Starbucks refresher vs. coffee: which one is better?

When temperatures rise, a change in the choice of beverages is inevitable. When I have plans to be active all day, I prefer a coffee boost, but when I want a relaxed afternoon, I always go for a low caffeine boost in Starbucks refreshers. I love the green coffee extract in refreshers that give a moderate caffeine boost which is great under the heat. So, what do you do when you are torn between a refresher and coffee? The only sensible thing to do is to have a comparison. In this post, we will compare these two beverages and by the end of it, you will know which drink is better.

What are the differences between Starbucks refresher vs. coffee?





Refresher base, green coffee extract, lemonade, ice

Arabica coffee beans

Taste profile

Sweet, fruity

Earthy. Chocolate undertones

Caffeine content/nutritional value

Caffeine-2.81mg per ounce,Grande-90 calories, 20g sugar, 0 fat, 0 protein

Caffeine-75mg per shot, 0 calories, 0 carbs, o fat, 0 sugar


Permanent and seasonal

Permanent and seasonal

Roast level

Unroasted green coffee extract

Blonde, medium, dark

Starbucks Refresher vs. coffee-How they compare

What it’s made of (ingredients

A Starbucks refresher is meant to refresh you on a hot day. This drink is served cold and has caffeine in it. In Starbucks refreshers, you will encounter green coffee extract. Other ingredients solely depend on the refresher you order. In most cases, the only thing that changes is the refresher base.

Coffee at Starbucks contains Arabica coffee beans that are roasted to different levels. These levels determine the outcomes of the drink. The most popular drinks are lattes. Coffee can have syrups added to it for flavoring. The most popular are vanilla, mocha, and cinnamon dolce. Starbuck coffee in its most basic form is espresso and water.

In this category, the refresher takes the lead as its ingredients are versatile.

Taste profile

Refreshers are sweet and a little lighter and more delicate than fruit juices. In other words, they are fruity and fancy as compared to ordinary fruit juice. Every Starbucks refresher has green coffee extract in its base. This makes it moderately caffeinated.

Starbucks coffee has an earthy taste with sweet chocolaty undertones. The taste is adjusted from that point with additives like syrups and sweeteners. Some people have described Starbucks coffee as burnt or smoky. This taste is due to the Starbucks roasting process that takes a little longer in the roaster.

In this category, the refresher takes a comfortable lead as its taste is undisputedly great. At times, coffee can be a little too strong for some people.

Caffeine content/nutritional value

As we had mentioned earlier, all Starbucks refreshers are caffeinated by the green coffee extract. They contain 2.81mg per ounce. This is relatively low compared to coffee drinks. A Grande strawberry acai refresher has 90 calories, 15mg of sodium, 20g of sugar, 0 fat, and 0 proteins. These figures can change in various sizes.

Coffee at Starbucks in its purest form has 180mg of caffeine in a short serving. A single espresso shot has 75mg of caffeine. Coffee has no fat, carbs, calories, or proteins. Some roasts have only 5 calories. The figures can be adjusted significantly by additives such as syrups and sweeteners.

Roast coffee has the highest caffeine at Starbucks compared to green coffee and other beverages. In this category, coffee takes the lead due to its caffeine and low sugar and calories.

Availability/ Accessibility

Starbucks has seasonal refreshers and those on the permanent menu. The coffee chain releases its summer or spring menu, and the items are scrapped after the season. However, you will always find a strawberry acai refresher, mango dragonfruit refresher, and kiwi starfruit.

Starbucks is best known for its coffee. This means that you will always walk away with a cup of coffee at any of its stores. However, some coffee drinks are seasonal. You can only find drinks like the chestnut praline latte and peppermint mocha on holidays.

This category gives us a draw as both drinks are available permanently and seasonally, depending on individual drinks.

Roast level

Starbucks uses unroasted green coffee for its refreshers. On the other hand, coffee is roasted at the blonde, medium, and dark roasts.

This category’s winner is coffee. The roasting is what gives the coffee its taste profile

Starbucks refresher vs. Coffee: A comparison overview

Starbucks refresher-Overview

Starbucks refreshers are famous in summer and spring when the temperatures are elevated. They bring a cooling effect and a nice, moderate boost of caffeine. I liked the moderate stimulation and the refreshment these drinks brought me on a sunny, hot afternoon. I discovered refreshers when I went to the website and saw some colorful, attractive drinks. On the downside, they can be a little sugary for someone who prefers low sugar.

What I Liked

  • I liked how refreshing these drinks are
  • I liked the fruity taste

What I didn’t like

  • I found them a little too sugary

Who it’s best suited for

  • This drink is best suited for someone who wants to cool off on a hot day.

Starbucks coffee-Overview

Starbucks coffee is the surest way to a high caffeine boost paired with a strong, earthy coffee taste. I liked how versatile the coffee drinks were and the main customizations that were available. The menu was so vast that you could take a very long time to drink all its contents. I also liked that Starbucks gives you the option to choose your roast depending on your taste. You can buy a coffee drink, or buy a roast pack to enjoy at home.

What I liked

  • The high caffeine boost.
  • The vast coffee drinks menu.

What I didn’t like

  • Starbucks coffee has a burnt taste.

Who it’s best suited for

  • Starbucks coffee is best suited for caffeine addicts.

Final Verdict: So, which is better? Starbucks refresher vs. coffee?

Starbucks coffee is better because it can be modified into anything. You can choose a latte, a Frappuccino, mocha, and even dirty chai. A refresher is restrictive in its modifications.


Is a Starbucks refresher stronger than a brewed coffee?

No, brewed coffee has double the amount of caffeine as in a refresher.

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