Coffee Facts

Starbucks Sauce vs. Syrup: Adding To Your Coffee Experience

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Many hot coffee lovers appreciate the bitter taste of a fresh brew, perhaps mixed with some cream and sugar. However, some coffee consumers think coffee tastes perfect with a little extra flavoring in their cups. Coffee sauces and syrups provide that extra kick of chocolate, hazelnut, vanilla, caramel, or any other coffee-friendly flavor.

Despite the similarity of “coffee sauces” and “coffee syrups,” the two terms have different meanings. Starbucks adds both of these items to their coffee for flavor, and each affects the drink uniquely. We will break down the meaning of Starbucks sauce vs. syrup to ensure you choose the right option next time you order coffee.

ConsistencyFluid liquid, versatileThick, viscous
Used InEffective in hot & cold drinks as well as non-coffee drinksBest in hot drinks, used aesthetically in cold drinks
Vegan OptionsMost clear sauces are vegan, but some contain honeyA few vegan options, but many contain dairy
AvailabilityCan be purchased from Starbucks for home useCannot be purchased from Starbucks, but other comparable brands exist
CostAverageN/A — equivalent alternatives at bulk prices
Approximate Calories20 calories per pump30 calories per pump

Uses for Sauces and Syrups

You can request sauces and syrups in any Starbucks espresso drink, such as the Caffè Americano, Doppio, Macchiato, Flat White, Latte, and Cappuccino. They also work well in their regular coffee beverages.

People use these flavorings to improve the taste and aroma of their drink. If you have fallen into a rut with your regular coffee routine and want to shake things up, you may wish to experiment with syrups and sauces.

For those who like their coffee plain, you can always try new Starbucks coffee grounds or non-dairy options, which may differ based on the location. You will usually find almond milk, oat milk, and coconut milk at Starbucks.

Starbucks Sauces

Starbucks Coffee Sauce

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Starbucks coffee sauces add flavor and body to a drink. They pair well with hot drinks because they distribute evenly. Some coffee shops will coat a glass mug with the sauces for aesthetic reasons, but Starbucks uses them for their taste.

You can find the sauces in the flavor section of the Starbucks menu. They are available on both hot and cold coffees. The options available include Mocha Sauce, Dark Caramel Sauce, and White Chocolate Mocha Sauce, with other flavors varying depending on the store. 

Most coffee and mocha-flavored lattes, flavored macchiatos, frappuccinos, cappuccinos, and mochas utilize sauce.

Starbucks has seasonal sauces, such as Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Brulee. Unfortunately, the sauces tend to have cow’s milk or honey, making them off-limits for those who follow dairy-free or vegan diets. The only vegan sauce is the Mocha one. 

Coffee sauces are thicker and more viscous than syrups. Normally, the baristas will squeeze or pump the sauce to add to the drinks for you. Most Starbucks locations have individual coffee sauce bottles that you squeeze, but some (such as the Pumpkin Spice, White Mocha, Mocha, and Caramel Brulee) require the barista to pump the liquid.

Starbucks does not sell their sauces on their website, but you can find containers of them through external vendors.

Starbucks Syrups

Most of the time, when you ask for some flavoring, you will order syrup. Starbucks gourmet coffee syrup flavors work well in hot and cold coffee, specialty drinks, sparkling water, ice cream, and baked goods. They have more fluidity and versatility than sauces, and you can use syrups throughout the kitchen.

Syrups outperform sauces and sugars in cold and iced drinks as they distribute more readily. However, the sauce will clump on the bottom unless you mix it with a hot drink and pour it over ice. 

Usually, you only need to add a small serving to achieve the desired flavor. Starbucks dispenses its syrups from pumps. Larger drinks require more pumps, and cold beverages need more syrup than hot. Macchiatos and frappuccinos typically have fewer pumps than regular drinks.

Starbucks offers tons of syrup flavors, including Caramel, Brown Sugar, Classic, Cinnamon Dolce, Sugar-Free Cinnamon Dolce, Hazelnut, Funnel Cake, Peppermint, Raspberry, Pineapple Ginger, Toffee Nut, Vanilla, and Sugar-Free Vanilla. You can purchase some of these options for home use as well.

Coffee terminology deems sugar-free and low-fat options “skinny” due to their lower calorie content. Keep in mind that low calorie does not always mean healthier, and choose the drink based on your flavor preferences and health goals.

Most of the clear syrups are vegan but keep in mind that some have honey. You can safely purchase the Mocha syrup if you follow a vegan diet. If you wish to have a caramel latte, you can swap the sauce for a syrup to remove the dairy. 

Vegan syrups, both seasonal and regional options, include Caramel, Gingerbread, Macadamia, Almond, Hazelnut, Mocha, Peach, and Toffee Nut. Check with the barista to make sure your drink is vegan before ordering.


Customizing a Drink with Sauces and Syrups

If you have tried a bunch of sauces and syrups and want to explore more flavor options, you can create a drink from the unofficial Starbucks Secret Menu. So whether you want a holiday favorite in July or pumpkin spice in spring, you can create an infinite number of beverages using year-round flavorings. 

We will discuss a few popular drink options for tall-sized frappuccinos. Usually, you size up by half a pump for grande and venti beverages (e.g., 1.5 pumps for grande and two pumps for venti). Check out some recipes to determine the correct ratios for your ideal beverage.

Also, make sure you write down the ingredients and ratios. Remember, these are unofficial drinks, and the baristas may not know what you mean when you ask for a “Cookie Dough” Frappuccino.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch

  • White Chocolate Mocha Sauce Frappuccino
  • 1 pump regular or Sugar-Free Cinnamon Dolce Syrup
  • 1 pump Hazelnut Syrup
  • Blend with cinnamon sugar
  • Top with cinnamon sugar and whipped cream

Cookie Dough

  • Cinnamon Dolce Creme Frappuccino
  • 1 pump Mocha Syrup
  • Blend with java chips
  • Top with chocolate whip and cookie crumble

Red Velvet

  • Half White Chocolate Mocha Sauce and regular Mocha Sauce Frappuccino
  • 1 pump Raspberry Syrup
  • Blend with whipped cream
  • Top with whipped cream

Cotton Candy


  • Creme Frappuccino with Whole Milk
  • 3 pumps Caramel Syrup
  • 3 pumps Toffee Nut Syrup
  • Top and line with caramel drizzle
  • Add fewer pumps for a less sweet drink


  • Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino
  • No Classic Syrup
  • 2 pumps regular or Sugar-Free Vanilla Syrup
  • ½ pump Raspberry Syrup

Ferrero Rocher

  • Double Chocolate Chip or Java Chip Frappuccino
  • 2 pumps Mocha Syrup
  • 1 pump Hazelnut Syrup
  • Top with hazelnut drizzle and whipped cream
  • Optional: blend with nutmeg or add mocha for a nuttier or more chocolatey flavor

Cake Batter

  • Vanilla Bean Frappuccino
  • 1 pump Hazelnut Syrup
  • Optional: blend with a Birthday Cake Pop to make it Birthday Cake flavored


  • Java Chip Frappuccino or Double Chocolate Chip
  • Blend with whipped cream
  • 1 pump Toffee Nut Syrup
  • 1 pump regular or sugar-free Cinnamon Dolce Syrup
  • Top with Cinnamon Dolce sprinkles and whipped cream

Fruity Pebbles

  • Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino
  • 2 pumps regular or Sugar-Free Vanilla Syrup
  • ½ pump Regular Toffee Nut Syrup
  • ½ pump Classic Syrup
  • Optional: blend with a splash of orange mango juice

Caramel and Nut Chocolate Bar

  • Java Chip Frappuccino
  • 1 pump Toffee Nut Syrup
  • Top and line the cup with caramel drizzle

Piña Colada

  • Creme Frappuccino
  • Fill to the first line with coconut milk
  • Fill to the second line with pineapple infusion tea
  • Blend with 1 scoop of vanilla bean powder
  • ½ pump Classic Syrup
  • ½ pump regular or Sugar-Free Vanilla Syrup

You can try one of these options or create a unique Starbucks drink based on combinations you think taste best. If you wish to apply one of these mixes to another beverage, like a latte or macchiato, you may need to alter the number of pumps of each syrup.

You can also recreate some of these signature seasonal drinks at home without sauces or syrups, such as a gingerbread latte.


Starbucks sauces and syrups have differing functions despite their names. The company offers tons of flavors that you can mix to make endless drinks. You can use them in a 1:1 substitution ratio if you wish to swap a sauce for syrup or vice versa.

Sauces have a thicker consistency than syrups, but syrups work better in cold drinks, like iced coffee. You can also use syrups in more non-coffee applications, such as baked goods and ice cream toppings. An old-fashioned caramel coffee might sound perfect, but your favorite specialty coffee shop has so much more to offer! Take a chance. Whether you like a fruity, decadent, or nutty flavor, Starbucks has drink options for you.

Happy Caffeinating!

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