What Dunkin' Employees Wish Customers Understood About The Flavor Swirls

Long before shots, swirls, and froths were a thing, grabbing coffee on the run was a simple matter. You could saunter up to the counter and order "Cream, two sugars," or "Black, no sugar," and be on your way. At some Dunkin' locations in New England, according to Boston.com, you can still utter just two words — "coffee regular"– and get a small, hot coffee with cream and sugar.

Then along came the '90s and everything changed. At Dunkin' it began in 1995 with the introduction of two flavors, hazelnut and French vanilla, joining the brand's signature original blend. Espresso, latte, and cappuccino joined the roster in 2003, followed by the Macchiato, a layered espresso drink served hot or cold, in 2015. (Interesting side note: according to a Dunkin' YouTube video, Macchiato is a take on the Italian word for "mark," so Dunkin' says it's "milk marked with espresso.")

Fast forward to today. Ordering from the Dunkin' beverage menu is like navigating an algorithm: hot, cold, iced, frozen, flavor shots, flavor swirls, dairy, non-dairy, latte, espresso, cappuccino. The combinations are seemingly endless. (More than 15,000 and counting, according to Dunkin'.) So much so that even Dunkin' employees wish (via Reddit) customers would pay just a little bit more attention to what they're ordering.

Dunkin' offers more than 15,000 beverage combinations

Let's break it down, starting with shot versus swirl. Delish reached out to Dunkin' for an official explanation. Turns out, Dunkin' offers seven unsweetened, sugar-free flavor shots in addition to an assortment of sweetened flavor swirls. While shots are dairy-free, swirls are made with sweetened condensed milk. The website for Dunkin' explains in even more detail, including these helpful hints.

In a medium-sized beverage, flavor shots add five to 10 calories per serving. Flavor swirls add 150 to 160 calories. There's crossover between shot and swirl flavors, but not every flavor is offered in both forms. Most seasonal flavors are swirls.

Unless you have a personal favorite combination, ordering on the fly can be challenging. Wide Open Eats revealed Dunkin's "secret" menu — unofficial shorthand for popular combinations — many of which are Dunkin'-approved and known by name. For example, order Hazelnut Mocha Iced Coffee and you'll get iced coffee with a mocha swirl and a hazelnut shot. Choose Toasted French Vanilla Iced Coffee and you're in for a treat of iced coffee with a French vanilla shot, a toasted almond shot, and almond milk.

And then there's The Charli. Named for TikTok influencer and Dunkin' aficionado Charli D'Amelio, The Charli is Dunkin' cold brew with whole milk and three pumps of caramel swirl. Ask for it by name.