Barista tips on ways to save money at Starbucks!!

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Living in the “coffee capital” of the world here in the greater Seattle area, Starbucks is still the number one coffee house both in Seattle (where Starbucks is based out of) and around the world! For so many people, it’s hard to pass up a quick trip thru a Starbucks drive-in for coffee in the morning or a nice, leisurely cup in the afternoon in one of their many coffeehouses! However, in this economy, those daily stops at Starbucks start to add up, making it more and more difficult to enjoy our speciality drinks from Starbucks!

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a Starbucks representative and she shared with me some great money-saving tips from the coffee experts – the Starbucks baristas!! Your local baristas truly are your best resource on saving money — get to know them and find out about all the different options you have to enjoy your coffee while saving some money, too!
Here are the top 10 money-saving tips they came up with on ways to trim your budget without curbing your Starbucks habit! :)
1) 50% of Starbucks beverages are under $3 and 1/3 of their drinks are under $2! The way it gets expensive is when you start adding in your syrups and other “extras”. So, if you’re trying to shave costs, think about eliminating that “extra” every now and then!
*Select, larger Starbucks stores also have “Clover” stores. They have clover machines which can actually brew individual cups of coffee from a select, rare coffee beans (which they may not have in mass as a primary flavor). This would be a great way to try a new kind of coffee and these drinks are less than $3. Ask your local barista to find out if there’s a Clover store near you & more details about this!

2) Bring Your Own Cup – Bring your own reusable cup, mug or travel tumbler and you’ll get 10 cents off your drink! This is also great for the environment! If you have a large travel mug, but are only wanting to pay for a small coffee, you can still use that mug and just let them know which size to make in your cup!
3) Play barista and reinvent your latte – There are various ways you could make a similar, but less-expensive version of your favorite latte or mocha! If you’re one that loves a latte every day (this would be my mom :) )…then maybe change to a brewed coffee with steamed milk for a similar drink, but costing less- this switch could save you 85 cents! Do this several times a week and it will start to make a difference.
The key is to talk to your barista – there are many more options that they can make for you to customize a drink for you, without having to just go by the menu!! Just tell them what you’re looking for and wanting a lower-cost alternative and see what they can come up with! If you’re not happy, then they will make it again for free!!
4) 50 cent refills on brewed coffee any time of day and on any size!! If you like to stop by Starbucks multiple times a day or you will be hanging out at the coffeehouse for awhile with friends, then this is a great option! Their brewed coffee is fresh all day and the decaf is brewed on demand.

5) Brew your coffee at home for savings & trying new flavors – Grab a bag of Starbucks coffee in the store and have your barista grind your coffee for you so you can enjoy your cup of Joe in the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to buy a whole bag – you can ask for either a 1/4 or 1/2 lb bag, too as a way to test out new coffee flavors. The price is around 30 cents a cup by making it at home…and then you can add in whatever special syrups and extras you want, too.
*There’s also a new option that has debuted in Seattle & Chicago stores, as well as online at, featuring Via Ready Brew, which are on-the-go coffee packets. These work out to be around $1/cup.
6) Use a French Press for two while dining in Starbucks – if you are planning on spending some time at Starbucks with friends or for a meeting, this is a great way to save money. Order a French press – it will make four 8 oz cups of coffee and is only $3!! This is less than two Grande (16 oz) coffees. You can order any coffee that they sell (including seasonal & small batch coffees) to be served in the French Press. You also will be served using real mugs versus paper cups, which makes it more like meeting in your own home! This is available in select Starbucks – check w/your local store
7) Order breakfast pairings (coffee & select food item) all day long for a savings of up to 90 cents when you pair them together – Check w/your local store for their “pairings”. An example is ordering a tall latte with coffee cake for $3.95 (savings of 90 cents)
8) Summer Treat Receipt Promotion (until September 30th) – Bring in your receipt anytime after 2pm from a purchase you made in the morning at Starbucks and you can get a Grande cold drink for $2 (including the new Vivanno smoothies)
9) Register your Starbucks Gift Cards online for benefits – I had no idea that you could register your Starbucks gift cards and receive some great benefits/savings. They even have mini-cards you can put on your key chain just like your grocery reward cards, so you never forget it! I just received a gift card recently, so I’ll definitely be registering my card online! Go HERE to register your card!
Here are some of the rewards of registering:
Free refills on brewed coffee (instead of paying 50 cents)
Free syrups and soy to customize your drink
-When you buy 1 lb of whole bean coffee, you’ll get 1 tall beverage for FREE
-Get 2 free hours of Wifi daily at the Starbucks Cafe!
-If you lose your card or it gets stolen, you will get the amount that was on your card back from Starbucks
10) Use Starbucks as a meeting place for meetings & community groups – if anyone in your group has a Starbucks card, then you’ll get your Wi-fi for free for 2 hrs. The larger shops are now offering “community tables” – just ask your local store for a sign-up sheet!
If you are a Starbucks lover, but have been trying to find ways to cut your budget, hopefully these were some helpful hints to start trimming your budget a bit! Every little bit helps!!
Thanks Anna for taking the time to share these tips!


  1. Great post. A long long time ago in a land not so far away I use to Barista too…and here are some additional money saving tricks I learned:

    a) order 8oz sizes (Starbucks does not advertise them but I believe they still carry them, and if you request you can get your same Latte for cheaper).

    b) order an Americano with your favorite flavoring and cream. Works even better when you are ordering iced. This will keep your coffee drink under $2 for a Tall size and you still get the same great flavors.

    c) Even better skip the flavorings and simply add some sugar in the raw, a little chocolate powder, some vanilla powder and cinnamon (all stocked at the end of the bar) for a frugal version of a Mexican Mocha!

  2. I believe that Iced Teas are also just a $.50 refills for any size. Just not the teas mixed with lemonade.

  3. Wow, you guys have some great tips! I'll definitely have to add these in!! And I learned something new about you Sia – I didn't know you used to be a Starbucks barista! :)

  4. Well if I told you the truth I would really date myself (I worked for Nordstroms who was actually a real competitor to Starbucks when I made coffee) :-) I love how you put together this post though…great idea!

  5. I'm very surprised the Starbucks Gold Card was not on the list (something Starbucks stopped advertising but still offers if you can get your hands on them when they get them in stock)! If you go to Starbucks frequently, you can purchase a gold card for $25.00. Your first drink is free and everything you purchase over the next 12 months is 10% off. (Considering I spend around $3.50 a day at Starbucks, it saves me about 35 cents a day which a savings of over $125.00 a year!) PLUS, since I've joined I've received 2 coupons for free drinks, 1 coupon for a free pint of starbucks ice cream, 1 coupon for a free Vivanno smoothie and 2 coupons for 1/2 off Vivanno smoothies (they mailed all of them to me….you have to register your card online to get all this fun stuff but it's WELL worth it!)

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