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25 Mistakes You're Making at Starbucks

Reusable cups could be a thing of the past.

You still can't sit inside Starbucks with a friend (or your laptop), but the coffee giant is open for takeout and mobile orders. As states continue to reopen (and then roll back the reopening), it's more important than ever to be kind to essential workers and to practice safety measures.

With the virus in mind, as well as the basic courtesy you should always extend to your barista, here are some Starbucks mistakes to stop making ASAP. And for more on the coffee chain, don't miss these 30 Secrets From Starbucks Employees.

Thinking you can get a refill

starbucks inside

I know: This one hurts. If you're a Starbucks Rewards member who's made it to the green or gold level, it's only natural that you'd want to take advantage of those refills on brewed coffee and black tea. Unfortunately, with the business model shifted to to-go drinks only, that's not really possible. But complaining to a Starbucks employee at your local store won't change that, and it will only cause them even more stress.

And whatever you do, steer clear of these 15 Things You Should Never Order At Starbucks.

Making absurd customization requests

starbucks cups
Courtesy of Starbucks

Yes, Starbucks wants to make your drink the way you like it. No, that doesn't mean you should add dozens of changes to your Frappuccino order. And if you want something off one of the "secret menu" lists that make their way around the internet, make sure you know exactly what to ask your barista for.

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Not tipping the staff

Starbucks barista working behind the counter
Dmitriy Nushtaev / Unsplash

Tipping your barista is always a good practice, but it's more important than ever during a national crisis. Enjoying a Starbucks drink is a privilege—the least you can do is thank the essential workers risking their health to make it for you. And if you're paying with the Starbucks app, it's super-easy to add a tip after you get your digital receipt.

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Sticking with what you know

starbucks breakfast sandwich
Rachel Linder/ Eat This, Not That!

Yes, there are old standbys on the Starbucks menu that are classic for a reason. The vanilla iced latte, the sous vide egg bites—they've stood the test of time. But Starbucks has plenty of innovative seasonal items, too, so why not branch out on your next visit to the chain? This summer, Starbucks is even offering an Impossible Meat breakfast sandwich. Yum!

Trying to bring a reusable cup

Starbucks straws

Yes, if you love the environment, this one hurts. But to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Starbucks isn't allowing the use of personal cups during the pandemic.

Thinking dark roast coffee has more caffeine

Outside starbucks with green umbrellas

Dark roast is more bitter, which must mean it's extra caffeinated, right? It turns out that the opposite is true. If you're looking for an extra jolt of caffeine, go with the blonde roast (or add a shot of espresso to your drip).

Ordering the vanilla bean Frappuccino

starbucks frappuccino drinks on table

This is a go-to option for customers who want a sweet drink with none of the caffeine. But it placed well behind most of the other Frappuccinos in our Starbucks taste test. If you're looking for an overly sugary vanilla treat, just get a milkshake.

And for some truly out-there flavors, don't miss these 20 Weird Frappuccino Flavors Starbucks Has Offered Over the Years.

Not customizing the caffeine level of your Frappuccino

starbucks frappuccino on table with green straw

Speaking of the vanilla bean Frappuccino, it's not the only caffeine-free frozen option. You can order any Frappuccino to be cream-based, rather than coffee-based. And if you want more caffeine in your drink, you can add an espresso shot to a Frappuccino, too.

Not considering the off-menu sizes

Starbucks short disposable cup on a table
Charles Koh/Unsplash

Whether you want a smaller dose of coffee or a larger iced tea, there are two more sizes than the standard three you'll find on the Starbucks menu. A short coffee is smaller than a tall; a trenta drink is larger than a venti.

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Not knowing what you can get for free

Starbucks condiment counter

With customizations like alternate milk or cold foam adding an extra cost to your order, you might think that every tweak to the menu will cost you. But some customizations and add-ons, like caramel drizzle or whipped cream, are free of charge. So if you want to add whipped cream to your latte, more power to you.

Not buying beans because you don't have a grinder

Starbucks coffee beans at reserve in Seattle
Andrew Spencer/Unsplash

Grinding your coffee beans at home really is the key to a fresher, better-tasting cup of Joe. But if you don't have a grinder at home, don't let that stop you from buying your coffee beans at Starbucks. The employees can grind the whole bag for you before you leave.

Not considering pour-over coffee

Starbucks pour over Reserve coffee at location

You don't have to visit a Starbucks Reserve location to get a cup of pour-over coffee—you can order it at any Starbucks. Just know that it will take longer to make, so don't ask what's taking so long with your order.

Heading to Starbucks right when the store is closing

walk-in starbucks

We get it: Everything is closing earlier during the pandemic, which is pretty frustrating. But employees want to start cleaning up so that they can go home, so don't rush in five minutes before closing time and proceed to complain about how certain things are no longer available for the day.

Not joining Starbucks Rewards

reusable starbucks mug

Yes, the lack of refills is a real bummer, but there are still benefits to being a Rewards member. Every purchase will earn you points toward free drinks, and there's no cost to sign up.

Asking for your drink to be made "extra hot"

starbucks cup

Starbucks lattes are served at a certain temperature for a reason. When you ask for something extra hot, you're risking burned milk (and a burned tongue).

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Not asking for your pastry to be warmed

Starbucks coffee and pastry

If you're adding on a little something sweet to your Starbucks order, level up your game by having the staff heat it up in the oven. What's better than a warm, buttery croissant?

Asking for food recommendations

Starbucks bacon gouda sandwich
Courtesy of Starbucks

It's one thing to ask an employee which coffee roast they prefer. But don't expect your barista to have tried all of the foods on the Starbucks menu. They might be gluten-free or vegetarian and have no interest in that breakfast sandwich (and might still tell you it's good to make a sale).

Giving a "funny" name

Names on Starbucks cups

It's never really funny to give a fake name at Starbucks, but it's especially not amusing during a pandemic as tensions are already high. Saying that your name is something vulgar or inappropriate isn't going to win you any favors with the Starbucks staff.

Putting cash on the counter instead of handing it to the employee

Starbucks employees serving customers behind the counter
Asael Peña/Unsplash

If you can, paying with a card or your Starbucks app is more sanitary than paying with cash. But if you are paying with cash, be sure to hand it directly to the barista, rather than placing it on the counter. It creates an extra step for them and comes off as rude.

Not considering your furry friend

cup of whipped cream

Yes, there's such thing as a "puppaccino!" If your dog is along for the ride at the Starbucks drive-thru, order him this mini whipped cream, free of charge.

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Thinking the pastries are made in-house

starbcks lemon pound cake loaf sliced

If you love the cookies and croissants from Starbucks, go for it! But know that they're not made on site. Instead, they're shipped frozen to the store and defrosted. In fact, some customers will buy out the still-frozen versions of seasonal items to save that limited-time treat for later.

Singing your order

Starbucks sign glowing in a city

We shouldn't have to say this, but please, don't sing your order in the Starbucks drive-thru. The employees do not have time for these shenanigans.

Thinking all of the Starbucks food is unhealthy

starbucks protein box
Courtesy of Starbucks

Yes, the frozen pastries aren't winning any nutritional awards. But some foods at Starbucks get the green light! The Starbucks protein boxes are a good option when you're in a pinch—here's what an RD thinks.

Adding both syrup and sweetener

starbucks syrup pumps

This is a rookie mistake, but it's one you want to avoid. Starbucks' flavored syrups are already plenty sweet, so you don't need to add any plain sweetener on top of them.

Not customizing the amount of sweetener

starbucks sweetener cinnamon and straws on table
Wan Fahmy Redzuan/Shutterstock

Yes, you should probably stick to either syrup or sweetener. But beyond that, you can control just how sweet your drink is. If you're ordering, say, a venti iced tea, you might want to lower the number of sweetener pumps in the drink, because larger sizes do have more sweetener added to them.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Meghan De Maria
Meghan De Maria is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food, product, and restaurant coverage. Read more about Meghan
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