Starbucks and a Swig of Savings

by andrewodom on December 13, 2010 · 17 comments


I spent a good deal of the last ten years being addicted to S’bucks. In the corporate cafe I found an appreciation for good beans, consistent taste, earth tones, and countless compilation CDs. What I didn’t understand though is that I was never compensated for being a loyal addict consumer.

Well enter the STARBUCKS CARD!

If you choose to get a free card, register it, and then make purchases with it (pre-paid, of course)  you can get some small Starbucks Rewards:

  • You get a free drink on your birthday
  • General savings on soy and syrup, and free refills
  • If you live in the U.S. you can earn Starbucks Stars which will then unlock secret levels of deliciousness

How It Works:

The STARS system means 1 Star = 1 Visit

Registering for a card immediately gets you a FREE birthday beverage. That’s right. The man giveth back! All registered Starbucks Card holders get a handcrafted birthday beverage of their choice.

Once you have visited and used your card five times (this is about $20 for me as a Grande no-fat Mocha, no whip is about $3.72 US Dollars) you also earn 5 stars which automatically moves you into the Green level, where you will receive the following benefits:

  • All Welcome level benefits
  • Free select syrups and milk options such as soy
  • Free refills on brewed coffee or tea
  • Free tall (12 fl oz) beverage with one pound of whole bean coffee purchase
  • Special exclusive offers and coupons

After 30 Stars besides being an official addict you are also guaranteed:

  • All Welcome and Green level benefits
  • An exclusive, personalized card (unavailable in stores) and Welcome Packet
  • The ability to earn a free drink after every 15 Stars which means I spend $60 to get a $4 drink (6.67% return)

So how do you actually earn a star? Easy. Buy a beverage and you get a star!

And because it is the holiday season I feel it only proper to offer a few other cost reductions and grande savings. The original article was posted here on Mainstreet:

  • “If you and a friend are out and want a Frappuccino, ask for a Venti split into two tall cups. Iced venti cups are 24 oz. Tall are 12. Voila. Two talls would cost you about six bucks, a venti, four.”
  • “If you want espresso, avoid the options already on the menu board. Americanos cost just a little more than a cup of brewed coffee, but packs more of a caffeine punch because it’s espresso and hot water. It tastes like coffee and you can sweeten it just like you would your normal cup of coffee … If you want an extra shot, don’t ask for one. Ask for a “grande Americano in a tall cup.” That way, they charge you an extra 30 cents, instead of an extra 70 cents, for the shot of espresso. This works because Grande Americanos get three shots. Same would work for a Venti. My manager tells all his partners to do this by default, whether the customer asks for it that way or not, but other stores may not be so nice.”

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I was inspired to write this post and found most of the information on my good friend FB’s blog Fabulously Broke…in the city…

  • http://www.FabulouslyBroke.com FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com

    Thank you kindly sir! :) I really appreciate the link back and the spreading of Starbucks cheer.

    • anotherkindofdrew

      You are so welcome. Thank you for letting me repost such a great (and informative) piece!

  • Anonymous

    Coffee is good! Especially when it is 27 degrees out! I thought I left the cold when I moved from Ohio to South Carolina…what gives?

    • anotherkindofdrew

      Coffee is good. You know what is better molly? FREE coffee! Go get your card today and start earning some points. Oh, and thanks for bringing the cold weather with you!

  • http://www.scissorsanddrumsticks.com Scissors & Drumsticks

    Although the perks are there, I still can’t get with it. Seems a bit too “consumerist” to me. The discount consumer card is merely a means to get you in the store to buy other products they have on their shelves. Starbucks makes great products, but none of which I am willing to spend five to seven dollars on. Folks would be amazed at what kind of coffee concoctions they can come up with at home that taste equal to, if not, better than the corporate giants marketed cuppa joe.

    What about the waste that comes along with it? Paper cups and such.The fuel waste we spend driving to these places?

    However Drew, your 6.67% percent return is a decent cash in. maybe the stock market could learn a thing or two here. The only downside is you only get to spend/make your return right there in the Starbucks store, nowhere else.

    Great post for the Starbuckans who visit this joint on the regular.

    • anotherkindofdrew

      I don’t have a S’bucks within 45 miles from here. It simply isn’t an option for me. When I am near one though? Yes, I will get myself a treat. I have great memories of times spent in S’bucks. I also appreciate the way they support local troops and education incentives. While I don’t agree with all their price points or their corporate megalomaniacism I know there are a lot that do and if I can help anyone save a buck, I am all for it! I think S’bucks is one of those places that HAS to be treated carefully; a treat, if you will.

      What you are referring to Scissors is the Latte Factor in which people don’t realize they can make it cheaper and possibly better at home. For those folks, there is a variety of reasons as to why they choose to use their disposable income at S’bucks.

      I know they use post-consumer cups but I do agree with you on the resources used as the cars drive their and then idle in the drive-through, emissions just soaring to the heavens!

  • http://twitter.com/beckyroode Becky Roode

    First, you get a gold star today for using the following word in your post – megalomaniacism.
    Second, I have the card and like it. Of course, I’m surrounded by Starbucks here in the HR. And I don’t use a drive-thru Starbies…only walk-ins and only if I’m already out (I don’t make mad dashes to Starbies). I did thoroughly enjoy my free drink on my birthday. I like that there were no limits set on my free birthday drink – it could be anything, any size, any way I wanted it made. Great! I also two containers (one for hot drinks and one for the cold variety) that I use when buying at Starbies so that I’m not using their paper cups. I just take the cup home and wash.

    • anotherkindofdrew

      Thank you Becky. I fancy myself a hobby etymologist. hahahaha.

      Thank you for speaking up as a S’bucks card holder and user. And yes, you are totally surrounded. I do remember that. I used to frequent the Colley Avenue location but now that I only go back when I have to go to my work HQ I use the Va. Beach Blvd/Independence Blvd. I like your thought; only if you’re out and only walk-ins (which I think makes the ambiance of the trip, quite frankly). AND you use re-usable cups. Okay, now who gets the gold star. I think you have shown us how to save money, get something FREE, and participate in saving disposable waste. Rock on!

  • http://twitter.com/beckyroode Becky Roode

    Also, even though this is about Starbucks, Panera has a rewards card, too. I think I paid $5 or $7 for it initially, but it’s a one-time fee and pays for itself quickly. They are constantly…I mean, CONSTANTLY…giving you free items. They’ve already given me 2 free espresso drinks (their lattes taste just as good as Starbies). I currently have 3 freebies on my Panera card – another free espresso drink, a free soda/tea/coffee, and a free pastry (like one of those huge cinnamon buns they make…FOR FREE). Even though there was an initial cost involved, it’s paid for and getting free stuff from here on out is good…very good. :)

    • anotherkindofdrew

      Another great tip. Rock on! I can’t wait till these places start offering Rewards Cards on Smartphone via QR code (read about QR here .

  • rachel whetzel

    Not sure where your source is getting his “more caffeine in espresso” information, but all my training info says you actually need four shots of espresso to equal the caffeine in one cup ‘o joe you brew in a drip system. That’s what all the training videos I watched for my job at the coffee house said. There are a few factors that affect caffeine content. Darker roasts (longer roasting times) break down caffeine. The longer the grind sits in water, the higher the caffeine content too… At any rate. Just some useless information.
    Personally, I got spoiled on the coffee I got to make when I was a barista. Starbucks was ever so affectionately referred to as Starsucks at our house. I think their grind tastes horribly burnt. I say look to see if there are any small business coffee houses in your area and see if THEY have incentive cards. They may not be AS great as Starbucks, but they usually have buy X amount get a free coffee deals.

    • rachel whetzel

      Clarification:
      Here’s good information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espresso By volume, espresso has more caffeine than drip. (as in 8oz of espresso shots has more caffeine than the same 8oz of drip coffee.) However, most 8oz latte’s etc. only have one shot of espresso in them, and so have on average 1/2 the caffeine content.

    • anotherkindofdrew

      Great information Rachel. Thank you for speaking up as the “coffee expert.” In fact, I think I met you when you were working at a Portland (or was it Eugene) coffee house? I appreciate you adding to the conversation!

  • Nebraska Dave

    Drew, I love a good cup of brew especially while sitting out on the front poor man’s patio watching all the folks come home from work. I am from farm country of Nebraska and we just brew out own and drink it out of a cracked thick white mug. We have even been known to (rolling eyes) pour the steaming liquid in the saucer under the cup and sip it from the saucer as a way to cool the coffee a bit before drinking. Oh yes there are plenty of Starbucks in Nebraska but I seldom frequent a place that charges as much for a cup of coffee as my coffee maker does for a whole pot. I’m interested in how a $3.72 cup of coffee fits into a minimalist lifestyle.

    • anotherkindofdrew

      A $3.72 cup of coffee doesn’t fit into a minimalist lifestyle or any other, as far as I am concerned. But, a lot of folks take a relatively easy way out and purchase folks S’bucks gift cards (especially now that drug stores and the lot sell them) as a gift. So I can’t see not using one if it is a gift. That is what led to the post actually; a trip to another city actually to do some shopping and then ultimately use our 13-month old S’bucks gift card. HA!

      You tricky Nebraska Dave. You tried to call me out. I have your number though! hahahahaha. LOL

  • http://castlesintheair.org Nina Yau

    Do you work for Starbucks, Drew? You know an awful lot about the Starbucks card! (addict) :D

    In the past, I used to be one of those fast-twitch, high-paced, super caffeinated baristas that can make a triple venti 4-pump soy mocha no whip in 41 seconds flat. BAM!

    And I would eat all the reduced fat cinnamon swirl coffeecakes this small framed Asian body can handle! Man, was it good ………

    • anotherkindofdrew

      hahahaha. I actually don’t work for S’bucks, never have worked for S’bucks and don’t have one within 45 miles from my home. In fact, I don’t even get drinks there when I can. I did a lot of research and even called up a friend of mine who was a barista there for several years.

      But…when the moon is right and I hear The Cure playing on the radio and nostalgia from my years in art school hits me just right (or my time living in Brooklyn) I can kill a Grande no-fat mocha, no whip, extra hot and a chocolate chip banana bread slice with the best of them!!! hahahahaha.

      Thank you for reading and commenting Nina. Merry Christmas!

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