14 Limited-Time Starbucks Drinks We Never Want To See Back On The Menu

Many of Starbucks' most popular drinks are in its standard line-up. But a big part of the chain's menu comes from seasonal drink launches, designed to celebrate the arrival of a new time of year (and sometimes holidays). A majority of these are successful; most Starbucks lovers are disappointed to see their favorite drinks fall off the menu after a month or two. But Starbucks has launched so many new concoctions since its founding that it's impossible for the chain not to miss the mark every now and again. 

Now, it's up for debate whether some of Starbucks' less popular menu items were true flops. There's also the fact that, while some drinks might not be for everyone, that doesn't make them bad. Even the best Starbucks Frappuccinos are hated by those without a sweet tooth, for example. But we're not talking about those borderline cases. We're talking about the limited-edition Starbucks drinks with a reputation so heinous, no one ever wants to see them back on the store's menu again.

To assemble this list of the worst-ever drinks, we considered all Starbucks' limited-edition beverages available in the U.S. Specifically, we mean barista-made drinks, not pre-made items. To ensure every limited-edition drink on this article was truly the worst of its kind, drinks were chosen based on negative customer reviews, negative barista reviews, menu descriptions, and personal experience. Get ready — we're about to dive into Starbucks' most disappointing depths.

Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino

The Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino was first launched as a part of the Starbucks summer drink menu in 2021. Though fans of the classic Strawberry Creme Frappuccino were excited for what seemed like a major upgrade to basic strawberry mix, the end results weren't what customers had been hoping for. The drink was made with limited-edition funnel cake syrup, strawberry puree, and funnel cake pieces, and it added up to disappointment. 

The funnel cake syrup had mixed reviews from most customers (and baristas) who tried it. Although some taste-testers enjoyed it, the overwhelming carnival sweetness of the syrup didn't pair well with the tart strawberry puree, and the funnel cake pieces added a strange grainy texture to the entire mix. Worst of all, Starbucks made the base version of the drink with coffee. All Starbucks Frappuccinos come with either a creme base (no coffee, just milk) or a coffee base. The coffee tasted hugely unpleasant when mixed with the other ingredients. All of this meant that when the Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino finally disappeared from menus later in the season, nobody really noticed.

Protein Blended Cold Brew

Any fan of protein powder knows how difficult it is to find one that doesn't taste like chalk dust — even when you mix it into a drink. Plus, there's no one-size-fits-all texture. Unfortunately, Starbucks took this fight on and attempted to create a protein shake that could please all (or any) of its customers. It failed miserably.

In 2018, Starbucks introduced a plant-based protein shake packed with healthy ingredients. The Protein Blended Cold Brew was made using the chain's cold brew, almond or coconut milk, a limited-time-only Starbucks protein mix (containing bananas and dates), and almond butter. Though fans of the chain's cold brew were excited for an alternative way to get their daily dose of protein in, the drink failed thanks to ... well, pretty much everything about it. The taste was strangely sour, and the texture was too thick. Tons of customers requested a refund after trying it, and for good reason. No one wants a grainy, chalky, sour slurry, no matter how protein packed it is.

The Witch's Brew Frappuccino

Though the infamous 2019 Witch's Brew Frappuccino certainly looked the part, it didn't quite live up to expectations. For one thing, its appearance wasn't exactly appetizing (although that was kind of the point). For another, it didn't taste great. The drink was meant to taste like an orange Creamsicle, which was an admittedly great idea — this flavor isn't represented anywhere else on the Starbucks menu. As a bonus, it was a creme-based Frappuccino, so the taste wasn't disrupted by a base of coffee flavoring.

The reason the drink isn't fondly remembered by Starbucks customers is because of the addition of chia seeds, which were layered into the drink in a zig-zag pattern. This certainly made the drink look like a bona-fide witch's brew, but it completely clogged its texture. The seeds were extremely slimy and didn't mesh well with a Frappuccino's traditional creaminess. Even worse, the seeds were poured into the drink in deliberately large chunks in order to achieve the specific visual effect. This led to massive clumps of chia seeds startling customers whenever they tried to drink the (fortunately) limited-time brew.

Salted Honey Cold Foam

Drinks involving Starbucks' salted honey flavor were notorious for making customers ask for a swap after the first sip. In theory, this foam sounded like it would actually taste pretty good (especially in the wake of Starbucks' original salted cold foam, which was relatively successful). Unfortunately, its flavor didn't live up to its promise, and was rapidly pulled from stores.

The cold foam was available on Nitro and cold brew drinks, and was made using Starbucks' limited-edition honey syrup and a literal packet (or two) of salt — the exact same kind you'd get if you asked for seasonings to go with your egg bites. Though it's probably not surprising that salt was involved in the making of the salted honey cold foam, the fact that raw salt was mixed in with the honey (in almost exactly a 1:1 ratio to boot) was likely to be a big part of the reason why the drink failed. The salty flavor was so overwhelming (and so shocking compared to the taste of the honey syrup) that even those who thought they'd end up enjoying it couldn't get past the foam's strange flavor. 

Tie-Dye Frappuccino

The infamous Starbucks Tie-Dye Frappuccino made its debut in the summer of 2019 as part of that year's limited edition summer lineup. Though it certainly looked like a dream (and prompted many social media posts bursting with its vibrant glory), its taste was relatively nightmarish. The drink was extremely difficult for baristas to make: It required several packets of coloring that had to be properly deployed into the drink to create the tie-dye effect. This was extremely time-consuming, and a major problem during busy hours.

This drink's flaws didn't stop at being hard to make, though. Starbucks settled on a banana flavor for this 2019 Frappuccino, but the final version of the drink sometimes tasted more like slightly banana-flavored Laffy Taffy, with an occasional soapy aftertaste. This made it a drink that was truly only for aesthetics — if yours hadn't melted and turned vaguely green-brown by the time you got to it, anyway.

Kiwi Starfruit Refresher

The Kiwi Starfruit Refresher was a huge moment for fans of the Starbucks Refreshers lineup. Part of the summer 2020 menu, the drink was made with kiwi and starfruit juice, lemonade, and kiwi pieces. This resulted in a uniquely neon green Refresher. Sounds like an excellent summer beverage, right? Sadly, it didn't end up sticking around for long — and for good reason.

The vivid green color of this drink implies refreshing tropical flavor with a tart twist. But the taste was anything but refreshing, or even all that tropical. Instead, it was ... weird. It was too sour, vaguely chemical, and disliked by plenty of Starbucks employees. Perhaps the taste of real kiwis was too difficult to replicate in Refresher form? We can't say for sure, but what we do know is that it was unpopular. The drink was eventually pulled unceremoniously from stores, never to disgrace the chain again.

Crystal Ball Frappuccino

The Crystal Ball Frappuccino graced Starbucks' menu in 2018. In concept, it seems like something that would probably still be immensely popular today. The Crystal Ball Frappuccino came in three different colors — green, purple, or blue — and the color you received was randomized, based on what sprinkles were added to the top of the drink's whipped cream. The different colors determined your fortune, according to the marketing campaign — all good outcomes, of course. Blue meant adventure, green meant luck, and purple meant magic.

This is a pretty fun concept. Unfortunately, many customers felt that the supposed peach flavor was sadly lacking. This fruity flavor mostly came from the whipped cream, which just wasn't enough to alter the taste of the entire drink. This meant that you were mostly stuck with a Frappuccino that tasted like sweet milk — and, of course, was dyed bright turquoise for some reason.

Juniper Latte

It's relatively rare for a Starbucks holiday menu item to be remembered as unpopular — especially compared to the typically-more-controversial summer drinks. This is probably because the chain rarely introduces new holiday drinks, instead sticking to a tried-and-true lineup of classic winter beverages. The Juniper Latte, however, was something new. The coffee brand decided to test it out for a single season back in 2018. Sadly, it missed the standard that most other Starbucks holiday beverages live up to.

The Juniper Latte quickly gained a reputation for tasting like a car air freshener after its release. The slightly kinder interpretation of this flavor is that it was reminiscent of literal trees — but this wasn't the experience most customers wanted with their morning coffee. Even baristas struggled to find a workaround for the drink's strange flavor. It was made with juniper syrup as the only addition, so there really were no viable substitutions for the drink's flavor. The drink was pulled after the holidays were over, much to the delight of nearly everyone who tried it.

Zombie Frappuccino

The Zombie Frappuccino was a limited edition drink on Starbucks' menus for just one Halloween in 2017. Though the brand put a lot of effort into the look of the Frappuccino, the taste wasn't all the way there. In part, this is because Starbucks decided to give each vivid ingredient its own wildly different flavor profile. There was green apple syrup, caramel, mocha drizzle, and a pink whipped cream designed to look like brains. 

Surprisingly, the visual components of the drink worked out well for the most part, even if it did lose the theme a little bit as it melted. As for the flavor of the drink, most customers described the zombie Frappuccino as confused and clashing. The flavor of the mocha mixing with the tart apples was the biggest offender to most. A workaround that slightly mitigated the Halloween horror was to order the drink without the drizzle entirely, although even this couldn't avoid offending everyone's taste buds. Luckily, the drink left stores after Halloween, although it's haunted the chain ever since. 


In 2016, Starbucks launched their Sunset Menu, which was only available in stores after 3 p.m. The idea was, it seems, to give customers an incentive to drop by Starbucks in the evenings, and not just in the morning for coffee. The drinks were a little more luxurious than what you typically saw, especially in the case of granitas. Granitas were a major part of the menu's official launch, although they didn't end up lasting long in Starbucks stores. A riff on the traditional Italian ice-esque treat, they came in three different flavors — caramel espresso, strawberry lemon limeade, and Teavana white tea — and were touted by Starbucks as being staple items for any summer afternoon.

The drinks themselves didn't live up to reality, though. Made with a base of shaved ice, the drinks quickly melted, creating watered down slush. The Caramel Espresso Granita was the menu's biggest offender, with many people calling it way too sweet and drowning in caramel and cream. Not many people enjoyed (or remembered) the other two flavors either. Suffice it to say, these treats did not stick around.

Eggnog Latte

Homemade eggnog is a beloved treat, yet Starbucks' Eggnog Latte was a controversial menu item. Some customers loved it, while some — okay, most — hated it. The eggnog itself was too thick to form a latte with a good texture, and the taste didn't mix very well with the espresso. The drink was so rich it also tended to make some people a little nauseous (although this happens with eggnog in general, so it might be unfair to lay at Starbucks' feet). Many weren't crazy about the smell, either.

But the worst part of the drink by far was the sound the latte made when being steamed. Starbucks uses automatic espresso machines with steam wands, and baristas use said wands to steam milk, creating hot drinks. But the eggnog in this beverage was so thick, it made the steam wand emit a loud wailing noise when used. This jarring sound could be heard across an entire store — rough on the customers, worse on the baristas who had to listen to it 10 times a day. 

Golden Ginger Drink

The Starbucks spring lineup of 2020 was actually quite promising. Its main highlight, the Golden Ginger Drink, was made with pineapple ginger syrup, coconut milk, and turmeric. Though these flavors were delicious on their own, mixing them together made the drink unappealing to most customers. Those who were hoping for a refreshing pineapple-based beverage or something like turmeric golden milk found it to be way too spicy and intense, while anyone looking for an immune-boosting mix of turmeric and ginger didn't like having the pineapple flavor mixed in. Sadly, Starbucks created a special syrup that blended the pineapple and ginger flavors together, making it impossible to avoid tasting both of them in the Golden Ginger Drink. 

Other drinks in the lineup were more successful — anyone who got to try the delicious Iced Pineapple Matcha Drink before it was discontinued can attest to that. There, pineapple was able to truly shine against an earthy matcha base. But the mix of pineapple, ginger, and turmeric in what was essentially a Starbucks steamer was too much for most customers to handle.

Unicorn Frappuccino

Hey, you might have asked yourself at some point, whatever happened to the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino? It wouldn't be a bad drink roundup without the addition of this infamous beverage, which looked exciting and made a ton of money, but tasted awful. The drink launched for a single week and quickly sold out across stores nationwide, making the hunt for one rather like the search for a real-life unicorn. The idea behind the drink was that it would be both color- and flavor-changing. To achieve this, Starbucks blended pink powder with mango syrup for the base. Then, the drink was layered with bright blue syrup with a sour taste. As customers stirred and sipped, the blue syrup would mix with the rest of the drink, changing its color and flavor.

The mango flavoring was certainly a unique addition to the Starbucks menu, and based on how quickly it became a viral sell-out, it was a general success. But to many, the taste didn't live up to expectations. While many baristas agreed that the mango syrup was a nice touch, the different flavors in the drink were so overwhelming they resulted in something no one could fully enjoy. This Starbucks legend will probably never die out, though – it even has its own Wikipedia page. 

Cold Brew Lemonade

In the spring of 2022, Starbucks released a new customization option. When you placed an order for cold brew, you had the opportunity to add lemonade to it. If you haven't heard of coffee and lemonade before, it isn't an original Starbucks creation — many coffee shops around the world offer different versions of espresso with lemonade. That being said, Starbucks wasn't quite equipped to mimic these drinks on such a large scale. Moreover, though Starbucks' espresso is quality, the flavor of its signature cold brew just didn't mesh with lemonade. Some kinds of coffee and lemonade work well together, especially if you're working with fresh juice and light, citrusy coffee (blonde roast being ideal). Others ... don't.

Though this customization option was extensively advertised by Starbucks prior to its launch, it quickly disappeared from the spotlight after customers got the chance to try it. Baristas said the mix tasted like battery acid, cigarettes, and was just plain disgusting. Since the item was a customization option and not an official drink, you could probably still ask employees to add lemonade to your cold brew today — though you definitely shouldn't want to.