How To Get A $20.65 Drink From Starbucks Without Paying A Dime

starbucks coffee

Everyone likes to gripe about the price of Starbucks, but if you think your Caffè Latte or Frappuccino is expensive, wait until you see my $20.65 coffee concoction.

If Starbucks 20% growth in earnings for Q2 is any indicator, it appears the recent surge in milk and coffee prices is having little effect on the company’s profitability.

We continue to flock in droves, fuelled by our insatiable caffeine addiction. Like many, I calm my craving by getting a fix at Starbucks on a regular basis. But unlike many, I technically never pay (at least not out-of-pocket). Instead, I use a combination of credit card rewards, My Starbucks Rewards program, and “ghettoized” versions of drinks (more on that later) to get the most bang for my buck.

What compelled me to order a $20.65 beverage was a three-part undertaking. First of all, I wanted to see if it was even possible. Upon diligently combing the net, the most expensive drink orders I could find were in the $13 to $14 range… I wanted to beat them by a significant margin. Secondly, I wanted to test the calibre of Starbuck’s service (how far would they go to please a customer?). Last but not least, I wasn’t paying for it, so why not?

  • Venti White Chocolate Mocha
  • Additional 22 shots of espresso (that’s 24 total)
  • Each of the following syrups: classic, vanilla, sugar-free vanilla, hazelnut, sugar-free hazelnut, caramel, sugar-free caramel, peppermint, raspberry, toffee nut
  • Extra caramel sauce
  • Soy

Grand Total: $20.65
Total Caffeine Content: 1,800 mg (equivalent to 22.5 cans of Red Bull)

The price would have been 60 cents higher if it weren’t for the free soy milk I get through My Starbucks Rewards program. According to Starbucks’ website, each shot of espresso contains 75 mg of caffeine, which is how I calculated the caffeine content (24 shots x 75 mg = 1,800 mg).

Why this outrageous order demonstrates great customer service
I applaud Starbucks for the way they handled this. Here’s why…

This was paid for using a free drink certificate, which was earned through their loyalty rewards program. The certificate said “We’ll make any drink you like” and they honored that, despite how ludicrous my request was. Many businesses would try and weasel out of an order like this, hiding behind fine print or just saying “no” regardless.

The fact that Starbucks honored the free drink commitment (and the cashier treated me like a valued customer during the process) goes to show you how much they value service. Job well done Howard Shultz, you’ve just turned up the notch on my loyalty towards your company (and I’ll be buying your book now, too).

Obviously this is an extreme example of “the customer is always right” treatment, but if other businesses made even half this effort, imagine the loyalty they would be building? Sure, Starbucks is taking a greater-than-expected hit on my $20.65 freebie, but if that’s what it takes to please me (and keep me coming back daily) it’s a small price to pay. Service first… something my industry (credit cards) needs to embrace more often.

You can read more about the $20.65 drink and my Starbucks savings strategy in this blog post: Most Expensive Starbucks Drink (Thanks Credit Card Rewards!)