13 Things Starbucks Employees Won’t Tell You
If you're looking to save bucks on Starbucks, look no further: We've got the inside scoop from frequent customers and former baristas.
Befriend your barista
Your Starbucks barista wouldn’t mention it, of course, but being friendly goes a long way toward getting free drinks, discounts, and the freshest and tastiest pastries. That’s what Amanda Ponzar, chief marketing officer for Community Health Charities, has learned. This loyal Starbucks enthusiast regularly shares social media photos of herself enjoying a Starbucks drink; it’s also her place of choice for business meetings. Especially if you live in the best coffee city in America.
Order two cake pops to get a secret discount
One of the first things Ponzar discovered from her Starbucks baristas is that if you order two cake pops at once, you get a discount (somewhere between 40 and 60 cents, she says). This is not the same thing as the cake-pop BOGO (buy one, get one free) sale, a rare event. Check out the Starbucks where they won’t write your name on the cup.
Save money on hot chocolate
Ponzar also has a way to save money when you’re in the mood for hot chocolate. Instead of ordering an actual cup of hot chocolate, order a steamed milk with chocolate syrup. You’ll also save calories.
The secret trenta size
“When I used to get one to two frappucinos every day, my barista would make me a trenta-size Frappuccino,” Ponzar tells Reader’s Digest. “It’s not even on the menu.” (That’s true for coffee drinks, although it is on the menu for fruit-flavored Starbucks Refreshers.) The trenta is 31 ounces and the unofficial price upgrade for a frappuccino is 50 cents.
Don’t waste a single drop of that good stuff!
Blogger Joanna Faith Williams tells Reader’s Digest she couldn’t help but noticing something curious every time she ordered a frappucino: “The extra bit of my drink that didn’t fit in my grande cup would just be washed down the drain!” Williams came up with the following hack: “Order a grande in a venti cup. I get it all. It reduces waste. It seriously works, and it’s a win-win!” Ponzar seconds this but notes that befriending the barista and being a good tipper has meant that she often doesn’t even have to ask. Those Starbucks frappuccinos may be delicious, by the way, but you’re best off drinking them rarely or never for this reason.
Go for a short
You won’t see it on the menu, but you can always order a “short” size, according to health and wellness expert (and Starbucks super-fan) Caleb Backe. It’s a smaller and less-expensive size with a decent hit of caffeine, Backe promises. Smaller sizes might save you from these things that happen to your body when you drink coffee every day.
A babyccino is a cappuccino minus the espresso—in other words, frothy steamed milk. You might even be able to get it for free, although that’s not official policy. Backe and registered dietician and nutritionist Vanessa Rissetto both give the drink a thumbs up for your kid since it’s just milk with no sugar or caffeine.
If you like to drink water with your coffee (coffee can be dehydrating, after all), don’t pay for bottled water: You can get filtered water for free at Starbucks.
Bring your own cup
Starbucks is committed to shrinking its carbon footprint, and in keeping with that, offers a reusable, recyclable cup for just $1, and every time you use it, you save 10 cents on your coffee order. As the Starbucks website notes, if you use the cup 10 times, it’s paid for itself. But you can actually bring your own cup and save the dollar while still getting the 10-cent discount!
Make your own discounted chai latte
You don’t need to pay for a chai latte when you can order a simple cup of tea and request a shot of steamed milk (which comes for free). Plus, this hacked-version of a chai latte has far less sugar. Of course you might not be able to get your favorite drink at all if you’re in this state which has the fewest Starbucks locations.
Order light ice in your iced coffee
Less ice means more coffee: That means you can go down a size for an iced coffee, then ask for light ice. You’ll basically be getting the same amount of caffeine while paying less. Luckily iced coffee is pretty low in calories, but be sure to check out these Starbucks health-hacks that will help you save calories on your other favorite drinks.
Take advantage of the Rewards program
Employees would happily tell you about this yet most customers still don’t use the program. “Many think Starbucks is expensive, but it’s actually NOT if you drink two cups a day and you join the Starbucks Rewards program, which gets you free refills, coffee marketer and aficionado Mathew Rincon tells Reader’s Digest. Plus, some stores allow you to get a refill even if you bought the first cup at a DIFFERENT location, according to Rincon. However, this is definitely not an official Starbucks policy, according to their site.
Refills are just the beginning when you join the Rewards program. Being a member means you’re eligible for a Birthday Reward (almost anything on the menu), which is redeemable up to two days before and one day after your birthday. Just make sure you’ve purchased something at any Starbucks within the last 12 months.
You’ll also receive emails from Starbucks offering you the opportunity to earn free credits toward free food and drinks by ordering a certain beverage, playing a particular game, or participating in some other activity or event (be sure to opt-in for these emails, the Starbucks website advises). If you level up to a “gold” membership, you can double your rewards (and thus earn your free stuff twice as quickly!). Next, find out why Starbucks coffee sizes aren’t small, medium, and large.