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Writing Challenge: Starbucks Drink

My order: "I'd like a Starbucks Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade Refresher, venti, with extra lemonade, light on ice. And can I get that with a straw?"

Jordan Ryskamp
Jordan Ryskamp
4 min read
Writing Challenge: Starbucks Drink

Before we get too far into this, a few disclaimers:

  1. This was a challenge from Scott Lewis to write a "whole thing" on how to drink a refresher (more on this below).
  2. It's more extreme than it really is. I don't take drinking anything as seriously as this will make it sound (that being said, this is exactly how and why I drink a drink at Starbucks 😂).
  3. I only spent one 45-minute sprint, just to get my mind going in the morning. I don't spend my week dreaming of how to order the perfect drink at Starbucks.

This whole post is birthed out of a conversation I was having with Scott, the kids director at NEWLIFE King George. We went to Starbucks to talk about the church and get work done together. He got a refresher (I think he got a strawberry açaí) and I got my usual order (listed below). When we sat down, I put a straw in my drink, and he asked about it. I then proceeded to share with him why a straw is an absolute necessity. After talking for a minute or two about it, he said, "You know? You could probably write a whole blog post about how to drink a refresher."

And here we are.

Let's dive in. What are the key ingredients we need?

  1. The Atmosphere
  2. A Specific Order
  3. The Right Approach
Photo by Colin Lee on Unsplash

The Atmosphere

  • You have to go inside. I know this isn't possible wherever you are but Starbucks tastes different whether you're inside versus on the go. Too many people view Starbucks as a quick jolt of coffee/caffeine/energy and miss out on the minute details that enhance it.
  • You need a friend to enjoy your time with. Don't drink alone.
  • You need time. Don't rush through it. If you're on the run, you won't savor the flavor.
Photo by Asael Peña on Unsplash

The Order

You can't just order a default refresher (that's for Starbucks newbies). Here's my exact order:

"I'd like a Starbucks Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade Refresher, venti, with extra lemonade, light on ice. And can I get that with a straw?"

Now, this order does a few things:

  1. "Mango dragonfruit lemonade." It's a great starting place. It has a good profile but it needs to be more potent.
  2. "Venti." This is the right size for a refresher. A grande will have too much ice in it and a Trenta… It's excessive size throws off the recipe. It either has too much water, too little refresher base, etc.
  3. "Extra lemonade." Like I said, the flavor needs to be heightened and enhanced. The additional lemon makes a world of difference for bringing the intensity up a notch.
  4. "Light on ice." This is a double edge sword. If they go too light, it's just a drink that continually warms up. You want enough ice to have just a little left in your cup by the time you finish drinking it.
  5. "With a straw." The next section is dedicated to this.
Even Starbucks knows it needs a straw. 

The Right Approach

Once your drink is made, grab it off the counter and make sure you have a straw in your hand. Head back to your seat with your friend(s).

Now that you have the perfect drink in your hands, you now need the right approach to drinking it. It goes without saying, put the straw in. What's the big deal about the straw?

In 2018, Starbucks introduced a new straw-less lid. The intended goal was to reduce the number of straws in use (it is a change that is said to reduce 1 billion straws every year). This is a noble effort. It takes a lot of work to replace something so prolific. I highly support the conservation of resources and keeping our planet free from extra trash. And, this lid serves that purpose well. Most drinks are fine with it; this refresher is not. (also, I realize that pretty much every coffee cup follows this design. It works for hot drinks because there's no solid object inside a hot drink).

The straw-less lids have one tiny major flaw: ice always gets caught in the hole. Getting light ice minimizes the amount that you have to fight with (it’s worse with a regular amount of ice). Unfortunately, it also means that the ice shrinks faster, meaning it's more likely to clog up the hole. Either, you're only getting about half the flow or, you've taken the lid off and your upper lip is being assaulted by the ice on the surface.

The adult sippy cup by Starbucks. Photo by Olivia Lim on Unsplash

So, having the straw provides a few benefits:

  1. When the refresher hits your tongue, it flows onto the center of your tongue, is pushed backwards and towards to the sides, then comes around to the front of your mouth. Because of the placement of specialized tastebuds, you’ll get a satisfying sensation as it crosses the middle of your tongue,followed up by the sour lemon hit on the sides before coming to the highest concentrations of sweet receptors at the front. This is, far and away, the most important reason.
  2. You can sip your drink in controlled amounts without working around solid water.
  3. You don't have to sling the cup above your head to get the last drop out (which helps when you’re wearing a white shirt while drinking a bright pink drink).

Basically, this is the best way to enjoy a refresher. Give it a try sometime and let me know what you think.


P.S. Scott — this officially passed 750 words, which is typically what I would consider a full-sized blog post. #missionaccomplished

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