Do Starbucks Employees Have To Memorize Recipes?

Every day, thousands of Starbucks baristas work hard to make concoctions like white chocolate mochas and unicorn frappuccinos. It's easy to order a drink, have a seat at one of their round tables, and smile at how the baristas manage such a chaotic stream of coffee beverages, but have you ever wondered what it's like to actually work at Starbucks?

On the surface, Starbucks boasts numerous awards, showcasing labels like "Best Places to Work in Seattle" in 2021 and 2022 and "Best Company Work-Life Balance" in 2020, among so many others, per Comparably. This also seems to reflect how some of their employees feel about working for the company, as Starbucks ranks in the top 20% for culture and happiness scores, and in the top 5% for work-life balance when compared to other similar companies, as the source notes.

Working behind the counter also comes with a host of perks, such as a 30% discount, free coffee or tea each week, health coverage, paid time off, and parental leave, via Starbucks. But that's not to say that the work that comes along with such benefits is easy. There's a laundry list of cleaning and prep duties every day, as well as making tons of drinks with varying ingredients (and try doing this while chatting with customers), per The Barista Life. And speaking of drinks, we've got some insight into whether or not those baristas have to memorize the recipe cards.

Get your flashcards ready

Beverages at Starbucks can range from simple to complex. A cup of dark roast coffee, for instance, can be poured in no time at all, while something like a caramel frappuccino must first start with a blended base of coffee, milk, ice, and caramel syrup, followed by whipped cream and a generous drizzle of caramel sauce, per Starbucks. And these steps are indeed memorized by baristas.

A former Starbucks barista for Insider explains that you're not even allowed to start making drinks for customers until every single recipe is memorized. This also applies to seasonal drinks, like the pumpkin spice latte during the fall season, as well as small details like ice and sweetener levels.

While it might seem like baristas are only hired if they have photographic memories, Spoon University spoke with several veteran baristas to gain insight into their best memorization tips. Constantly making the same drinks over and over again, finding patterns in certain drinks, and relying on mnemonics all helped to make the recipes "stick" in their minds. One barista even mentioned how they would create a small tune to sing about the syrups and shots.

So next time you're at your local Starbucks, be sure to give a shout-out to those hard-working baristas for memorizing and making your drinks with love.