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13 Things Starbucks Employees Won’t Tell You

If you're looking to save bucks on Starbucks, look no further: We've got the inside scoop from frequent customers and former baristas.

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Starbucks barista with cold brewPhubes Juwattana/Shutterstock

Befriend your barista

Your Starbucks barista wouldn’t mention it, of course, but being friendly goes a long way toward getting free drinks, discounts and the freshest, tastiest pastries. That’s what Amanda Ponzar, chief marketing officer for Community Health Charities, has learned. This loyal Starbucks enthusiast regularly shares social media photos of herself enjoying a Starbucks drink; it’s also her place of choice for business meetings.

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Three different cake pop popsicles on blue plate; Shutterstock ID 569637973; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHMerrimon Crawford/Shutterstock

Order two cake pops to get a secret discount

One of the first things Ponzar discovered from her Starbucks baristas is that if you order two cake pops at once, you get a discount (somewhere between 40 and 60 cents, she says). This is not the same thing as the cake-pop BOGO (buy one, get one free) sale, a rare event.

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Starbucks coffeeShutterstock / Sean Wandzilak

Save money on hot chocolate

Ponzar also has a way to save money when you’re in the mood for hot chocolate. Instead of ordering an actual cup of hot chocolate, order a steamed milk with chocolate syrup. You’ll also save calories.

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Pink drinkFoodbeast

The secret trenta size

“When I used to get one to two frappucinos every day, my barista would make me a trenta-size Frappuccino,” Ponzar tells Reader’s Digest. “It’s not even on the menu.” (That’s true for coffee drinks, although it is on the menu for fruit-flavored Starbucks Refreshers.) The trenta is 31 ounces and the unofficial price upgrade for a frappuccino is 50 cents.

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starbucks frappuccino blended beverages.HeinzTeh/Shutterstock

Don’t waste a single drop of that good stuff!

Blogger Joanna Faith Williams tells Reader’s Digest she couldn’t help but noticing something curious every time she ordered a frappucino: “The extra bit of my drink that didn’t fit in my grande cup would just be washed down the drain!” Williams came up with the following hack: “Order a grande in a venti cup. I get it all. It reduces waste. It seriously works, and it’s a win-win!” Ponzar seconds this but notes that befriending the barista and being a good tipper has meant that she often doesn’t even have to ask.

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Starbucks cupPrachana Thong-on/Shutterstock

Go for a short

You won’t see it on the menu, but you can always order a “short” size, according to health and wellness expert (and Starbucks super-fan) Caleb Backe. It’s a smaller and less-expensive size with a decent hit of caffeine, Backe promises.

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CoffeeAtstock Productions/Shutterstock


A babyccino is a cappuccino minus the espresso—in other words, frothy steamed milk. You might even be able to get it for free, although that’s not official policy. (Make sure you ask for a babyccino at the register, just in case.) Backe and registered dietician and nutritionist Vanessa Rissetto both give the drink a thumbs up for your kid since it’s just milk with no sugar or caffeine.

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Courtesy picthx Reddit, HQueen22/Foodbeast


Both Backe and Rissetto mention the secret “pupaccino,” which is basically a cup of whipped cream for your furry friend while you wait for your order. It’s often free although as with babyccinos, there’s no official Starbucks policy on this.

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Bangkok Thailand: Starbucks Hot Coffee Cups Beverage Tall size and Grande sizePrachana Thong-on/Shutterstock

Free water

If you like to drink water with your coffee (coffee can be dehydrating, after all), don’t pay for bottled water: You can get filtered water for free at Starbucks.

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Female hands in cozy sweater holding a cup with tea at sunset light.Yemets/Shutterstock

Bring your own cup

Starbucks is committed to shrinking its carbon footprint, and in keeping with that, offers a reusable, recyclable cup for just $1, and every time you use it, you save 10 cents on your coffee order. As the Starbucks website notes, if you use the cup 10 times, it’s paid for itself. But you can actually bring your own cup and save the dollar while still getting the 10-cent discount!

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Taste of Home

Make your own discounted chai latte

You don’t need to pay for a chai latte when you can order a simple cup of tea and request a shot of steamed milk (which comes for free). Plus, this hacked-version of a chai latte has far less sugar.

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Espresso coffee at Starbucks shop.bixstock/Shutterstock

Order light ice in your iced coffee

Less ice means more coffee: That means you can go down a size for an iced coffee, then ask for light ice. You’ll basically be getting the same amount of caffeine while paying less.

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LAS VEGAS, NV - September 22. 2016 - Starbucks App On Apple iPhone Screen. Splash Screen Display. Selective Focus.; Shutterstock ID 487851379BestStockFoto/Shutterstock

Take advantage of the Rewards program

When you join the free Starbucks Rewards program, enjoy free refills on your coffee. You’re also eligible for a Birthday Reward (almost anything on the menu), which is redeemable up to two days before and one day after your birthday. Just make sure you’ve purchased something at any Starbucks within the last 12 months.

You’ll also receive emails from Starbucks offering you the opportunity to earn free credits toward free food and drinks, too! See what changes they made to the rewards program.

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