No matter how you feel about Starbucks, you can’t deny that it is probably the most popular coffee chain in the United States.
In 2018, there were 14,606 Starbucks restaurants in the U.S. alone, and that the number of stores worldwide has doubled between 2008 and 2018. Plus, the chain is only going to continue growing (unless something major changes).
Despite the fact that Starbucks has had their fair share of controversy, it’s a spot many rely on for their coffee each and every day.
But is it as clean and dependable as you think it is?
Former employees have shared many Starbucks secrets on Reddit, and they are very interesting to read.
If you head to Starbucks every day, or even just once in a while, for an over-priced caffeinated treat (no judgement, as I personally go there nearly every day myself), you’ll definitely want to know what some baristas have to say about the chain.
There are secrets on how to save money and get more for your buck, as well as some facts that might make you see your favorite drinks and snacks differently.
1. You can ask for seasonal items (yes, even pumpkin spice!) before they’re on the official menu.
On August 27th, 2019, the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte made its grand return.
In honor of the occasion, Starbucks is doing something they haven’t done in nearly two decades… they’re adding a new pumpkin coffee drink to the menu!
Since 2003, the company’s hot Pumpkin Spice Latte has grown a massive cult following while garnering itself quite a fall-time reputation.
In 2015, Forbes estimated that the PSL brought in around $100 million in revenue over a single season.
Starting Tuesday, August 27, a Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew drink will be available for the first time.
The new fall addition will combine pumpkin spice flavoring and cold brew coffee. The best part? It’s topped with pumpkin cream cold foam and a dusting of pumpkin spice topping.
While this sounds fantastic, we know some people who won’t be as excited.
For Starbucks employees, the drink is basically every barista’s most hated seasonal beverage. In 2017, Reddit’s Starbucks subreddit received a post entitled, “It’s coming. God help us all,” and over 143 comments voiced frustration about the drink.
The most surprising complaint: rogue stores that begin serving the drinks ahead of schedule.
If you think employees hating the PSL is a shock, just wait until you hear the rest.
One Reddit user said, “If you know which seasonal drinks you like that always seem to disappear, the product is almost always there a week or two before we launch the drinks.”
“So for example, once it seems to be getting autumn-like, go ahead and start asking if those drinks are in yet. It’s likely that we can make it for you on the d/l. Of course, you’ll have to get lucky with a Starubcks barista who’s willing to do that not all of them will.”
2. There are some clever money-saving tricks employees really think you should be using.
Reddit user jadium says, “Former Starbucks barista here. No horror stories, but I always find a way to exploit any retail POS when I’m bored. There are multiple ways to charge for the exact same drink, oftentimes much cheaper than the menu price.
Ex: an iced venti latte is $4, a doppio (two espresso shots) is $1.95, and a cup of ice with two added shots is $1.20.
Because you can add as much cold milk as you want from the condiment bar (that island full of sugar packets and carafes) to whatever you’re drinking, you can always ask for an iced venti doppio, pay $1.95, then add the milk yourself. Half price lattes.”
3. The same amount of espresso is in both grande and venti hot drinks.
If you’re extra exhausted, don’t order a hot venti drink thinking there will be more espresso.
The only difference is the amount of milk and syrup.
Reddit user _neon_ said, “A grande hot white mocha and a venti hot white mocha have the same amount of espresso — two shots. However, a venti hot white mocha has an additional pump of syrup and more milk. A venti iced white mocha will have three shots, while a grande iced white mocha will have two.
This is true of most standard Starbucks beverages. You can always ask for an additional shot in any beverage size.”
They added that it’s especially helpful to use the Starbucks app for this, since you can play around with how your beverage is made. It will also show what’s in each drink, based on the different sizes.
4. There might be some caffeine in that decaf coffee.
One former Starbucks barista said, “Don’t order anything decaf unless it’s poured over. During rush period, baristas will accidentally press the caffeinated option on the espresso machine out of habit.”
As for decaf drip coffee, it’s always stored in a pitcher (one that, according to this user, sits out for hours).
5. The best inexpensive item they have is an iced coffee.
If you want to buy something that isn’t super expensive at Starbucks, one Starbucks barista has the scoop:
“The best drink to get if you want something cheap is iced coffee. You can add any syrup for free and make it taste way better than the lattes. Also, ask for steamed iced coffee if our coffee is too weak. The baristas will most definitely look at you funny, but we literally have to do anything you tell us to.”
(Note: Always be nice to your baristas! Please and thank you are the magic words!)
6. You might unknowingly get decaf if you’re rude.
In a thread about confessions of former baristas, Reddit user nomad917 said, “Feel like I’m pretty universal when saying this, but when you think you’re entitled to anything and complain about a non-issue, you’re getting decaf and I’m not apologizing about your minor inconvenience.”
This was echoed by several other baristas in other threads.
7. Get more coffee for your money by ordering a different cup size.
You know how it feels like you need to dump out a third of your coffee in order to add milk?
You can fix that by ordering differently.
One former Starbucks employee said on Reddit, “If you drink drip coffee and want room for cream, order a tall in a grande cup or a grande in a venti cup. The amount should come right to the top of the Sbux logo.
Usually [if] you ask for room, the Starbucks barista gives you entirely too much room so this ensures you get all the coffee you pay for.”
8. Your iced coffee is automatically sweetened.
If you don’t want sugar in your iced coffee, make sure to say that.
One Reddit user said, “Iced coffees and iced teas are automatically sweetened using ‘simple syrup.’ You can switch for another syrup free of charge or ask for fewer pumps of syrup if you prefer it unsweetened.”
9. None of the food is fresh.
If you’re looking for fresh food, don’t go to Starbucks.
Reddit user likeabaker said, “All Starbucks food is reheated frozen food. Ridiculous how little people realize that. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good, it’s just not fresh at all and incredibly overpriced.”
10. Baristas hate making Frappuccinos.
There’s always at least one menu item that employees all hate making — and for Starbucks workers, it’s Frapps.
One Starbucks barista wrote on Reddit, “Everything else at the job can be made in sequence with other things. While waiting for espresso to pour, you can start steaming milk, and so on. You can pour shots and steam milk and get going on multiple drinks at once.
With Frapps, it’s one at a time, several steps, and you can’t walk away.”
Yikes — and just think of all the insane Frapps Starbucks comes up with.
11. Employees also hate when you dump coffee in the garbage.
It shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that employees hate when you dump your excess coffee in the garbage.
In a Reddit thread on the subject, one former barista said, “It’s awful. Back when I was a barista, [I’d] have to check the area after every customer. People would spill coffee and it would be dripping on the floor. They’d walk away without saying anything.”
Another employee said, “We have to double bag all of the trash cans at Starbs, haven’t seen anyone do this specifically but sticky coffee leaking out of the bag is not as fun as it sounds.”
12. There is no secret menu.
The internet is full of cleverly named Starbucks drinks that come from the “secret menu.” But actually, there’s no such thing as a secret menu. It’s just random drink combinations!
Reddit user Raskov75 said, “Former Starbucks Barista here. There is no secret menu. Those drinks are just special orders.”
“The vast majority of the time [they] are annoying because they involve steps and ingredients that usually aren’t used in a drink. This slow[s] things down which is an issue when you’re trying to dig yourself out of a 10 drink-deep rush. Just order a mocha and live your life.”
Well, now we don’t feel as cool.
13. That means you should never ask for a secret menu item by name — you have to know the ingredients.
Just because there’s no secret menu doesn’t mean you can’t order the drink combinations you see online.
You just need to know what’s in them.
Reddit user ismonkah said, “Never, ever, ever order made-up nicknames and expect us to know what you want. For instance, I could tell you at least six different recipes I have been told for a Captain Crunch Frappuccino.”
“So always know your recipe because I refuse to make a bleeding penguin unless you can tell me exactly what you are referring to.”
In other words, take a screenshot with you!
14. The lighting is dim in all of the stores for a specific reason.
Reddit user fosterpoptart is a former Starbucks barista who did an AMA about working at the store.
“Starbucks switched to LEED lighting for stores in 2011 in an effort to make a smaller global footprint on the environment.”
“We strive to create an atmosphere of sustainability from the farmers we build relationships with to our distributors, to the very stores themselves. You can read more here.”
15. Starbucks offers a drink for dogs.
If you go to Starbucks with your pupper, you can get them their own special drink, even though it’s not on the menu.
Reddit user SherpaLali said, “Most Starbucks employees will know what a Puppaccino is, but if you feel dumb asking for it by name, it’s just a sample size cup full of whipped cream.” Pups want fun drinks, too!
16. If you want something special, ask employees for their favorite drink.
Want something off the menu that’s delicious?
Reddit user ismonkah said, “Most of the time you are going to get the greatest drink ever if you ask the Starbucks barista to make you their favorite drink. After a few questions, most of us can blow your mind with the delicious recipes we have acquired over the years.”
As someone who had a sister who worked as a Starbucks barista, I can confirm this is true. On their downtime, they make up drinks.
17. Only some of the syrups are vegan-friendly.
If you’re vegan, be careful about what you order.
One Reddit user said, “As a barista who worked for a vegan company and had to research what’s vegan at Starbucks, none of the regular syrups have milk in them, though the caramel drizzle and the thicker syrups (white mocha, pumpkin spice, and caramel brulee) do. Regular mocha is vegan though.”