What, Exactly, Is Considered A Handcrafted Drink On Starbucks' Menu?

While Starbucks is known for having a vast array of flavorful drink options on its menu, it's not always clear which group certain beverages fall into — especially regarding the "handcrafted drink" label. Starbucks has designated drink categories, including coffee, tea, and blended or bottled beverages, many of which come in hot, cold, or iced variations.

However, beyond the pre-packaged bottled and canned Starbucks drinks (which we've ranked), a handcrafted beverage on Starbucks' menu can fall into any category because it's defined simply as a handmade drink. While one could argue that the Starbucks baristas make every drink with their hands, the terminology reflects specific barista training.

Therefore, the only drinks made behind the counter that aren't considered handcrafted are brewed black coffee and hot tea with tea bags because they don't involve any other steps beyond pouring to prepare them. Plus, when you order black coffee, the barista typically asks if you want them to leave room for cream, leaving the customizations with cream or sugar packets in the hands of the customer instead of the barista. Funny enough, if you order iced tea or plain black coffee with ice, it falls into the handcrafted drink category, even though adding ice to the cup is the only difference.

Discounts often go to handcrafted drinks at Starbucks

Interestingly, the "handcrafted" label is significant because Starbucks periodically offers 50% off drink discounts or BOGOs exclusively for handcrafted beverages. Therefore, the deal would not be applied to the order if brewed black coffee or plain hot tea were ordered. Typically, these offers are for Starbucks Rewards members only and can be applied to your drinks in the app.

While these deals usually run for a few hours in the afternoon, it's not the best time to grab coffee at Starbucks because of how busy stores can get. Of course, confirming with a barista that a certain discount will work for your order before placing it is better than accidentally missing out on the offer. One Reddit user even recommended checking the terms of the discount for a handcrafted drink in your app, noting that theirs said, "Excludes purchases of hot brewed coffee or tea, Starbucks Reserve®, and ready-to-drink beverages."

To confuse matters more, the coffee chain also offers refills of brewed coffee or tea for in-store guests, which on the surface may sound like handcrafted beverages wouldn't count, but iced variations are also allowed. While Starbucks doesn't seem to fully explain the exact reasoning behind a handcrafted drink beyond that it's made by hand, promotional periods are the perfect time to try more expensive handcrafted creations like Starbucks' secret menu cookie butter shaken espresso.