Ah, Starbucks. Arguably the most popular coffee chain in the U.S., it is also unfortunately among the most expensive. To help you cope with the seemingly endless lines and overpriced drinks, one Starbucks barista has graciously revealed some awesome hacks to help you get the biggest bang for your buck.

When my best friend Sydney started working at a Starbucks in Nashville, Tennessee as a barista eight months ago, she fell totally in love with the company, its many perks, and of course, the delicious coffee drinks we all know and love. I interviewed her the other day to share her best Starbucks hacks with all you coffee lovers.

The Hacks 

Barista Tip #1: Order a latte with chai syrup instead of a dirty chai; it's the same thing without the cost of added espresso shots to a chai latte.

Barista Tip #2: If you have a sore throat, the "cough drop" is a drink almost all baristas will recognize, and it's made with emperors cloud, jade citrus mint, steamed lemonade instead of water, and a pack of honey added (this drink is a lifesaver during the winter months).

Barista Tip #3: Never pay for water; the tap water is always filtered and used in a variety of drinks.

Barista Tip #4: Having iced drinks shaken makes all the difference, especially with an iced green tea latte, so request that your drink is shaken because baristas won't always do it if you don't ask.

Barista Tip #5: Teas come with 1 or 2 tea bags depending on the size (1 for a tall and 2 for a grande and venti), but you can ask for a mix of tea bags in the grande or venti (my personal favorite is mixing ‘Passion Tango’ and ‘Peach Tranquility’).

Barista Tip #6: Try soy milk in any drink (especially a latte or chai latte) instead of regular milk for added vanilla sweetness.

Barista Tip #7: Everything from the pastry section tastes better warmed up, unless it's a pound cake which you cannot order heated.

Barista Tip #8: Ask for a few ice cubes in hot tea/brewed coffee in order to avoid burning your tongue.

Barista Tip #9: Try adding caramelized banana compote (a sauce that normally comes with oatmeal) to a vanilla bean frappuccino.

Barista Tip #10: If you aren't sure of a brew or drink, ask for a sample. If the store isn't busy, they will happy to let you try something before buying.

Barista Tip #11: Apple fritters with caramel sauce drizzled on top is life changing.

Barista Tip #12: Order your chai without the water for a stronger taste.

Barista Tip #13: Starbucks retailer stores are almost always more expensive. This means your airport Starbucks and a Starbucks in a grocery store, etc. 

She also couldn't stop raving about how great of a company Starbucks is and how well they treat their employees. “They really believe in treating their employees fairly, which includes affordable health care options,” she told me. According to Starbuck.com, “Starbucks was one of the first U.S. retailers to offer affordable and comprehensive health coverage to eligible full-and part-time partners (employees) and their families.”

Other employee perks include Spotify premium and discounts on Verizon phone bills. Employees who work in company-operated stores are also eligible to receive an annual "Bean Stock" grant. So yeah, Starbucks is pretty great. Tell me something I didn't know.