Tip: This is not a 'Zebra Mocha', nor is it a 'Penguin Mocha'

The Daily Meal on Monday released its “ultimate guide to Starbucks’ secret menu,” threatening to expose all the java giant’s exotic coffee combinations that only its coolest customers seem to know about.

Armed with this arsenal of unique-sounding orders, Young & Hungry stopped by a few Starbucks on Tuesday to test D.C. baristas on their classified coffee knowledge. It turns out, the secret menu is so secret that many of Starbucks’ own employees don’t know about it. Based on my experience, the guide could be more accurately titled, “How to bewilder the barista and alienate the rest of the line just trying to get coffee.” But that’s a little long.

Pity the poor cashier along P Street NW who had no idea that “Cake Batter Frappuccino” was simply a vanilla Frappucino with vanilla and almond syrup. The “Zebra Mocha” was an equally unsettling order that prompted him to call over a coffee comrade in arms. I’ve worked here five years and I’ve never heard of that!” he remarked.

Undaunted by the prospect of slowing another line, Y&H headed over to a  Dupont Circle location to try again, this time in alphabetical order. The queries for a “Cake Batter Frappaccino,” “Chocolate Dalmation,” “Captain Crunch Frappaccino,” earned me the accusation that I was “making this up!”

So I abandoned the hope that I was about to be inducted into an exclusive club wherein my barista and I would exchange knowing smiles over my drink order and skipped ahead to the Z’s: “Zebra mocha?”

“Oh, I know that one. Black and white mocha!”

And 20 minutes later, my heavily sweetened drink arrived. It sort of resembled a hot chocolate with some coffee as an afterthought. No secrets there.

Photo by Megan Arellano