If you’re an Instagram fiend or a Starbucks regular, you’ve probably heard of and seen the beverage called “The Pink Drink.”
The brightly-colored drink shows up across social media platforms, and it’s definitely a Starbucks favorite. But there is one question that doesn’t have an obvious answer: does the pink drink have caffeine? And how much caffeine, if so?
While the Pink Drink may look like something out of Willy Wonka’s factory, the ingredients in it might surprise you.
Read on to find out about the caffeine content in this viral Starbucks success.
What Is The Pink Drink At Starbucks?
If you ask for “The Pink Drink,” at Starbucks, you’ll be ordering one of the coffee company’s most successful beverages from the Refreshers line of drinks.
These all boast exotic fruity flavors blended with fruit pieces and other ingredients and served over ice.
Yup. This doesn’t contain medium roast brewed coffee or espresso as its base and nor does it form part of the Starbucks Iced coffee menu
The Pink Drink is one of a few variations on the same basic recipe: the Strawberry-Acai Refresher base.
The creamy, neon pink coloring of the drink comes from the interplay of the base with a mild dose of coconut milk for richness and another layer of flavor.
Related Read: TikTok Starbucks Drinks
Does The Pink Drink Have Caffeine?
The Starbucks Pink Drink, like all of the Refreshers line, does have caffeine, but it’s not a coffee-based drink in terms of flavor.
This is because the Refreshers all have one ingredient in common that lends a trace amount of caffeine to them: green coffee extract.
But the Pink Drink is not necessarily a replacement for your usual cup of coffee. So how much caffeine does the pink drink have?
The caffeine content in the Refreshers drinks is consistent, and it’s on the low side: each grande pink drink contains 45 mg of caffeine.
For reference, that is only about ⅓ of the amount of caffeine that you would find in a Starbucks espresso shot. As another point of comparison, the Starbucks standard hot chocolate contains about 25 mg of caffeine for a grande.
So as you can see, the pink drink contains more caffeine than the non-coffee drinks on the menu, but less caffeine than the standard coffee drinks, and much less caffeine than a Starbucks espresso shot.
The reason comes down to the ingredients that make up the Starbucks Refreshers line in general, including the pink drink itself.
What Is In The Pink Drink?
So what is the Starbucks pink drink made of?
The ingredients are actually reasonably wholesome, and it would be possible to recreate the drink at home if you really wanted to–it would just take a little bit of experimentation and trial and error.
The most important component of the Starbucks pink drink is the strawberry acai base, which is made up of water, sugar, white grape juice concentrate, citric acid, “natural flavors,” natural green coffee flavor, fruit and vegetable juice, and Rebaudioside A.
Some of those items are more unusual than others, and one or two of them may not be recognizable at all, so let’s break it down a little further.
Rebaudioside A is the commercial name for a derivative of Stevia, a no-calorie sweetener. According to the Encyclopedia of Food and Health, it’s very popular in food and drinks because it has the best taste of all of the Stevia products.
Natural flavors are a little harder to dig into since the ingredients list doesn’t specify, but the compounds everyone can agree on for the Starbucks pink drink include flavors of passion fruit, strawberry, and acai.
The white grape juice concentrate definitely adds to some of the fruity flavor and sweetness, and the freeze-dried strawberries in the mix also add to the flavor.
That brings us to another key component in the base: natural green coffee flavor, which is a green coffee extract.
Green coffee is simply coffee beans that have been picked and dried and which have had the pulp removed–without being roasted.
The extract from green coffee beans contains a smaller amount of caffeine due to the way they’re processed, and it has a lighter flavor.
Finally, the Starbucks pink drink gets its creaminess from sweetened coconut milk, which also helps to lighten the color.
What Is The Pink Drink Actually Called?
The Starbucks pink drink really is called “the pink drink,” officially on the Starbucks menu.
But it is really just a Strawberry Acai Refresher with coconut milk. The drink may have started as a “secret menu” item, one of the many variations that a customer or a barista came up with that stuck and became successful over time.
The lightly caffeinated Starbucks pink drink takes its name from its appearance: it’s definitely the pinkest item on the menu and the pinkest of the Refreshers.
Other drinks in the line include the Dragon Drink, Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher, and the Star Drink. The various beverages with “drink” in the title all use the different Refresher bases mixed with coconut milk.
The unexpected ingredient, green coffee, definitely sets the whole line apart and represents a different way of enjoying coffee which isn’t really coffee.
If you want a little caffeine without the full buzz, it’s worth trying out the pink drink.