Got a friend who takes five minutes to rattle off the details of their Starbucks drink to the barista? Feel like punching them in the gut every time they do? Then you’ll be especially revolted by the latest record-setting drink at the behemoth coffee chain.
Making use of the company’s loyalty “Gold” program, which entitles a customer to a free drink after every 12, a guy named Andrew ordered the most expensive Starbucks drink ever at $54.75; beating the purported previous record of $47.30, recorded when a customer used a Birthday coupon for the over-the-top coffee drink. The difference? Supposedly this latest concoction was actually drinkable–relying less on a mash up of expensive but unharmonious ingredients. What tipped the scales this time? A whopping 60 espresso shots (or 4.5 grams of caffeine), according to the article at Consumerist.
A call to the Starbucks corporate office to find out where this happened and maybe who the barista was yielded little more information. In fact, they said that this was the first they’d heard of it and that they were looking into the details. Based on the picture of the drink posted at Consumerist from Andrew's Twitter feed (and pictured here) Starbucks PR rep, Linda Mills, said it “looked like Dallas.” She also said that while they love their free drink program, “this type of beverage order is totally excessive and not something we encourage people to do. After they make that beverage, it’s pretty inedible. Nor is it safe,” she said, referring to the caffeine levels.
While the Consumerist article says that Andrew's barista collaborated with him on the drink and that "Everyone behind the counter seemed to be on board with the plan, and they produced the massive confection in about ten minutes," Mills claims “they don’t encourage their baristas to try” this. Why would this particular barista have wholeheartedly helped, then, and wouldn’t they get in trouble, I asked. “They get excited about that Birthday beverage,” she said, “but [in this case] had a little too much fun with it.” Mills said she did not know who the barista was.
When asked about barriers to entry, such as cup size, Mills said “there is no specific policy about bringing your own glass,” but added that she thinks their standard Starbucks large glasses would only be applicable. Yet Andrew brought in a 128-ounce glass which is certainly not your average Starbucks size cup.
It seems odd that Starbucks employees would participate in these experiments given Mills negative assessement of the situation. But based on the lack of company response to YouTube video that got over a half million hits from last year's record-setting drink, it doesn't seem like Starbucks has done anything to discourage the practice.
Mills said she would get back to me when they had more information. Until then, if you harbor any dream of beating Andrew's record, I guess you can take your chances on a renegade barista.