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Starbucks Not Worth It: 6 Ways You Get Ripped Off at Starbucks

Updated on July 22, 2015

Bistro Boxes

We have all forgotten our lunch at some point or another. Unfortunately for me, it happens around once a week. Ordinarily I go out to Starbucks and just get a large coffee and hope that holds me over until I'm home. However, I have often seen the small boxes of food that they have and wondered if I should buy those instead. I finally bought one last week and have a few things to say about it.

First of all, I want to talk about the price. The Bistro Boxes are around five dollars, which for a decent sandwich isn't bad, especially since my White Mocha usually costs around five dollars. However, the Bistro Boxes are nowhere near a decent sandwich. They vary from a bit of meat, a cube of cheese, and a few slices of apple, to a tiny pita and some nuts. All the boxes have some kind of protein: ham, chicken, hummus or cheese, and some vegetables or fruit. However, I don't think that it's reasonable to ask for five dollars for tiny doll-sized portions.

I have rationalized that the boxes are this tiny because of their new low-calorie approach to everything. The most fattening box is 480 calories (Fruit and Cheese, ironic isn't it?) and the least is 220 (Veggies and Goat Cheese). I would love to eat 300 calories for lunch and be al good, however, after eating the Chicken and Hummus box (260) I was starving, and that's after having a small coffee. To be fair, I didn't eat the chicken because I am a vegetarian, but I still think that it wouldn't have made as much of a difference because it was a small piece of chicken. I've also had the fruit and cheese box and it disappeared in about two minutes and I felt no different afterwords. I th ink that they are trying to put us upon the diet of a woodland elf, cheese, nuts, fruit, and some five million grain crackers. if only if only I could eat nuts and cheese 24/7, but unfortunately, I need some more substance in my body to continue to pump blood through my veins.

I almost forgot, some of the boxes come with a luxury dessert, a piece of prime Starbucks chocolate, oh joy unbounded, not.

Anyway, they're running a bunch of promotions on them right now because I'm guessing they haven't been selling so well, but over all I give them two stars. Yes they tasted good, and tasted fresh, but honestly, I could probably eat 3 bistro boxes and then maybe be full. When I get a large coffee, I am about fifty times more full than when eating the crackers in the boxes.

Yogurt Parfaits

The Starbucks parfaits look delicious and seem like an excellent choice ofr a snack. All of them are made with Greek yogurt, granola, and sometimes fruit. Usually, for a snack, I buy a croissant or a scone, but I thought that maybe the parfaits would be healthier. The croissants and scones cost around two dollars which still is very expensive. However, when I bought the yogurt, I was sshocked to find that it cost around $3.45! It’s about one cup of yogurt and some granola You could buy a whole gallon of greek yogurt or a pack of six parfaits for the same price. It’s not even like these parfaits are made organically at the store, they are simply shipped to the store. Why would you pay for yogurt and trail mix when you can but six times as much for the same price.


This is one of the most ridiculous things to pay for at Starbucks. When you get a large tea (simply a tea bag and water) it costs you 2.60. The real question here is WHY? Water is FREE everywhere you go So are you paying 2.60 for the bag, the string, the cup, or the lid? You can buy a pack of about 30 tea bags at Target for five dollars, so why would you pay sixty times as much for one? I love tea, so it’s especially annoying, I feel like I’m paying for the water I’m drinking when I get my teas. At leat with the Frappucinos and coffees, you’re paying for things that you can’t do at home (theoretically).

Milk and Syrups

Most people get different kinds of milk at Starbucks, whether it’s nonfat, soy, or 2 percent. However, to get a different kind of milk, it costs 60 extra cents This may not seem like such a big deal, but considering they are already charging me three dollars for Chai powder that they mix with milk. Anyway, this is kind of ridiculous because you are quite literally paying to be healthier. Soy milk at the store is cheaper than whole milk, so why should you pay extra at Starbucks? I suppose that it’s because it’s a specialty type item that isn’t as popular as whole milk, but honestly, when I’ve been there, practically everyone has got either nonfat, percent or soy. In my opinion, they make loads of money just from charging extra for milk. Also, you pay extra from every syrup you get. For example, if I get a Pumpkin Spice Latte and ask for an extra pump of Pumpkin Spice, it costs 50-60 cents extra. Again, this isn’t that much when you just look at it, but considering how expensive drinks are, it really is ridiculous.

NOTE: With a Gold Card, you get free milk and syrups, check out other benefits here.

Whipped Cream

Whipped cream is a delicious additive to any drink. It’s whippy and delicious and makes any drink ten times better. However, if you’re not getting a Frappucino, it’s really completely a rip off. When you get a Frappucino, Starbucks baristas use a domed lid, therefore, you get your cup full of drink and the whipped cream only takes up space in the dome. However, when you get lattes or mochas with whipped cream, flat lids are used (for hot drinks) and so one third of your cup is just whipped cream. Although it is painful to have to give up whipped cream, it is a lot more worth it to just get your drink without whipped cream or to get it iced with a domed lid.

Getting Ice

When you get ice in a drink, it’s good to take note of the fact that you’re getting only half of the drink. I realized this one time when I finished my latte and found THREE FOURTHS of the cup full of ICE when I was done. You’re quite literally getting half of the over priced coffee you’re already over-paying for. This is why I always make sure to ask for extra light ice when I get a coffee.


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    • profile image

      Nick1952 18 months ago

      I don't go to Starbucks anymore. FIVE DOLLARS for a small "pumpkin spice latter"? THREE DOLLARS for a freaking cookie? In one word, GREED, the reason for taking the Starbucks card away from frequent consumers a while ago. This company once actually threatened to SUE a group of Greek Orthodox monks. Why? The monks ran a gift shop to help make ends meet. One item for sale was a coffee that they blended themselves and sold at Christmas, which they called "Christmas Blend". Starbucks claimed that IT and it alone "owned" those two words. A pox on this company.

    • profile image

      Kathy 21 months ago

      I will never go back to starbucks again. I was charged five dollars for a medium iced mocha..skim milk, half a pump and before the ice was added it sure looked like all that was there was a cup or a smudge over. That is not worth $5 dollars. Bloody Rip off. So to bad for them, I'm seriously done and I'm showing my children the cost of Starbucks, teaching them to stay away.

    • profile image

      Brian 2 years ago

      Here's an update. Starbucks at LAX terminal 3 just tried to charge me $7.63 for one of those Greek yogurt parfaits. They seemed shocked when I said no thanks and left it on the counter.

    • profile image

      Nicole 2 years ago

      While I've often rolled my eyes at how expensive Starbucks is, you're paying for a lot more than just the coffee. You're paying for your barista, the insane consistency, and the convenience. Also, ONLY soy or coconut/almond milks cost extra. Subbing skim or whole milk (most drinks are made with 2% by default) doesn't cost anything extra. Neither does asking for more or less of s syrup already in your drink. However, ADDING vanilla syrup to a hot coffee will cost an additional few cents.

      Also, a bistro box isn't meant to be a lunch. I believe it's intended to be a snack for busy people on the go. It's a very expensive snack and it's way cheaper to prep your own cheese and fruit and bring it along but, hey, when you forget or are too busy, you pay for that convenience too.

      I clicked thinking this would be a decent critique with "hacks" to make the most of your Starbucks order but, nope, just another entitled rant about how things in the world cost money.

    • profile image

      3 years ago

      Buy one drink... keep the cup.... wash and refill at home.... get the starbucks envy from strangers for 1/10th the cost

    • profile image

      3 years ago

      Aww, it's cute that you think there are rip-offs. I work at a Starbucks on the Las Vegas Strip, and that same box of fruit and cheese is $8.95. That fancy parfait? $5.95. And don't even get me started on espressos.

    • hubsy profile image

      hubsy 3 years ago

      Wow Hezekiah, that is quite literally ridiculous!!!!

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 3 years ago from Japan

      Well especially here in Japan, Starbucks cost more than a meal in many restaurants.

    • hubsy profile image

      hubsy 3 years ago

      Thanks, I will definitely be trying it next time I go there…

    • profile image

      Michele 3 years ago

      For anyone interested, you can actually find the exact chai Starbucks uses at Target. It is the Tazo brand chai that is already in liquid form, you simply add whatever milk you want and its about $4 for the entire box of liquid mix!

    • hubsy profile image

      hubsy 4 years ago

      Thank you so much Hillary, those are great tips. I always do light ice :). I LOVE whipped cream, and wish I didn't like you...

      Also, I didn't know you get 50 cent refills, so thanks!

    • profile image

      Hilary 4 years ago

      I used to work at Starbucks, so I know a couple of things you can do:

      Whip cream on hot drinks: ask for extra and for the lid on the side. They won't charge you extra and then you can have the mountain of fat on top that you desire (I don't like whip, can you tell?)

      Tea: If you stay in the store you can reuse the tea bag once and get extra hot water for free. You can also get a 50 cent refill on any regular drip coffee or tea (hot or iced) if you stay on the premises. It's free if you have a gold card.

      Ice: You can ask for less or no ice. I usually ask for very light ice when I get iced coffees. The ingredients are still cold.

      For the food, I have no suggestions since they are not customizable.

    • hubsy profile image

      hubsy 5 years ago

      Thanks again Georgie! It's true starbucks s a huge rip off in so many ways. I just wish I could share this hub with more people like you said :)

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      GH Price 5 years ago from Texas

      Starbucks. Holy moly. I don't drink a lot of coffee, so I rarely end up in one of them. I will make the trip around the holidays, because I love the eggnog latte. I did buy cookies there. Once. I could have baked three dozen for what I paid for them!

      Another great Hub. I hope people read it so they can save their cash!

    • hubsy profile image

      hubsy 5 years ago

      OMG, I thought I was the only one who liked to strut the streets with a signature Starbucks cup. Haha, thanks for commenting and PS I still get Chai Lattes all the time but It's true, they are a waste of money.

    • Your Cousins profile image

      Your Cousins 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I've been wanting to try the Chai Tea Latte, however after reading your hub I realize I could probably make a dozen for the price of one. But then I don't get to walk around styling with my signature Starbucks cup! Thanks for the hub.