Starbucks Tips and Tricks

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Dining' started by JasonH, Feb 24, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. JasonH
    • Original Member

    JasonH Silver Member

    My wife is a Starbucks employee and loves to share tips and tricks. I'll add to this as she tells me new things.

    • Need a smaller drink? Order a "Short". The short is 8-ounces and is priced significantly lower than a tall.
    • Dog treats? Order a "Puppy Latte" (aka "Puppicinno"). It is whipped cream in a sample cup. They are free (or at least at most locations, if not, they would be pennies).
    • Want a latte without the espresso? Sometimes you need the taste of one of their lattes, but you don't want the espresso. Order it as a steamer. A steamer is just steamed milk to which you can add any pumps of flavor you want.
    • Is your drink too sweet? Order it with fewer pumps. The sweet is in the pumps, so if you reduce your pump count by one, you can reduce the sweetness. For example, the recipe for a white mocha has 3 pumps for a tall, 4 pumps for a grande, and 5 pumps for a venti.
    • Want a frappuccino but not the fat or caffeine? With the new frappuccino blends they are using as of last summer they can now make a non-fat and/or decaf frappuccino. Prior to the change that wasn't possible.
    • Want a unique chai? They can make any tea into a chai tea latte. My wife does say that you don't want to do this with the Passion tea as the hibiscus in the tea blend will cause milk to curdle. My wife's recommendation would be to order a "London Fog." The corporate stores will know how to make that.
    • Need Wi-Fi? Wi-Fi is free now at Starbucks stores. It also allows access to some premium content such as the Wall Street Journal.
    • Have extra foreign currency? Before you leave the country stop at a Starbucks and load up your Starbucks card with all your left over currency. That converts at rate to your home currency without bank fees.
    • [Added 3/2/11] Drink doesn't taste right/don't like what you ordered? At most corporate stores in the US/Canada you can try new pump combinations and drinks with no risk. If in the first few sips you don't like the taste tell the barista and they will remake the drink. If you just don't like the drink because you tried something new tell them what you don't like about it and they should make you something else using what you don't like as a guide to something that would better fit your palate.
    • [Added 3/2/11] Need a quick shot without the latte price? Order a "solo espresso in a tall (or short) cup". They will put the shot in the cup and you can fill the rest of the cup with milk and sugar as needed. This is priced about the same as an Americano, which is a shot of espresso and then the cup is filled with water.
    • [Added 3/2/11] Need to save cash when having a get together at a store? If you and several friends want to enjoy brewed coffee you can order a "coffee press" which will serve about 8 cups of coffee and is cheaper than ordering all those cups separately.
    There are a couple of others that I want to touch on, but they didn't really fit into the above.
    • Know the difference between a corporate store and a licencee store. A Starbucks in Target, Barnes & Noble, Safeway, etc is not a corporate store. The people working those stores do not go through the same level of training and those stores are the last to get any new products. The people working at, for example, Safeway Starbucks kiosks are employees of Safeway and are often borrowed from other departments like the deli department.
    • Get a Starbucks card and register it. Yes, it is a rewards program and you do have minimum qualification levels, but it gives you discounts and free drink coupons. Additionally, you will need the card for the foreign currency trick and having it registered allows you to track the balance.
    • As I detailed in a thread in the Delta forum, Starbucks owns Seattle's Best, so many of these tips and tricks will work at Seattle's Best as well. However the lingo may be a bit different depending on what you are ordering.
  2. Blur
    • Original Member

    Blur Active Member

    Great post. The foreign currency point is new to me. I travel to Germany and the U.K. a lot but wasn't sure if they took North American Starbucks cards at their locations.
    zshanlon likes this.
  3. Grace
    • Original Member

    Grace Silver Member

    Are there any country restrictions to the currency trick or will any corporate store be able to handle it?

    Also, are B&N starbucks able to accept Starbucks cards yet? I know my company can sell *$ card readers to our clients with *$s kiosks, but I haven't tried at a B&N since 2006.
  4. Concerto
    • Original Member

    Concerto Gold Member

    Thanks so much for posting this terrific "inside" Starbuck's info!! The foreign currency tip is really good to know!
    Chimpy likes this.
  5. JasonH
    • Original Member

    JasonH Silver Member

    Neither my wife nor myself have heard of any country restrictions, but it will need to be a "corporate" store as far as we are aware. Right now it might take a bit longer to complete the transaction at non-US/Canada stores until the new sales system is rolled out to the International arm.

    Within the US/Canada region the non-corporate stores should be accepting Starbucks cards. If they aren't they will soon be in violation of their license.

    Let me clarify what "corporate" means in the international world of Starbucks. Outside of the US/Canada region Starbucks sells a country or region wide license to a "trusted partner." That license maintains that they must meet certain requirements for interoperability with US/Canada systems and quality control. Beyond that it gives them some leeway to make local market adjustments. Hence why you see food and drinks at a Chinese Starbucks you would never see in Japan or the US/Canada market. However, that license doesn't grant the level of latitude that B&N, Safeway, etc get in their license.
  6. mikeef
    • Original Member

    mikeef Silver Member

    Thanks for the tips! I'm a once per day kinda guy, so I appreciate it.

    We just moved to a new house and apparently the previous owner was a SBUX drinker, since their free drink cards are still coming here. Somehow, I keep forgetting to alert them.

    Sean Colahan, kyunbit and cptnkirk77 like this.
  7. Are the Starbucks in airports like ORD, LAS corporate stores or licensees?
  8. JasonH
    • Original Member

    JasonH Silver Member

    Those are all licensee stores. One easy give away in an airport is they are usually selling the same bottled water as the other stores in the airport. Starbucks corporate stores sell only Ethos bottled water. One reason is that 5-cents from each purchase goes to providing water purification systems to underdeveloped countries. I didn't include this in the tips and tricks because it doesn't affect a customer, but Starbucks is a huge philanthropic company. I can detail that in another post if people are interested.
    misman likes this.
  9. misman
    • Original Member

    misman Gold Member

    We learned about the licensee vs. corporate thing a few years ago from a former Starbucks manager. Since then, we "save" our Starbucks gift cards for just the corporate stores. (In Lakeside, the only stores are licensees in Safeway; in Albuquerque, it's easy to find the corporate ones... on every corner.

    Thanks for the tips on the drinks. Forwarded to the Mrs. as she will often want something with a "little" sweet, but not that sweet. Of course... remembering this will be the biggest hurdle.
  10. aitchly
    • Original Member

    aitchly Silver Member

    Need two small drinks and want to save a little? Order a large* and ask for it in two cups.

    *still annoyed with the venti, grande, short names.
  11. DAS02135
    • Original Member

    DAS02135 Gold Member

    As a heads up shorts are not always significantly less expensive. In the Boston area, a tall coffee is a $1.60 after taxes, whereas a short is $1.50.

    Also, another benefit of the Starbucks card is that you get free refills on brewed coffee. This is a great one if you're going to drink your coffee in the store.
    Analise and JasonH like this.
  12. JasonH
    • Original Member

    JasonH Silver Member

    Yes. I should have been more specific. The "hand-crafted" drinks are less expensive as a short. The brewed coffee... not so much.
  13. diver90
    • Original Member

    diver90 Gold Member

    Agree. I just don't do it. And what the heck is "tall"? Nobody has had a problem with understanding the word "small". But I do like the info about ordering a "Short"
  14. Blue Skye
    • Original Member

    Blue Skye Silver Member

    Thanks for posting this. I am intrigued by the London Fog chai and may have to get one next time.
  15. wiredboy
    • Original Member

    wiredboy Silver Member

    I'm surprised no one has brought up the term 'ghetto latte' yet. A shot of espresso in a tall cup. Then filling it to the top with milk from the sugar/creamer area. [​IMG]
    2wheels and hulagrrl210 like this.
  16. JasonH
    • Original Member

    JasonH Silver Member

    I'm not a fan of the terminology. It has some serious negative connotations. I'll see if they have a more proper term for that.
    mailbroad and aitchly like this.
  17. JasonH
    • Original Member

    JasonH Silver Member

    The proper way to order that would be to ask for a "solo espresso in a tall cup" and the cost is about that of an Americano, which is a shot of espresso and water.
  18. wiredboy
    • Original Member

    wiredboy Silver Member

    I completely agree. I know several people from *ahem* another travel site who refer to everything as 'ghetto this' and 'ghetto that' and it makes me crazy. I only used the term because I've heard it said.
    mailbroad, DYKWIA and SeeYa like this.
  19. Cosmos Human
    • Original Member

    Cosmos Human Silver Member

    I go to *$ all the time. Thanks for all the great info.
  20. DYKWIA
    • Original Member

    DYKWIA Silver Member

    Don't be all ghetto now trashing your friends from *ahem* another travel site [​IMG] xoxo
    mailbroad, hulagrrl210 and wiredboy like this.
  21. JasonH
    • Original Member

    JasonH Silver Member

    A heads up for the Starbucks fans. It looks like starting late this week/early next week Starbucks is rolling out new pastries and a very limited run coffee bean as well as refocusing on their cappuccinos.

    The pastry that was most talked about was the "cakesicle." This is cake batter cooked onto a stick and dipped in a topping. The taste is described by the baristas as sugar cookie with chocolate and a coffee finish. They are also bringing out new cupcakes (finally!).

    The limited run coffee beans are their "40th Anniversary Blend" and is a blend of several varieties of beans. However, most of the beans are Ethiopian and very limited in quantity. This stuff will likely sell out quickly. It didn't look like they taste tested it at the store meetings so no idea on the palate feel of this blend.

    The refocus on the cappuccinos will likely mean some deals will be around the corner. They might start pushing these a bit, so you might score some sample cups or even a short for free if you ask to taste it to see if you will like it.

    This brings me to another thing that I will put here and add to the main post. If you don't like your drink for any reason after a couple of sips bring it back to them and they should remake it until they get it right. Now, if you drank the whole cup you are out of luck, but there have been times when they just didn't get the taste right and they always remade it for me. Even when it wasn't my wife's store.
    Gargoyle likes this.
  22. wiredboy
    • Original Member

    wiredboy Silver Member

    misman likes this.
  23. jason8612
    • Original Member

    jason8612 Gold Member

    wow! awesome tips I'll have to use
    Skyvillager likes this.
  24. HiIslands
    • Original Member

    HiIslands Silver Member

    My mobile Starbucks barcode is never recognized by the scanners....and at several different locations too, yet the card on which it is based works just fine. Any suggestions?
  25. JasonH
    • Original Member

    JasonH Silver Member

    How recent is this? The new Symphony system should be rolled out to all the corporate stores now. Only the Symphony system can scan the mobile barcode so if you were at stores prior to their Symphony rollout it wouldn't have worked. There are also some reports that a few stores had to keep their old scanners for awhile. Those scanners have a laser reader that doesn't do well on the screens of smart phones.

    Now, if you go to a corporate store today and it doesn't work ask them to put a report in with IT as they should be able to scan without any issues.

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