8 Things You Won’t See at Starbucks Anymore

COVID-19 has resulted in big changes across the board for restaurants across the country—including Starbucks, of course.

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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

Over the last couple months, stores across the country have introduced a slew of changes to combat the spread of the coronavirus, including Target and Walmart. Even restaurants have made changes, including Starbucks. The home of the pumpkin spice latte initially shut down half of its stores in response to the pandemic, and while restrictions have begun to ease, here are eight things that you won’t be seeing for a while at Starbucks.

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Interior of Starbucks Coffee with customers standing at the counter behind reusable cups sign. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

Reusable Cups

Starbucks urged customers to do their bit for the environment by offering a 10-cent discount for customers who brought in reusable cups, and recently released a set of color-changing cups that we can’t wait to get our hands on. However, Rossann Williams, EVP and President for US and Canada, stated in an open letter, “We are pausing the use of personal cups in our stores. We will continue to honor the 10-cent discount for anyone who brings in a personal cup.”

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HONG KONG, CHINA - 2020/07/07: American multinational chain Starbucks Coffee store seen in Hong Kong. (Photo by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SOPA Images/Getty Images

People Without Masks

While the coffee chain giant plans to slowly reopen stores, they now require customers and employees to wear masks at all US locations. If you forget a mask and find yourself outside Starbucks with a hankering for a chai latte, it’s best to hit the drive-thru.

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EDGEWATER, COLORADO - APRIL 07: Starbucks employees wear a mask while working the drive-thru window on April 07, 2020 in Edgewater, Colorado. Starting today Starbucks will require all employees to wear facemasks at work. The chain has closed in-store cafes however drive-thru locations remain open. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Ordering at the Register

As Starbucks shut down stores in response to the pandemic, they kept their drive-thrus open, allowing customers to order and pick up their coffees at the window. The company is still mostly to-go, with customers ordering from the drive-thru, via the app or on DoorDash or Uber Eats via Starbucks Delivers.

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SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 15: (EDITORS NOTE - This image was taken on a mobile phone) A sign encouraging social distancing is seen on a window of Starbucks in Hedge End as it re-opens on May 15, 2020 in Southampton, England. The prime minister announced the general contours of a phased exit from the current lockdown, adopted nearly two months ago in an effort curb the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Crowded Stores

In select stores, ordering is allowed at the register, but with precautions—social distancing markers have been carefully placed to make sure customers maintain the required six feet of distance from each other. Find out whether your local store is open and how they’re taking orders.

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A man offering free samples at Starbucks on Market Street. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images


The best thing about working at Starbucks with an iced white chocolate mocha is having access to free samples throughout the day. Unfortunately, as addressed by Rossann Williams in this open letter to Starbucks partners and employees, free samples were one of the first things to go as Starbucks implemented COVID-19 measures.

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SANTA FE, NM - MARCH 10, 2013: Customers relax and work their laptop computers at a Starbucks coffee shop near the Plaza Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Customers Working/Studying

Starbucks was one of the most popular options for people looking to work or study in a quiet environment fueled by coffee. The chain has even shared posts about entrepreneurs who use their outlets as office spaces! However, freelancers and start-ups will have to set up elsewhere for now, as most outlets have removed indoor and outdoor seating in order to implement social distancing measures.

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NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: A sign is on display at Starbucks offering condiment bar items on request rather then self serve as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 14, 2020 in New York City. The World Health Organization declared coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic on March 11th. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
Cindy Ord/Getty Images

The Condiments Bar

Who hasn’t walked over the condiments bar to (secretly) drop a few packets of sugar into their drink? Now, using cream and sugar isn’t a secret—customers will have to ask the baristas for cream and sugar as needed, instead of grabbing them from the bar.

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TIANJIN, CHINA - 2020/03/22: A Starbucks coffee store in a shopping mall. After nearly two months of closure by the COVID-19 epidemic situation in China, the Starbucks reopened most of stores in China. Customers are asked to take a temperature check before entering the store, and seated one people one table when dining in the store, otherwise encouraged to take out.
Zhang Peng/Getty Images

Outlets in Malls

Starbucks was one of the first to cash in on the to-go trend, and was already on the road to relocating many of its stores from malls to more easily accessible drive-thru locations within the next three to five years. The pandemic has accelerated these plans, and the chain is now looking to make them a reality in the next 12 to 18 months.

Amrita Thakkar
Amrita is a writer, poet and amateur photographer who often ends up applying these skills to her one great love: food. You can find her up at 3 a.m. writing, researching the perfect combo for her next grilled cheese or making a more eco-friendly grocery list.