Going back to school means two things: first, you’ll have many early mornings and late nights of studying and second, you’ll be spending much more money on coffee.

To make matters even worse (or better, depending on if you are a coffee cup half-full or half-empty person), this is the time of the year when Starbucks hits us with the pumpkin spice and salted caramel coffee drinks—basically, everything good in this world.

So if you have ever found yourself spending the allotted month’s savings at Starbucks, take some notes on these handy drink-maximizing tips.


Photo by Karina Rao


1. “Light ice, please.”

This is pretty basic, yet so effective considering the baristas usually give about half a cup of coffee for a standard iced coffee.

2. No ice + a cup of ice on the side

If you have the guts and don’t mind some stern glares, ask for your iced drink sans ice and then ask for a cup of ice on the side. You will be like an extreme couponer for coffee ordering…almost…

3. Ask for any drink in a larger cup.

If you want a tall coffee, ask for it in a grande cup so you do not have to pour any out to make room for cream and sugar. You can do the same with hot and iced teas. This tip is courtesy of the awesome Today show Food section. 

4. Order the tall and stay for the free refill.

As a Starbucks green level rewards member, you can get free refills as long as you stay in the store. Why order the grande, then, when you can pay the tall and get unlimited refills?

5. Rack up star points by ordering regular coffees, then splurge on your free reward.

With the free Starbucks rewards membership, after every 12 stars earned you get a free treat. You can get that $6 specialized Frappuccino you love for free if you have patience. See details here.

6. Order your drinks separately with the app.

The rule when using the app is get one star per transaction. Two can play that game, Starbucks. Get the full low down on the Starbucks rewards app here. 

7. The short

There is a smaller size than the tall, and it is the adorably  sized cup called “the short.” Sometimes all you need is a little sip of coffee to get your day started.

8. Half-priced iced latte

An ex-barista filled me in on the well kept secret. Instead of ordering a standard iced coffee, order two espresso shots over ice and then add your own milk and sugar.

9. Cheaper Chai Tea Latte

Similar to #8, you can order a standard chai tea bag with hot water and add milk to taste. Not only is this option healthier, but significantly cheaper. Also courtesy of Today Food.