Starbucks is one of the most popular chains in the world right now, as coffee-lovers can’t get enough of the brand’s tasty drinks. But did you know that the company harbors plenty of mysteries within its walls? So, from money saving hacks to baristas’ biggest gripes, here are 40 of Starbucks’ juiciest secrets.
40. Know the sizes
Drink sizes are pretty easy to understand, right? Not in Starbucks, apparently. A barista named Veronica Gallagher made an interesting admission to Travel + Leisure in August 2020. She said, “Many people think a ‘tall’ is the largest size, when really [our largest size] is venti or trenta.” The tall is actually a small, and a medium is called a grande. Got that?
39. The black aprons
When you speak with a Starbucks barista behind the counter, you’ll probably notice that they’re donning a green apron. But there are other employees who sport black overalls, too. Why’s that? Well, those individuals are “coffee masters,” and they earn that rank via the company’s program of studies. Essentially, they’re experts in warm beverages!
38. The pastries aren’t fresh
For some of us, no coffee is complete without a nice pastry dish on the side. The next time you go to Starbucks, though, you might want to hold off on that. Someone claiming to be a former barista took to Reddit in 2015 to say, “All the pastries come [in] frozen and we defrost them. We think they’re overpriced too.”
37. ‘Kids’ temperature’
Don’t you just hate it when a hot coffee scalds your mouth? It’s horrible! Though fear not: you can actually ask for your beverages at “kids’ temperature” when you visit Starbucks. According to Shareably, a warm cup normally hits figures of over 200 degrees, but the aforementioned request will knock it down to around 140 degrees. Pretty neat, right?
36. The price of rudeness
If you’ve ever been rude to a Starbucks barista, take this on board. One person who claimed they were a server told Reddit, “When you think you’re entitled to anything and complain about a non-issue, you’re getting decaf. And I’m not apologizing about your minor inconvenience.” So, maybe be a little nicer next time!
35. The holiday cups
Starbucks offers red holiday cups with certain beverages when the festive season rolls around. And it has to be said that they look really cool. But as it turns out, you can’t just pay for the containers outright. According to a thread on the company’s unofficial subreddit, you’ve got to order the drinks. Plus, it’s only one cup per-person.
34. Try the blonde espresso
If you’re not a big fan of Starbucks’ lattes, Veronica Gallagher made a suggestion to Travel + Leisure. The next time you’re at the counter, ask for a “blonde espresso.” Apparently, this selection is similar to the medium roast on offer in smaller coffee establishments. It’s got to be worth a try, right?
33. Don’t fear the ice
Ice machines have garnered a pretty bad reputation in certain restaurants thanks to their cleanliness. Yet someone claiming to be an ex-Starbucks barista said that the coffeehouse doesn’t have this issue. They wrote on Reddit, “I worked for Starbucks for four years and picked up shifts at four or five stores. Every store was very diligent about cleaning the ice machines multiple times a week.”
32. Be patient in the line
Lengthy queues are far from ideal for thirsty customers, but the baristas at Starbucks aren’t fans either. So, a server named Natalie McInnis offered up some advice to Travel + Leisure. She said, “Just be patient, we’re friendlier when we’re less stressed out from people wanting things instantly. We all do our best, we don’t want the lines to be there any more than people want to sit in them.”
31. Kiosks don’t offer a full menu
When you visit certain shops, you might spot a Starbucks kiosk sitting in the corner. Before you get too excited, though, bear this in mind. Those stands don’t actually offer a complete menu. Unfortunately, that’s led to some heated discussions with the innocent baristas. So don’t get mad!
30. Employees hate the fizzy drinks
Did you know that you can buy fizzy beverages at Starbucks? Well, the baristas wish that you couldn’t. One person purporting to be a member of staff informed Reddit, “Please don’t order the berry sangria, or any carbonated drinks for that matter. We hate making them, they’re simply the biggest pain to create.”
29. Don’t hang around too long
It’s not always easy to find a seat at Starbucks due to the influx of customers throughout the day. But that’s not the only reason. Certain stores don’t actually offer a large number of tables to begin with. According to Shareably, the company doesn’t want people to hang around for any longer than they need to – it prevents the space from clogging up.
28. Prices vary depending on location
If you’ve just arrived from a different state, you might want to double-check the Starbucks menu. As a server told Eat This, Not That!, “The price of drinks is purely based on region. They are mostly standardized throughout the country, but local and state taxes will change the final price of drinks.”
27. Don’t mess the staff around
No one likes to be messed around at their job, but it’s especially annoying for Starbucks baristas. An apparent employee cited an example on Reddit – revealing that a certain customer would ask for elaborate beverages and “forget” about them for several hours. From there, they’d request a new cup. It just adds more work, so keep that in mind.
26. Don’t get attached to the seasonal drinks
Just like any other menu, the beverages at Starbucks don’t always stay the same. And that’s certainly the case with the annual items. As Veronica Gallagher told Travel + Leisure, “Our seasonal drinks change often, so please do not be upset at us when the promotion ends and we no longer have the product.”
25. The steamed-iced coffee
When you order an iced coffee at Starbucks, the mix will be pretty strong. You see, as the ice thaws out, it dilutes the beverage. So if you’re after a drink that retains the heavier blend, tell the barista that you want a “steamed-iced coffee.” Even though you might have to go into a bit more detail, you should still get it in the end.
24. Never order Frappuccinos during rush hour
Fancy a Frappuccino at lunchtime? Well, Starbucks baristas would be very appreciative if you held off for a few hours. An alleged former staff member wrote on Reddit, “When I worked at Starbucks on base, I used to hate making Frappuccinos when we were busy. They just take so much time.”
23. Let staff leave at the end of their shift
One apparent former employee made an impassioned plea on the unofficial Starbucks subreddit. They said, “If you’re a customer, please don’t ever grab someone [who] is leaving – with their bag on their shoulder and walking out the door – and ask them to open the bathroom for you. Just why?” Let them go home!
22. Recipes aren’t the same in every country
If you’ve traveled to different Starbucks stores around the world, you might’ve noticed that the coffee doesn’t have the same flavor. But why is that? Well, someone who said they were a barista on Reddit claimed that the recipes for lattes are different in America and the United Kingdom. Apparently, there’s more espresso in the latter’s drinks.
21. Double-check your order
Once you’ve ordered a drink at Starbucks, you’ll probably think that your job is done. You’d be wrong, though. As Veronica Gallagher explained to Travel + Leisure, “I highly suggest having your order read back to you. Especially in a drive-thru that does not have an order screen.” Yep, that should prevent any unfortunate mix-ups!
20. Happy birthday
It’s always nice to receive a treat on your birthday, but Starbucks goes the extra mile for their customers. App users and people with a Starbucks Card can apparently claim a beverage or snack on the house to celebrate. The best things in life are free, right?
19. You should leave a tip
When you visit a restaurant, it’s standard fare to leave a tip behind for the person who served you. Now the same thing isn’t expected from Starbucks customers, yet it might be an idea to dip into your pockets. The baristas make fairly low salaries that don’t rely on tips. So, if you’ve worked them hard with a large request, an extra bit of money would surely be appreciated.
18. Off-menu orders
Custom drinks – or “off-menu orders” – are indeed a thing at Starbucks. But keep this in mind. As a supposed employee explained on Reddit, “It’s not necessarily irritating if you know what the ingredients are. It’s really only frustrating when people come in and say something like, ‘Let me have a Twix Frap!’ and they expect us to know how to do it.”
17. The best value for money
Have you ever wondered which item on the Starbucks menu is the best value for money? Well ponder no more! One person claiming to be a barrista told Reddit, “The best drink to get if you want something cheap is iced coffee. You can add any syrup for free and make it taste way better than the lattes.”
16. Location is key
Did you know that you can order Starbucks drinks remotely? Just remember one thing: when you’re going through the final stages, be sure that the right store is highlighted. If you don’t, your beverages could be prepared hundreds of miles away. In those instances, Veronica Gallagher told Travel + Leisure that you should keep some proof of purchase so a barista can fix you up.
15. Free refills
If you’re a frequent customer, the Starbucks Card and the company app are worth looking into. Why’s that? Well, for the people who are signed up to them, they can claim free coffee and tea refills. It’s only for brewed beverages, though – drinks like lattes don’t count! And the window closes as soon as you walk out the door.
14. You don’t need a CV to work there
What do you need if you want to become a barista? To answer that question, one Reddit user made a surprising claim. They said, “Starbucks does not ask for, nor require, a resume or cover letter for barista positions. Your [interviewer] may glance at it as a courtesy, but it is 100 percent not needed nor expected.”
13. No law enforcement discount
If you work for a fire department or a police squad, you could be offered some favorable discounts when you go shopping. What about Starbucks, though? As a staffer told Eat This, Not That!, “Discounts for law [enforcement officers] aren’t corporately supported. But many customers and baristas – myself included – will go out of their way to pay for their coffee.”
12. The regulars
Are you a Starbucks “regular”? If so, an apparent barista posting on Reddit has some advice for you. They wrote, “I hate when I ask a regular what they want and they either give me a look like, ‘Come on, really?’ or say what they want in a ‘duh’ tone of voice. You have a ‘usual,’ but I don’t know! Sometimes people change their order.”
11. Mixing standards
Starbucks iced tea is an ideal thirst-quencher in the summer months – with the layer of foam adding a nice texture to it. Eat This, Not That! noted that it takes roughly ten jerky movements to produce the froth during the mixing stage. But when it’s busy, you’ll be lucky to get more than two.
10. Trust the staff
Unsure what to order at Starbucks? Well, a barista named Kenny Delgado revealed that you should never be afraid to ask for an opinion. He told Travel + Leisure, “Talk to us and let us know what you like. We taste every item that comes in and we can hook you up with something delicious, or we’ll fix it until you think it’s delicious.”
9. The pumpkin spice
As fall rolls in, people across the country start to crave a bit of pumpkin. But if you’re looking to add some pumpkin spice to your Starbucks drinks, hear us out. According to Shareably, the sprinkling doesn’t harbor any traces of the fruit. Instead, it houses ginger, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Who knew, right?
8. Not all the syrups are vegan-friendly
Food and drink menus can be a minefield for vegans, and it doesn’t get any easier at Starbucks. One apparent former barista wrote on Reddit, “Lots of syrups are made with milk and/or honey, so they’re not vegan. This is problematic for customers who pay extra for soy milk because they want to avoid animal products.”
7. The ‘puppaccino’
If you own a dog, they could be in line for a very special surprise at Starbucks. By requesting a “puppaccino,” Eat This, Not That! claims that the person behind the counter will spray some whipped cream into an empty container. Now your pet can enjoy something as well while you gulp down your tasty beverage.
6. The mood lighting
The lighting in Starbucks shops is certainly… unique. But why’s it like that? According to Eat This, Not That!, the company joined the United States Green Building Council to help the environment nearly two decades ago. As a result of that, the lights were changed to reflect their efforts.
5. The menu can be hacked
Someone claiming to be an ex-Starbucks employee offered a crafty hack for those of you looking for a secret deal. They told Reddit, “An iced venti latte is $4, a doppio – two espresso shots – is $1.95, and a cup of ice with two added shots is $1.20. Because you can add as much cold milk as you want from the condiment bar, you can always ask for an iced venti doppio, pay $1.95 then add the milk yourself.”
4. You can get the jump on holiday drinks
The seasonal beverages at Starbucks are absolutely delicious – so that makes the wait incredibly painful! Then again, if you’re polite to the barista behind the counter, they might prepare one of the drinks a few days before they’re meant to drop. After all, the contents are normally there already. Your friends will be so jealous.
3. Staff get massive discounts
It’s always nice if your job offers you a few perks along the way, but Starbucks really pushes the boat out. Eat This, Not That! reported that staff are allowed several free beverages during their shift, as well as a single snack. Meanwhile, they’re also given a 30 percent discount on everything when they’re not working.
2. Don’t complain about the music
One particular Reddit user made an impassioned point regarding their Starbucks shifts. They said, “To the customers who complain about music, please just shut the hell up. You’re in the store for five minutes while we’re there for six, eight maybe ten hours. The music helps us go through our day and actually helps us move fast during peak times.”
1. The secret menu
Away from the regular menu, you can order the odd custom drink at Starbucks, but it doesn’t go further than that. One person who said they were a barista on Reddit noted, “Customers really do believe we have a super secret menu. [And they think we] can make anything comprising a dozen ingredients off the top of our heads during a rush.” Kenny Delgado concurred, adding, “There is no secret menu, we don’t know how to make those drinks.”