First there was the Mocha. Then the Frappuccino. Then the Mocha Frappuccino. And then there was the notorious Orange Mocha Frappuccino… In case you haven’t noticed, over the past few years the beverages at Starbucks have slowly but surely trended toward creamier, sweeter, more delicate. The unfortunate side effect of this trend, at least for the caffeine junkies among us, is that these gentler concoctions come with much less kick. Need more proof? The company’s latest overly sweet creation, the Unicorn Frappuccino, contains no caffeine at all.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can still clutch an iconic siren-embroidered cup and still get that proper jolt of essential morning energy. Simply go rogue and order off the menu (that’s right: there are secret, off-the-menu items at Starbucks) by uttering these four words: “Grande dead eye, please.”
Now, allow me to briefly step back and offer some relevant background. I used to work as a barista at Starbucks. As part of training, the company implores new employees—or “partners,” in company parlance—to drink all of the beverages on the menu, and many off. I tried every single drink the chain has to offer—from those creamy, sweet, delicate lattes to the bitter, hair-raising butt-kickers—and I can say, with certainty, that a Grande dead eye is the strongest drink the chain has to offer.
The dead eye is the natural evolution of a red eye, or a cup of coffee with an extra shot of espresso in it. A black eye, by definition, contains two extra shots, while a dead eye has—you guessed it—a whopping three extra shots in it.
If you’re keen on trying it, I’d encourage you to order the Grande size over the Tall size for taste and proportion reasons: Each shot of espresso is about 2 ounces to a Tall’s 12 ounces, and a 50-50 ratio is simply too bitter for this potent concoction.
On the other hand, a “Venti dead eye” (yes, Venti is the “large,” at 20 ounces) is in fact the strongest drink at Starbucks. But I don’t think I’m alone in arguing that that’s just a tad self-indulgent.
So go for the Grande, which clocks in at 16 ounces, and three shots of espresso creates an ideal 3/8th espresso-to-coffee ratio.
And, for what it’s worth, “Grande dead eye” sounds less like a Starbucks drink and more like a Game of Thrones character. And what could be more hardcore than that?
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