Staff recommendations blew us away!

In an ongoing quest to find the best deals at Japan’s most famous chains, our Japanese-language team has been asking staff what they would eat at their place of work, when paying out of their own pocket.

The latest instalment in the project, which we’re calling “Clerk’s Own-Pocket Recommendation“, has taken us to Starbucks,  where we asked the barista behind the counter to make us up three cold drinks that are their own personal favourites.

Nobody knows Starbucks drinks and their most popular customisations better than the staff who work there, so let’s see what they came up with!

1. Espresso Affogato Frappuccino (with a whipped cream and chocolate chip customisation) — 740 yen (US$5.29)

The barista didn’t even have to stop and think before making this drink, praising it for its crunchy texture and the way it has just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the bitterness of the espresso. Upon trying it, we had to agree — this was a fantastic, levelled-up version of an affogato, thanks to the addition of crunchy choc chips and smooth whipped cream. We’ll definitely be having our affogatos like this from now on!

2. Yuzu Citrus & Tea (with honey and a switch to Passion Tea) — 510 yen

The female clerk behind the counter gushed over this drink, saying, “It’s my number one recommendation.” We were surprised to find her top recommendation was a tea and not a Frappuccino, but after taking a sip, we were hooked.

It had a strong sweetness to counteract the tart, pulpy fruit flavours, and what made this customisation even more appealing was the fact that it didn’t cost any more than a regular Yuzu Citrus & Tea.

3. Strawberry Frappuccino (with a white mocha syrup and breve milk customisation) — 790 yen

The female clerk paused before making her third drink, wondering whether to make it a timeless recommendation or a seasonal one. In the end, she went with her gut instincts and made us up a Strawberry Frappuccinoa seasonal limited-edition drink currently on the menu — jazzing it up with her personal customisation, a pump of white mocha syrup and breve milk (breve milk at Starbucks is a mixture of milk and fresh cream in equal measures). 

This made the already sweet Strawberry Frappuccino even sweeter, making us pucker at the lips. The barista told us this type of drink was popular with young women like herself, so it was no wonder it was remarkably sweet for our aged palettes.

So there you have it — the top three drinks you should try at Starbucks right now, according to staff who work there.

The barista we spoke to certainly knew her stuff, which made us realise that by asking staff for their recommendations we weren’t just getting a look behind the curtain at some hidden gems, we were making a deeper connection with the people who serve them up as well.

Not only did the drinks taste great, the conversation was sweet too. So next time you head into Starbucks, why not ask the staff what they would recommend? Chances are you’ll be introduced to a new type of drink you might never try otherwise, and it could just become your new all-time favourite!

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