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. Carree

    I considered going to work there just for that cause lol, I have a full time job and do well for myself but there is nothing like lots of starbux coffee everyday πŸ™‚ One is on it’s way to me right now woohoo! lol

  2. Barista.

    we know who scams us. we are not all stupid. we catch on. and refuse. sometimes they stop coming back. However. Come in often and fill the tip jar… that is your key.

  3. Bryan

    Yet another freebie!!!! Fast and free WiFi at Starbucks


    this is a promotional code that you put into the TMobile Hotspot page

    you have to have a credit card just to put in tmobile’s system when you get the free pay as you go option, but you can cancel after the 24 hour period.

  4. Nicole in NC

    I am a frequent SB customer and as much as I would like a free drink, I think DC’s ways are rotten. It’s stealing plain and simple. If you don’t like their prices, make your own coffee drink at home. It would be nice if SB had a punch card where you could get your 10th drink free or something like that. My Starbucks often times has samples available on the weekend, so if you want something for free you should check SB on the weekend.

  5. Bryan

    Okay, so I’m a barista at an exceptionally busy Starbucks in California. And I’m going to say, all of y happen to be very greedy. And when it comes to giving away drinks, we don’t really do it all that much anymore. That’s why my store gives away receipts, so if they say they ordered something, we’ll ask for a receipt.

    We’re not stupid.
    And we can always tell when people that walk in.

    Go play in traffic, yes?

  6. Eliza

    All of you assholes who are too important to pay for your coffee, just know that this is one of the only companies that provides health care to part-time employees and that would be something to cut when they lose money. So thank you…in a country where it is hard enough to get health care you have just made it harder with your selfishness. Great job!

  7. Anonymous


  8. Anonymous

    you guys are cheaters! if you don’t want to pay for the “expensive” coffee, make your own!!! being a thief isn’t good. selfish people are not good. be nice, and actually think about the workers who are suffering because of your greediness *good point Eliza πŸ™‚

  9. Anonymous

    The way I get free drinks from Starbucks
    I first order my usual large cappuccino but then I ask may I have a sample of your newest drink before you make my cappuccino.
    This time its Pumpkin spice. I pay my $5.00 for the cappuccino and enjoy the Starbuck give away
    I drink at Starbuck once every 2 or 3 months or when ever I get into town; I look forward to it, kind of like a kid in a ice cream parlor.
    As far as lying for a drink, I would be ashamed,
    The barista makes a mistake from time to time but I shake it off, taste it, and if it’s not right, or enjoyable enough to compensate for the cost of the drink, they make another one just for the asking.
    I say Starbucks keep growing, keep hiring, keep promoting good work ethics, and thanks for a great cup of coffee.

    The folks in Minot ND disserve a raise.

  10. Meme Mel

    It’s amusing how people with all kinds of perspectives get defensive over a cup of coffee.

    For starters, it’s not as if this is a behavior exclusive to Starbucks. It doesn’t matter if you work in a restaurant, general merchandise store, or even at a call center, people will always try to get something for nothing.

    Instead of whining about it, if it’s your job just do what you’ve probably been doing already. Catch them in the act, spotlight it, and if the shame isn’t enough for them then things can escalate until they’re in legal trouble.

    If you can get away with snatching the merchandise up because a given employee is too stupid to notice what they’re doing, fine. Why you would want to jeopardize that by mentioning it to a bunch of prepubescent dingbats is beyond me.

    I like how so many people jump to prove how intelligent they are by mentioning a college degree or naming their profession. Who the fuck cares? You’re reading an article about stealing coffee, not writing an editorial for the New York Post.

    And just as a side note, since when are Starbucks and Folgers the only two companies that provide coffee? Have none of you tried Godiva, or any of the premium stuff?

    In any case, it was a fun read, and it’s been interesting to see so many perspectives concerning the issue. I’ll let the rest of you douchebags get back to arguing over which monkeys have legit rights to the beans.

  11. Truth

    The interesting thing
    those who are always trying to get away with things or abusing of the system, they do not realize they are STEALING , and yes people, this is a form of stealing.
    Karma goes around and comes around.
    Thats all I have to say.
    Where you take from others, in one way or another things will be taken from you.

  12. Matt

    Wow, people are freaks…I enjoy $ coffee, occasionally most often I brew my own coffee at home, the stuff I order from France, Brazil and Hawaii but now and then I want something different. If you can’t afford $ then don’t scam, just go down the road to 7-11 and pay less for crap coffee and don’t get $. How hard is this concept to understand?

  13. Angela

    I go to $ so often that they mess up almost a third of the time and not only do I get a free drink – sometime they throw n a coupon. You just have to be naturally picky… they can smell the fakes.

  14. yermthersys

    haha wow.
    smart and amusing
    yet stupid
    just pay for the damn drink
    i mean honestly, you’ll just look stupid if thers a nosey old person behind you that rats you out. no point in it really.
    haha. but amusing, i like it :]

  15. Craig

    I worked as a Barista for a year in Manhattan. The best trick is to say you are from Corporate doing a walk through. Right away the person at the till “must” offer you a drink on the house. Told my buds about it, worked everytime. Starbucks sucks ass

  16. StarbucksMama805

    That’s sad that you have to come up with dishonest stuff in order to get a drink. I mean some of those ideas sound clever, but that’s not nice to do those things cuz eventually the employees/employers end up paying for it. That aint fair is it, how would you feel on the other side of the counter?

    I know that you usually get a free one if someone else before you orders the wrong drink, or they find out that they can’t pay for it. That happened to me once in drive thru. The person in front I guess couldn’t pay for it, and so they gave it to me. So I was stuck with 2 drinks, but one of them was free.

    This other time in drive thru, I ordered my drink and everything, then when I went to pay….I couldn’t find my gift card!! I was like “oh shit. I forgot my gift card.” They told me to go ahead and take the drinks it was no problem. Well that was cool and everthing, but I felt like I was ‘labeled’ as doing it on purpose. So I told them that I would go home and get it and come back. They just kept saying “don’t worry about it”……….Well, I just went home, got my gift card and went back to pay for it. They were totally shocked that I did that. And people can call me stupid for doing that, or what an idiot……but you know what? If you have the money PAY FOR IT, if you don’t then don’t even order one. There is too much dishonesty in this world that it’s poisoning!

  17. Melissa

    I am a barista and I have to say that while we do have a ‘just say yes’ policy I have thrown people out for trying that crap with me. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. Just as you have observed ways to cheat the system, I have observed ways to stay out of trouble for telling someone “no”. Also, the mom and pop coffe shops where I live charge just as much as if not more than Starbucks.

  18. mc octupus

    i think i might try asking for a sample and see if theyll just give me a “tall” but the others are too crazy…

  19. Starbucks Rocks! christina dosen't!

    MMMMM……thats good! We absolutely love Starbucks and want to get free coffee! WE are only teenagers but already addicted. just the other day we beged our parents to drive us. And they sayd yes! Halaluya!!!!!!!!!!!! And we will try again to day, but now try to get free coffee lucky us!

  20. starbucks rocks....monkey's butt

    yah, it’s good but there coffee is the bomb!! i must say there drinks are delicious.take a chance at something new there they won’t let you down. ( i think it never will happen where they do!!) go there and have some coffee with some friends, it’s a great place to do those things like that!!!! Hey i’m going to go get a free one right now!!

  21. u r all freaks!

    u r all freaks! ya, thats right! trying to scam starbucks coffee! if ya like it soo much then wouldn’t be worth it to pay the price? u r just going to be cheats the rest of ur life. karma is gonna get cha and make you choke on a shrimp @ a restuarant. u r all retarded freaks that love starbucks- i only got 1 word to say and it is: WOW!!!!!!!

  22. kax

    wow you people are insane. I’m gonna get a job at starbucks hopefully, I just applied yesterday and it seemed like everything went well, people there were super friendly and to be honest with you all, I buy starbucks because the coffee I make at home tastes like shit. Maybe after I’ve worked at starbucks and know how to make coffee I’ll make my own at home or something but if there is a coffee that truely tastes better than starbucks (all you mom and pop defenders i’m talking to you) then by all means let me have a cup because starbucks is the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. Is that sad?

  23. Vanilla-less

    Why do all the baristas forget the fucking vanilla in my latte? Everywhere I go they forget the fucking vanilla. I say “Grande Vanilla Latte Please”, and I get a Grande Latte with no fucking vanilla. I WANT MY FUCKING VANILLA YOU FUCKING WINDOW LICKERS!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. justshocked

    Starbucks is a wonderful company that genuinely cares for all its partners and invests millions every year to be that kind of company. I can’t believe that I actually read some of the comments above about ripping off Starbucks. As a partner at one of the busiest stores in the nation, I actually find it hard to think any of these scams will work. I don’t know where you all order your drinks, but our partners watch what is going on and are not dumb enough to fall for these childish tricks. We learn to watch out for idiots like you who try to steal from us. You all must be desperate, real freaking desperate. By the way, if your drink is continually made wrong over and over again, it’s probably because the partners there know your face and know your one of those retards who steals from us and then is a complete jerk because your STOLEN drink is incorrectly made. So yes, your drink will continue to be made wrong. If you don’t want our coffee or complain about the price then don’t come get it. It’s not a necessity for survival. Go to 7-11. We don’t want you thieving idiots anyway.

  25. Mel R.

    “Starbucks is a wonderful company that genuinely cares for all its partners and invests millions every year to be that kind of company.”

    Yes, every company makes painstaking efforts to take care of its partners and shareholders. That does not always mean they take care of its customers (though some of them may be shareholders), the communities it makes business in, or even its employees.

    You want to know why it’s so much fun to steal from a Starbucks (though admittedly I have never done it myself)? Because it’s a company that is entirely based around the idea that you overpay for a cup of coffee that usually doesn’t contain much coffee in it, you order it in a size that is listed in a foreign tongue, and then you stand in line for an hour and a half to talk to all of the other sucks about how everyone there overpaid for their coffee but just loves it that much.

    Similar to how the gay man doesn’t necessarily like sodomy but it out of options since they can’t handle or don’t like women, people taut on about the poor quality and high price of Starbucks, but won’t shop elsewhere because they don’t like just plain coffee. I’m talking coffee without peppermint syrup and whipped cream. Coffee that you don’t have to wait an hour for. And no, it doesn’t come from 7-11.

    I thought I had made this clear the last time I posted, but I’ll say it again for posterity. The people who want to steal are going to do it, and they’re going to do it with your company until your employees stop drooling enough to notice. Likely as not they do it to every company they come in contact with, you’re just short-sighted enough to think it makes some difference because this time it might happen to be yours. The people who enjoy your drinks (however ignorant I think they are) are going to continue paying top dollar for a small- er… “tall” cup of milk flavored with a couple coffee grounds.

    What you should be far more concerned about, so-called partner, is the fact that McDonalds is going to expand their business into your market very soon, and the fact that Starbucks shares are dropping in direct relation to McDonald’s shares expanding.

  26. MOS


    But it’s funny how poor people who do anything to get free coffee that’s cheap to begin with. I mean seriously if you cant afford $4 dollar coffee, you might as well be homeless.

  27. laughing at mos

    I don’t know how much money you have but 4 bux isn’t cheap for coffee. 1.00 is cheap. I love starbucks and I don’t try to get free coffee unless they made a mistake then I of course, want it replaced. but if 4 bux is cheap to you for coffee, you have to much to spend.

  28. laughing at mos

    I would like to say one more thing. I have gone to starbucks numerous times and had them give me a free drink to try, and in all honesty I didn’t have to steal it, they offered. If you are honest you might get further than if you steal it anyway and get to try free drinks just because they are nice and want to get your opinion on something.. I personally wish there was a starbucks in my front yard, life would be grand.

  29. Jim

    I usually walk in with a Shotgun, that gets you free drinks


    For fun, take your dick out of your pants and place it on the counter when its time to pay, if the bitch gives you any trouble, tell her to suck your cock

    That works as well.

  30. tfghtfhtfh

    KT, shut the fuck up, asshole!
    justshocked, LOL! fucker
    MOS, it sure as hell is more expensive than your mother!

    and to all the starbuck employees who claim to love their jobs and put the company before customers, GO FUCK YOURSELVES!

  31. barista

    Way to just disregard the fact that conning anybody or any company, regardless of whether they can accept the loss, is just wrong. Coming from somebody who works very hard as a barista to justify the price that my company charges, I am disgusted by lowlifes like DCB that worsen the experience for other customers. Some very honest customers sometimes wonder why certain baristas are reluctant to properly rectify poor situations. The answer is people like DCB. Furthermore, that kind of theft adds up, and guess who loses out on that money? It’s not Howard Schultz. It’s the baristas, many of whom are poor college students or single mothers who just want health insurance for themselves and their kids. Think about that next time you try “sticking it to the man” for a caffeine fix.

  32. Mel R.

    It’s a bit ridiculous how seriously some of you are taking this article. Have any of you actually taken the time to read the author’s other articles, or were you just focusing on how someone stealing bean juice out of a status symbol irks your moral center? The author doesn’t exactly portray the image of a well-rounded or particularly deep individual. The preceding comment in particular makes me curious to see the actual demographics on Starbucks employees, including baristas. I’m curious as to how some of you who want to chastise others for their opinions and seem to have such a righteous outlook on life actually came across this article in the first place.

    I don’t necessarily buy into the idea that anyone who has that job is some poor soul who has to struggle and scrape by. Maybe college students aren’t feasting on a regular basis, but if you were totally broke you wouldn’t be able to attend college in the first place. Most certainly there wouldn’t be so many young people who would be willing to shell out that kind of cash for a cup of coffee if that were the case.

  33. Anonymous

    i love starbucks….caramel mocchiato is 2 die forrrrrrrrrrrrrr! it is a lil expensive tho…espesh wen ur a kid and ur jus tryna b kool and hav a lil fun!

    anyway starbuks rulesssssssssssss!!!!

  34. Anonymous

    if u can’t afford starbucks coffee go away!!!
    don’t be stupid! be nice to barista their just like you working! wanna earn money

    im not a loyal cutomer i just hate people complaining so much just to get free stuff!!
    i believe in “karma”

  35. peace coffee

    One reason starbucks is priced so high is because it buys fair trade. Cheap coffee is often bought at slave labor prices and kills the rainforest with unsustianable growing methods for growing poor tasting sun grown coffee with farmers who loose jobs after they deplete the resources. Support the better tasting shade grown organic and biodiversity and ask for Organic Shade Grown Mexico. Don’t cause global warming by buying from companies who tear down rainforext trees, often illeagally.

  36. East Bay Mae

    My personal favorite is the grab-and-go method, in which you wait for them to call out someone’s drink that doesn’t sound totally disgusting. Then you rush up to the counter, take a whiff of said drink, and if it seems safe, you steal said damn drink. And in relation to the 7 types of *$ baristas, there are also atleast 7 types of customers. My personal favorite are the Douches With Laptops.

  37. East Bay Mae

    My personal favorite is the grab-and-go method, in which you wait for them to call out someone’s drink that doesn’t sound totally disgusting. Then you rush up to the counter, take a whiff of said drink, and if it seems safe, you steal said damn drink. And in relation to the 7 types of *$ baristas, there are also atleast 7 types of customers. My personal favorite are the Douches With Laptops.

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