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May 25, 2007


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I order a venti americano in a tall cup with room. I expect to pay the price for a venti because I want 4 shots. But one place in the greater Milwaukee area always tries to charge me for a tall with 2 extra shots. Crazy.

Another pet peeve...I want an iced venti americano with no extra water, topped with ice. That should have 5 shots, right? That same goofy place gives me 4 shots and charges for a quad espresso. A bit cheaper, but less espresso.

Am I missing something?


You're certainly not missing any caffeine ;-)

Diana the OTHER BN Barista

I could be wrong, but aren't Venti Iced Americano's still 4 shots? I have honestly never had a straight answer with this. From Strabucks partners or any of our drink manuals. Where's Darlene when I need her?! lol

Rich Lafferty

I'm not surprised by this; the point of being able to ask for extras is that you can construct drinks that Starbucks doesn't serve in large quantities. When you do so, you identify yourself as someone willing to pay a bit more to get your coffee just right; as a result, Starbucks (rightly) chooses to charge you a bit more because you've identified yourself as someone who puts a value on that. That's not unfair or sneaky; you've walked up to the bar as someone willing to pay a bit more to get precisely what you want instead of something close.

But when you make a mistake doing so -- identifying yourself as a "pay a bit more" when you're actually ordering something that's on the menu -- then the market mechanism still works the same way. You've still told Starbucks you value that drink a certain amount, and Starbucks has reacted by charging you that extra bit.

If you want to really complicate things: Alice orders a tall with an extra shot every day; Bob orders a short grande. Since they do it every day, we know that both of them feel their drink is worth the price they pay. Once Alice finds out that Bob is paying less and Bob finds out that Alice is paying more, what happens to the value of all of the drinks she's already consumed? What happens to the value of Bob's next drink?


An iced venti Americano does in fact have FOUR shots in it.

The only error in this "pricing structure" that the author referred to is in partner training. We are so conditioned to hear a drink the way it is ordered that the register partner is usually working on auto-pilot. When they hear "tall ____ add shot" during a rush, it is an honest mistake to not fully process the actual drink, instead of just processing names in their heads.

But, proper training in a store should give partners the heads up and they should all know that americanos are charged based on shots, not size of the cup. Same for bagged teas.

I'm afraid this column may just cause an influx of customers to stare at our menu board and try to find ways "around" our prices. Especially the first comment on the website where that woman claimed her tall chai in a venti cup ends up with extra milk because the barista doesn't like leaving room, or neglects charging Add Dairy (which I believe would make the drink more expensive than the Venti 2p Chai? I should check this afternoon when I go in).


I've been using this "loophole" for a long time. The explanation is simple: An extra shot costs the same amount as the price difference between different sizes of the more expensive milk-based drinks.


Oh my God.

Just order the drink the way it's supposed to come, people!

barista lane

that article really makes no sense. besides the statistic that says 50% of baristas will charge the grande americano in a tall cup the wrong way, i'm not sure about what he's saying about starbuck's official stance. it's clearly stated in the beverage resource manual that americanos are charged by number of shots, not the size of the cup it's in.

for all dairy-based drinks, it is supposed to be charged the size of the cup, even if its a single grande, and add shots for more. this is all very clear in the bev manual, and i'm not sure why he would have gotten a confusing answer from an official spokesperson.

he should have just asked his local barista...but then i guess he wouldn't have a story...ahh...journalists...


If you like going to Starbucks for the coffee, and pay whatever the price is, shut it, about saving 30 cents. Don't tell me saving 30 cents a day adds up. You will walk out the store and will give a buck to the bum on the street. so here it is in a nutshell, if you can afford going to Starbucks for your favorite drink, shut up about 30 cents, because that wont get you anything. stop being so damn cheap and greedy, you don't want be the richest person in the grave yard, do ya?


As a barista, I have a bad habit of always ringing Americanos based on cup size instead of shot number so I overcharge when people get add shots. I swear it's not on purpose. This guy isn't really revealing a secret money-saving trick as much as he's showing an area where baristas are poorly trained and frequently overcharging.


Iced Venti Americanos still have 4 shots. Its one of those crazy rules that doesn't follow the rules.

nyc shift

if a customer orders a triple tall americano they are getting charged for a triple tal americano, if they order a grande americano in a tall cup they get charged for a grande americano. Customers have to know what they want. They have to possess the knowledge to effectively communicate their desires.


OMG, are you illiterate or something. The americano is the second drink in the Beverage Resource Manual. An iced venti(r) Americano gets FOUR (4) shots of espresso. They do not get FIVE (5) shots unless asked for. The prices in Sacramento must be different because here in Boston it costs $2 for a tall. And yes, it is a better idea to ask for a grande with extra room of espresso or just drink the espresso and forget about the hot water. I know I am not DARLEEN but I have a little bit more edge. I wonder when partners will realize that Starbucks didn't cut down a bunch of trees for shits and giggles and instead wanted partners to "Be Knowledgeable."



It takes two to communicate.


I have customers who do things like this. "Can i get 3 shots half-caf -- and since you're just going to throw the fourth shot away, why dont you toss it in there.

What bugs me more then doing that is the way the lady says it. She raises her fingers into the air like little rabbits and acts like this is some secret deal between all of us. She also tells us how the 'girls in the morning' always give it to her for free. Sadly we don't have any females who work mornings.

I give her the extra shot, but it irks me that she knows he drink is 4 shots but plays this game to get a cheaper drink.



What "give it away"? Unlike the la Marcozas, the Verismo has a Single Shot button, so we only have to pull the number of shots in the drink.

I have customers like that - I push for a single shot of decaf, a single shot of regular, and a single shot of 1/2 caf. I suppose I could just push the 1/2 caf button three times, but that would require conscious effort (g).

There is no single shot for the half decaf. Do you actually work at Starbucks?


There is no single half cat button. If you actually looked at the Verisimo button for half caf you will see two espresso shot glasses just like the double and the decaf double. Hmmmmmmmm, my logical conclusion is that the half caf button pulls a double shot.


On a side note, whenever I make an grande americano, whether it be hot or iced, I always put in four shots.


The wealth-envy (hatred?) I see on forums such as this is stunning. Ever consider that perhaps the reason some people can afford to shop at your stores is because they know how to spend, or not spend, I guess you could say creatively?

Money does not grow on trees, kids! The vast majority of wealthy people work their asses off for the money they have, just like you do!

To qualify myself, I am not anything close to wealthy (I'm unemployed) and never have been anything other than barely holding my head above water. But, I do have some idea of how money works. I've also worked foodservice, and I worked in foodservice for many years in a part of my city where the majority of customers I dealt with were exactly that kind of upper-class type.


What about my pricing error! Venti Tazo Chai is 4.66 in Canada... Venti Tea Misto, Bags on the side add chai syrup (Exact same drink plus two free tea bags) costs 3.18... thats cheaper then a Venti Chai with partner discount. There are loads of other ways to be sneaky too..... Instead of Iced lattes order iced espresso and add the free milk from the condiment bar. you can ask for syrups from the bar barista once the cash barista has wrong in the order and taken payment. You could say that someone said you could have a free drink. You could go to the handoff and say you're waiting for a drink that never came (without paying), you could walk in and grab another cutomers drink from the handoff plane.

But at the end of the day you are stealing. You know its wrong, and its no different then shoplifting really.. So pay the price that you're charged.

And seriously... 1997 called and they want their article about cup sizes back. Thats soooo tired. In the begining there were two cup sizes short and tall. straight forward. Then people demanded bigger... Enter Grande... still folowing? Short is small and tall is the bigger one and grande is for people that want more... still not big enough the glutonous public demanded a larger size... enter Venti.. (italian for 20) and NOBODY needs to drink 20 oz of anything other than water in one sitting.


holy slow news day in sacramento. my top sneakiest customer: tall sbl in a grande cup because "there's always leftover in the blender". Everytime she comes up with that line, it took every last bit of my will power not to crack a smile. One of these days I want to try this at McD or Wendy's - small pepsi in a medium cup with extra ice, medium fries in a large container, 12 pieces of chicken nuggets in two containers, and downright ask for samples, i wonder what they'll say.


This entire post makes me laugh since Starbucks is overcharging water sieved coffee in the first place.


Redcup, if you want to get away with that at a fast food place, just order the small no ice with a courtesy water cup. Basically, ice on the side, and you have more drink than you would with a medium.

I think the SacBee article is more about the prices being ridiculous than about getting around anything. It is stupid that a grande costs less than a tall with an extra shot. At B&N I can't ring up a triple or quad shot, so it's an Americano, no water, or adding shots to the doppio makes the price crazy fast. Not to mention the twinge I feel when someone orders a grande hot tea (at B&N, one teabag is charged by cup size, so customers are paying for a few ounces of hot water).

pretty shifty

if we brew it, they will come. end. of. story.

Diana the OTHER BN Barista

Ditto for what Jack said. Can't stand that B&N isn't more flexible with out things are rung up.

And BOSTON STARBUCKS REBEL I meant no disrepect by making the Darleen comment. I actually thought in my head 'since she isn't here, I'm sure BSR can give me the correct answer', the reason I didn't was because I semi interact with her. Sorry. And for the record, I am not illiterate. I don't know if that comment was made towards me or not, but I can read fairly well. But only every other day of the week :P. All I know is that what I was taught, that you have confirmed as the correct way, was from my first store, then told I was doing it wrong at my other store. There is no drink manual present with an American recipe in it to cross reference at my second store, hence why I asked. Thank you for answering that.



One way to handle requests for leftover blender material:

"I make this drink to standard. When it's made to standard, there's not any extra left over."

Parting the Stars

ugh. today I was in my store a few hours before I had to work (running errands) and all I wanted was a quad grande americano. The lady who rung it in (from store gossip, perhaps going to become ASM. please no.) charged me as grande+add shot.

I told her the Americanos-are-by-shots-rule, but she almost snapped on me and told me I was wrong, and that all drinks are like that. So, even with my discount, I got overcharged just that bit. it kind of makes me angry, because the BRM was *right* there and she didn't even bother to look.... ugh.

Darleen's Naughty Badger

People - quit being cheap. The pricing structure is just that... A pricing structure. Starbucks' growth has slowed. I suspect longtime customers finding ways to cheat the system might be at least partly to blame.

Just pay what's due. The woman who comes into my store and tries to order a "kid's hot chocolate" that is nonfat, extra hot, with 3 pumps mocha is not charged as a KHC, but rather as a short hot chocolate. What 4 year-old wants a nonfat 3 pump extra hot hot chocolate? None I know of...

Cheap ass.


We have two Verismos side-by-side. One of the machine pulls a double shot of half-caf, and the other pulls a single shot. I asked the service guy why, and he said that's how this machine is programmed.

So yes, I do work at Starbucks, and yes, there IS a single shot half-caf button. So please don't assume you know everything, regardless of how long you've been a barista. When you stop learning, it is time to move on.


And just to be clear: The service guy said that's how THIS machine is programmed. I don't know about any other store's machines. I've only been a borrowed partner at two other stores, and didn't have any half-caf drinks ordered at either one.


Putting more espresso in drinks than what is asked/paid for (like quad americanos no matter what) is just crooked...even if they are getting more in the end. And not charging partners who are not on the clock for their drinks just because they work for the company is also crooked...and it's the company who provides you those free drinks on the clock and that pound/week and those health benefits that you're jipping. And I'm the one who hated the place SO MUCH I left.


if you care that much about 30 cents, you have no business in a starbucks. go find a better job so you actually afford the products.


Even when I go in on my off time (not too often ironically, I don't drink caffeine) and I get charged incorrectly (there is, sadly, no "by shot rule" in our manuals, but there is a "just say yes" policy and we are allowed to make decisions on our own and not be drones) I always just tack the extra money in the tip jar.

Sure...30 cents will add up. But will it be used wisely? I'd be willing to undercharge a customer if they took that money every single day and put it into a high yield investment account of their choosing. Let's be honest, though, it goes to that homeless person outside, to your change jar, to that parking meter, accidentally dropped on the ground or thrown away when you're cleaning your car.

We're allowed to make personal decisions, at our store we're allowed to hand out the "oh man, that sucked" discount. For example, this cute little old lady had her car break down the other day and couldn't get a hold of her insurance company so we set her up outside, got her a drink, and helped her find them. So I make my own personal decisions. Rick comes in at least twice a day and gets an iced grande cup with a pump of mocha and four shots over ice (an iced quad grande one pump mocha no water americano), but he gets charged for a quad espresso.

He's sweet. He knows us by name. He'll sit down with us and talk about the value of persona. The lady who asks for a water cup and then fills it with milk from the whole milk carafe on the condiment bar? She's mean. And snotty. And demanding. But I treat her the same and even remember that she wants a cup.

I can't fix the world. You can't fix the world. Assume that the world will take care of itself and these people.


At my previous store, partners used to come in off the clock and make their own drinks. There were certain conditions though. It couldn't be busy... and if I made it, you had to leave the bar/frap/coffee station exactly as you found it. And if it was busy or there was management in the store, we would simply ring partners up as our partner beverages. At my old store, we took care of our own. Who the hell would charge a partner for a cup of coffee???


Hurdygurdyman, that's what we do at my store, but I'm also quite aware of the fact that my store is the only one in the distric that does it. Our manager has okayed it, basically with the same rules as you layed out. Similarily, she also lets us take sizes other than tall as our drinks.

On another note, I know the BRM says 4 shots for an iced venti americano, but I recall a little hand out being mailed sometime ago with a correction stating that they should be made with 5. Is this just a figment of my imagination?



Why on earth would you let off the clock partners make their own drinks behind the bar?

In case you didn't know, off the clock partners can not under any circumstances be behind the counters or in the back room. If this is the first time you've heard this, it's a learning opportunity for you and your store.

If you have been informed of this rule and willingly break it - you're putting yourself at major risk.


I don't work for starbucks but i did work for a coffee place for a while, every day this guy would come in and first ask for an espresso shot, so I'd start to make that, then he'd say in a big cup not an espresso cup.. so you'd put it in a big cup, no big deal... then he'd ask for milk all the way to the top- steamed milk. this was very confusing the first time I encountered him. everyday I would tell him it was a latte, and he'd be like, "oh, is it?"
where I worked the coffee making area was right by the cash, so it was easy for customers to interrupt you 5 times when you were making their drink. one time, we were hosting an art show and this guy showed up (we called him the latte con artist) and did the usual, then proceeded to have a conversation with a friend, who was like, "oh, having a latte?" and the guy was like, "no, it's an espresso shot with steamed milk, i'm very particular" as if he invented this drink or something.
anyway, i'm sure no one cares about this story, but i'm sure there's a million drink con artists at starbucks every day, if we had this guy at my teeny place.

Another Ex Barista

I think the posting you're referring to is 5 pumps of Vanilla in an Iced Venti Caramel Macchiato instead of 4...from what I was always taught, an Iced Venti American has 4 shots.


The "charge by shot" statement is not under the Americano recipe card, but it is listed under the "Taking Orders" section in the back where they mention exceptions to ringing procedures.

There it states that Lattes are charged by size, and uses a Solo Grande Latte as example (charge as a grande). Then it follows with something like "the only exception is in the Americano, where you charge by shot."

---"Let's be honest, though, it goes to that homeless person outside, to your change jar, to that parking meter, accidentally dropped on the ground or thrown away when you're cleaning your car."--

Hell, if it went to the homeless person outside I would be completely willing to give it to them. Much more so than if they were putting it in their own bank acct. Unfortunately it usually goes under the seat in their BMW.

anon #2

All Customers: You can have your customized drink pretty much any way you want it!!!

One rule tho: if you cant communicate it to us-we cant make it!!!!!!!!!!!!

PLEASE try to be clear and give us a chance to figure it out!!!!!! Rudeness is not necessary!
We ARE trying!

Irish Jim

I work at starbucks and always charge people for kids drinks, no matter what they order. That way everyone is happy. Except my boss.

Irish Jim

The confusion about the number of shots comes from the iced venti cup being 4 oz larger than the hot venti cup. Hence, it gets more pumps of syrup (which is cheap), to account for the extra size, but not an extra shot (which is not as cheap).


We've had people order "extra shot" when they want a solo espresso. 58 cents vs. $1.84.


Thanks for screwing us baristas over Starbucks Gossip Webmaster. Now you've given people more resources to bicker with us and hold up lines for innocent bystanders.


Hello to all my starbucks gossip peeps!! I've missed you all... New York City was freakin' awesome!!! I played total tourist and saw all the sights, even took a row boat out on central park lake. Partied in times square and saw " A Chorus Line'! Although its nice to be home. So, Boston Starbucks Rebel did you have to shoot any critters with my name on them? I hope not. Wish I could've stopped in boston and looked you up, maybe if you ever get to florida, we can party together. Gonna catch up on whatever i missed....besides missing you guys!!!



First off, I am no longer employed with Starbucks Coffee.

Second, I was aware that off the clock partners can't under any circumstances be behind the counters or in the back room.

Third, I was only a Barista.

Fourth, the partners who would routinely come onto the floor and make drinks for themselves, their significant others and groups of friends, were other Baristas, my Shift Supervisors, ASM, and my Store Manager.

Fifth, it is a Store Manager's job to lead by example. This noble concept should trickle down to ASMs and Shifts alike.

.... But when the Store Manager comes in with 12 of her friends about 30 minutes before closing on a Saturday night, puts $20 in the tip jar, and then makes several bar drinks... what is the shift supposed to do?? If he/she even disagrees with the manager?

It was a very laid-back atmosphere, indeed. Partners coming in to grab a drink would not be charged. We did not charge for refills if you sat in the cafe. Partners could run into the back and check the updated schedule, or use the Request-Off book when they needed too.

Hell, when off-the-clock partners would come in during the morning rush to get their free drinks and we were in a rush because a partner called in, or because we didn't have the coverage due to us having a A$$H*le DM.... we would jump on the floor and grab drip coffees for customers. Most of the customers were regulars and did not care.

I am not in any way saying what we did was acceptable or a good thing. It was a questionable practice that could've come back and bit any one of us in the A$$.


Back to the original comment...

Why is it that I have ordered my iced venti americano in Milwaukee, Chicago and Atlanta (4 different stores) and get 5 shots...but one store in Milwaukee gives me 4? Your manual might say 4 shots, but why is it that all those stores give me 5? Do you see why, as a customer, it's confusing? For the most part, my SBUX experience is relatively consistent. But this area isn't. Really, I'm just curious, so I can stop pissing off people in stores and holding up your lines when I ask.


Because the store in milwaukee actually know what the recipe is. I can see how it WAS confusing, but now that you know it is only 4 shots that will clear things up. Hey, if some partners throw an extra shot your way, why not just be happy and let it go at that? Maybe there were new partners on bar in those other stores. You can always ask how many shots when you order.....

I like my drinks, but not as sweet as they tend to come "by the book." I order a venti caramel sauce latte instead of a caramel macchiato since what I'm trying to avoid is the vanilla syrup. It's rare that anyone can figure out I want the sauce floated on the foam, rather than caramel syrup (which tastes to chemically for me)mixed in. It was being made incorrectly so often, I wrote Starbucks. Essentially, they told me to order the more expensive drink because I was confusing their baristas.

Instead, I just find stores with baristas that "get" it, and if they have a newbie or a dope working the machine, I just order a drip.

I don't mind paying for what I order, but I hate the idea that I should pay more for less.

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