Top 5 Starbucks Secrets

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Jason Coffee
Starbucks
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Starbucks has some secrets and I am going to share them with you. The secrets on this list will not only enhance your Starbucks experience but will save you a little money at the same time.

Top 5 Starbucks Secrets

starbucks-size-short-tall-venti-grande1. Starbucks Size Secret

Starbucks has more sizes than what is on the menu. The secret is they actually have a size called a short that is only 8 oz. The short size appears on the menu as a kid’s size but you can actually order any drink in this size. So next time you don’t need a full 12 oz cup of coffee and want to save a little cash just say, “Give me the secret size.” Either that or you can just ask for the short.

2. Starbucks Coffee Secret

When you go to Starbucks you will notice that they have either the Pike Place or the Bold coffee of the day already brewed. Many times you may not prefer the two coffees they are offering but you feel like you don’t have a choice in the matter. The secret is you actually do! They will brew you a pour over of any coffee that they carry in whole bean. So next time you don’t want Pikes Place or Gold Coast just ask for a pour over of your favorite coffee and they will oblige.

Bonus Coffee Secret

This one is for the whole bean coffee buyers. If you buy coffee by the lb but want to try more than one to find your favorite Starbucks whole bean coffee you don’t have to buy 5 pounds to figure that out. The secret is you can actually select 1/2 or 1/4 pounds that add up to 1 pound and get it for the variety 1 lb price.

3. Starbucks Food Secret

Starbucks has a ton of pastries and many of them are really good. Here’s the secret, all of the Starbucks coffees have notes in them that pair well next to one of the pastries in the food case. This is really helpful to keep in mind for black coffee drinkers and for those that might be trying to select a pairing for a dinner party.

Bonus Food Secret

The pastries at Starbucks are good but some of them are even better warm. Did you know that you can ask them to warm up any of their pastries in the oven. That’s right, it’s not a microwave it is an oven which uses hot air to super heat your pastries in just seconds.

starbucks gift card4. Starbucks Star Secret

Getting your drink at Starbucks can get pretty pricey. Here’s the secret, if you register a Starbucks Card and buy drinks with it there are crazy rewards that will help you save some of your hard earned cash. Starbucks will reward each drink purchase with a star which will get you things like: Free syrups in your drink, free coffee refills and even free drinks on your birthday!

5. Starbucks Water Secret

One of the most unknown Starbucks Secrets is the quality of the water they use. Starbucks water is at a minimum triple filtered. So next time you start to reach for a bottled water remember that water they give out from behind the counter is just as good or better quality than the water in the bottle and it’s free!

BONUS SECRET

Starbucks Just came out with Starbucks K-Cups and we have the scoop on which ones are yummy.

This is by no means a complete list of Starbucks Secrets. Do you have any Starbucks Secrets that you would like to share?

(I am using the word “Secret” to refer to things that the average Starbucks Customer probably doesn’t know; They are not actually a secret.)

photos top to botttom by: genista | samk

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  1. Chigloo

    Also, Starbucks keep extra pastries and food in the fridge in the back, so if you want a particular pastry or food, ask for it even though they don’t have any at the front, and they should get one from the fridge for you! It might not taste as good because its cold and pastries are generally better at room temperature, but at least you get what you ask for!

  2. Anonymous

    You can actually order any frappuccino without coffee! Just ask for it creme based. I personally like the chocolate cookie crumble, which is the mocha cookie crumble without coffee.

  3. YourBarista

    This is the reason why Barista’s hate their lives all the time. ‘Cuz people order a French Press Decaf Willow blend at eight in the morning during a fucking rush. Customers get so selfish at Starbucks it makes me sick. I love my job, but really?…personal cup of coffee? Get a latte.

  4. Andrea Tracy

    I managed a Starbucks until this past April. I can tell you that its the companies policy to brew, cone over or french press any coffee that the customer wants. As a company they have the “just say yes” policy. All of the other secrets that you posted were true too. My favorite pastry coffee combo is the Lemon loaf with Sumatra. *black of course*

  5. bob

    starbux is to “coffee” what mcdonald’s is to “food.” and mcd’s is anything but food… if you like over-roasted garbage that destroys all the subtleties of the bean, keep drinking that starbux… but make no mistake, starbux is CONVENIENCE, not coffee… you want to know what coffee is SUPPOSED to taste like? try an independent shop in portland, oregon. you’ll never drink starbux swill again.

  6. Iri

    My family owns a roastery/cafe and we do everything in small batches .. keep things fresh and so forth… I am also very obsessed about espressos, lattes and latte art. I know how elevation, bean type, weather outside affects the coffee. My whole point being that I hate how starbucks employees keep being called baristas.. just bc u can push a button and pour milk on top of espresso does not make u a brista.. I can gurantee most don’t even know why the milk is taken to the consistency it is supposed to be when a latte is made… or what that’s even called or what an espresso should run at and what it best tastes like at different times depending on the espresso blend. Starbucks was great for making espresso based coffees popularized but they are destorying the concept of what they actually are… it drives me nuts when someone comes in asking for a caramel machiatto.. even though it’s a 2 oz espresso with a tiny bit of milk not the jug of coffee with caramel in it and drizzled on top… my point being that they are also getting the masses used to drinks and lingo that simply aren’t true and thus makes it more difficult for independently owned cafes to stick to the true art form of espresso drinks.That’s my rant. Have a nice day =o)

  7. Karen Albert

    Starbucks is focused on why they do what they do and that is why they have built loyalty. It’s not just about product, it’s about community, about people. Talking with random strangers in Starbucks. (My 26 strangers in 30-days challenge.) I’ve been discovering that the concept start with why works. Google Simon Sinek Start With Why.

    Here is what one 26 year old woman said to me just.
    “Starbucks is a community and they create that through the decor, the music and the drinks. Starbucks is a lifestyle. I am a Starbucks girl because I like the sense of community, the quality and the relaxed vibe they give. That’s kinda like me.”

  8. John Valenty

    great info, especially about the water. I would have assumed it was tap although it always tastes fine. The rest isn’t really “secrets” however except for the whole pairing thing.

  9. Mike Cross

    I love Starbucks. We don’t have them everywhere, but there’s a few. I just love coffee really. I have a french press at home and it makes coffee really strong! And a kcup machine and I don’t like it quite so much.

    The thing is, what makes a coffee great to me is my state of mind. If I have been outside in freezing rain cutting down pine trees and my hands are red and numb and my nose is barely runny and my chest is cold, then someone friendly running out with a watery Sanka is going to be a better coffee than a 4bucks after a nice dinner.

  10. A.

    Being from Seattle, I’m spoiled. I have two chains at my disposal – Starbuck’s, which is fine, and Tully’s, which is better – but I also have access to some particularly awesome local companies. To be fair, drinking Starbuck’s coffee is like ordering Domino’s pizza for dinner. It’s not bad, but it’s not spectacular, or even great. It’s simply convenient.

    At least here in Seattle everyone knows the coffee code words and we’re quite close to the main roasting plant, so our coffee is quite fresh.

    PS: If you take your black coffee with half and half, ask for a cafe misto with breve. It’s black coffee and steamed half and half. Some places will even add your sugars for you.

  11. Olivia

    Dahlila,

    I remember when that directive came down, our store followed it for about a week, max. If I’m not mistaken, it was a healt department (Starbuck’s internal auditors, not city health inspectors) thing. It is extremely wasteful, but I bet it stemmed from the occasional customer who brought back the same cup, day after day, to be refilled.

    It’s true – the rewards system is pretty great for frequent customers. I have some regulars who save $1.60 on their drinks every day because of the gold card benefits (now a frequent buyer kind of deal instead of a fixed discount with an annual buy-in to the card). You can even get a free tall drink (anything!) every time you purchase a pound of coffee.

  12. dahlila

    QUESTION: Olivia, my usual Starbucks–& a few others, but not all in Sacramento, won’t allow me to use my same cup for a refill (!). SO wasteful! One manager is absolutely indignant about it. What’s the deal with that?

    Also, about refills: if you get a Starbucks card, accrue points, work your way up to a gold card (not that hard) those refills become free. Also, shots of syrups if you like swizzly drinks. It’s a really nice deal. :-)

  13. Olivia

    FR4M, I looked at the blog post you got the information from. Looks like you were right – they DID change the policy recently (June 2011). Like the post says, the refill policy is incredibly convoluted, and really a pain to deal with because of all the different exceptions. Unfortunately, Starbucks is notorious for posting new developments/releases on their facebook page or twitter before these things are communicated to their employees. I cannot tell you how often employees hear about events or new products on facebook before hearing it from their manager. For instance, the new Blonde roast coffees that are coming out soon – they were announced on facebook (even including a short explanatory video) TWO WEEKS before we discussed these coffees in a store meeting, or even saw a printed-out info sheet.

    So, while this may be the policy, be aware that not everyone may be informed of this, so don’t get frustrated with someone who is trying their best to uphold such a difficult and constantly-changing policy. Be polite – that is the easiest way to get treated with respect, and to get what you want.

  14. Olivia

    Nope, I distinctly remember this from Supervisor training. If they’ve changed it within the past year, they haven’t communicated it effectively.

  15. Olivia

    Hey, I don’t write the policy. But to me, it makes sense – if you buy regular coffee, the only legitimate “refill” would be more regular coffee. If you buy a pumpkin spice latte, filling your empty cup with regular coffee isn’t a refill, it’s a free (or heavily discounted) cup of coffee.

    • Jason Coffee

      huh, this is interesting. I always thought it was a free refill of coffee, hot or cold (depending on the cup), regardless of the drink purchased. You might want to look this one up in one of the sbux standards book…

  16. FrenchRoast4Me

    @ Olivia:

    That makes ABSOLUTELY no sense. If I buy a fancy-dancy $5.00 syruped-up handcrafted latte, why would I be excluded from getting a refill of regular coffee or tea, free or for 54 cents? Seems awfully silly to me.

  17. Olivia

    Actually, the actual policy only applies if you actually purchased the hot/cold coffee or tea in the first place. We give a 10 cent discount if you reuse your original cup, but the only FREE refills are earned through the rewards program (i.e. registering your Starbucks card), and only apply to the same drink you originally purchased. As Jason mentioned before, there is the “just say yes” policy, and you might be able to get away with getting a refill if you pitch a fit, but it wouldn’t be free, it would be the standard refill price of 54 cents.

  18. FrenchRoast4Me

    WHAT ABOUT THE BEST-KEPT “SECRET” OF THEM ALL???

    THE FREE REFILL POLICY!

    On the same visit, not matter what your original beverage order, you are entitled to a FREE refill of either 1)hot or cold regular coffee or 2) hot or iced tea.

    And that’s company policy!

    So, sit back, relax, and when you’ve finished your drink of choice, have a refill on the house!

  19. dahlila

    As an avid lover of the pour-over I can tell you most Starbucks’ baristas would rather make the most complicated swizzly caramel frappucino you can create rather than do a pour-over. Some don’t even know what it is or worse how to make it. I”ve had baristas get completely indignite about making one. Seriously.

    Yet, I don’t like their “blends”, with that acidy aftertaste. Ick. I like my Italian, French & I like it black & hot. This is another thing to remember. Often, the barista won’t swirl the pour cup w/hot water first, before extracting the hottest water for your cup. I’ve had lots of soon-to-be luke warm pour overs.

    BUT, I’ve ordered enough of these at my usual Starbucks, that they’re learning, so there’s that.

    All I ask from my barista is a HOT BLACK DARK ROAST coffee. I don’t think that’s such a tall order.

    dahlila
    Sacramento, CA

    • Jason Coffee

      I don’t think that is a very tall order and if Starbucks offers a pour over it stands to reason that their partners/employees should be able to make them for guests with skill and with a smile.

      BTW: I am originally from Sacramento.

  20. My 2 cents worth

    Thank you Ren. You are exactly the reason why starbucks sucks. If you dont take care of the customer, they go somewhere else.

  21. Olivia

    Gotta agree with both Megan and Susan. I work for Starbucks, and our level of customer service (mind you, I’m speaking for my store, not the whole company) is extremely high, and our employee’s coffee knowledge is… better than that of McDonalds employees. In the past, there was a lot more emphasis put on the Coffee Master program (something which I personally think should be a required course for every Store Manager and at least a good portion of the Shift Management team).

    I think there is so much individual difference between stores, that it’s impossible to say “Starbucks has great customer service” or “Starbucks makes terrible drinks” or “Starbucks has bad coffee.” I work with some great people – people who will greet you with a smile and treat you politely no matter how rude you are (that’s the great/terrible thing about such a corporate chain). Unfortunately, most of the people who work for Starbucks (in my experience) are there for the insurance, or for an entry-level job to put them through school – not because they’re passionate about coffee. It can be pretty disheartening when you’re trying to conduct a coffee tasting, and half your staff doesn’t even LIKE coffee, or after two years, claims they can’t taste the difference between two roasts.

    So, if money wasn’t an issue, I’d be working at a small, independent coffee shop. As it is, I can say that while I’m with Starbucks, there will be at least one employee who is passionate about coffee and quality working there.

  22. Carolyn Harrison

    I was recently traveling in Texas and heard people ordering their lattes “extra hot”. I hadn’t heard that term used in any of the Starbucks I’ve been to anywhere else in the country (not that it doesn’t exist elsewhere).

    I finally asked a barista how you made a latte “extra hot”. For all I knew, seeing as it was Texas, maybe they added pepper sauce as a flavor.

    She explained that for “extra hot” they steamed the milk longer, thus not cooling the coffee as much when making the latte.

    Good to know if, like me, you’re a slow coffee drinker. My lattes do tend to get pretty cool by the time I reach the bottom.

    • Robyn

      I manage a restaurant(Houston,TX) where we also do espressos, etc. I have always wondered what these people meant when they ordered it extra hot. I could never figure it out and when I asked the first customer what exactly extra hot meant, they could only tell me, really hot duh. I make it the same way whether they ask for extra hot or not, but now at least I know. thanks

    • Ally

      My husband refuses to do that in our shop & is happy to explain that it totally ruins the taste of the coffee!! He’s a bit of a coffee snob!! :0) A lot of people just want the caffeine I suppose & don’t really care about the taste, which is a shame

  23. Coffee Attic'd

    I ENJOY Starbucks – whether you call it a coffee house or not. It’s my little special treat I give to myself ($$eachday$$) The barista’s are always helpful -with a smile. They will make me any special drink I want or come up with. My one & only bean (I mean beef) is the Rewards card. I buy 3 drinks a day for my employees and it only gets me 1 star. The barista’s have told me to just pay for them separately to get 3 stars but I hate to cause more work for them. Come on Starbucks 1 drink should equal 1 star!
    Thanks Coffee Guy!

  24. Susan

    First of all, I drink local. But if you’re reporting on the coffee industry, it’s kind of important to mention the biggest player. So this article exists….

    But secondly, why is everyone ripping on Starbucks? We KNOW it’s a chain. But it’s not the worst quality coffee out there (there are some local shops that have that), and because of their “BAD” coffee, there’s millions of hipster teenagers who now have an addiction and now want to buy from local shops. So who cares? On a long road trip I eat at Mcdonalds and drink Starbucks, because I know where to find them. And sometimes my Americano sucks, but most of the time it’s decent, and I don’t have a headache. Starbucks is not the devil, it’s a bridge between the rest of the world and the ones who know about real, good, local coffee. Millions of new customers have been created!

    • Jason Coffee

      This comment is really on point. I just took a road trip to Minnesota and tried my hardest to find local shops to go to on the way but they were either closed down or not open. Starbucks however was consistent and always open. I also firmly agree that Starbucks gives millions of people an introduction to coffee that they otherwise would not of had and as they learn more about coffee they will no doubt try the local guys as a result.

      • KJ

        Are you serious Jason? Where in Minnesota were you? The Twin Cities are BOOMING with coffee culture. Outside of there, I can recc one or two that I know of, but I’m wondering just where you went that you could only find Starbucks?

      • Kirk

        next time you’re up there, I recommend trying out Dogwood Coffee. One of the best coffee shops I’ve ever been to and definitely one of the best in Minnesota. I recommend asking for a single shot of espresso and then an espresso macchiato and drink them side by side. That really helps bring out the flavor of the espresso and the sweetness the milk adds.

  25. Megan

    Jason—

    I actually agree with Olivia! And, definally since you are here from KC! Personally I would rather spend the same amount–maybe a bit more, when it comes to LOCAL coffee shops. There’s a great one in Independence called Main Street Coffee House. Most of their coffees are from the Roasterie. Don’t get me wrong they have the sugary drinks as well. I am not sure about pour-overs or french presses. But, I feel so much better about getting a drink from there then Starbucks. One of the bounses about MSCH is they will tell you what’s in a drink! HOW AWESOME…

    For another local coffee house…that just got voted as one of the best in the nation is—-you guessed it ROASTERIE in Brookside,MO and Leawood,KS! Jason–seriously you are going to Starbucks when you have so many amazing coffee houses?!?! The Roasterie’s Cafes will do any bean and method you want! They have the coolest–my favorite way to brew-the vacuum! Its a coffee science lab! How awesome!

    I just think you should go as local as one can. Help your local small businesses! Plus, you get on a first name bases and better customer service (MAJORITY of the time).

  26. Olivia

    Let’s be realistic. Starbucks is no longer a coffee shop. It’s a place to get fancy, syrupy, sugary drinks for most people. If you care that much about coffee, go to a real coffee shop, not what is quickly becoming a fast food-like chain.

  27. Justishudd

    Most Starbucks will also brew your coffee via a French press if you request. Also: there are many “secret” flavors and drinks that many will brew you. My favorite is a tuxedo/zebra/penguin mocha (half white mocha and half regular).

  28. Olivia

    It’s true – the policy is “just say yes,” but please, I beg you, have some consideration for the profits and losses of your neighborhood store. Making them open four $14+ bags of coffee for only 1/4 of the profit is not fair. We cycle our pick of the day, so it’s not difficult to try new coffees if you visit Starbucks regularly. We will gladly make French presses or even pour overs (though you may find the demand for those is so low that most stores never make them) on occasion, but please consider the expense and don’t make it a habit.

    • Jason Coffee

      Thanks for sharing your insights, some very interesting points to consider. I don’t think most people will be to concerned with a billion dollar corporations loss on a $14 bag of coffee. Though the individual stores really do need to think like a small business in the midst of being a corporation in many ways. It’s got to be a difficult balance for some of these lower grossing stores.

      Plus – If partners are doing pour overs and accommodating the customer on things like whole bean it will increase their excitement about the trying new coffees and ultimately will increase customer traffic from referrals and increase customer satisfaction thus increasing overall profits and year over year whole bean sales at your store.

    • Matt Loves Kona Coffee

      Hi Olivia!
      As a six year partner (retired yesterday! Woo!) I agree that I would have to donate a lot of half pound bags because of selling half a pound and throwing it out. Usually, if no one was around, I would simply give the customer the whole pound of coffee, just so that I wouldn’t make any waste.

    • Milli

      That would be $14 to the customer. GMs feel free to weigh in here…what is the actual cost? Less than half? Also consider that the customer asking to try a new flavor just may end up buying bags and bags of that “lost profit.”

  29. Ren

    As a barista I can tell you that not all of these are true. For one, we’re not obliged to make a pour over of any coffee we have. Especially at smaller stores like mine, we’re not going to open random pounds of coffee and risk them going bad.
    Also, when buying whole beans, you can buy them in 1/4 and 1/2 lbs, but it’s going to depend on if that particular store has that blend in 5 lb stock at the time. Again, we usually won’t open a pound of coffee if it’s just going to go to waste!

    • Jason Coffee

      That’s really interesting. I wonder if this is all Starbuck’s or just yours because I know the ones in my neighborhood will do it and If I am not mistaken I believe it’s Starbucks policy to “just say Yes.” Thanks for commenting and the inside info!

      • Kayla

        I was once a Barista at a non-corporate Starbucks. And we were not required to make whatever coffee the customer wanted….WE DID DO IT BECAUSE OUR JOB WAS CUSTOMER SERVICE…

      • Sara

        There is a just say yea policy at the stores I have worked at refusing to do something as simple as make pour over coffee will result in the barista being written up. Another good thing is you can get any coffeeade in the French press!! Any coffee that is opened is marked out exactly one week later and it’s up for grabs for the baristas or it gets donated, so it never goes to waste!

      • Sarah

        Her store is definitely by no means the norm for Starbucks. I have worked in 6 separate Starbucks Cafes, ranging from downtown city central cafes to a small keosk cafe in a mall and every one of those would happily open a pound of coffee for a customer. We would use the rest for things such as coffee pairing tutorials or coffee tastings both for employees and for guests. As a now GM of Starbucks I can say if their gm was aware they were not offering these things it would soon change as this is the Starbucks way our customers come first.

    • dee

      Actually Ren all of the above are true. (13 yr partner here) if you aren’t doing these things for customers your not following policy & their experience has gone down the tubes!

    • Mike B.

      This is one of the problems with Starbucks. They claim that they are willing to do a pour over or french press of any coffee the customer wants. The truth is that most of the time when I order a french press the sbux employee scoffs at me, and I have asked for pour over at several different locations and the employee didn’t even know what that was.

      Have you ever tasted a pour over made by someone who didn’t know what they were doing? Trust me it doesn’t taste good. Starbucks claims to be focused on serving the best coffee in the world be the truth is that they are NOWHERE near world class. Most of these claims are the result of an over-confident and under-educated CEO. With the resources the company has, they should be able to deliver quality (when desired by the customer) of firms like Stumptown or Intelligentsia.

      • Juan_Migragnas

        I have never asked for a french press at Sbux… but I do coincide that they are nowhere near the world class… and that the quality of the coffee is not worth the price of it.

      • Patrick

        @Mike B.
        Under-educated CEO? LOL C’mon. You really have no idea what you’re talking about. You just want to sound like you do and you’re a typical Starbucks basher. Starbucks is a world class company who not only treat their customers right, but they treat the people who grow the beans right. They are a very ethical company.

        • Mike B

          “Starbucks basher”…”Starbucks fanboy”… no need to call names.

          The fact is that Howard S. claims that his company sells the best coffee in the world. Another fact is that the typical Starbucks bean is NOT of the best quality in the world. This means that our friend Howard either doesn’t know what he is talking about, or is a liar.

          I don’t claim to be an expert but trust me, Starbucks “quality” is not the best of the best. Look to firms like Stumptown, Intelligentsia, or MadCap for best-in-the-world quality. Most of those in the coffee industry will agree with me. It has nothing to do with ethics, treatment of customers, or treatment of suppliers.

          • Jason W

            You need to read Howard’s biography it’s awesome! I’m sorry you’ve had a poor experience but it really just depends on the barista. There have been multiple times that I have gotten a french press and they have brought it to the table for me.

          • WestCoastGal

            Patrick, there is no need for rude and immature talk like that here. Differences in opinion are healthy and stimulate discussion and, hopefully, encourage each of us to dig a lil’ deeper.
            Hey, like my mom always said to us growing up, “if you can’t say anything kind or in a kind way, don’t say anything at all.”

      • Ally

        As the owner of an independent coffee shop in the UK, I can tell you we are slowly being driven out of business by the likes of Starbucks. We offer fantastic quality & very competitive prices, yet continually watch people walk past the door clutching overpriced buckets of an inferior product. Starbucks have saturated the market & prove the power of marketing over quality! With bean-to-cup machines & overheated, over steamed milk, any Starbucks worker is having a laugh calling themselves a barista!! They are the McDonalds of coffee & I hope someday the country wakes up & real

    • Kirk

      Either this has changed since I worked as a Shift Supervisor at Starbucks, or your individual store is unique because we were absolutely supposed to make a fresh cup of any coffee for anyone who asked (at that time we would french press it, not sure what they do now).

      As for the beans, I am not familiar with that one, but knowing the manager of our store, I’m sure she would have approved that request if someone had asked.

    • Jeffrey Lee

      I only drink French Pressed coffee, are you suggesting that because my paid choise is somehow disrespectful to starbucks’ bottom line. Last I checked my money was just as valuable as every other patron.

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