The 6 Best And 6 Worst Discontinued Starbucks Drinks

Without even taking into account the roster of drinks on the secret menu, Starbucks has brought us a dizzying array of beverages over the years. Some have become so successful that they are now shorthand for personalities (looking at you, pumpkin spice latte), while others have fizzled out even before they could make it to menus nationwide. Starbucks seems to value variety in its lineup, introducing new drinks year-round and quietly retiring those that haven't gone according to plan.

Sadly, this elimination process claims good drinks as well as bad ones. Remember the Valencia Orange Refresher? It was a citrusy, slightly spicy delight that was so delicious that its inexplicable discontinuation prompted zealous fans to start petitions urging for its return. And how about the luxurious Eggnog Latte? It heralded the beginning of the festive season with comforting spices and an indulgent texture, and its demise in 2021 sent fans into an uproar. 

However, sometimes Starbucks does get it right and it pulls drinks that never quite made sense. The infamous Unicorn Frappuccino, for example, was a beverage better suited to social media feeds than actual consumption, while the Maple Pecan Latte somehow managed to miss the mark on both the maple and the pecan. Despite the constant flow of new and retired drinks, some items stick with us. So in honor of our favorite coffee chain and its dynamic menu, we've rounded up the best and worst discontinued drinks that we'll never drink again, for better or worse.

Best: Irish Cream Cold Brew

Although Starbucks has yet to make a liqueur-infused cold brew (as far as we know), it offered the next best thing in 2019. It was based on Irish Cream, a sweet, syrupy liqueur that is made to taste like Irish whiskey and cream, sometimes with a dash of espresso and chocolate. The Irish Cream Cold Brew was made with a blend of cold brew coffee and Irish cream syrup served over ice and topped with vanilla sweet cream cold foam and cocoa powder. 

Marketing spin can make almost any combination of flavors sound irresistible, but trust us when we say that this drink was every bit as divine as it sounds. Sweet, creamy, and intense, it struck the same chord as the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, but with a richer flavor and mouthfeel. Fans praised the taste and called it their favorite holiday drink. It seemed like a slam dunk.

It therefore came as a shock when, sometime around 2022, customers started to notice that it hadn't appeared in the latest winter lineup. On Reddit, fans posted desperate pleas for answers, only to come away with the worst one possible: the Irish Cream Cold Brew was no more. "This is literally the saddest thing I've ever met in my life," one user wrote, "I look forward to that drink all year." We can't disagree. Now we'll just have to content ourselves by pouring Irish cream liqueur into our lattes and hope for the best.

Worst: Nitro Cold Brew with Salted Honey Cold Foam

Have you ever had an irresistible urge to put salt in your coffee? Nope. Neither have we. But Starbucks apparently thought it would be a winning combination. Its Nitro Cold Brew with Salted Honey Cold Foam hit menus in 2020 (as if the year hadn't had enough unpleasant surprises) alongside the returning Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew. The latter drink remains a sumptuously smooth affair that served to show just how uncalled for the new salt-and-honey concoction was.

Customers took to social media to voice their irritation over the new beverage, and as is so often the case, they did not pull their punches. "Honey and salt don't really go well together," said one Reddit user, "The pumpkin one was 10x better." "Tried it yesterday, almost threw up," reported another. "This drink is trash," said a third, "especially the topping." 

Made with salted honey cold foam and a toasted honey topping, it tasted like someone had mixed up the jars and added salt instead of sugar, only to over-compensate with an alarming amount of sugar afterward. Redditors described the flavor as "soapy and metallic" and "like sea water." Whichever side you fall on, it's pretty clear the drink was not a hit. The deafening silence that followed its discontinuation probably surprised no one.

Best: Citrus Green Tea Latte

Citrus and green tea might not sound like the stuff that latte dreams are made of, but the Citrus Green Tea Latte was an exception. It wasn't the clear, hot liquid that you'd normally associate with green tea, a beverage that's fine if you're looking for a slight step up from plain water. It appeared on menus in February 2016 and was made with green tea, steamed milk, citrus mint syrup, and a lemon essence topping. There was also the option to order it as a frappuccino, dispelling any fears that it might be something light and zesty rather than intense and creamy. With none of the incongruity that you would expect from a mixture of dairy and citrus, it was smooth and tangy in just the right measure.

When the drink was unceremoniously retired after only a few months on menus, customers on Reddit shared fond memories, with one saying they had been "obsessed with it." Another even said they were still messaging customer service five years later asking the company to bring it back. Why it was pulled from menus so quickly is unclear, but what is frustratingly evident is that no other variation of Starbucks' green tea or matcha lattes has come close to replicating its beguiling combination of citrus and dairy.

Worst: Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino

A lot of us have fond memories of going to state fairs and amusement parks as children. There were carnival rides, cotton candy, corndogs, and stuffed animal prizes — all the things that thrill a seven-year-old but might not be quite as appealing to an adult. There was probably funnel cake too, but you might not remember that simply because, well, why would you? The rubbery mass of fried dough is greasy in all the wrong ways and doesn't hold a candle to other carnival delicacies like caramel apples and deep-fried Snickers.

It seemed that Starbucks had run out of ideas when, in 2021, it released the Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino, a drink so sickly sweet you might as well have been chugging corn syrup. It was made of funnel cake-flavored syrup mixed with coffee, milk, and ice, layered with strawberry puree, whipped cream, and powdered sugar funnel cake pieces. A 16-ounce grande serving contained a whopping 51 grams of sugar without so much as a hint of citrus to take the edge off.

Customers on Reddit were not kind. They compared it to cough syrup and a blended Nutrigrain bar, and one even suggested that its slightly bitter flavor might have been a deliberate attempt to imitate the rancid taste of fryer oil that so often accompanies funnel cake. This charitable interpretation of the company's creative process still implies that Starbucks was trying to make an unappetizing drink. Mission accomplished.

Best: Chantico

Perhaps we just weren't ready for Chantico, a drink so velvety and decadent it gave eggnog a run for its money and certainly outshone it in terms of flavor. Named after the Aztec goddess of the hearth, it was a smooth blend of cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar, and steamed whole milk served in a tiny, 6-ounce portion. One company executive likened it to drinking melted truffles, which will either sound like heaven or torture depending on your preferences. That thick consistency probably contributed to its downfall, because back when it was introduced in 2005, people weren't as accustomed to the idea of a barista-made drink that packed close to 400 calories. Even these days, when a 12-ounce Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino contains 350 calories (and a jaw-dropping 590 if you're opting for a 24-ounce Venti), 390 calories in a fraction of the size is pretty shocking.

It was pulled from menus in 2006, with executives pointing to its lack of adaptability. It's difficult to imagine how or why customers were hoping to improve the Chantico with their own additions. It was a drink that went all-in on what it was. There was no whisper of health benefits or low-fat, low-calorie options. It was loud and proud about its viscous, 20-grams-of-fat consistency. It was intensely sweet and defiantly chocolatey. It was, in short, a triumph. Unfortunately, customers were not ready for it, and it came and went all too quickly.

Worst: Juniper Latte

In 2018, just in time for the holidays, Starbucks finally answered its customers' prayers by introducing a drink that tasted like a tree. If you've ever sniffed a Christmas tree and thought, "I'd love to eat that," the Juniper Latte was for you. At least until you tasted it, probably. The concept was a festive, wintery beverage boasting a hint of juniper and sage with "an evergreen aroma and citrus notes." In reality, it was a regular latte mixed with juniper syrup and topped with foam and pine-citrus sugar. Though it did smell pleasantly like a Christmas tree, it didn't necessarily get your mouth watering — in the same way that smelling a lavender candle probably doesn't make you scamper off to the kitchen.

Juniper is an evergreen tree that produces berries with the distinctive taste of gin. "Aha!" you might be thinking. "So it did taste edible!" Well, only if you consider a gin-flavored latte remotely palatable, which many Starbucks customers did not. "It tastes like sweet windex," said one Reddit user, while someone on X, the company formerly known as Twitter, reported that a barista had warned them that it tasted "like grass and dirt." Starbucks got the message. Its great tree experiment withered away, never to return.

Best: Chile Mocha

Some Starbucks drinks seem to fall victim to their own modesty. Unlike the Unicorn Frappuccino or the Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha, the Chile Mocha was not a flashy drink with headline-grabbing potential. It was just quietly flawless. Made with espresso and steamed milk infused with cocoa and cinnamon powder, it was topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with a Chile Mocha topping that was made with ancho chiles, cayenne chile pepper, cinnamon, paprika, sugar, and a trace of sea salt. Whereas the addition of sea salt all but ruined the Nitro Cold Brew with Salted Honey Cold Foam, its inclusion in the Chile Mocha complemented the spice and chocolate without overpowering.

What set this drink apart was its surprisingly complex and subtle spice mixture. Starbucks chose ancho chiles for the dominant chile flavor due to its mild heat and slight sweetness and layered it with paprika and cayenne for extra nuance. The combination of flavors wasn't just a culinary whim either. The Aztecs were pairing chile and chocolate centuries before the Starbucks development team tried it, and the resulting drink, Xocolatl, is even thought to have been the precursor to hot chocolate. The Chile Mocha's phasing out came with little fanfare, but for those who tried it, it remains sorely missed.

Worst: Fruitcake Frappuccino

Starbucks often tries to model its Frappuccinos off of beloved foods. There was the Lemon Bar Frappuccino and the Tiramisu Frappuccino, for example, drinks that if nothing else, tried to recreate desserts that most people love. But sometimes the company goes off script, providing drinks that are reminiscent of foods that are, shall we say, an acquired taste. The Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino comes to mind. But no drink was quite as baffling as the Fruitcake Frappuccino, a menu item that seemed destined to fail even before it was sold to the first customer. Made with a decent enough base of a Hazelnut Crème Frappuccino, it included dried fruit, cinnamon, whipped cream, dots of caramel, and a sprinkling of matcha for an unappetizing mold-like coating.

Customers were having none of it. "Fruit cake is literally the worst and no part of me wants to try a frozen, blended form of it," said one Reddit user. Baristas on the platform commiserated with each other about the painstaking process of adding the dots of caramel, while customers expressed general confusion about why the drink existed in the first place. Starbucks attempted to be in on the joke by providing each Fruitcake Frappuccino with an ugly sweater cozy, but it ended up being the drink's only redeeming quality.

Best: Maple Macchiato

Some flavors pair well with just about everything, and maple is at the top of the list. Whether you're making cookies, baked beans, or cocktails, maple syrup can be the secret ingredient that takes the recipe to the next level. Starbucks recognized this and created a drink that was bound to be a bestseller, or so it would appear to anyone who tried it. The Maple Macchiato was released in Canadian stores in 2014 and featured real maple syrup from Quebec drizzled over espresso, steamed milk, and vanilla. Meanwhile, American customers were given the mediocre Vanilla Macchiato drizzled with brown sugar vanilla.

To be fair, Starbucks had attempted to give Americans a maple version. According to Grub Street, the company had tested the drink in the U.S. but phased it out in 2012, perhaps due to a lack of interest. In a similarly perplexing outcome, the Maple Macchiato was discontinued in Canada despite being popular and originally released as a permanent menu item. Canadian Facebook users hailed the drink as "so good" and "delicious." Why it didn't manage to survive is a mystery we're still trying to wrap our heads around.

Worst: Mazagran

Mazagran managed to be simultaneously ahead of its time and more than a hundred years too late. It was essentially coffee soda, a cold, carbonated drink manufactured in collaboration with the Pepsi-Cola Company in the early '90s. It was too refreshing to satisfy morning coffee drinkers and too caffeinated to satisfy anyone looking for a thirst-quencher on a hot summer afternoon. It drummed up publicity and some curious customers but ultimately had few repeat buyers. 

Despite being a novelty in the '90s, however, Mazagran wasn't as out there as it might have seemed. It was based on and even named after a beverage created by the French during their occupation of Algeria in the 1830s. During an Algerian revolt that was quickly quashed, about a hundred French soldiers were held captive in a fortress in the town of Mazagran, where they were forced to substitute their usual coffee and brandy mixture with coffee and cold water. For some reason, the recipe stuck even after they were rescued.

In Europe, it's served with a twist of lemon and even a shot of liquor, but Starbucks customers had no such luck. It was made with carbonated water, coffee, high fructose corn syrup, and natural flavors, and lacked the pizazz that one would require from such an unusual concept. Luckily for Starbucks, its next collaboration with Pepsi went on to greater success. Released in 1996, the bottled Frappuccino quickly overshadowed the embarrassing misstep of Mazagran.

Best: Cherry Pie Frappuccino

Sometimes going big pays off, even for the company that tried to convince us that the Unicorn Latte was more than just a publicity stunt. The American Cherry Pie Frappuccino may not have made it out of Japanese stores, but it picked up plenty of traction online when it was released in 2017, due to its deliciously over-the-top appearance and the glowing reviews from those lucky enough to try it. Consisting of a vanilla crème base, pie crumbles, cherry compote, and a whipped cream topping, it was capped off with an ingenious creation: a dome-shaped pie crust in place of a lid.

Although it never made it stateside, the beverage became a major talking point, with people sharing their enthusiasm for it and desire that it become internationally available. In response to a comment about how good it looked, one Reddit user was unequivocal. "Man you have no idea," they said. "It tasted like cherry pie and ice cream. The pie crust top? Real Graham cracker crust that you had to punch through with the straw. It was heaven." Unfortunately, the excitement over the drink did not convince Starbucks to release it worldwide and it eventually disappeared from Japanese stores.

Worst: Dark Barrel Latte

You'd think that Starbucks would have learned a lesson about combining incongruous beverages when Mazagran crashed and burned in the '90s, but the company decided to take another swing at it in 2014 with a beverage that was created to taste like beer and coffee. The Dark Barrel Latte was made with a syrup meant to mimic the flavor of stout beer, which is known for its dark color and often sweet flavor. But no amount of sweetness or even the whipped cream and caramel syrup topping could compensate for the fact that beer and coffee do not play well together. Starbucks succeeded in mimicking the flavor of Guinness, but unfortunately, that was not a good thing.

"It's coffee or beer, not coffee and beer," commented one Reddit user. "Out of all the good liqueurs and whiskeys that pair with coffee, they went 'Stale Guinness.'" On X, then known as Twitter, another customer wrote, "Severely disappointed in @Starbucks. The Dark Barrel Latte is horrid. Bring back my Salted Caramel Latte to Ohio, PLEASE."

Our methodology

To compile this ranking of the best and worst discontinued drinks from Starbucks, we sifted through customer forums, Starbucks press releases, and historical media coverage to analyze the ingredients, nutrition facts, customer reviews, and first-hand experiences with each beverage. These sites included Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, X, formerly known as Twitter, and media outlets covering Starbucks launches.