Starbucks Drink Hacks (Tips To Save Money and Customise Your Coffee)

Whether you are a student in college or saving up to buy a new house, you may have to tighten up your budget from time to time to make ends meet. I’m not sure why it is, but when financial advisors start giving out advice, they almost always suggest cutting out your Starbucks run in the first wave of budget cutbacks. I think they either are masochists or just want people to be unhappy.

Instead of eliminating a favorite treat that gives me the motivation to go to work in the morning, I prefer to find creative solutions.

There are a lot of hacks floating around on Tik Tok and other sites that show helpful hints to save money at Starbucks. The ideas vary from ordering a venti drink and splitting it with a friend, to making matcha tea out of iced water. Starbucks hacks can allow you to have your coffee and drink it, too, even when the budget is tight.

I feel like I am not the only one who enjoys saving money while keeping Starbucks in their morning routine. So, I’ve included some of the most interesting Starbucks ordering hacks out there so you can see which work for you.

Starbucks Drink Hacks

Best Starbucks Hacks

Starbucks HackThe Drink You WantThe Base Drink to OrderHot or Cold
Latte CopycatIced LatteIced CoffeeCold
Sweet or Unsweet Iced Latte HackIced LatteDoppioCold
Starbucks Frappuccino at HomeFrappuccinoStarbucks Bottled FrappuccinoCold
All-Year Christmas HackChristmas Cookie FrappuccinoVanilla Bean Frappuccino & syrupsCold
Apple Crisp Macchiato HackCarmel Apple Spice DrinkApple Crisp MacchiatoHot
Alternative Chai LatteChai LatteBrewed Chai TeaHot
Matcha Tea at an Unmatched PriceMatcha TeaIce WaterCold
PuppuccinoA treat for your dogPuppuccinoCold

1. Order Light Ice

One of the simplest Starbucks hacks is to get more coffee in your drink by asking for “light ice.” The more ice you have in your cup, the less room you will have for your delicious coffee drink. Also, more ice can quickly turn your coffee into watery slush on a hot day. By ordering light ice, your coffee will be less diluted, and you will have a few more sips to your favorite Starbucks drink.

2. Share with a Friend

Two starbucks cups

Coffee is always better when shared with a friend. At Starbucks, it can also save you money! A venti cold size cup is 24 ounces (while a hot venti is only 20 ounces). This means that a cold venti is exactly two tall-sized drinks in one cup. If you and your friend have similar tastes, you can order a cold venti coffee drink and ask for an extra cup. Then you can split your drink to get 2 Talls out of one and shave a few cents off the price.

Or, you can also order a French Press for the table and enjoy sharing a pot of coffee, some conversation, and the bill.

Starbucks, also, run promotions on drinks from time to time where you can buy one get one free. You can invite a friend down to a Starbucks coffee shop, order your drinks, and then “go Dutch” on the bill to each get a half-priced drink.

3. Latte Copycat

If you love a latte but are looking for a cheaper option, you can dress up an iced coffee. Iced coffee doesn’t come with flavored syrup, but it does come already sweetened with a classic syrup. This is superior to sugar because it will blend nicely into your cold drink. At Starbucks, whipped cream is always free, so make it fancy by asking the barista to top your coffee drink with whip. For added flavor, you can even add a pump of vanilla syrup or caramel syrup to your drink and you will still come out at least 50 cents ahead. This “latte” copycat can be a cheaper option than its vanilla latte or caramel macchiato cousin.

4. Bring Your Own Cup

A Starbucks Cup with a big splash

When you bring a personal mug or travel cup to Starbucks, you can get a 50 cent discount on your drink. Also, if you are a member and choose to buy a new Starbucks tumbler, you can get a free drink as a bonus.

5. Seasonal Promotions

Starbucks occasionally announces discounts, 2 for 1, free coffee, and other promotions throughout the year. While there is not an exact rhyme or reason to when these promotions will show up, you will often see special offers in the holiday season. By staying connected to Starbucks’ social media sites, you can find out exactly when to drop by to get discounts on your drinks.

6. Get Rewards with Your Credit Card

Some credit cards and debit cards offer rewards programs with Starbucks. I opted in for the Starbucks discounts, so when I buy Starbucks using my card, I get 10% back.

7. Turn a Doppio into a Sweet or Unsweet Iced Latte

If you are in the mood for an iced latte, you can order a doppio, which is a fancy name for 2 shots of espresso. Then ask for a grande or venti cup of ice on the side. Take your espresso and ice over to the drink bar to become your own barista. If you do like your latte sweetened, go ahead and add sugar to your doppio while it is still hot so it will melt together. Then fill your cup of ice with milk and pour your shot over. Now you have an iced latte and a bit of extra change jingling in your pocket.

8. Make Your Starbucks Frappuccino at Home

Starbucks Frappuccino Bottled Coffee Drinks come in 4 flavors, including caramel, coffee, mocha, and vanilla. You can get these from a local Starbucks coffee shop, a grocery store, or off of Amazon.

The regular coffee flavor tends to be my favorite in these, but I recently found out that I have been it wrong for years. While I drink these frappuccinos straight out of the fridge until I recently found a hack that shows how you can drink them frozen like a frappuccino. This could be a game changer.

Just shake your bottled frappuccino, put it in the freezer for 2 hours, shake your bottle again, then put it back into the freezer for 2 more hours. Your drink may end up a bit more icy than a Starbucks in-store frap, but you are definitely getting more drink for your money this way.

9. All-Year Christmas Hack

A lady holding a starbucks christmas cup

While Starbucks teases us by only bringing out their seasonal drinks at certain times of the year, with this hack you can make it Christmas any time you want it to be! This Christmas Cookie Frappuccino is off the secret menu, so just let the barista know which pumps to put in your drink and let the festivities begin.

To order a Christmas Cookie Frap, ask for a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino, 2 pumps of peppermint syrup, and 1 pump of toffee nut syrup. Then top it off with whipped cream and caramel drizzle, and voila! You have a bit of Christmas in a cup.

10. Apple Crisp Macchiato Hack

The Carmel Apple Spice Drink does not contain either coffee or tea or milk and goes a little overboard with the sweet, to be honest. It seems like the real purpose for this drink is to either give your kids much more energy than they need or to save you a bit of cash when you want to drink an Iced Apple Crisp Macchiato.

To make this transformation, you can order a grande Carmel Apple Spice with a shot of espresso. Steamed milk is free at Starbucks (non-dairy milk is not), so add some steamed milk on top. You now have all the apple pie flavors you love with a kick of espresso to go along with it. Spend less and get more.

11. Alternative Chai Latte

This hack can save you money and calories at the same time. When you order a Chai Latte, you are getting water, 2% milk, and chai tea concentrate. The chai latte concentrate contains black tea with masala tea flavors and also sweeteners. This drink in its grande version packs in 240 calories.

But, if you order instead, a tall brewed chai in a grande cup, you start out with 0 calories. You can then walk over to the bar and add your own milk and sweetener if you are just looking to save some change.

Or, you can order a hot chai tea misto. This is made with a chai tea bag and half hot water and half steamed milk. If you substitute the milk with steamed almond milk, it will be only about a 60 calorie drink (before sweetener). This Starbucks drink will end up tasting very similar to a chai latte but will be about a dollar cheaper… and healthier, too.

For this one, I like to put the money I save back into my misto drink by then adding a shot of espresso to make it a dirty chai.

12. Matcha Tea at an Unmatched Price

If you are a tea-drinker, you can make your own green tea at Starbucks by ordering a grande cup of ice water with two scoops of matcha tea. By going this route, you get a cup of tea that is about three times cheaper than a grande green iced tea. This hack gives you one of the best monetary returns of all Starbucks hacks.

It’s not my favorite though, because for one I prefer coffee to tea. And, for another, matcha powder doesn’t dissolve easily in cold water and I especially don’t enjoy drinking lumpy, powdery tea. You would need to shake this pretty well to get it to dissolve at all. But how do you do that when you’re dealing with a hole in the lid for your straw?

Personally, I haven’t got a satisfactory result, yet, from this hack. But if you end up working out the kinks, please let us in on your wisdom in the comments.

13. Cut in Line

“Time is money,” they say and no one likes to stand in long lines. But, Murphy’s Law knows that the more you rush to get to work, the longer the line is to get your coffee. It’s almost as if everyone else is rushing to work, too. This can cause your “quick Starbucks run” to make you late for work.

While it’s socially unacceptable to elbow your way to the front, you can use a hack to get your drink faster than the rest but still be polite about it. Just download the Starbucks app, order your menu items online, and pay for them from your phone. While this isn’t exactly a money-saving tip, it will help you get to work on time, which could help you keep your job.

14. Birthday Reward

If you are a Starbucks rewards member, you can get a free drink or food item on your birthday. This handcrafted drink has no boundaries put in place on what you can or can’t order… so the sky is the limit!

This is a great time to pull out the Starbucks secret menu (and pull out all the stops!) when you order. You can make up for all the corners you’ve been cutting to save money and enjoy a free drink that is loaded up with all the flavor shots, caffeine, and toppings. So get your order together and party like it’s your birthday! (Because, well, it is.)

15. Don’t Buy Bottled Water

While Starbucks has bottled water for sale that you can purchase, there really is no need to do so. Starbucks triple filters their tap water, and if you order a cup of water from the barista they will give you one for free. You can even get iced water if you so desire. This is a way to cut $2 off your order and, at the same time, stay hydrated and healthy. It’s good to drink water sometimes to even out all the caffeine running in your bloodstream.

16. Get Free Refills

If you are a fan of drinking regular brewed coffee, hot tea, iced tea, or iced coffee, you can get free refills on these as a member. If I am drinking-in, I don’t see the point in ordering a venti hot coffee. I simply order a tall and refill it. Not only do you shave a few cents off your ticket, but, more importantly, it ensures that your cup of coffee stays hot. Life is too short to drink cold coffee (that’s only ok if it’s iced!)

17. The Puppuccino

The Puppuccino is a secret menu drink that baristas will give to your pet free with any purchase. This is really just a bit of whipped cream in an espresso cup. Your dog won’t be the only one smiling as you watch him eat his Starbucks treat! Soon your dog will be as excited to go to Starbucks as you are.

18. Starbucks Rewards

When you enroll in the Starbucks rewards program, you can get extra savings as perks. To do this, first register a gift card with your personal information. Then, after you have spent a certain amount, you will start to see offers and discounts show up in your email. You can also transfer your card to your phone so you don’t have to dig for it in your wallet each time.

19. Tip the Starbucks Barista

I like to save money and cut corners where I can, but I know from experience how important tips in the jar can be from the other side of the counter. This is one area I don’t like to cut. Especially if I’m asking the barista to jump through a few hoops to get my tricky Starbucks drink hack just right, I like to leave something in the jar to show my appreciation.

A Final Word

Instead of saving money by cutting out Starbucks altogether, you can try a few hacks that can save you a bit of cash over time. Or, by getting a drink that is a dollar or so cheaper, you can feel okay about adding that extra shot to your drink. While some of the hacks out there may be more trouble than they are worth, a few Starbucks hacks are definitely are worth a try. If you try one of these hacks, (or have one we should know about) let us know in the comments!


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