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What are the best Starbucks hacks?

If TikTok’s shown you how to best modify a Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso, you might be hip to some of these hacks.

 

Phil West

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Starbucks is a coffee company that encourages customization. Some Starbucks customers pride themselves on ordering a drink that’s unique to them. Others latch on to a specific way to order something, perhaps a Starbucks hack suggested by a TikTok user, and that becomes part of their Starbucks routine.

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While some might argue that people overcomplicate the Starbucks experience with “no ice” requests and other special asks, some find it essential to the experience. Here are the best Starbucks hacks, intended to enhance your experience at the ubiquitous coffee establishment.

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Best Starbucks hacks to get what you want

While you might think it helps a barista to order a drink by its name, that might not be the case if it’s a “secret menu” item rather than an established, regular menu item that’s widely known.

The Coffee at Three site advises, “Always order secret menu items by the recipe, not by the name.”

It goes on to suggest, “Instead of ordering a Thin Mint Frappuccino, say, ‘Can I get a grande Matcha Frappuccino with no classic syrup, 1 pump of mocha, 1 pump peppermint,  java chips blended in, and mocha drizzle on top?’”

The site also gives counsel on the specific way you should order—the order for ordering, as it were. It notes, “Hot or iced, the size of the drink, if it’s decaf, the number of shots, the number of pumps of syrup, the type of milk, and then anything extra (like extra hot).” Designating hot or iced first allows the barista to select the right cup.

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There’s no guarantee that will get you what you want. As one veteran barista noted in a TikTok covered by the Daily Dot, some baristas make mistakes so consistently and frequently that it’s more “habit” than oversight—and it might be time to find a different Starbucks.

Best Starbucks hacks for saving money

When people are on the hunt for Starbucks hacks, they’re often looking for ways to cut costs. One ingenious customer, as the Daily Dot reported, found a way to get a customized iced latte for just over $5. It involved going to app, ordering an espresso shot, and then adding inclusions from there to build a latte ingredient by ingredient.

Some baristas warned, however, that it might not be possible to do it this way, with one noting, “Not all baristas will fill your cup the whole way! It’s not standard, sometimes we get told not to.”

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Another creative customer provided a hack that allegedly produced a huge coffee drink for around $3—again, in the app, and again, by starting with espresso and then building out from there.

Another provided a Starbucks hack that’s actually a grocery hack—ordering a venti oat milk at Starbucks to avoid having to buy a pricy container of oat milk at the store.

One Starbucks-approved “hack” for saving money isn’t really a hack at all: It’s joining the coffee giant’s Rewards Program, which will give customers savings over time.

That includes, as one Starbucks-at-Target customer recently discovered, “free refills of hot or iced brewed coffee or tea during the same store visit at participating Starbucks stores including licensed stores located in Target, while supplies last.”

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Is ordering ‘no ice’ or ‘light ice’ a real Starbucks hack?

There’s a debate among Starbucks customers about whether a “light ice” or “no ice” order will result in getting more drink for your dollar. One example of how this plays out comes from TikTok creator Val Marans, who wondered, “But why do I have to drink melted ice water now?” when chronicling her thwarted Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso order.

As one barista said, “It’s so triggering when people order with light ice.”

One customer reported, in another Daily Dot story, that a barista was “stingy” in not filling the cup to her satisfaction with her light ice order.

And, yet, in one case, the barista was willing to honor a request someone made for just three ice cubes gracing their drink.

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Best Starbucks hack when you want a sugar rush

Perhaps it was a drink of its time, but in March 2022, there was a Starbucks hack so present in TikTok videos that it became known as “the TikTok drink.”

It got such a reputation that baristas began sniffing it out as soon as people started ordering it. As a barista noted in a video, “When someone starts ordering an iced white mocha and I wanna interrupt them and just ask if it’s the TikTok drink with [salted caramel] foam and drizzle.”

Specifically, it’s an iced white chocolate mocha with salted caramel cold foam and drizzle, which includes espresso, white chocolate mocha sauce, heavy cream cold foam, caramel drizzle, and milk.

As the Daily Dot reported in its coverage, customers are divided over what it delivers. While one opined, “I got so sick of the drink after a few buys, it’s nauseatingly sweet, another said, “I’m so sorry it just tastes so good.”

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There’s a lesson to be had here and with some of the other Starbucks coverage from the Daily Dot. There’s a balance to be struck between the Starbucks hacks you want to try and how much misery it imposes on the baristas who have to carry them out.

There’s definitely a school of people who believe the customer is always right and the baristas are paid to create drinks for them—no matter how customized they are.

But there are others who feel that some hacks are too cute for their own good, and that baristas following the Starbucks authority know how to make better coffee than a customer trying something they saw on TikTok.

You have to determine the kind of life you want to lead when you pull to a Starbucks. To hack or not to hack: That’s one of the many questions.

 
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