During my years frequenting Starbucks, I’ve observed ways to beat the system and get free drinks. This is dedicated to your poor schmos who cant afford an affordable luxury. I pay for my drinks but have “accidentally” stumbled on these field-tested rules.

Rule number 1: Go the busiest store near you to capitalize on worker confusion.

The key is to find a *$ that is busy, where confusion makes it easy to get away with things. If you go to an empty store where the person who rings you up is the same person who makes your drink, you aren’t getting away with anything.

Rule number 2: Make it seem like your order was incorrect.

If a barista screws up your order, they correct it and give you a coupon for a free drink the next time you come. Technically this isn’t completely free since you have to make that first purchase, but you can keep the chain alive and get free drinks forever.

Example: “Yeah, um, this is a caramel latte but I actually ordered a vanilla latte.” Of course you really did order a caramel latte but the person who took your order is busy (you’re at a busy *$ remember?) and forgot what you really ordered.

Rule number 3: Purchase something small and then act like a patient, confused customer waiting for his coffee beverage.

A bolder extension of rule number two is the real/fake purchase scam. You first need to order a baked good from the cash register person. After she gives it to you in a bag, mill around for about five minutes and then go to the barista and say, “Have you made a grande white mocha?” Look confused but gentle, like a puppy dog. They will look at their cups and see it was missing, and then promptly add yours to the queue.

Rule number 4: Wait by the bar like a snake and grab a drink that has been sitting there for more than 3 minutes.

At busy stores the inefficiencies in the system cause a lot of duplicate drinks to be made. The drinks sit on the bar for a while until the barista’s throw them away. All you gotta do is go up there and grab a drink. This scam has a couple downsides: the drinks will probably be lukewarm by the time you get it and like a person shopping for a home in a hot real estate market, you will never get your first choice. Most of the drinks are lattes with some wussy modification like a splash of soy milk.

Rule number 5: Greet barista’s by their name.

If you are a regular at a specific store, simply ask for the first names of the people that work there and introduce yourself. They will promptly forget your name but it doesn’t matter, for each time you go there and greet them by name you create a friendly vibe that encourages them to hook you up. It’s acceptable to be a little funny. To milk your connection indefinitely, it may be a good idea to tip them every now and then so they don’t think you are cheap. Little do they know that you are just broke because you have no skills that companies would pay for.

There are holes in every system and if you patient enough its easy to pick them apart with simple observation. I conclude with a disclaimer: don’t blame me if your stupid ass gets caught.


  1. question?

    ya, if I said, hey this is vanilla and I wanted Caramel, they would just make me a new one on the spot. I’ve never got a free coupon………………

  2. WannaB

    Hi, I am planning to apply to be a barista, and I am wondering what the odds are getting the job? I AM 45 yo.(I do look 10yrs younger) I am an artist, and I figured doing waitressing or bartending is not as attrackive than being a barista.(I do like to smell coffee better than alcohol, or food).
    I think Starbucks MUST have great coffee, if people would cheat and lie just to have it free. Personally I love their espresso, and variations of it.


  3. Anonymous

    Starbucks’ coffee may be of higher quality than other chains and diners, but I’ve had home roasted organic coffee and can safely say, Starbucks’ coffee is average at best.

    And all of these baristas mentioning tips, you want a tip for 20 seconds of work on a $4 cup of coffee that costs less than .25 cents to make? Tell your wonderful employer to make the costs more reasonable and I’ll consider tipping you. And this is coming from someone who lived on tips. And that is the real definition of “lived” not “like I need money to like buy music for my ipod like”

  4. Barista 180

    Um. If I’m on bar, I *DO* ask the register person if he/she rang up a customer for a drink they are claiming was never made. I rarely give away the free drink coupons unless a customer is EXTRA nice AND I know for a fact that we are the ones who screwed up.

    We can spot you sad cheap losers a mile away.

    And – oh yes – we DO spit in drinks. Even worse…we give DECAF! MUA HA HA HA HA!

    Kiss up or die, sucker.

    “Taylor”, “Jen”…this message is for you. 🙂

  5. johnnysocal

    wtf!!! keep the coffee of the day brewed and fresh… damn barista pukes how hard is that?

    Yes I do mind waiting and no I don’t want a stinking americana..

    It seems simple enough

  6. kortnie

    Wow. I had no idea people tried stealing coffees.
    Oh well, I guess thats how some people roll.
    I drink a frappucinno every day. And I don’t mind paying for it. But I guess if I was out of cash I’m pretty sure I would resort to one of those lame-ass cons.

  7. Anonymous

    jajajaajaj yal stupid man I get drinks by kicking the soda machine it workz with a good kick (waistin ma time in stupid shit like dat irader go try get som digitz off da gurlz who work dere)

  8. John

    I like to just go in there and suck the cashier’s dick. That method usually gets me a couple free coupons and it’s not stealing because they get some head in return.

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  10. Lacerra

    u guys r too harsh on an industry simply bent on earning money and making coffee. u put 2 much into it! money makes the world go round! they don’t want anything except tht! and being a theif isn’t the answer!

  11. dignam

    i work at sbux and if u hook me up i hook u up more!!! it’s an investment that will reward you exponentially.

  12. ThankYouSBUX

    I’m a nursing student, and I spend a lot of time studying at Starbucks. I find it’s usually a great place to study. The Baristas/os sometimes give me my drink for free, and I appreciate it very much. Some of you may have the money to do it everyday… I’m just looking for a good place to study, and I don’t. I’m totally against greedy corps, but starbucks coffee really is just about the same price as coffee at any other shop, and at least there, you always know what it will taste like. Indie shops are hit and miss.

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  15. Anonymous

    well once i was in starbucks, i got a drink, then i take out a bag with poop in it and put the poop in. then i go to the cashier and said ” ewwww theres poop in here!” then she said “oh wow…um..i’ll get another one for you”

  16. Fuck ur momas twat

    When Im at starbucks I tell the baristas to do the following

    Barista: What can I start for you there
    Me: Get me my fucking coffee bitch
    Barista: Excuse me
    Me: Get my the coffee now you fucking bitch before I come over there and put this coffee cup up your twat

  17. Rosemary

    I am so addicted to Peppermint mocha frapps and cafe vanilla frapps. Sometimes I even get two a day. I wish they would give coupons or some kind of system where you get a discount on so many purchased.

  18. Anonymous

    Your free drink theory is pretty much b.s. 9/10 times the customer grabs the wrong drink, leaving the other customer with the wrong drink. And just an fyi starbucks doesnt just hand out free drink certificates like water. They are counted against your store as a negative everytime one is given out. Most of the time it is customer error why their drink is wrong, and the drink can be remade in 30 seconds with no harm and an apology. And as far for having a corporate giant-so screw them attitude-Starbucks as a corporation does more for people and other countries than any other company in this nation. The main reason our coffee is high priced is employee benefits. A chunk of your latte goes towards healthcare, employee emergency funds, stocks, tuition reimbursment, and training. Starbucks takes care of there employeeys better than 99.9% of all other companies in the u.s. So anytime a barista just passes out a free coffee certificate like candy, they are only hurting themselves.

  19. Anonymous

    Oh and mr twat guy a few comments up, Im guessing you have a few really bad tattoos, live with your mom(even though you are in your thirties) work at wendys on the night shift, are still a virgin, and im guessing are a potential pedifile! SO in terms your little piss brain can process-YOUR A BAG OF SHIT!

  20. :)

    Why not just work at Starbucks you would then get as much free coffee as you want any time you want (unless their closed) plus you would get a free pound of coffee every week. Try not to steal please. In the end, your only hurting yourself.

  21. Anonymous

    My friend got a free drink by asking what they would do with the extra of my frap. there was like a quater of a glass left in the bottom, she was pretty annoying, so i think that the person gave the leftovers to her to shut her up, but it worked!

  22. Anonymous

    Unless you’re a liar or an opportunist, you won’t get a free drink at most stores. The girl at my university starbucks kiosk used to give me drinks, and her boss didn’t mind… but I also bought as much as I got for free, and I spent plenty of time studying in her shop and talking with her… so I spent a lot of time and money to get those ‘free’ drinks, even at that shop!

  23. Anonymous

    I’d like to go to Starbucks but once i get there , i heistitate what the coffee i ‘, gonna choose,…. so could u guys tell me some of the best coffee ?

  24. hmm

    wow. annoying. dont do that sort of stuff in a busy rush. you may get what you want out of it but all you do is cause the workers more trouble than they already have.

  25. Kelly J

    I love to lick ass, man I love to put my tounge up the baristas ass. Kiss it and run it over their body

  26. Anonymous

    I hope you do realize, that most starbucks employees perfectly know when customers try to rip them off. come on now, doesnt take a genius

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  28. Anonymous

    I get my coffee at the new BP amco wild bean caffe gas stations ; I love the taste and I can mix and add what ever flavors I like. It costs under 1.50 and is hot like I like. Not like crappy starbucks, limited options starbucks.

  29. g

    i work for starbucks and i dont have a problem giving away a free drink, but i will argue with you about it until my last breath because i know the ass holes that do this crap. coffee is not $4 its around a $1.50 unless you get a Latte type drink which is not coffee, it just has coffee in it. the basic fact is, that we dont go into your work and try to rip you off so why do it here? if you cant afford coffee then dont drink it! if i was addicted to crack and couldnt afford it and wrote a blog about how to rob houses so i could pay for my crack addiction would everyone be cool with that? i guess so because i am just “sticking it to the man” right?

  30. Anonymous

    Depending on the person a good way to get a free tall frap is to ask for a sample. Were suppose to be able to give samples but since there’s no real practical way to sample a frap I usually give em a tall for free. However if it’s even slightly busy you’ll most likely get turned down. Like someone said most baristas aren’t stingy with free drinks.

  31. Tony

    It is fascinating to me that comments on this post have been going for two years. That has to be some kind of record. I’m so impressed that you can come to my store anytime and I’ll give you a free drink. Actually, I don’t own it, so I’m just giving someone else’s product away. Don’t sneak, just ask.

    At the time of this post the largest cup of coffee at Starbucks costs $2.13. That includes tax.

  32. No Name

    This is a free world.

    No one force you to drink Starbucks, not to drink Starbucks, work at STarbucks or not to work at Starbucks.It’s your choice. Everyone has theirs.

    And whether their coffee is good or not, it’s not for anyone to tell you, as each person has their own preference, that’s the way it is.

    Any why do people always get jealous of a successful business, many people (like baristas in Starbucks context) has put so much effort and time to make it that way, just respect them for that and not taking advantage and being jealous.

    So, stop complaining about others and start thinking how to be as successful by learning and not complaining.

  33. muahaha

    I’ve read all the comments posted in the last two years. i find it hilarious that people have been arguing about this for so long..toodles

  34. KidCharlemagne

    I found this article quite humorous.
    I am a $barista and I love my job, even with quirky customers like you who think that they’re getting away with something.
    I know when I’m being duped.
    I know which customers steal.
    I don’t always say yes.
    I will re-make your drink without complaint.
    Just remember, what goes around comes around.
    Sometimes I accidently give you decaf…

  35. Something to Think About

    It is very amusing to me that so many people have been talking about this for so long. The reality is that it is just plain wrong to steal. You may think you are “sticking it to the man”, but in reality that type of behavior hurts the people who are just trying to make a living there more than it hurts “the man”. A more effective way to stick it to the man would be to put your money where your mouth is and go somewhere else.

    Also, as far as those who are talking up the values that Starbucks represents, you need to step back and look at the situation more objectively. I’m sure Starbucks does lots of charitable work for communities, and I don’t think it is a bad corporation. The bottom line, though, is that they are there to make money. Treating employees nicely and “giving back” are just that particular company’s methods to gain a good reputation and thus sell more coffee (and it seems to be very effective). It does indeed help, and it is certainly a good thing, but the company is doing this to help their bottom line, not because of their morals or values.

    If you don’t like Starbucks don’t go there. But also, you might think about not participating on sites like this that are essentially just keeping the company even more in the forefront (not that they need any help).

  36. Anonymous

    at my store, we recognize a lot of this….may i just say these are the people who get decaf all the time…..

  37. Anonymous

    heh clever , you forgot the part about the ghetto ass people who order shots in venti cups and then go to the condiment stand to fill them up with milk to make a ‘ ghetto ass latte ‘

    the fact of the matter is , its damn cheap – you can do it , most starbucks know of spasific people who DO do this. I know of several who come to my store , and we keep an eye out for them.

    pretty much we just laugh about them and how poor ass broke they are.

  38. Carree

    I pay for my starbucks daily, I get 2 venti white chocolate mochas with a triple shot in each. I pay for them, however, if my drink is crap (which happens) I would be furious if a barista refused to fix it, I would then go to corporate. I have never had them refuse to fix it. My store knows me and how I like it. I’ve not complained since they opened but I figured that was due to all new staff and they were learning. I LOVE STARBUCKSSSSSS IT’S THE NEW CRACK!

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