I went to a Starbucks at the mall by my house the other day and asked a barista if they could make me a salted caramel mocha. I had one about a week ago during a wedding from a niche little cafe/Starbucks pop-up in one of the most lavish hotels I have ever been to. The barista at the mall looked confused and asked his manager if they could even do something like that.
Turns out: Starbucks does not actually officially feature salted caramel mochas on their menu!
I was devastated.
However, because the line was miraculously not-existent when I was there, they were willing to experiment and try to create their own version! The manager suggested to the barista to make a regular hot mocha (a mix of coffee and hot chocolate goodness) with a salted caramel flavored syrup cold brew cream foam that would be added on top of the drink. This last part I am not actually sure about in terms of whether they did have salted caramel syrup or if they literally put salt in with the caramel… I will have to ask and clarify the next time I try this kind of thing.
I thought it would just taste like a cacophonous mix of icy-hotness that would somehow freeze and scald my teeth simultaneously.
Fortunately, it actually resulted in the most “perfect indecision drink”! It was both hot and cold, coffee and not, and all to pleasant degrees.
For someone who mildly panics whenever asked if I would prefer a hot or cold version of my coffee, this pick removed that particular choice element and freed up my mental capacity, and of course my taste buds, to enjoy the best of both worlds. Best of all, the frequent temperature flip-flopping did not hurt my teeth, which are pretty sensitive to that sort of thing.
I could not tell what I was drinking, but I was sure happy about it.
I could feel all the little bubbles of the brew first fizzling and then cooling in my mouth. This was followed by a neat sizzle effect that would slowly heat everything back up to a nice warm coffee level. There was a rich decadence to the creamy chocolatey-ness of the whole beverage and it was, quite frankly, awesome sauce. The salted caramel flavoring mixed well with everything else and it was great to sip on during good conversation amidst even better company.
Before being given this drink, the manager said to come back and get a new one free of charge if I despised this one. I did come back, but only to thank them again for what they made for me.
Life hack: You are not limited only to the options immediately apparent on a menu! Baristas love coffee and always end up making the same carefully curated recipes time and time again. Spice up the sameness of their day, and yours, by asking for something new. They will either love it and thrive on the challenge or shrug their shoulders and simply do what they can. Regardless, you both could discover your next favorite drink and spread the word to others about a new secret menu item.
Do you know of any niche off-the-menu items from Starbucks or elsewhere coffee-related? I would love to hear about it!