We've all had that moment of being overwhelmed when you step into a Starbucks: tons of coffee everywhere and a huge menu (especially for the fall and winter seasons). But fear not. Having been a barista this summer, here are 10 ways to own your Starbucks drink and order like a pro.


1. Everything is customizable. Everything.

Want a mixture of Vanilla and Cinnamon Dolce syrup? No problem. Need a milk alternative? We have it. Extra shots (of coffee, that is) for studying? Coming right up. You can change your drink however you want it: syrups, shots, the type of shot, powders, half this, half that, one less pump, three more pumps. We will make it right just for your taste.


2. Is your favorite drink a calorie bomb? Not anymore.

Most of our popular syrups come in sugar-free versions and of course we have skim milk. All you have to say is "skinny" right before you say the name of the drink, like: "Skinny vanilla latte." Have you ever wanted a frappuccino but saw the calorie count? No problem. Just ask for a "light" frappuccino. That'll cut the calories by more than half for a lot of them. Yes, you read that right.


3. The officially unofficial "secret menu."

Starbucks doesn't publicly acknowledge a secret menu, but most all baristas know about it. These are the drinks that baristas and customers have customized and given a clever name to, like "The Coachella Sunrise" and even a butterbeer frappuccino for you Potter fans. There are a ton of apps on the app store that anyone can download with the recipes. Just ask the barista. Chances are they know how to make it or you can show them the recipe.


4. Shot, shots, and more shots. Of espresso.

Our espresso (pronounced "es-press-o") machines are incredibly versatile. We can make your coffee decaf, half caff, and of course, regular. But wait, there's more! We can also do what are called "ristretto" and "long" (or lungo in Italian) shots. Ristretto is Italian for "limited" and it is a shot that uses normal amounts of coffee, but less water. This gives a fuller, and somewhat sweeter shot. Try the ristretto in your sweet drinks (including frappuccinos). You won't regret it. A long shot is just the opposite: a shot made with the normal amount of coffee and more water. Ristretto and long shots are no extra charge (when in an espresso drink).


5. Go big or go home.

Need a little more than a venti to get through the day? Not a problem. We have "trenta" sized cups for certain cold beverages. Trenta is Italian for "30" and this whopper of a drink is 30 ounces. Before you get too excited, Trenta is only available for certain drinks, so be sure to ask before ordering.


6. The cold shoulder.

Disappointed with how much of your drink was ice or water? Don't worry. At your request, we can put less water, light ice, or no water or ice in your beverages. No water is good when ordering refreshers and iced chais. Ask for light ice with lattes so it won't get watered down. As always, this is done free of charge.


7. Milk...or nah?

Not feeling the burden of digesting milk or have a dietary restriction? We have both coconut milk and organic vanilla soy milk for when you need to switch it up or want to change the flavor of your drink. Want something heavier than 2 percent? We can use whole milk, half and half, and even heavy whipping cream in your drinks, upon request.


8. Where's Waldo?

Can't find your favorite drink on the menu? Don't panic. We are required to change the signs every promotion period and some drinks aren't even listed. Often times, we still have all of the ingredients and the know-how to make your drink. All you have to do is ask.


9. Is your Starbucks habit breaking the bank?

Starbucks has an excellent rewards program, My Starbucks Rewards, and it gives you periodic offers, like a free drink on your birthday, random coupons, free refills on coffee and tea (for green and gold members), and a free drink for every 12 you buy when you become a highly-regarded gold member. All you have to do is download the Starbucks app and link a gift card to it to get started.


10. Don't be overwhelmed.

The sure-fire way to get the best drink you want is to be confident. Don't be embarrassed to make it a wild drink (we actually like unique orders) or ask us for recommendations. We won't ever lead you down the wrong path. Plus, if your drink isn't quite right, we will keep making it until we do get it right, or the next drink is on us. Treat yo' self.


With the holiday flavors just around the corner, hopefully these tips and tricks will make ordering your drink that much easier and that much tastier. It makes our day when a customer knows their stuff. Once you master the ins and outs of ordering, you'll discover there's much more than just a pumpkin spice latte.