What Is An Undertow Espresso At Starbucks?

The Undertow from Starbucks isn't just a secret menu item, it's a coffee experience. If you're more of a plain cup of joe coffee drinker, you're likely to pass on this espresso drink. However, for those who relish a fresh take on their favorite caffeinated consumable, the Undertow may be just what you're looking for.

It features a few shots of vanilla-flavored syrup and a little milk or half-and-half is added. Then comes the tricky part — two shots of espresso are poured over the back of a spoon so they float atop the sweetened milk. This layered java is meant to be drunk quickly, delivering an indulgent study in contrasts. Hot, dark, bitter espresso provides a delightful counterpoint to the chilly, flavorful vanilla-infused cream. 

While you may encounter baristas who aren't familiar with the Undertow, it's certainly worth asking at your favorite Starbucks, and in a pinch, you can even DIY.

The Undertow espresso invites customization

Whether you're ordering an Undertow from Starbucks or attempting to perfect one at home, you needn't feel hemmed in by the original version. Playing around by choosing different flavored syrups can give you a seasonal take on the Undertow. And don't forget that you can re-create your favorite Starbucks flavors by making your own infused and flavorful syrups at home, like our copycat apple brown sugar simple syrup.

The Undertow is an espresso-based beverage and this component also gives you plenty of room to play with the composition of the drink. You can swap out typically dark-roasted espresso for Starbucks' brighter blonde espresso or you can also request the beautifully smooth shorter pour of an espresso ristretto.

Whether you can find a barista who's in the Undertow-know or you simply describe the drink you're craving, it's a novel experience. One that delivers a fresh way to enjoy the layered components of your favorite coffee, served in a shot form that's ideal for a quick pick-me-up.