I’m not going to judge you for ordering a cup of flavoured sugar milk with a dash of coffee. You like to make your addictive bean water taste good! But those add-ons add up, so here’s how to get your $9 frankendrink down to a still-expensive-but-less-outrageous $4-ish.
Add your own milk
On a café menu, look at all the drinks with French and Italian names. Drinks with heated milk cost more than drinks with cold milk. Especially when you add the cold milk yourself from a pitcher for free.
Without flavourings and sugar, you can taste the difference between hot and cold milk. But with all that stuff added, you probably don’t need to pay someone to heat your milk for you. And you probably don’t need as much milk as you thought you did.
Experiment with combos
Different coffeeshops will have different rules. We’ve collected hacks that specifically apply at Starbucks (though they might work at some other brands). Look at different combinations of flavours, and see if you can approximate the same flavour with a cheaper combo.
The best way to save money on Starbucks is to make your coffee at home. The second best way is to buy it somewhere cheaper. But the third best way is to hack your Starbucks order to pay less for the same (or similar) drink. Some hacks are innocent; others less so. Here's a compilation of the best Starbucks hacks from over the years.
Let’s be honest, for most of us, flavoured sugar-milk drinks do not require precise calibration. Try a cheaper drink with the same flavour profile, and it will probably satisfy the same craving. Redditor kkas123 dropped her Starbucks bill from $9.50 to $4.25 by replacing a cinnamon-flavoured iced latte with a flavour-pumped iced americano.
This doesn’t require any freeloading with milk, or ordering empty cups of ice, or the other controversial hacks in our Starbucks post that might piss off the hard-working staff.
Bring your own flavouring
I’m not asking you to make your coffee at home and carry it in a thermos, although that would save you a lot of money. You probably have a good reason to want fresh hot coffee made on the spot. But at least consider adding your own flavouring instead of paying for shots.
Buy vanilla-flavoured sugar, flavoured creamer, or powdered spices. If you have space, keep a bottle of flavour syrup at work. This might feel like a weird habit, but you could save hundreds of dollars a year without switching to homemade coffee.
Of course, you should also try adding these flavours to your homemade coffee, buying some high-quality grounds from your favourite coffeeshop, and pouring it into a thermos. Because good lord, you could save a thousand bucks a year.