The "Surprise Me" Order at Starbucks Is the Trend That's Dividing the Internet
With a lengthy menu, rotating seasonal offerings, and seemingly countless customization opportunities, it's understandable that Starbucks customers may have trouble deciding what to order from the popular coffee chain. But that doesn't mean Starbucks workers want to make the decision for them.
For several years now, TikTokers have been documenting their experiences with the "Surprise Me" trend, where they pull up to a drive-thru window and give a Starbucks employee absolute free rein on crafting their drink order. Starbucks baristas have jumped at the challenge in some instances, delivering fun drinks that have elicited top marks from patrons.
But one recent viral video on TikTok, which had accumulated more than 1.2 million views as of this writing, demonstrated that not all Starbucks workers are on board with the "Surprise Me" trend.
In the video, user @kristenalk explained that she felt like trying something new during her Starbucks run that day and planned to ask the store for a "Surprise Me" drink. But the Starbucks worker she encountered "did NOT pass the vibe check," according to the creator.
When Alk asked for a surprise drink following what she said was a 35-minute wait in the drive-thru line, the worker taking her order sounded noticeably confused. After the creator repeated her request, the employee offered to give her a basic ice water. The response seemed to elicit laughter from other workers inside the Starbucks store.
Alk then doubled down, asking the employee to "just make something that sounds good." The worker ultimately complied with the request and made the creator a Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew, as she revealed in a follow-up video.
The creator felt the worker "was a little bit rude, but I do understand that it might be annoying when people don't just say what they want to order." She added it was "probably my last time ever doing that challenge."
The awkward encounter divided fellow TikTok users in the video's comments section. Several TikTokers who identified themselves as former Starbucks employees said that they used to love it when customers would ask them for a surprise drink. Some also strongly criticized how the worker in the video responded to Alk.
"My feelings got hurt watching this," one user wrote.
Others sided with the Starbucks worker, pointing out that asking employees to make decisions for customers can be a lot of pressure creatively, or put them behind schedule during busy hours.
"As a fast food worker it's not that we don't want to make it but we don't know what your taste is and not only that some come back [because] they don't like" what they get, a user wrote.
"I get both sides. But I'm on the barista side. There's nothing worse than someone coming during/right after a rush asking for a surprise," another TikToker commented.
While Alk said that her recent "Surprise Me" experience will be her last, there may be ways to go about participating in the trend that's easier on workers. One TikToker suggested phrasing the request in a different way, such as asking a Starbucks employee to make a random drink that they personally enjoy. Another self-identified former Starbucks barista encouraged customers to give just a little insight on what they're looking for in order to make the task easier for employees, such as saying if they want their drink to be iced and fruity.
Starbucks was contacted for comment on the "Surprise Me" trend but did not immediately respond.