The refill policy at Starbucks: Refills are regardless of original beverage purchased.

Just a short lesson on what a refill is at Starbucks:  I think this is valuable information for many people!

If you order a  Starbucks tall latte, and then want Pike Place Roast as a refill, the answer is “yes.”  I should clarify, the answer is “yes” only if you have stayed inside the store.  Once you leave the store, when you return, you will be paying full price for your beverage again.  The refill price is available only for same store visits.  The refill only becomes free if you are paying for your beverage with a registered Starbucks Card, at the green level of benefits.  And there is no refill price for any handcrafted beverages. Iced tea, iced coffee, and hot brewed coffee all have a refill price available to them.  In other words, if I drink a grande Frappuccino, stay in the store, and want grande iced passion tea as a refill, then I should be charged the refill price for the passion tea, not the the full price of the iced passion tea.  However, there is no way to order a Frappuccino as a refill.

I bring this up because I noticed (thanks to a comment in another blog article!) that Starbucks has finally updated their website to truly clarify the refill policy.  This had been in an area, where in the past, the website had had ambiguous language.  Thank you Starbucks for this!  Here’s the official Starbucks page on the refill benefit.



In previous articles, I have talked about the theories behind the refill policy.  As many people know, iced coffee, iced tea, and brewed coffee are beverages that are low cost to the business.  Furthermore, those who stay inside the store are more likely to linger and purchase food or other items as well.  Also, it makes no sense to tell customers, you must only purchase the lowest cost beverages to be able to receive the refill price.  In other words, there’s no logic to saying that a customer who spends a premium for a handcrafted drink may not receive a refill because he or she didn’t start out with a cheaper beverage.  And of course, there is never a refill price for drive-thru customers.

And you really do have to stay in the store to get a refill.  If you have left the store, and you return later in the day with your cup, the baristas should tell you there is no refill price available.

Hope that my readers find this helpful!

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  1. joe
    Dec 13, 2014 @ 17:48:30

    why are the prices for coffee going up?

  2. Charlie Fernández
    Dec 14, 2014 @ 17:42:38

    If I buy the cinnamon Dolce Latte, do i get a free refill if I stay at the store?
    A fast response would be much appreciated :)

  3. Melody
    Dec 14, 2014 @ 17:49:35

    Hi Charlie – If you bought a Cinnamon Dolce Latte, and stayed in the store, you can get the “refill” price if you order the same size iced tea, hot brewed coffee (the coffee of the day, not a Clover – brewed option), or iced coffee.
    There is never a refill price option for a latte.
    Your refill becomes free when you pay with a registered Starbucks card that is at the Green level of benefits, or higher. If you’re not paying with that green level (or higher) registered card, then you pay the refill price, often about 50 or 55 cents (can vary by location).

  4. Charlie Fernández
    Dec 14, 2014 @ 17:53:51

    I use the app and the card I’m at Gold level. I will try next time I go.
    Molto grazie Melody ;)

  5. Melody
    Dec 14, 2014 @ 18:01:18

    You’re welcome Charlie. When I say “card” I always mean either the physical card or the mobile app – though maybe I should be more clear: the percentage of transactions via the app is pretty significant.

  6. MJP
    Dec 16, 2014 @ 09:39:36

    So if I physically leave the store to go to my car for something and come right back, is this considered ‘leaving the store’? Technically, I would guess so.

  7. Valerie
    Dec 16, 2014 @ 11:58:50

    That raises an interesting point. If you smoke or vap, you need to be off premises. If you let me, your barista, know and return for a refill, I have no issue with that. If you run to your car for something and return within minutes, I have no issue with that. But if you do as some of our customers do and get a coffee in the am and want a refill in the pm, it’s not happening. So many people argue the “just say ‘yes'” policy. The refill policy states that we follow it so that customers are charged on a consistent basis from store to store. That is where the rub comes in.

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