The Story Behind The Starbucks Pink Drink

Published June 2, 2023

The Cup Coffee House, based in Sugar Land, TX is shedding light on a fascinating corner of coffee history: the Starbucks Pink Drink. This bright pink drink was available to discerning customers at Starbucks for several years before the brand made it an official product, and many claim its defining ingredient adds a dimension everyone should experience at least once. See more here:

Without being a Starbucks aficionado to some degree, few may realize that the Pink Drink has a near twin in the Strawberry Acai Refresher. Both items have similar ingredients, such as strawberries, acai base, sea salt, concentrated white grape juice, natural green coffee colorant (which contributes to its caffeine content), sugar, ice and so on, but only the Pink Drink has coconut milk. This ingredient is used instead of water (which the Refresher has), and many claim it makes a world of difference, impacting flavor, texture and color.

The exact origins of the Pink Drink are somewhat disputed, but most sources agree that the Pink Drink started out as a quasi-secret menu item that customers would ask for if they knew about its existence. Some baristas who worked at Starbucks during the period claim the original recipe was in fact submitted by an anonymous customer during their order and then shared online, whereupon it started getting picked up by other interested parties.

While there was reportedly some confusion at first (since Starbucks has several pink or near-pink drinks already), the trend quickly caught on, and baristas across the country began to understand what customers really wanted: a Strawberry Acai Refresher with coconut milk instead of water. The drink’s bright pink hue made it stand out online, particularly on platforms like Instagram and Twitter, brightening up a user’s feed and attracting attention with ease no matter what other posts surrounded it. See more here:

The Pink Drink essentially had its own movement by the end of 2016, with hashtags, viral moments and a flood of coverage by influencers who were eager to share the ‘secret’ with their millions of fans. Eventually, the campaign (pushed by customers as well as baristas) caught the attention of Starbucks itself, and the company decided to canonize the beverage in 2017. Today, anyone can walk up to a Starbucks barista and confidently request a Pink Drink, an item that technically was not on the menu only a few years prior.

The drink’s popularity has also led to a legion of creative individuals attempting to make a passable version at home, recreating both the flavor as well as the shocking pink color. These efforts have enjoyed a varying degree of success (with some contenders arguably being better than the original), but the most popular, by far, is still the Starbucks Pink Drink.

The Cup Coffee House notes that the drink’s use of natural green coffee extract means it offers a milder caffeine experience as a result, which some may prefer over stronger alternatives. The publication says green coffee extract is estimated to contain about 25% to 50% of the amount of caffeine found in one cup of regular coffee, which Pink Drink enthusiasts may find is easier on the stomach and leads to less of a crash once the caffeine begins to wear off.

Further, some may wonder whether this drink is worth trying out. Its popularity, The Cup Coffee House points out, is not simply due to its virality or standout appearance, which is still excellent fodder for social media feeds. The drink tastes great and is a favorite on hot days. It is also not the worst drink Starbucks offers in terms of nutritional quality (though few would consider it healthy, either). The main concern may be the drink’s high sugar content, which is about half the recommended daily intake of sugar for the average person.

The Cup Coffee House regularly publishes articles on coffee in all its permutations, including recipes, brewing techniques, equipment and more. Readers may be interested in one of its latest posts, especially if they enjoy or are interested in the Starbucks Pink Drink:


For more information about The Cup Coffee House, contact the company here:

The Cup Coffee House
Jules Winnfield
225 Matlage Way Unit 2127, Sugar Land, TX 77487

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