two milk drinks (regular cold milk, and a steamer, which is warmed, frothed milk with syrup of your choice in it for flavor), and three apple drinks (cold apple juice, warm apple juice, and the caramel apple cider, which is warm apple juice with caramel syrup in it).
2) Ask for a couple of off-menu options: the short size and kids’ temperature. A Starbucks tall is twelve ounces, and some drinks don’t come any smaller. But for a lot of drinks, you can get a little 8-ounce cup for a little cheaper. And if your child is too small to really understand hot drinks, you can ask for kids’ temperature, which is a little hotter than lukewarm and won’t burn your little one’s mouth.
3) Avoid caffeine. Starbucks has gotten better about indicating on the menu which things have caffeine, but sometimes it’s not so easy to tell. Here’s a general list of Starbucks drinks that won’t turn your little angel into a complete spazz (anymore than they already are):
- Steamers (warmed milk with some syrup for flavor. If you get a flavored drink, you can get the same syrup for your kid!), or just plain steamed milk, charmingly called a babyccino.
- Apple juice or cider, cold or warm, with caramel syrup if desired.
- Frappuccinos with the word ‘crème‘ in them. These don’t have coffee in them, although a couple have trace amounts of caffeine from chocolate. If you want a flavor that doesn’t have the word crème in it, ask for a syrup crème Frappuccino with your desired flavor.
- Hot chocolate and peppermint hot chocolate (Starbucks hot chocolate is pretty dark, so if your kids wants a milder hot chocolate, buy a chocolate milk from the cooler and have the barista warm it for you).
- Herbal teas. Anything that says black, green or chai is going to have caffeine in it, but there are some teas that are caffeine free: Passion Tea, Vanilla Rooibos, Calm and Refresh. Hint: the one called ‘Awake’ has caffeine.
- Smoothies (available in Chocolate, Orange Mango and Strawberry).
- Things from the cooler case: there are some bottled milks, juices, and waters. You can even soup these up by having them warmed or adding syrups to the juices and sparkling water for an Italian soda!
With a little effort, your trip to Starbucks can become a luxurious, relaxing experience for both you and your child!