The 11 Strongest Coffees at Starbucks: Ranked by Caffeine Content

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Sometimes you just want more caffeine, and — if you know what to order — Starbucks can deliver just that. The strongest coffees at Starbucks have about twice as much caffeine as the same amount of drip coffee. Are you ready to find out which coffees deliver the biggest dose of go juice?

Quick Answer: the Strongest Starbucks Coffees

  1. Starbucks Clover Brewed Coffee (280 mg / 12 ounces)
  2. Blonde Roast Brewed Coffee (270 mg / 12 ounces)
  3. Pike Place Roast Brewed Coffee (235 mg / 12 ounces)
  4. Nitro Cold Brew (215 mg / 12 ounces)
  5. Nitro Cold Brew with Sweet Cream or Cascara Cold Foam (200 mg / 12 ounces)
  6. Featured Starbucks Dark Roast Coffee (195 mg / 12 ounces)
  7. Starbucks Blonde Caffè Americano (170 mg / 12 ounces)
  8. Starbucks cold brew coffee (155 mg / 12 ounces)
  9.  Starbucks Caffe Americano (150 mg / 12 ounces) 
  10. Cold Brew with Sweet Cream or Cascara Cold Foam (145 mg / 12 ounces)
  11. Starbucks iced coffee (120 mg / 12 ounces)

What Makes These Starbucks Strongest Coffees?

The structure of a caffeine molecule, drawn from coffee and coffee beans

It’s all about the caffeine content. The rankings are based on which coffees have the most caffeine for the tall (12-ounce) size, according to the Starbucks menu. Some of the exact ordering may be different for the other sizes, but it should be fairly close.

If you were looking for a list of the strongest drinks by flavor — the boldest coffees — that’s going to be a very different list. Who knows, I might do that one next time. For now, this will have to be enough.

The Strongest Coffees at Starbucks

1. Starbucks Clover Brewed Coffee (280 mg / 12 ounces)

The exact caffeine level of a Clover coffee depends on the blend, but this is the typical range.

  • Short (8 ounces): 155–190 mg
  • Tall (12 ounces): 255–280 mg
  • Grande (16 ounces): 340–380 mg
  • Venti (20 ounces): 425–470 mg

Not all Starbucks have clover machines, but they’ve become increasingly common since Starbucks first acquired them in 2007. 

It’s one of the cooler additions to the stores, using vacuum-press technology that is kind of like an automatic French press that has digitally-controlled time and temperature throughout the brewing process. This process brings out the unique flavors of each of the blends — and its taste is better than just about anything else you’ll find at Starbucks (yes, I’m biased).

By the way, if you are trying to decide which brew to use for your first Clover coffee, my first was made with their Sumatran coffee beans — and I highly recommend them. Those are the beans that add earthiness to Starbucks espresso blends. 

In case you were wondering about making Clover coffee at home, you can’t. Starbucks owns exclusive rights to the Clover machines. The closest you’ll come (and at a much lower price tag) is an AeroPress.

2. Blonde Roast Brewed Coffee (270 mg / 12 ounces)

Several coffee roast levels, including the Starbucks blonde roast

If you can’t get a Clover coffee, their blonde roast is the next best thing for high caffeine content. They use a blend of Latin American and East African beans and a very light roast level, all of which results in a smooth flavor and a big hit of caffeine.

  • Short (8 ounces): 180 mg
  • Tall (12 ounces): 270 mg
  • Grande (16 ounces): 360 mg
  • Venti (20 ounces): 475 mg

3. Pike Place Roast Brewed Coffee (235 mg / 12 ounces)

Pike Place is the signature blend that Starbucks has been using for years. If you order a regular coffee — not a blonde or dark roast — from their menu, this is probably what you are getting. It’s a balanced, medium roast with a caffeine content higher than anything other than their Clover coffee or blonde roast.

  • Short (8 ounces): 155 mg
  • Tall (12 ounces): 235 mg
  • Grande (16 ounces): 310 mg
  • Venti (20 ounces): 410 mg

4. Nitro Cold Brew (215 mg / 12 ounces)

Nitro cold brew, showing the Guinness-like bubbles

Nitro cold brew is one of the cooler (pun absolutely intended) experiences at Starbucks. They make it by infusing nitrogen into their cold brew coffee, giving it a look, feel, and tiny bubbles that are similar to Guinness beer.

  • Tall (12 ounces): 215 mg
  • Grande (16 ounces): 280 mg

By the way, if you’re really into nitro, you should check out my guide on making nitro cold brew at home.

5. Nitro Cold Brew with Sweet Cream or Cascara Cold Foam (200 mg / 12 ounces)

Take their nitrogen-infused cold brew, add in a range of flavored sweet creams or cold foam made with cascara — syrup from the coffee cherry — and you get the next item on our list. you lose a bit of the caffeine content from the regular nitro cold brew, but you have to make room for the cream or foam somehow.

  • Tall (12 ounces): 200 mg
  • Grande (16 ounces): 270 mg

6. Featured Starbucks Dark Roast Coffee (195 mg / 12 ounces)

If you like your coffee less acidic, more bitter, and with a heavier mouthfeel, you probably like Starbucks dark roast. It’s bolder than the light and medium roasts, but you do lose some of the caffeine content.

  • Short (8 ounces): 130 mg
  • Tall (12 ounces): 195 mg
  • Grande (16 ounces): 260 mg
  • Venti (20 ounces): 340 mg

7. Starbucks Blonde Caffè Americano (170 mg / 12 ounces)

Back to the blonde roasts, but this time it’s an Americano — a type of espresso drink made by diluting espresso with hot water. Espresso is usually made with dark roasts, so this is a pretty atypical experience, but the smooth, sweet flavor is pretty fantastic. Oh, and who doesn’t love the extra caffeine.

  • Short (8 ounces): 85 mg
  • Tall (12 ounces): 170 mg
  • Grande (16 ounces): 255 mg
  • Venti (20 ounces): 340 mg

8. Starbucks cold brew coffee (155 mg / 12 ounces)

Cold-brew coffee is always a fan favorite. It’s incredibly easy to make at home, but sometimes you just want a barista to do it for you.

  • Tall (12 ounces): 155 mg
  • Grande (16 ounces): 205 mg
  • Venti (20 ounces): 310 mg
  • Trenta (30 ounces): 360 mg

9. Starbucks Caffe Americano (150 mg / 12 ounces)

This is the regular Americano, made with a dark roast as you would find in most coffee shops. If you like your espresso diluted but don’t want milk, you can’t go wrong with an Americano.

  • Short (8 ounces): 75 mg
  • Tall (12 ounces): 150 mg
  • Grande (16 ounces): 225 mg
  • Venti (20 ounces): 300 mg

10. Cold Brew with Sweet Cream or Cascara Cold Foam (145 mg / 12 ounces)

I think we’ve covered this one pretty thoroughly by now. It’s a cold-brewed coffee with any of a range of flavored sweet creams or cascara cold foam.

  • Tall (12 ounces): 145 mg
  • Grande (16 ounces): 185 mg
  • Venti (20 ounces): 275 mg
  • Trenta (30 ounces): 315 mg

11. Starbucks iced coffee (120 mg / 12 ounces)

Last — and thus least — we have Starbucks iced coffee. It has less than half the caffeine of the Clover coffee and blonde roast that topped the list. There are weaker options on the Starbucks menu, but at just about 25 mg more than a standard 8-ounce cup of coffee, this is a good option for those that aren’t looking to be up all night.

  • Tall (12 ounces): 120 mg
  • Grande (16 ounces): 165 mg
  • Venti (20 ounces): 235 mg
  • Trenta (30 ounces): 285 mg

If you are still looking for weaker drinks, the cafe latte and cappuccino are both good options. The Starbucks versions of these drinks are very heavy in milk compared to what you’ll find at more traditional coffee shops, so they are very low in caffeine (75 mg for a tall). 

Which Is the Strongest Starbucks Coffee Drink?

A coffee cup set up to mimic a dial set to max, illustrating caffeine content

Starbucks coffee made with the Clover brewing system is the strongest in terms of caffeine content. A tall Clover coffee can have as much as 280 mg of caffeine, although some of the brews may have as little as 255 mg of caffeine.

If you are at a Starbucks that doesn’t serve Clover, the next-best option is the blonde roast brewed coffee which has 270 mg of caffeine for a tall.

Why Aren’t Espresso Drinks the Strongest Coffees at Starbucks?

Ounce-for-ounce, espresso is much stronger than coffee. However, a shot of espresso is only about one ounce. A typical espresso shot might have about 65 mg of caffeine, compared to about 95 mg in an 8-ounce cup of coffee.

A short or tall espresso drink at Starbucks has one shot of espresso and a grande or venti has two shots of espresso. When you take a shot and dilute it to 12 ounces with milk or water, you end up with less caffeine than regular brewed coffee!

Incidentally, the fact that a short has the same amount of shots as a tall — and a grande has as many as a venti — is the reason that some of the ordering in this list changes if you stray from the tall size. 

What Doesn’t Kill You Should Be Made Stronger

The strongest coffees at Starbucks can deliver a decent dose of caffeine — twice as much as regular brewed coffee. If you really want to go heavy on the caffeine, though, it’s probably time to brew your own coffee.

From high-caffeine k-cups to AeroPress espresso, there’s a whole world of home-brewed coffee to explore. And I don’t want to diss Starbucks, but you could make much better coffee yourself with an affordable espresso machine or even a budget coffee maker.

For inspiration, check out my detailed breakdown about the Mastrena espresso machine that Starbucks uses. I even included a few affordable alternatives for your home barista setup.

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