Many of us experience Starbucks solely as customers without having to worry about the other side of the counter. Living with an on-campus Starbucks barista this semester has provided me with the inside scoop on what it's like to work for Starbucks and how to master ordering there.
Cash in on Free Drinks
At Starbucks, you can score complimentary cold or hot water, so if you're on low funds, bring a tea bag with you to make a cup of hot tea, free of charge. Even better: if you bring your own cup, no matter if it’s a Starbucks cup or not, you receive a $0.10 discount on your drink.
Stay a While
If you’re doing homework or on a date at Starbucks and already ordered a drink, you can go up to the counter with the same cup and get $0.50 refills of iced coffee, hot coffee, or hot tea. If you’re a Gold Member, you get these refills for free.
Ask For a Specific Temperature
You can request a specific temperature for your drink. If you’re ordering a cappuccino and want to avoid a burnt mouth, you can order a "kids temperature" drink. This temperature is normally 120 degrees. That being said, you can also order your drinks "extra hot".
Know When It's Busy
If you're in a rush, try to avoid Starbucks during their busiest times. On University of Delaware’s campus, the busiest interval time is around 8:30 to 11 am, especially on Saturdays. If you really want to catch a short line, some of the slowest periods are around closing time, which on campus is 11 pm.
Avoid Ordering Frappuccinos if You Hate Waiting
A Frappuccino has been deemed one of the most annoying drinks for a barista to make because of the time that goes into making these sugary concoctions. Behind the counter, baristas are always supposed to be making two drinks at once to maximize efficiency, but when making a Frappuccino, they can only make one at a time. Mini Frappuccinos are also wasteful because baristas make full-size Frappuccinos to pour into the mini cups and throw out the excess.
Ask for Extra Espresso Shots
If you're ordering extra shots, you can ask for a “red eye”, which means add one shot of espresso, or a “black eye”, which means add two shots of espresso. Your bill can quickly rack up at the register because each additional espresso shot you order costs $0.55. Starbucks baristas have been instructed that the maximum amount of shots they're allowed to put in a single drink is 10 shots, or else it becomes a medical risk.
Appreciate the Complicated Drinks
The most complicated drink to make, according to my roommate, is a Flat White. This latte is made with whole milk and Ristretto shots. While making this drink, baristas must pour the steamed milk in a complicated fashion, and for a dine in cup, baristas need to decorate the drink with a design, which can be challenging. With to-go cups though, the lid covers the drink, so perfect designs aren’t always required...phew.
Order Hot Coffee or Tea if You're in a Rush
The easiest drink for a barista to make is plain hot coffee because it’s already brewed and the employee at the register gets that order for you. He/she is also responsible for making hot tea. This means that you can get hot tea or hot coffee, with or without flavor pumps, right away without waiting longer.
Embrace Your Coffee Addiction
If you were to become addicted to coffee, Starbucks would be very welcoming. Starbucks prides themselves on customer service and customer interaction. Baristas are challenged to recognize the usual Starbucks customers by name and know their drink order ahead of time. It can be difficult to accomplish this feat with changing shifts, but it’s still possible and customers love it. It's great coffee, embrace the addiction.
Learn the Secret Menu
In reality, there is no official secret menu. Starbucks has a lot of ingredients, which therefore, means drink combinations that aren’t already on the menu can be made. Some popular "off menu" creations are the Pink drink, which is strawberry açai refresher with coconut milk, instead of water, and the Purple drink, which is iced Passion Tango Tea with soy milk, instead of water, vanilla syrup, and blackberries. There's also a Filthy Chai, which is a Chai Tea Latte with 2 shots of espresso. You can also order a Chocolate Dalmatian, which is a White Chocolate Mocha with java chips and chocolate chips sprinkled on top.