Starbucks hacks, as told by a Starbucks barista

Ah, Starbucks. Arguably the most popular coffee chain in the U.S., it is also unfortunately among the most expensive. To help you cope with the seemingly endless lines and overpriced drinks, one Starbucks barista has graciously revealed some awesome hacks to help you get the biggest bang for your buck.

When my best friend Sydney started working at a Starbucks in Nashville, Tennessee as a barista eight months ago, she fell totally in love with the company, its many perks, and of course, the delicious coffee drinks we all know and love. I interviewed her the other day to share her best Starbucks hacks with all you coffee lovers.

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Starbucks hacks
Barista Tip #1: Order a latte with chai syrup instead of a dirty chai; it's the same thing without the cost of added espresso shots to a chai latte.
Barista Tip #2: If you have a sore throat, the "cough drop" is a drink almost all baristas will recognize, and it's made with emperors cloud, jade citrus mint, steamed lemonade instead of water, and a pack of honey added (this drink is a lifesaver during the winter months).
Barista Tip #3: Never pay for water; the tap water is always filtered and used in a variety of drinks.
Barista Tip #4: Having iced drinks shaken makes all the difference, especially with an iced green tea latte, so request that your drink is shaken because baristas won't always do it if you don't ask.
Barista Tip #5: Teas come with 1 or 2 tea bags depending on the size (1 for a tall and 2 for a grande and venti), but you can ask for a mix of tea bags in the grande or venti (my personal favorite is mixing ‘Passion Tango’ and ‘Peach Tranquility’).
Barista Tip #6: Try soy milk in any drink (especially a latte or chai latte) instead of regular milk for added vanilla sweetness.
Barista Tip #7: Everything from the pastry section tastes better warmed up, unless it's a pound cake which you cannot order heated.
Barista Tip #8: Ask for a few ice cubes in hot tea/brewed coffee in order to avoid burning your tongue.
Barista Tip #9: Try adding caramelized banana compote (a sauce that normally comes with oatmeal) to a vanilla bean frappuccino.
Barista Tip #10: If you aren't sure of a brew or drink, ask for a sample. If the store isn't busy, they will happy to let you try something before buying.
Barista Tip #11: Apple fritters with caramel sauce drizzled on top is life changing.
Barista Tip #12: Order your chai without the water for a stronger taste.
Barista Tip #13: Starbucks retailer stores are almost always more expensive. This means your airport Starbucks and a Starbucks in a grocery store, etc. 
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She also couldn't stop raving about how great of a company Starbucks is and how well they treat their employees. “They really believe in treating their employees fairly, which includes affordable health care options,” she told me. According to Starbuck.com,“Starbucks was one of the first U.S. retailers to offer affordable and comprehensive health coverage to eligible full-and part-time partners (employees) and their families.”

Other employee perks include Spotify premium and discounts on Verizon phone bills. Employees who work in company-operated stores are also eligible to receive an annual "Bean Stock" grant. So yeah, Starbucks is pretty great. Tell me something I didn't know.

RELATED: Worst things you can do at the chain

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Worst things you can do at Starbucks
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Worst things you can do at Starbucks

1. Not saying what size

I get it, you’re at Starbucks because you need your daily fix of caffeine, and if you’re anything like me, you’re like a zombie before you get it. With that being said, though, more people than you would think don’t say what size drink they want — probably about a third of all customers don’t.

Even if you don’t know the Starbucks lingo, you can ask for a “large” and we’ll know what it means, but, please, don’t give us some really complicated order without saying what size so we can actually mark the cup as you say it. It just gets really repetitive having to ask customer after customer what size drink they want while trying to remember their orders.

2. Ordering while on your phone

Also with ordering, please have the courtesy to get off of your phone for two seconds to communicate your order. Not only is it incredibly rude to be on the phone or glued to your text when trying to order, but chances are we won’t be able to understand you and you won’t be paying attention to us if we ask you a question. So please, hang up with mom before getting in line.

3. Dumping coffee into the trash

When we ask you if you want room for cream in your coffee, it is so that there is space in the cup to put milk in if you wish. That’s not such a hard concept, is it? If not, then why do people ask for no room but then go over and dump half a cup of hot coffee into the trash to add milk? Please stop doing this. The trash bags are already disgusting when we get around to changing them, and dumping liquid in them just makes it worse.

4. "I wanted that iced."

We all make mistakes, but if I had a penny for every for every time I heard this one, I could afford all the Starbucks my heart desires. Unless you specify, all of our espresso beverages are made hot. I don’t care if it’s the middle of summer; you need to let us know if you want something iced. We’re happy to remake it for you but it messes up our flow and slows us down, and this could all be avoided by specifying when you order.

This also applies to, “I wanted that with soy,” or, “I didn’t want whip on that.” We are baristas, not psychics.

5. Saying "Frappé"

A “frappé” is a drink at McDonald’s. Starbucks does not have “frappés.” If you order a “frappé” instead of a Frappuccino, you will sound stupid and your barista will judge you, no questions asked.

6. "Is this mine?"

You just ordered a small hot drink one minute ago, so, no, this large iced drink is not yours. I don’t get this. You think that all of these people that have been waiting here longer than you are just standing around for fun? This venti Frappuccino with whipped cream is not your tall hot chai tea latte. We make drinks in order, so your order is not going to be ready right after you pay.

7. Being in a hurry

This one goes along with the last one. We make drinks in order, so we are not going to prioritize yours just because you are in a hurry. It’s extremely rude to ask the barista to make your drink first because you need to make it across campus in 5 minutes. It’s not our fault that you thought that would be enough time to order Starbucks and make it to your meeting.

8. Iced Caramel Macchiato

My last pet peeve is probably the one that bothers me the most. Macchiatos are not supposed to be iced. Macchiato in Italian means “marked,” meaning that your milk is marked with espresso, creating a strong coffee flavor at first that gradually fades into sweet milk. When you order it iced and drink it through a straw, this is already going to be backwards since you are starting at the bottom.

And to make things worse, a piece of me dies every time I watch someone stir their iced caramel macchiato after they get it, combining the layers. Or worse, order it “upside down”. That isn’t a caramel macchiato anymore. It’s an iced latte. If that’s what you want, order that, but why am I wasting my time making a macchiato if you’re just going to mess it up?

It’s clear that nobody actually knows what a caramel macchiato is and that they are just ordering it because it sounds cool, but please don’t. If you want to know what a drink is, ask your barista. We love to share our knowledge.

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