13 Things Starbucks Employees Won’t Tell You

Is water free at Starbucks? Is the Puppuccino a real drink? Here's the inside scoop on Starbucks.

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You deserve a free birthday drink

Make your birthday even happier with a birthday reward. Starbucks will give you almost anything on the menu, including a drink, food item or bottled beverage, totally free on your birthday.

Follow the rules, though—you need to join Starbucks Rewards program at least seven days prior to your birthday, provide your birthday in your account information and make at least one Star-earning transaction before your birthday each year. Get one of their limited edition Starbucks drinks or a Starbucks drink for your zodiac sign as a celebratory drink.

If you need a refresher before you go, these are the Starbucks coffee sizes.

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Starbucks Free Water
Claire Krieger/Taste of Home

Water is free

Starbucks is all about the coffee, but maybe you’re looking for water wash down your Frappuccino. You can get a cup of filtered water for free at Starbucks.

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TIANJIN, CHINA - 2018/07/21: A poodle is tasting the Ice-cream specially for pet dog by a pet-friendly Starbucks coffee shop. The pet-friendly Starbucks coffee shop offers friendly service for pet dogs, such as drinking water and playing area special for dogs.Starbucks began to open more pet-friendly theme coffee shops in China since 2018. Now it covers Shenzhen,Chengdu and Tianjin, by which it tries to add more social community features in its brand culture. (Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Zhang Peng/Getty Images

The Puppuccino is real

Here’s a paw-some tip! You might have seen friends share adorable photos of their dogs sticking their snouts into a Starbucks cup. Never fear, their furry friend isn’t drinking a double espresso.

Most Starbucks employees will make your dog a free Puppuccino, which is whipped cream squirted into a small cup. This has been an unofficial menu item for some time, but in May 2021, the chain filed to trademark the term “Puppuccino.”

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It’s simple to save 10 cents on a drink

Save the Earth! Bring your own clean cup to Starbucks and you’ll save 10 cents on your drink. The chain paused the personal-cup program during the early days of the pandemic but now has a contact-free system where your barista never touches your cup. And that’s one less disposable cup in the trash.

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There are free refills

You’re not going to get a Frappuccino or latte refilled for free, but you can get free refills of brewed coffee (including cold brew and iced coffee) or tea. Just use your Starbucks card or the mobile app to buy the drink, then present it again for the refill.

This only works during the same in-store visit, so don’t leave and try and come back for a refill.

Check out this list of Starbucks drinks for kids!

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THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS - JUNE 24: A logo of Starbucks Corp. is displayed outside the coffee chain's store on June 24, 2020 in The Hague, Netherlands. (Photo by Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images)
Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images

The Starbucks logo isn’t a mermaid

That’s not really a mermaid in the company logo. She’s a siren, a creature from Greek mythology whose haunting song lured sailors to wreck their ships on rocks. The company’s name comes from Starbuck, the chief mate in Moby Dick, and the founders sought out a nautical logo to go with that sea-themed brand.

Most people don’t notice the difference, along with this other hidden detail on the Starbucks logo.

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The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) seal is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on August 14, 2008. AFP PHOTO/SAUL LOEB (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

There’s a secret Starbucks for the CIA

There’s one Starbucks location where they’ll never ask for your name to put on your drink. It’s located at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and is frequented only by CIA employees—you can’t just walk in off the street for coffee. Employees undergo background checks before they’re allowed to serve up drinks.

This Starbucks is called “Store Number 1,” but really, shouldn’t it be “Store 007”?

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There’s a signing Starbucks for the Deaf community

Washington, D.C. is home to the nation’s first Starbucks Signing Store, staffed with employees who are fluent in American Sign Language. It’s located near Gallaudet University, a bilingual university that uses both English and ASL.

In addition to the ASL-fluent staff, it features high-tech options to assist with communications, including digital notepads and a console with two-way keyboards. Hearing customers can stop in, too, of course—and they just might learn something.

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You can earn Stars for grocery products

You already know Starbucks has a rewards program where you earn points, called “Stars,” to redeem for free stuff. But did you also know that you can earn Stars when you buy Starbucks products—like K-cups, coffee beans and bottled drinks—at the grocery store?

Keep your grocery receipt, activate Receipt Verification online, and then snap and upload pictures of your receipt.

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Starbucks makes keto drinks

There’s no special keto drink menu at Starbucks, but you can stick to your keto plan and still enjoy a tasty low-carb beverage. Plain brewed coffee fills the bill, obviously, but there are other secret menu keto drinks.

Here are the most popular keto Starbucks drinks, including a sipper that tastes like peach cobbler.

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caramel coffee

It’s easy to make Starbucks drinks at home

Maybe you don’t live near a Starbucks, or you want to save money and drink fancy coffee beverages at home. You can indulge in these copycat Starbucks recipes, including the tasty salted caramel mocha, and, my favorite, their mouthwatering pumpkin bread. Drink it out of a Starbucks mugs for that coffee shop feel at home.

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Starbucks has a happy hour

Who doesn’t love a two-for-one offer? Usually, happy hour is on a Thursday from 2-7 p.m. at participating stores, but it’s not every single Thursday. You’ll need to sign up for Starbucks Rewards to be notified about the schedule,

When it’s on, though, you can buy one drink and get a second of equal or lesser value for free. It’s good on espresso drinks, Frappuccinos, seasonal drinks, iced teas, cold coffees and nitro drinks. Here are some awesome caffeine-free Starbucks drinks for the afternoon.

Just make sure not to engage in any Starbucks pay-it-forward lines, as baristas aren’t always a fan of the gesture.

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Starbucks aprons have a color code

Ever wondered what the black Starbucks apron means? Baristas often wear color-coded or embroidered aprons, such as American flag-embroidered aprons that celebrate veterans and military spouses, or an apron embroidered with a mortarboard to mark graduates of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.

And did you know that Starbucks gives out free coffee on Veterans Day?

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is a pop culture junkie and the co-author of Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops and The Totally Sweet '90s. She covers TV, movies, books and pop culture, as well as food news of all kinds. Gael is a weblog pioneer who started her first blog, Pop Culture Junk Mail, in 1999.