Undertow Coffee: Totally Underrated But So Worth It!

When you think you’ve caught up with all the espresso variations, a new one pops out. That’s how we felt upon finding out about the Undertow Coffee.

The name sounds like a new coffee shop. But it’s a few potent shots of espresso with an extra layer. Here’s where to get it and how to prepare it at home.

Topics Explored

  1. What is Undertow Coffee?
  2. Why is it Called an Undertow Coffee?
  3. How To Order an Undertow at Starbucks
  4. Undertow Coffee Recipe
  5. Undertow Taste & Appearance
  6. FAQs

The Undertow started as a secret menu item that never gained massive popularity. The first mention of Undertow coffee was sometime in 2012.

The layered espresso goodness looks attractive, but it takes a long process to achieve it. When brewing the espresso, you need to keep a spoon over the cup so it can flow smoothly over the milk, not directly through it.

How Do You Order an Undertow at Starbucks

Step 1

Make sure to order when there are not many people around. This drink takes a few minutes and you don’t want to be holding the line.

Step 2

Start by asking for two pumps of vanilla syrup in a small cup. If you don’t like sweet coffee, add just one.

Step 3

Next, ask for a shot of half and half. You can also call a ‘breve’ if you’re feeling extra fancy. Mix the vanilla syrup with the half and half.

Step 4

Then add two espresso shots. Politely ask the barista to pour the espresso into the cup using the spoon method so the layers won’t mix.

Step 5

Get your drink and thank the barista for their patience! Try it unmixed, to experience different texture and flavors.

How to Make an Undertow Coffee

Too introverted to ask a barista to go out of their way? We have your back.

You can learn how to make an Undertow coffee at home with ingredients you probably have on hand. It takes no more than 10 minutes!

The Undertow’s Taste & Appearance

Espresso, syrup, half and half, is this some form of a latte? That was precisely our thought until the first sip.

The layers make for a completely different experience. Here’s what you can expect and how to know you’ve done it well.


To taste the original Undertow coffee, never mix before drinking. You need to feel the hot current followed by the cold one. You sip the robust espresso followed by the cold sweet milk.

The uniqueness of the drink lies in the contrast of temperature and flavor.


The appearance might remind you of a latte. The layers are precisely separated primarily due to the pouring technique. But it’s also due to the different viscosity of the espresso and the half and half.

Picking a glass cup enhances the experience. Mixing the drink not only alters the flavor, but it destroys the perfect layers.


The technique makes all the difference.(1) As the name suggests, the two currents in your cup are separate for a reason. Stirring the drink results in a mini lukewarm sweet latte.


The calorie value of this drink depends on how you decide to customize it. Adding more or less of some of the ingredients changes the calculation. In our recipe, a single serving is 65 calories.

Here’s the breakdown; 1 espresso shot is less than 5 calories, and we added 2 shots. Half and half is 25 calories, and a single tablespoon of syrup is 20 calories.

Final Words

Creative baristas draw inspiration for new drinks from the most unexpected places. That’s the case with Undertow coffee, a cup mimicking the ocean currents.

The cold sweet milk followed by hot, bitter espresso poured in even layers creates a unique experience. Since it’s an older drink not many baristas know how to prepare it. But it’s easy to make at home, so save or recipe and get to work!

FAQs: Undertow Coffee

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