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April 02, 2008


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It sounds reasonable to me. If you think about unlimited shot numbers, pump numbers, milk combinations (half whole / half soy) with or without whip, ice, blended, etc.

Ed is Dead

Assuming that you can't get to the same drinks via different combinations (a skinny vanilla latte is the same thing as a non-fat, sugar-free vanilla latte or whatever), it's a simple matter of multiplication. The only other complication I can think of is w/r/t shot addition; you can solve that problem by breaking each drink down by size and then adding all of the combined numbers together.


Yeah I can.. i can see that. I made a 2 pump something 1/3rd a shot latte today. The possible combinations are pretty big, but it all depends on what you consider a "modifier"


If you take into account the different modifications and their different permutations, I think that Starbucks has far too low of an estimate, especially with the seperation between teas (hot and iced), lattes (hot and iced), coffee (hot and iced), frappuccinos, 3 or 4 different sizes, and specifics like...

light/extra/no foam, whip, ice
# of pumps
~20 different syrup choices, assuming you use only one
# of shots
degrees of caffeination


i don't work there, but i don't think the 87,000 number is unreasonable. at the same time, i don't think that is something starbucks should be proud about. customization was demanded by the market for awhile (think nike customizable shoes online). now it's all about a premium product and something that is unique/one of a kind... Something starbucks doesn't have.

this is the american consumer we're talking about. you can't keep selling them the same thing for a decade. they are fickle and will demand something new every once in awhile (think about mcdonalds declining popularity from its height). be innovative and change with the market. using the 87,000 drink combo for marketing is just plain old.

Milk and Dark

Earnest Observer--

I'm going to say that if you don't work for Starbucks, you probably don't even know a third of the combinations that you can, and people do, come up with. Every modifier has a modifier, etc. If you really count each pump change alone, you could come up with an infinite amount of drinks.

Starbucks doesn't have what the American consumer is asking for? That's weird, come to any Starbucks store at about 7:45 am on any given day, and then come back and tell me that we don't have what the consumer wants.

You're saying two different things... we have too many options, and that we're selling them the same thing.

You have no idea what you are talking about.


I would be glad to lock myself in a Starbucks with Carl for a number of days, after which I would be much smarter than I am now. He is brilliant.

Port Orchard florist

Whoa, that's a lot of coffee.

87,000 that is it? Take our core bev, let's say 25 drinks regular and decaf, 50 add shot take shots away 150 add a single syrup from our over 15... 150 x 15 = 2250 add another syrup that's around 35,000 non-fat 2% whole half and half soy organic 210,000 I can go on, but there is no need...

I do agree that its an old marketing tactic, and everybody knows we have choices, in fact I'm told every day that we have to many. This is not something we need to emphasize.

I think the most accurate way to figure out this number would be to use all the register modifiers.

Otherwise there is a virtually limitless number of combinations since you can specify any temperature, order of milk/shots, number of shots, number of pumps, flavors, bizzare combinations, iced/hot, whip/no whip, shaken not stirred


I don't even want to try to count! but I think it's probably right... I mean, don't even get started on dolce sprinkles, chocolate powder, chocolate drizzle, amount of cream, double vs. single blended frappuccinos, etc. etc. etc.
Wow. That's mind-boggling.


We stopped at about 2,000 when computing the nutritional information. There were more permutations and combinations, but things were getting out of hand, so we chose only a representative sample of the most likely orders.

Please do not click on this link or you'll bring our server down:



Here is the formula they used to get final number of 87000:

f(x) = (integral)(0-inf) ( a(y) cos yx + b(y) sin yx ) dy

a(y) = 1/PI (integral)(-inf-&gtinf) f(t) cos ty dt

b(y) = 1/PI (integral)(-inf-&gtinf) f(t) sin ty dt

f(x) = 1/PI (integral)(0-inf) dy (integral)(-inf-&thinf)f(t) cos (y(x-t)) dt

Multiplied by the square root of Pi, and divided by how much we care?


Okay, my store has 27 Syrups you take the factorial of the syrups and you are already starting to see some of the combos. We have at least 6 if not 7 knids of milk. 4 cup sizes hot and three cold. There are 5 types of frap bases... There is the option of whipped cream on all of the drink... 1/2 Caf, Decaf and reagular... Yes, if not more is the answer. Some stores are still carrying pumkin spice, ginger bread and sf ginger bread. My computation comes up with more...


I remember hearing about this 87,000 drink combination thing like awhile ago. Why is it being brought up? It isn't even our marketing campaign right now, so why does it matter?

Close Reader

JUICY -- Did you read the item? It's being used in full page ads that are currently running.

>>>>It isn't even our marketing campaign right now, so why does it matter


milk and dark:

i'm not saying starbucks doesn't have what the consumer wants right now. i'm saying things will change. everyone saw the declining same store sales number (the number that starbucks won't disclose anymore). that's indicative of declining demand, albeit if only in a small number of customers.

now, i'm not saying starbucks needs to change at all. in fact, i think they shouldn't. the company is over capitalizing on equipment that most people will not appreciate (15,000 stores, millions of customers, face it - they aren't all coffee experts and won't all care about the clover). they should keep things the same, stop looking for growth in the u.s. and head overseas asap.

and i never said that starbucks doesn't have 87,000 drink combos. that seems very likely.


And yet, the one drink I really want from Starbucks, I still can't get, a cup of really GOOD coffee!


And yet, the one drink I really want from Starbucks, I still can't get, a cup of really GOOD coffee!

"Good" coffee, but only according to your standards. I know plenty of people who wouldn't drink anything else but SBUX.


as mentioned several times, any reputable coffee website that rates coffee or discusses it's quality (coffeegeek.com, coffeereview.com, etc) does not consider starbucks coffee "good". it's not just his opinion, or mine for that matter. it's been objectively tested in several different ways.


You are right, those are my standards, I completly agree. I know a lot of people that couldn't live with out thier starbucks, however, none of them get coffee, they get fancy milk shakes (call them what you want, they are milkshakes) Most hard core, openminded coffee drinkers do not prefer Starbucks. Its not bad coffee, and certianly drinkable, but I will never buy a pound of it, and only get a cup of it, when there is nothing else around.


There are lots of people who come into Starbucks wanting their COFFEE. Beautiful dark roasted beans that both smell wonderful, and make a wonderful cup of coffee.

Maybe the problem is that Starbucks began as niche - catering to those who wanted an especially bold and flavorful cup of Joe. Of course, with 7000 stores, you're hardly a niche, and coffee is a matter of taste. Some people will be unhappy with a boldly roasted Starbucks coffee. You can't please everyone.

When it comes to espresso based beverages, Starbucks has made their mint on making a beverage for everyone under the sun. Hence, 87,000 combos ... not hard to believe at all.

I do cringe when I'm at a Starbucks with a La Marzocco (or even a Mastrena) and I see someone order a frap or a vanilla steamer, and I wonder, do they know what they're missing?

I really should change my user nick to "nothingbiggerthanashortpleaseandnosugar."

My two-cents. Probably only worth a fraction of a cent, in this particular case.


the average milkshake is tastier and probably full of less crap than a frappuccino.
lets just refer to frappuccinos as crap-sugar-milk-possibly containing coffee drinks instead of besmirching the good name of milkshakes everywhere.

John C Abell

Mathematically that isn't difficult to imagine, as many others have already noted.

But the vast majority of those combinations are undrinkable (one of each flavored shot) or impractical (a bit of all of the coffees in a single cup).

The really interesting numbers would be how many combinations the average store serves up in a day/week/month (the preponderance of certain orders is why the fast-food outlets started serving "meals" instead of only a la carte)
-- and what percentage of their customers order "only" a drip/shot.


I totally believe this. I know it may seem a little extreme but when you realize how tailored our drinks really are then you go "oh yeah 87,000 sounds just right."
For example someone came in and asked for dark roast coffee in his latte instead of our espresso. (trad misto with very little coffee?)also when people ask for an 1/8 of a pump of syrup or half skim half soy. But my personal favorite is an iced venti latte 2 shots regular, 3 shots decaf, 5 splenda's, 3 pumps mocha, 2 pumps raspberry, 1 pump white mocha, extra whip with java chips on top with carm and mocha drizzle. Try and put that into your modifier screen. (or just hit ask me a hundred times.)


i work at starbucks. that number might seem sort of high, it does to me, but if you take into consideration that you could get 1 pump of a flavor syrup.. or as many as you'd like, and in any combination you like, and with as many shots of espresso you'd like, with any of the 3 (or 4 counting short cups).. you could get pretty technical and count every flavor amount, size, number of shots, foam/whip cream, drizzles, etc as a different combination.

Ruby Doomsday

I'm sure we could figure out 87 000 drinks to make if we absolutely had to, just as long as a refresh and a calm tea bag steeped in Cafe Estima rather than water with toffee nut syrup, 2 decaf ristretto shots, and topped off with soy, whip, and a honey drizzle counts towards the total.

We actually made this and rang it in as a partner bev on a slow day last week and forced each other to try it. It was putrid, but nobody said all 87000 combos had to be drinkable, did they?

Jordans Sneakers

Through the earth, and that is love is the treasure!

jordan 13

my personal favorite is an iced venti latte 2 shots regular, 3 shots decaf, 5 splenda's, 3 pumps mocha, 2 pumps raspberry, 1 pump white mocha, extra whip with java chips on top with carm and mocha drizzle. Try and put that into your modifier screen.

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