Recipe Review

How to Make Starbucks’ Famous Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso at Home

published Aug 7, 2023
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shaken espresso in a jar with a straw on a countertop
Credit: Julie Luxemberg

There is one particular Starbucks specialty drink that has had us wrapped around its finger since it debuted in the spring of 2021. We’ve lovingly dubbed it “TREAT” and it’s our go-to whenever we need a pick-me-up with a little more flair than our usual cold brew. 

The beloved beverage is none other than the Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso, a delicious combination of blonde espresso, brown sugar simple syrup, cinnamon, and oat milk. When shaken, the espresso froths and creates a smooth, extra-creamy texture. Compared to a latte, a shaken espresso contains more espresso and less milk, which is in line with our preference for a stronger coffee flavor.

While paying for coffee is one of our favorite hobbies, we wanted full access to this drink at our fingertips, so we were eager to try recreating it at home.

How to Make Starbucks’ Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso

We follow the instructions of the official Starbucks recipe, which is very straightforward. You start by preparing 2 shots of blonde espresso with an espresso machine, stovetop moka pot, or Nespresso machine. Pour the espresso into a glass and, while it’s still hot, mix in a few teaspoons of light brown sugar so it dissolves.

Next add the espresso, oat milk, and ice to a cocktail shaker or Mason jar and shake for 20 seconds. Finally, pour the mixture into a tall glass and sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon.

Credit: Julie Luxemberg

Our Honest Review of Starbucks’ Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso Recipe 

Affirming our initial impression, the oversimplified recipe proved too good to be true. Although the method was easy to follow, it failed to produce a drink that matched the Starbucks version you can buy. 

The ratio of oat milk to espresso was way too high, so it was extremely light in color and coffee flavor. The drink tasted barely sweetened, which is not the usual reputation of Starbucks. And the method of shaking everything at once, including the oat milk, felt like a convenient time-saver, but resulted in way less froth.

To be honest, this recipe made us feel like Starbucks does not want this drink to be at our fingertips! 

The basis of this conspiracy is that the online recipe calls for two shots of espresso, while on the Starbucks app, you can clearly see that a grande shaken espresso comes with three shots. It also comes with four pumps of brown sugar syrup, which equates to about four teaspoons of sugar, double what the recipe calls for. 

If You’re Making an Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso, a Few Tips 

Although we didn’t like the Starbucks recipe as is, that’s not to say you can’t make a really delicious shaken espresso at home. Here’s what would make it better.

  1. Use 3 espresso shots or 1/3 cup extra-strong coffee per serving. We like a strong coffee flavor and don’t have an espresso machine, so we brewed strong coffee and enjoyed the result. 
  2. Make brown sugar simple syrup instead of using only light brown sugar. We’ve tried and loved this recipe, where you make a simple syrup by simmering water, light brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. 
  3. Shake for longer and without the oat milk. Shake just the espresso, flavorings, and ice vigorously for 2 minutes. We found this easier to do in a sealed Mason jar. It results in a foamier and frothier drink.
  4. Use Oatly barista blend. With other brands, we found the oat flavor overpowering. Oatly barista blend is what Starbucks uses and is the smoothest and creamiest option.
  5. Add oat milk only as needed. We preferred to shake the espresso and ice in a Mason jar and then add oat milk just to top off the glass. It ended up being more like 1/2 cup, which was a better ratio.

    While we wouldn’t make the Starbucks recipe again, we thoroughly enjoyed the version we made following the tips above.

    Get the recipe: Starbucks Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso