Want your barista to remember you, spend less on your drinks, or just keep from embarrassing yourself with the idea of a “secret menu”? (Hint, there isn’t one.)
We’ve got some tricks and tips your barista may not want you to know (and some they wish you did!).
Click on through these 30 ways to make your next trip to Starbucks easier for everyone – and even score yourself a free drink once in a while!
1. Score your pup a Puppuccino
Most baristas know to give you an espresso cup full of whipped cream for Rover to devour while you caffeinate yourself.
It might cost you a buck or two depending on the store, but whipped cream is technically safe for dogs to consume (unless they have health issues).
2. They over-roast their coffee for a reason
Well, they sell it as an Italian-style roast, but if you’ve ever been to Italy you know the coffee doesn’t taste like that. Instead, some say they do it so you’ll want to upgrade to a sugary drink to cover the taste.
Starbucks isn’t making the big bucks from black coffee – it needs you to get a venti frappuccino or cinnamon latte for a few dollars more.
3. The employ the “Starbucks Effect”
People are happy to spend extra money on something they feel is “exclusive” and Starbucks (and every other company) knows that.
That’s why it’s hard to even hold their cups in a way that doesn’t show off their logo.
4. Avoid scalding yourself with this trick
Order your drinks at “kids’ temperature” – they’ll be handed over much cooler (140 degrees) than a regular drink (which is between 200-212 degrees) and you won’t have to wait until it cools off to start slurping.
5. Look for the black apron
If they don’t look too busy, ask if they can make your drink.
6. Cut your latte price in half
For example, an iced venti latte is $4, whereas a “doppio” (which is two espresso shots) is $1.95. But if you ask for a cup of ice and two added shots you’ll be paying $1.20.
Then, you can head over to the condiment bar and add as much cold milk as you want to make it a latte.
You have to do some of the work yourself, but you just saved a bundle on an iced venti latte!
7. You can usually pre-game your seasonal drinks
But you’ll have to get lucky and be nice to your barista if you want them to do you that special favor.
8. Some locations don’t want you lounging
Especially in high-traffic areas where the customer turnover needs to be high to keep business flowing, Starbucks (and other eateries) use different furniture designed to keep you from getting too comfortable.
If you see a Starbucks on a popular corner in a big city, you may notice that there are very few tables and chairs at all.
That’s all on purpose. They want you to get in, get your drink, and the move along so the next customer pony up their dough.
9. Skip the venti if you’re in it for the espresso
So, if you order the larger one thinking you’ll get an extra shot, you’re wrong. You’re just getting more sugar.
They said: “This is true of most standard Starbucks beverages. You can always ask for an additional shot in any beverage size.”
10. Use the Starbucks app if you want to know what’s really in your drink
Then you can ask for that extra shot of espresso or whipped cream if you know you’re going to need it.
11. They write their prices in a specific way
The problem is, you may notice if the final amount comes to a new number that doesn’t end in a 0 or 5 after tax, but by then you’ve got a line in front of and behind you and it’s harder to back out.
Next time you go in, try to remember if that new $3.65 latte used to be $3.60 on the menu.
12. If you need decaf, order it drip style
But if you order a decaf drip, you can’t go wrong since that comes out of a separate pitcher. (Although they also admitted that it’s not alway very fresh since it might sit out for hours – but that likely varies by store.)
13. Need stronger coffee? Make an odd request
That means you can technically ask for a steamed iced coffee and get the strongest version they offer. And, of course, you can get it without the ice.
Just don’t be surprised if you have to explain it after an odd look. It’s probably not a request they get very often.
14. The are FOMO masters
Need to Instagram your annual pumpkin spice latte? They rely on that need – and they love to switch things up just a bit (even using special holiday cups) so you have to come in and see what you’re missing.
15. Rude people get decaf
You’re certainly not going to know if you order something with a lot of bells and whistles.
It’s a favorite passive-aggressive trick of cafe employees everywhere who feel they’re being treated rudely.
ALWAYS be nice to your barista.
16. Your iced coffee is not keto-friendly
If you don’t want a pump of syrup in your iced coffee, you must say so up front.
17. None of the food is fresh
All Starbucks food is reheated frozen food.
18. Everyone thinks you’re a jerk when you dump coffee in the trash
In addition, you’re likely to drip some on the floor when you tip it in, so you’re making twice the mess as everyone else.
19. The “secret menu” is really just marketing hype
Reddit user Raskov75 said, “Former Barista here. There is no secret menu. Those drinks are just special orders.”
Baristas also get (rightfully) annoyed when people order off this “menu,” especially when it’s busy, because those drinks often require extra steps and break up the normal flow of work.
20. Don’t try to order “secret” items by name
A barista isn’t going to know what you mean by some influencer’s lingo, so you need to know the ingredients.
And remember how annoying it is when you custom order a drink while business is booming! If you’re going to ask a barista to do extra work, at least have your info ready.
21. Ask about favorites
They get to play with ingredients to make their own stuff, so chances are they have a good sense of some creative “special orders” that might be really great but aren’t on the menu.
But, seriously, don’t try it while other people are waiting or when your barista is obviously busy. Timing is everything.
22. Vegans, beware of syrups
So if you’re vegan, that limits your choices.
But knowledge is power.
23. You get a free drink on your birthday
And you don’t even have to make a purchase – just show proof that it’s your big day!
24. You barista or store manager is likely paying for your military/police discount
That means if you’ve been the beneficiary of one of these discounts, it’s the baristas, store managers, or even other customers paying it forward, not the company itself.
But it’s all to thank you for your service!
25. Ordering certain drinks during “rush hour” will not make you any friends
Anything sparkling and frappuccinos are likely to make your barista scowl.
They’re still going to make it for you, but it’s good to know how not to annoy the person making your drink!
26. Light roast coffee has the most caffeine
Don’t expect your barista to explain the whole process, but don’t complain when you’re still drowsy after your dark roast.
27. Pumpkin spice contains no pumpkin
Pumpkin spice contains cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice – roughly the same combo that goes into pumpkin pie.
So really, you just like pie (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
28. You don’t have to tip, but you should
So while you don’t have to tip, it’s certainly a nice thing to do if you’ve ordered something off-menu or come in for a big order that one person is busting their butt to finish for you on time.
29. No one wants to see an intern or gopher come through the door
Work in an office where you give your intern a bunch of credit cards to go get your coffee? Get your acts together and bring some cash to pool! (Or else you might get punished with a decaf.)
30. Some customers get free refills for as long as they’re in the store
You’re not getting another mocha latte for for free, but you can enjoy all the coffee and tea you want for as long as you’re there.
Unless you leave the store – then your next drink is considered a new purchase.
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