We Tested And Ranked Every Starbucks Pistachio-Flavored Drink, And They're Not For Strong Coffee Lovers

If you're a regular at Starbucks, you know there's always something new to look forward to. From eagerly awaited merchandise releases — yes, the Starbucks X Stanley Pink Cup has caught our eye, too — to seasonal beverage favorites, this siren calls to us throughout the year and has the ability to make many of our trips unique with these seasonal offerings. This remains true, even in the depths of winter when the snow leaves a thick blanket across the landscape, and others simply see less vibrant blooms. Amidst this wintry backdrop, Starbucks offers a twist with its winter menu: the pistachio line of drinks.

These nutty additions blend seamlessly with the iconic seasonal offerings, from the Pumpkin Spice Lattes of autumn to the Gingerbread Lattes of the holiday season. Eager to discover the standout in this pistachio series, we embarked on a taste-testing journey. We delved into each drink, evaluating the flavors to crown our top pick among these options. Prices may vary based on location.

What are the Starbucks pistachio drinks?

Starbucks has welcomed back its well-received pistachio drinks, with a noteworthy addition this year: the Pistachio Cream Cold Brew. This new offering joins the already popular Pistachio Latte and Pistachio Frappuccino. The highlight of these beverages is the pistachio-flavored sauce, crafted from a mixture of sugar, condensed non-fat milk, pistachio butter, cocoa butter, salt, natural flavorings, and preservatives. Each drink is finished with a salted brown butter cookie-flavored topping, adding a unique touch.

Distinct from many of Starbucks' usual syrups, the pistachio drinks utilize a thicker, dairy-based sauce like mocha, white mocha, and pumpkin spice, offering a richer flavor profile. This impacts the texture and consistency of the beverages and influences how they are prepared.

The Pistachio Latte has been a part of the seasonal rotation since winter 2021, available in hot, iced, or Frappuccino form. The introduction of the Pistachio Cream Cold Brew in 2023 expands the pistachio range, offering a fresh and exciting option for customers, especially those who love cold coffees.

Availability and price

Like the rest of Starbucks' offerings each season, the pistachio drinks are expected to be available for the duration of the winter menu before the lineup rotates to the following season. However, availability may vary by location. If a particular store experiences less demand for these pistachio drinks, you might find them available even after they've been phased out from the official menu. So, for those who fall in love with these flavors, it's worth asking if the sauce is still in stock at your local Starbucks even after it disappears from the menu. You might just be in luck.

In terms of pricing, although prices can vary by location, the Pistachio Latte comes in short, grande, and venti sizes, with prices ranging from $5.85 for a short to $6.95 for a venti. The price jump is most significant between the tall and grande sizes, primarily because the short and tall lattes contain one shot of espresso, while the grande and venti sizes include two shots. The smaller differences in price between the grande and venti, and between the short and tall, are attributed to extra syrup and milk.

The Pistachio Cream Cold Brew is available in tall, grande, venti, and trenta sizes, with prices starting at $4.95 for a tall and going up to $5.95 for a venti. The Pistachio Frappuccino comes in tall, grande, and venti sizes, priced at $6.25 for a tall, $6.75 for a grande, and $7.25 for a venti.

Pistachio Cream Cold Brew

We had high expectations for the Pistachio Cream Cold Brew, considering that we normally really enjoy cold coffees, and Starbucks' cold foams are some of our favorite additions to drinks. However, our experience was somewhat underwhelming. The drink we tried ended up tasting slightly watered down, even trying it right after the barista placed it right at the end of the bar. This drink combines vanilla syrup with Starbucks cold brew and is topped with pistachio cream cold foam, made using the thick pistachio sauce, and finished with a salted brown buttery topping.

We believe that an extra helping of cold foam might have enhanced the drink. Moreover, the contribution of the vanilla syrup to the overall flavor profile seemed minimal. To inject more vibrancy into the drink, a different syrup that better complements the pistachio cream might be more effective. A dash of brown sugar syrup could be a suitable choice, potentially harmonizing well with the brown butter crunchy topping, thereby elevating the overall experience.

Pistachio Latte

The Pistachio Latte at Starbucks is available in both the hot and iced versions. Although our usual preference leans towards iced coffee, we were curious about how the pistachio sauce would fare in a hot beverage and chose the hot latte for this taste test. We found the hot version more appealing than the cold brew, but it, too, didn't quite stack up to what we were hoping for. The pistachio sauce, milder than we anticipated, offers only a subtle pistachio flavor.

One aspect that surprised us was the use of Starbucks' signature espresso roast in the pistachio latte, rather than the blonde espresso roast. Given the mild nature of the pistachio sauce, we had expected the blonde roast's lighter, more nuanced profile to be the default choice. We believe that the blonde espresso would potentially provide a better balance and complement the delicate pistachio flavor more effectively.

Pistachio Frappuccino Blended Beverage

Among the three pistachio offerings currently at Starbucks, the Frappuccino stands out as our top pick. The creaminess of the pistachio sauce blends seamlessly with the Frappuccino's texture, creating an enjoyable taste experience when mixed together. While we opted for the coffee-based version of the Pistachio Frappuccino, it's worth noting that there's also a cream-based alternative for those seeking a caffeine-free option. However, we feel that the lightness of the pistachio sauce might not fare as well in a cream-based Frappuccino. It seems to require the robustness of coffee to balance and enhance its flavor rather than relying solely on the sauce in a cream-based variant.

The crunchy brown butter topping was a highlight for us. It added a delightful textural contrast and nicely complemented the pistachio sauce, enhancing the overall enjoyment of the drink, even if it was on the other drinks as well. We imagine this was our favorite because everything felt cohesive and mixed well, which we enjoyed.

Are these drinks worth a try?

Deciding whether to try Starbucks' pistachio drinks this winter season boils down to your taste preferences, especially if you're a fan of milder coffee flavors. While pistachios are a fantastic snack and their color is visually appealing, translating this into a coffee drink doesn't quite hit the same high note for us. The drinks, including the latte and Frappuccino, offer a subtle hint of pistachio, a far cry from the boldness we expect from a nutty flavor and enjoy in options like hazelnut.

This mildness could appeal to those who enjoy lightly flavored coffee because these pistachio drinks bring a delicate blend rather than an intense flavor burst. But for those who love rich and robust coffee, these seasonal offerings might fall short of expectations. They're an interesting experiment in flavor but may not satisfy everyone's palate, especially if you're after a stronger coffee experience.