Can I order Decaf at Starbucks?

starbucks scenic cup

If you stay away from standard coffee because it can be addictive, decaf coffee can be a great option for consuming coffee socially. However, decaf beverages aren’t available at all coffee shops. Given that Starbucks is among the most popular coffee shop chains in America, you may reasonably assume that they have decaf coffee.

You can order decaf at Starbucks most of the time. However, because the chain keeps only a limited assortment of decaf beans, a specific branch may run out of decaf coffee. Cold-brew can be a good alternative in that case as it isn’t as intense as other espresso-based drinks.

In this article, you will learn more about Decaf options at Starbucks, including non-coffee drinks, coffee beverages made with decaf grounds, and diluted drinks that you can order if a branch runs out of decaf coffee.

Which Starbucks have decaf coffee?

All Starbucks in the USA have a decaf menu. You can order from a range of decaf beverages at any time as the supply is topped up constantly. Starbucks in major cities like New York and Los Angeles do not run out of decaf beans.

However, certain remote branches can have a limited supply that can run out and render the decaf menu unavailable. When you travel outside the US, you may find the Starbucks brand slapped across different coffee shops. The brand has a global reach and presence, which is why the likelihood of its logo being misused is minimal. 

You can walk into a Starbucks in any part of the world and ask for decaf coffee. That said, some branches may not have decaf beans throughout the year as their inventory is based on what the demographics surrounding the branch seem interested in.

What to order when your Starbucks is out of decaf beans

Though the likelihood of a particular Starbucks being out of decaf is small, there still is a chance you might have to think of an alternative drink. Knowing about the following options will help you be prepared if the situation arises.

Low-Caffeine options

There are a few beverages that have the taste of a standard cup of coffee but feature less caffeine than an espresso. Please stay away from these options if caffeine makes you anxious because despite having a lower dose, there’s still a considerable amount of caffeine in these drinks.

Iced Americano

This is a double diluted espresso drink, which is made by pouring a shot of espresso into a cup, then adding water. After this, the barista adds ice to cool the drink, which also dilutes the coffee further. If you order a large (grande) Americano, the difference in size is usually filled with water. So, you can take the following steps to get a low-caffeine cup of Americano.

  1. Ask the barista for a cup of iced Americano. Be clear that you don’t want cold-brewed coffee; you just want hot Americano cooled with ice.
  2. When asked for the size, say “Grande” or “large.”
  3. Ask for an empty Venti or medium-sized cup.
  4. When you get the Americano and the cup, ask the barista to pour the coffee in the smaller cup and discard the rest.

Here’s an explanation for the steps above: the coffee will already be diluted twice with water first, then ice. However, by ordering a larger serving, you get more water added to the cup, lowering the concentration. Then you take only a portion of that serving to decrease the overall quantity of caffeine you consume.

Diluted Cold Brew

Cold-brewed coffee isn’t as caffeine-rich as it is flavor-rich. Because the grounds are not subjected to piping hot water, they do not lose their essence to the running water. Since cold brew grounds retain their essence, the drink made with these grounds has a smaller quantity of caffeine. If you find it awkward to get Americano progressively diluted through a series of requests, you should aim to get a cup of cold brew and consume only half of the serving.

Cappuccino with reduced espresso

If you order a decaf espresso or any decaf coffee beverage and the shop is out of decaf beans, the barista will offer to make the “same drink with little coffee.” This is their version of trying to explain to the average consumer that they will add half the espresso in the drink. Most coffee beverages are made by adding espresso to either a milky drink or an icy one. 

The milk drinks have more standard acceptance, while the creamy and icy ones have wider mainstream appeal. Whether you’re getting a cappuccino, a macchiato, or even a frappe, you have the option of requesting reduced espresso. While the result will not be as mellow and a decaf equivalent, it will not be as intense as the standard beverage either.

Non-coffee drinks at Starbucks

If you don’t like caffeine and are going for decaf drinks only because you want to enjoy a drink at Starbucks, don’t worry, you can actually order from a menu of coffee-free drinks at Starbucks. Here are some of them.

  • White hot chocolate – Since cocoa has caffeine, hot chocolate isn’t technically caffeine-free. White hot chocolate, on the other hand, is entirely free of caffeine.
     
  • Mint Tea / Mint Majesty – Though not available at all branches, this hot herbal tea is a great caffeine-free option.
     
  • Coffeeless Frappuccino – You can order any frappe from Starbucks and request the barista to hold the espresso and make your drink free of caffeine. To make the frappe truly caffeine-free, you would have to opt for flavors like Strawberry, Caramel, or Cheesecake, as these do not use cocoa beans.
     
  • Iced Fruit Tea – All Starbucks branches serve at least a few fruit teas throughout the year. When ordering your iced tea, ask the barista which ones have no caffeine.

Final Thoughts

Starbucks is one of the largest Coffee Shop chains in the world. Since it has to cater to a wide base, it cannot limit its menu to beverages celebrated by coffee connoisseurs. That’s why Starbucks has decaf options as well as coffee-free beverages that can be enjoyed by people who don’t drink coffee but want to order something when they visit a branch with their friends.

Tim S.

Tim loves roasting, brewing, and experimenting with coffee. After years of perfecting this craft, working as a barista, and owning a small coffee service in college, he has decided to share his knowledge with the world.

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