Starbucks' Creative Customer Problem

Coffee enthusiasts are taking advantage of the "My Starbucks Rewards" program.

— -- Starbucks prides itself on the personalization opportunities of its drinks, something its customers have really taken to heart. Maybe too much.

The past few weeks have brought news of coffee enthusiasts taking advantage of the “My Starbucks Rewards” program, which allows customers to receive a free birthday beverage or food item on their birthday, as well as a free item, after earning 12 stars through purchase, that they are free to customize however they wish.

Except online, it’s turned into a contest to see who can receive the biggest and most expensive drink for free. Andrew Chifari, 27, made headlines in late May for creating a 128-ounce, $54.75 drink in a Dallas Starbucks that he received for free.

Now, Sameera Raziuddin has shattered his record at a Florida store with a 192-ounce, $57.75 frappuccino, made with a caramel crunch base and filled with 60 espresso shots, caramel syrup, white mocha flavor, hazelnut flavor, tazo chai, soy milk, mocha drizzle, matcha powder, vanilla bean flavor, vanilla drizzle, hazelnut drizzle and whipped cream.

And Starbucks is not happy about it.

“This particular customization was excessive and something we don’t encourage, and the same can be said for the beverage a few weeks ago,” Starbucks spokeswoman Maggie Jantzen said.

Starbucks has a preexisting policy that blended beverages can be no larger than 24 ounces, and iced tea and iced coffee can be no larger than 31 ounces.

Jantzen declined to comment on why stores are not following corporate guidelines.

Grub Street, a national food blog, theorized that it was because stores receive free publicity out of such a service, not to mention a hopefully more significant tip to the barista that agreed to make the drink.

Starbucks maintains it has a size guideline in place for taste reasons.

“We really want to make sure we’re providing a high-quality product. I don’t believe this particular beverage was representative of that,” Jantzen said.

Raziuddin, 23, wholeheartedly disagreed. “It amazingly turned out to be really, really good,” she said. “Everybody wonders if I tossed it, but we just love it. We drink it all the time.”

It’s to be determined if this monster drink trend continues, but one thing is for sure: Starbucks is not impressed.