May 28, 2014 -- Starbucks regulars, take note: You need to get on Andrew Chifari’s level.
The enterprising Texas man, 27, came up with an apparently record-setting loyalty program hack that got him a drink that would normally cost $54.75 for free.
The “My Starbucks Rewards” loyalty program allows customers to receive a free birthday beverage or food item on their birthday, as well as a free item after earning 12 Stars (earned through purchase) that they are free to customize however they wish, Starbucks spokeswoman Maggie Jantzen said.
Chifari, knowing this, decided to customize his free drink at a Dallas Starbucks with 60 espresso shots, chocolate and white chocolate syrup, protein powder, whipped cream, caramel and hazelnut drizzles and nut and cookie toppings, essentially creating a giant coffee milkshake.
“The recipe was just the best sounding thing I could think of that would make 50-plus shots drinkable. Since it was going in a glass vase, it had to be cold so I could carry it without burning myself,” he said. “And I knew I couldn't drink it all at once, so a drink over ice would get diluted when the ice melted so that was out.
“A frappuccino was the only thing that made sense. Beyond that, I just tried to find flavors that would go well together. I settled on chocolate, hazelnut and caramel.”
Chifari schemed ways to create the most expensive free Starbucks drink after seeing a video of a customer making a $47.30 drink, the prior record-holding most expensive free drink at Starbucks.
“I knew I could beat it and do better,” he said of his 128-ounce drink. “The baristas were all really nice about it. I walked in and just told them straight out that I wanted to break the record and they were cool with it.
“I went at a slow time and, fortunately, there were a lot of people working so I didn't back up the line. This location has two of the automatic espresso machines, so it wasn't like someone had to tamp and pull 60 shots manually.”
Chifari Tweeted that he “drank 1/3 the first day. Still working on it. About 15% left. I don't waste coffee.”
Though anyone can hack the loyalty program like Chifari did, Starbucks is discouraging it.
“This particular beverage customization was excessive and something that we do not encourage,” Jantzen said. “We want to ensure our customers receive the highest quality and most delicious tasting food and beverage products from us and we don’t believe that this particular beverage choice was reflective of that.”