Last Updated on April 23, 2023 by brewthatcoffee
Boba refers to tapioca pearls and chunky fruit pieces, also called pearl milk tea or bubble tea. So does Starbucks have boba? Starbucks has recently introduced coffee-popping pearls on its menu in select US locations, specifically in California.
Although Starbucks has introduced coffee-popping pearls in a few select stores, boba isn’t on its regular menu. Starbucks coffee pearls are in Palm Springs and Bellevue stores. They’re different from boba tea- smaller and filled with coffee. Starbucks keeps silent about pearls in the future.
Starbucks is a lucrative industry with over 30,000 locations in 80 countries. The boba market is valued at $2.32 billion. Since 2018 there have been rumors that Starbucks will add boba-like ingredients to their beverages.
Does Starbucks Have Boba On Their Regular Menu?
No, Starbucks doesn’t have boba on its regular menu. Including boba in all the Starbucks chain location stores worldwide is too expensive. However, it is worth incorporating coffee pearls, tea tapioca, and fruity boba on an international menu.
Due to its popularity, Starbucks will likely add boba to the menu soon. However, there are other reasons why boba isn’t adopted into the Starbucks menu. It’s an intricate drink and requires a complex assortment of ingredients, equipment, and industry secrets.
This Seattle-based coffee company may not have the time or resources to include boba immediately. However, coffee-popping pearls are becoming the routine drink of Starbucks regulars in Palm Springs and Bellevue.
Starbucks Boba Locations (Palm Springs, CA And Bellevue, WA)
This multinational coffee company has claimed that it’s conducting a limited test of the boba-like product. Its focus is on two stores, one in Palm Springs, California the other in Bellevue, Washington. Besides limited promotional advertising, Starbucks has kept relatively quiet about this venture.
The Starbucks coffee-popping pearls differ slightly from the familiar tapioca boba tea drinks. They have a liquid core filled with coffee, making them softer than boba tapioca bubbles. A viral TikTok post shows they have an unusual yet pleasant salty-sweet taste.
In addition to their unusual nature, the coffee-popping pearls are smaller and take some getting used to. The TikTok announcement was posted from Palm Desert of Greater Palm Springs, California.
The pearls belong to two Starbucks feature drinks. These are the Iced Chai Tea Latte with coffee pearls for $5.45 and the coffee-based In the Dark Cold Brew for $5.25. The In the Dark iced coffee is an offshoot of the traditional A Shot in the Dark and Redeye drinks.
Both pearl drinks are sold in the Grande cup size only.
Starbucks Coffee Popping Pearls Explained
The boba-inspired coffee-popping pearls are approximately the same size as coffee beans and are liquid-coffee centered. These burst-in-your-mouth pearls are poured on the ice. In comparison, the rubbery, large tapioca balls are a signature stable of Asian bubble tea.
Despite their smaller size, they’re heavy enough to sink to the bottom of the drink- enriching the coffee experience. Finding the pearls at the bottom of your cup also maintains the big straw, slurping fun specific to bubble milk tea.
Another interesting feature is the pairing of coffee-popping pearls with iced tea. Consumers are unsure how to respond and appear to enjoy the odd mix. It seems that Starbucks is having fun experimenting with this small taste rebellion.
There are mixed reviews regarding Starbucks tapioca topping. However, overall, customers are very excited at the prospect of it becoming a permanent feature on the menu.
How They’re Similar to Taiwanese Bubble Tea
Boba is a tapioca starch that originates from the South American Cassava plant. From 1895 to 1945, this starch extract came to Taiwan and gained popularity in the 1980s. The zhēnzhū nǎichá
(珍珠奶茶), bubble tea, boba tea, or pearl milk tea was introduced to the US by immigrants.
As mentioned above, making tapioca pearl milk tea is intricate and time-consuming. Initially, they are hard, white balls with no taste. They’re then boiled in large vats and soaked in a caramel-syrupy substance for hours. Eventually, they’re transformed into soft, black, elastic balls.
As Starbucks remains elusive regarding its coffee-popping pearls, we can only go on first-hand accounts promoted via social media. We know they’re mostly liquid, and instead of a chewy texture, they burst coffee in your mouth.
The direction Starbucks intends to take remains to be seen. Although, there is a great deal of hype and online support for integrating coffee-popping pearls on a regular Starbucks menu.
Does Every Starbucks Have Coffee Pearls?
No, only two US locations have coffee pearls on their menu. These test sites assess whether investing in tapioca confectionary is viable and worth the risk.
Starbucks hasn’t explained why these areas were selected as testing grounds. However, the limited release successfully adds to the hype and anticipation of the product.
Various online sources, like blogs and social media platforms, suggest staying alert for updates on new drink additions and coffee pearls in your local Starbucks store.
Drinks Boba Lovers Should Try From Starbucks
As a boba lover, I highly recommend ordering drinks with either a fruity and milky or a tea and milky flavor combination. You can choose to order a hot drink, but an iced drink will have the closest resemblance to milk tea.
Consider the following drinks to satisfy your milk tea cravings:
- Iced Royal English Breakfast Tea Late
- Iced London Fog Tea Latte
- Iced Chai Tea Latte
- Iced Matcha Tea Latte
- Pink Drink Starbucks Refresher
- Any Starbucks Refresher With Coconut Milk Added
How to Make Boba Drinks at Home (5 Recipes)
There are many customized Starbucks options for boba enthusiasts.
What You Need to Prepare Starbucks Boba Recipes
This list of ingredients is all you need to prepare Starbucks boba tea. You need specialized equipment, like an electric milk frother and coffee machine.
Store-bought or online-bought tapioca pearls- Before adding them to your drink, allow them to soak in boiling water for about five minutes.
Barista-style milk– This is an essential Starbucks drink component. Barista-style milk contains a tablespoon cream and a 3/4 cup heated milk whipped up. If you don’t have an espresso machine, you must whip the milk by hand. Add honey or brown sugar syrup as you feel necessary.
Blender– A blender is essential for Starbucks boba coffee/tea combinations. A mini blender is acceptable to use for your drinks. Blenders can be bought online or in local stores.
A coffee machine– This is a must for the best home-brewed Starbucks tapioca coffee.
Milk Frother– You can buy electric milk frothers online or in stores. This is much better than beating your milk mixture with an eggbeater.
Other ingredients- Chilled coffee, lots of ice, vanilla extract/vanilla bean, vanilla syrup, mint, cocoa powder, Espresso, brown-sugar syrup, cinnamon syrup, mint extract, peppermint extract, cinnamon, caramel drizzle, Matcha (green tea powder), coconut sugar, cashew/coconut milk, filtered water, chai tea.
Starbucks Iced Matcha Latte with Pearls
A Starbucks Iced Matcha Latte with boba is a popular off-the-menu recipe. This is one of the more popular Starbucks choices.
- 1 cup milk or barista-style milk
- 2 teaspoons Matcha powder
- 1 tablespoon vanilla syrup
- 1 cup ice
- ½ cup tapioca pearls
- Soak your store-bought tapioca pearls in boiling water for five minutes.
- Mix barista-style milk, Matcha with vanilla syrup.
- Use a milk frother to whip the concoction.
- Combine the mixture with ice and boba.
Starbucks Minty Iced Matcha Latte with Pearls
This is a delightful treat to indulge you throughout the summer.
- 1 teaspoon Matcha powder
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
- ¼ teaspoon mint extract
- 1 cup cashew/coconut milk
- ½ cup filtered water
- 1 cup ice
- ½ cup tapioca pearl
- Soak the boba bubbles in boiling water for five minutes.
- Add Matcha and filtered water into the frother. Select the cold option and allow the Matcha and water to froth. Then select whisk.
- Pour the Matcha creamy mixture over the ice and boba balls.
- Then, froth a separate mixture of milk, coconut sugar, and mint extract until the cream is soft.
- Pour over Match and ice.
Starbucks Iced Chai Tea Latte with Pearls
This is a simple and delicious drink to enjoy all year round.
- 8 chai teabags
- 8 cups filtered water
- Whichever milk of your choosing- Barista-style, coconut, cashew, almond, cow
- ½ cup tapioca pearls
- Boil eight cups of water and chai tea.
- Allow the tea to strain for 30 minutes.
- Remove the bags. Put them aside to cool and add to the mixture later.
- Allow the tea and tea bags to cool in the fridge overnight.
- Soak tapioca pearls in boiling water for five minutes before adding the tea.
- The following day, add milk to tea and tapioca pearls.
Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino with Pearls
This sweet drink is an excellent dessert beverage.
- 1 shot espresso or ⅓ cup black coffee
- ¾ cup milk- any choice
- 2 cups ice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons caramel sauce
- ½ cup whipped cream
- ½ cup tapioca pearls
- Soak the tapioca ball in boiling water for five minutes.
- Mix Espresso, caramel sauce, milk, ice, and sugar in a blender.
- Blend until the mixture is creamy, soft, and smooth.
- Pour into a glass over tapioca pearls and add cream.
- Drizzle caramel syrup/sauce over cream.
Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte with Pearls
This spicy festive drink enriches the ambiance of parties and sophisticated social get-togethers.
- 1½ cups steamed milk
- 1 shot of Espresso or ⅓ cup black coffee
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon syrup
- ½ cup whipped cream
- ½ cup tapioca pearls
- Steam the milk.
- Brew the espresso or coffee. For the coffee, it’s tastier to use coffee beans.
- Pour the coffee and cinnamon syrup together and mix.
- Allow tapioca pearls to soak for five minutes.
- Pour milk, coffee/espresso, and syrup over tapioca pearls.
- Place the whipped cream on top.
- Add the cinnamon drizzle.
The following are a couple of frequently asked questions about boba tea.
Due to its tremendous popularity, Starbucks will likely add boba to its regular menu soon. US citizens must now travel to Palm Springs or Bellevue to enjoy their innovative coffee-popping pearls. These exotic tapioca bubbles in your favorite Arabica brew are an exciting addition. Of course, you can always create Starbucks customized home brews with tapioca pearls.