Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Starbucks Secrets?

I recently received a message from someone who used to work at Starbucks. Since I'm not much of a coffee drinker, I don't know the validity of this message, but it couldn't hurt to try some of them if you frequent Starbucks.


1. Drinks to try that are not on the menu
2. Drinks for those on a budget
3. Refills Anyone?
4. Eating there...
5. A special ESPRESSO experience that's really unique
6. Legendary Service and what that means in the real world
7. Things to look out for that make your Starbucks life easier


* Penguin/Zebra/Tuxedo: This is a mocha (with caffeine) or hot chocolate (no caffeine) that is half white chocolate and half regular chocolate. It's tastier than the regular hot chocolate and less sweet than a white mocha.

* Hot Chocolate with a shot of vanilla: Once you try it this way, you'll never drink regular hot chocolates again.

* Strawberry Lemonades: A lemonade concentrate is mixed with a strawberry puree. Can be blended!

* Gummi Bear: Only SGV-based Starbucks know how to makes this sweet fruit punch that tastes exactly like a gummi bear. I forgot the recipe.

* Steamer: Half regular coffee with half steamed milk. For those who like lots of milk in their coffee but don't like it cooling when they add creamer.

* Red Eye: Regular coffee with an add shot.

2. DRINKS ON A BUDGET (Don't be fooled by the word "kids).

* Kid's Hot Chocolate: It's a regular hot chocolate that's put into a short cup. It's only $1.

* Kid's Milk: Just as it sounds like. Milk for $1.

* Kid's Cider: Want to warm up without caffeine? It's yours for $1.

3. Refills, anyone?

Very few people know the very lax refill policy. If you purchased a Starbucks drink earlier that day and saved your cup, you can have refills of the following:

* Regular Drip Coffee
* Regular Ice Teas (including black, green, and passion)

Doesn't matter what size cup you have either and it's 50 cents! Technically, you could bring in a cup that's a day old but it sounds kinda gross. If you're going with the hot coffee, ask them to swish some hot water in it to clean it out.


Let's say you're on a casual date or plan to be there for awhile. Let's just also say you don't like eating food out of a paper bag.

Ask for your food to be served on a "for here" plate. That way you get some real china and some stores have real silverware. Also, it's always nice to have a cappuccino with extra foam served in a "for here" cup.

5. A UNIQUE ESPRESSO EXPERIENCE - Recommended for people who truly love dark coffee AND a regular. Trust me, they wont do it for everyone. Once you've made friends with one of the baristas (or a supervisor), you can ask for this and it's truly memorable. Plus, it really impresses a date who is into coffee.

* Ask the supervisor to make you a batch of coffee that is in a FRENCH PRESS. Yes, they have these.

* Ask for a stronger coffee that has real flavors like the Sumatra.

* Ask for at least two grandes (come on, be fair) to be made and to be served in "for here" cups. They will charge you for two grande coffees (hella cheap).

What you'll get is a large glass FRENCH PRESS of wonderfully made coffee in nice mugs. What might have tasted like "sludge" before, now tastes better. The french press brings out additional flavors and aromas that get lost when it's processed in the electronic machine.

This is a great experience for a true coffee lover and if you go when they are slower (i.e. Sunday mid-mornings, late afternoon weekdays). My dad and I used to do this. Drink fast though, the coffee in a glass french press only stays hot for 20 minutes.

6. LEGENDARY SERVICE IN THE REAL WORLD - I used to be a barista and I'm always surprised that people don't know what they are entitled to.

* If your drink sucks or you tried something new and didn't like it, you can return it at any time. They should immediately throw away the drink and then make you a new one. They are also supposed to not make any faces or comments when doing this. Plus, you don't wait in line again. You just go up to the bar and tell them.

* They will offer a suggestion or make you another drink in the same price range.

* If it's really really really terrible and your barista is rude to you or spills on you, a supervisor might give you a free drink coupon. This is in cases of extreme neglect.

* Every time your drink is handed to you over the bar, the barista is supposed to look up and acknowledge your existence.

Obviously, this legendary service varies at different places. For instances, I find beach Starbucks more accommodating than the business Starbucks.


* Ever wonder why your hot drinks drip on you sometimes when you drink from it? It's because you lined up the drink hole with the cup seam. It creates a small leak. For those with hot drinks, always position the drink hole away from the seam (preferably 180 degrees).


elmomonster said...

Great insider tips! I'm not much of a coffee drinker -- actually I don't drink it at all if I can avoid it -- but I'll have to pass this one to my friends who go to Bucky's daily.

Vegasbuff said...


I'm not a huge coffee drinker either, so I would be interested to know what your friend thinks of these.

BeantownBarista said...

Excellent article, taught me plenty, but there are Just a few little slips. Half drip coffee and half steamed milk is called a Coffee Misto, and it's cousin is called a Tea Misto. A _____ Steamer is steamed milk poured onto whatever flavor syrup one chooses to fill the blank with, topped with whipped cream.

Also, all Hot Chocolates are made with vanilla syrup already. If you ask for more vanilla syrup in a hot chocolate DO NOT LET THE BARISTA CHARGE YOU FOR IT!!! That would be wrong. Tell the cash monkey you've got Howard Schultz's phone number.

Kids drinks are only heated to 130-135 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you want to price cheat using those sizes ask for extra hot. :)

In regards to section 5: A special espresso experience; I wonder if the word espresso is in all capitals because it is incorrectly used here and completely irrelevant to the information presented. French press coffee and espresso shots are completely different, everything from the coffee/water proportions to the grind and type of coffee used are different.

If the author did indeed work at a Starbucks, their employment ended for good reasons.

Knowledgeable employees unite!

Vegasbuff said...


Thanks for your input. Do you think there may be a regional difference in the names of the drinks, or what the customers will refer to it based on location.

Anonymous said...

There would be no difference in names of drinks from region to region, it is company wide half coffe half steamed milk is a coffee misto, a steamer is steamed milk a syrup and whip. also a french price has its own price, it is not charged as two grandes

Anonymous said...

Kids Cider. You Americans are ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

As a manager of a Starbucks, I cannot let this article slide.

Unless you are 12 and under, you are not getting a kids drink. Just, no. It isn't that much more to pay regular price for a short.

Secondly, PLEASE do not just run up to the bar if your drink is wrong. Usually we wont make you wait, but sometimes we have a line of drinks, and when a customer yells out they want it remade, when we are trying to think about making 3 drinks at once, it is bound to make us "make a face". Which by the way, I find it insulting that you expect us to be little robot workers. We get annoyed. We're pretty good at hiding it, though.

Don't tell us you know Howard Shultz's number. That just makes you look like an idiot, and we're going to make fun of you when you leave.

Don't brag about getting a free drink coupon for complaining. You look like a spoiled toddler who cried enough to get their way.

Furthermore, if you are over-the-top annoying, there is a good chance you will end up with decaf. A simple "please" and "thank you" go a long way with us.

We are people, not vending machines, and if you treat us like people, we're more likely to give you a little extra. For example, I usually offer to toss in an extra shot when someone doesn't just ignore me and blurt out their drink after asking "hey, how are you?".

Oh, and those people who order "shots over ice" and then dump milk into their cup instead of paying the extra cents for an iced latte? I hope something bad happens to you.

Know this: When you rip off the company (and that sounds like what you are trying to do here), they cut our hours. If starbucks loses money, the corporate executives don't just say "darn, I guess I can't fill up my yacht today". No, they cut OUR hours and pay.
and SOME of us have families to feed.

And that is why I don't feel bad for making you pay for an adult drink instead of a kids hot chocolate.

anonymous manager

Anonymous said...

I would also like to add when you come up to the counter in the middle of a conversation on your cell phone( or texting) like your the most important person in the world, and your wondering why your not being served.....thats why. We have better things to do with our time than try to interpret your beverage order while your talking to someone else. You just end up looking like a douche. Your experience will be better if you treat us like human beings. I know... crazy thought!

Shannon said...

ALSO before you criticize me and decide that i am doing my job wrong or i am taking too long for your drink or if i didnt realize you ordered your 900 calorie frappuccino whipped cream, think about allll the drinks us baristas need to remember and all the details that go into each one. Just because you think you have your proper foam to milk ratio for your monthly cappuccino doesnt mean we are dim witted coffee brewers, it means you are an annoying rude ill considerate human being. So appreciate us and be nice. Its all we ask for. Thank you fellow baristas, you make me feel a lot better!!! :)

sincerely, starbucks barista from maryland

Shannon said...

Oops i meant without whipped cream

Anonymous said...

I've worked at starbucks for quite a while now, and for the most part here's what I can tell you.

The store manager who wrote that comment sounds like a shitty shitty store manager. Most of the employees of starbucks don't hate every customer, and also don't get butt hurt by the occasional cell phone talker.

Now I'm going to address each issue in order...
1) Secret orders.... Just today some lady ordered a zebra from my drive through. the benifits of ordering a "zebra" or a "tuxedo" are very slim, figuring I made her repeat her order several times because I couldn't figure out what a "axebra" was (Its a little hard to hear in those headsets). However, if she said "white and black Mocha", there would have been a 0% chance of error.

As far as I'm concerned, your barista is their to assist you in your coffee decisions. describing to the barista what customizations you want in your drink will be much easier than requesting a "red eye".

2) Saving money on drinks.... Kids drinks are fine, if your okay paying 1$ for a sip or two... maybe starbucks makes a couple extra dollars off of a venti order, but you'll be drinking that drink for 9 times as long.

3) Refills Baristas have no issues refilling drinks. Go for it!

4) Eating at starbucks Cool... go for it!

ESPRESSO yeah.. the writer of this article got it wrong... french press is a great way to enjoy coffee, and takes your barista about 5 minutes to complete, but has nothing to do with espresso.

6) Customer Service Yes, your Barista is well aware of the fact that they have to be nice to you. And yes, Baristas are fine with remaking a drink for you.

However, a Barista is not a machine. Baristas think the same things about you that you do about them. If you are rude to your barista, they need to be polite, but they don't have to care about you. Approach your barista politely, and your barista should return the politeness. Keep in mind that their mind might be in coffee land, you could see how fast their hands are moving to find out if they are in this zone.

7) A genuine piece of good advice, although you'll find that it won't happen very often.

Anonymous said...

Lets get this straight. There is nothing noteworthy or redeeming about Starbucks. If you make coffee there you cannot call yourself a barista unless you mean in the most stripped down form. As in a person who pushes buttons and serves god awful over syruped burnt coffee. I know you will disagree with me but the fact is no one, and I mean no one who wins a barista championship comes from a Starbucks background. And if they did they didn't get a stellar skills from working at Starbucks. Nobody who knows coffee would consider drinking that rubbish. The same way anyone who knows food doesn't call the taco stand cuisine and anyone who know wine does not call that 10 dollar crap at Walmart wine. My advice to you is if your only choice is Starbucks you are better off dosing yourself in gasoline and lighting yourself on fire that drinking one drop of that ash tasting burnt tar. If you have a choice then forgo the gasoline and just get your coffee somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

LOL. First off... A Starbucks barista is just as much a barista as any crappy local shop employee. Local coffee shop employees have the idea that their coffee is superior, but 9 times out of 10, I get an extremely inconstant, and often undrinkable cup of coffee... Most of the people working at these shops are college kids, who arnt competitive baristas, therefor arnt qualified to make a cup of coffee. At Starbucks, college kids know exactly how to make quality coffee, because Starbucks has spent millions of dollars making sure their customers get what they order.

To the idiot dousing himself in gasoline - your local coffee shop, which also probably has to try and sell art or something to stay in business, has probably adapted some of Starbucks to begin with. Do you serve blended coffee? Yeah... Created by two Starbucks employees who presented it to Starbucks, and now your "independent" shop is stealing our recipes.

My advise, stay away from local shops who squeak by to meet payroll and overhead standards. Head over to Starbucks or Peets, where they have enough profit to worry about the sanitary conditions of their store. (coming from personal experience, I ordered a "latte" from a local shop, and the cup came out with three ants crawling on the outside. Needless to say I didn't drink the beverage)

Anonymous said...

To anonymous manager:
In regards to your comment -
"When you rip off the company..."
After watching a CNBC program that said the profit margin on the drinks is over 90%...
Give me a break.
I'll brew my own.

anna from texas said...

y'know the way i see it we should all treat people with respect. it sucks that people post rude things. a simple "that's not right" is sufficient.
now i was wondering, can you really get french press at starbucks?

Anonymous said...

Starbuck's sucks anyway.

Anonymous said...

Starbucks is really fucking the customers up. I am from Europe/Italy and you can make a better coffee at home even without machine (caffetiere) for max. 20 cents or you can go to the best espresso on any corner for 20% of the price from starbucks. Starbucks has only success because of stupid wanna-be-ripped-and-try-to-impress people. its so pathetic and stupid. Really no style.
Greetings from Italy

Anonymous said...

Most of these secrets are wrong. The refil policy is on brewed coffee hot or iced within an hour on the same visit. You can't leave and then get a refill later in the day. Also as a former Starbucks manager, any "barista" that has been trained at Starbucks is not a real barista. You can't even free pour a latte.

Anonymous said...

from manager above:
Oh, and those people who order "shots over ice" and then dump milk into their cup instead of paying the extra cents for an iced latte? I hope something bad happens to you.

Shots over ice, stops the brewing process. Shots into water is bitter and acidic. A grande and venti iced latte is more $- and 2 shots of espresso. An americano (espresso with water) is 3 shots for a grande and 4 for a venti - so more coffee for your buck, and yes you can add as much milk as you like.

Yes after years of drinking many Americanos I can taste the difference from when the shots are poured over ice. (I always preferred iced even in winter)