Starbucks has been my caffeine go-to since I discovered the coffee giant in middle school. I’ve held my Gold card close to my heart (well, in my wallet) since 2011 and since then, I’ve spent an ungodly amount of time and money on my favorite blonde roast, my first espresso and every tasty, pretty seasonal drink advertised to me. My love for the giant only grew with the addition of drive-thru windows – now I could get my fix without leaving my heated, leather car seat.

As a non-Starbucks barista, I know the health downsides of Starbucks: the chain uses syrups in mochas rather than real chocolate chips, the whipped cream topping contains more fat than 3 slices of bacon and their ever-popular frappuccinos are blended tickets to a heart diseased future. For me, these problems are easy to avoid and forget about. But as of this year, Starbucks made changes that have finally pushed me to choose and stick with an alternative coffee shop.

starbucks gold card

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In February, Starbucks announced changes to its member reward program. In the past, reward card members earned one star per transaction and a free reward every twelve stars. This system greatly benefited the drip coffee drinker like myself – I could spend less than $25 on twelve of my favorite brews and be eligible to cash in my ultimate drink reward (I’m talking about you, Venti Soy Iced Green Tea Latte). I was truly living the dream, ignorant in my bliss.

Starting in April, Starbucks reward card members will need 125 stars to earn a reward. Cardholders will earn 2 stars per $1 spent, meaning members will need to spend at least $62.50 before earning a free beverage or food item. Starbucks cited customer complaints as the reason for the drastic change. How I wish I could have a word or three with the novices putting up these complaints.

Photo courtesy of

Under the original system, a customer would earn a star per transaction – meaning if you bought you and your 4 friends a Venti specialty drink each, you could be spending upwards of $25 and still only earn 1 star. My fellow regulars and I quickly caught on to an easy hack – if you buy more than one item, ask for each on a separate receipt. With each transaction, you earn a star.

Since announcing the changes, Starbucks has received backlash from simple drip coffee drinkers, but we’ll have to wait until April to see any real ramifications. Until then, I’ll just be over here scoping out which local coffee shop will become my new go-to.