Regular Starbucks customers may know that the company’s loyalty program grants them a free custom drink of their choice after paying full-price for twelve items with their Starbucks card. What the normal, rational reward card holders may not be aware of is that there’s something of a competition on the Internet to “hack” the program by ordering the most complicated and expensive drinks possible as the free drink—and a guy from Dallas just won.
According to ABC News, 27-year-old Andrew Chifari managed to score a $54.75 drink after watching a video of another man placing a $47.30 order in New York:
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.”
When the base of your drink is 60(!!!) shots of espresso, the add-ons—in this case, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, caramel, hazelnut, cookies, and a base of ice—are all vitally important, as the concoction could wind up tasting really disgusting. Or, as Chifari wisely notes, basically it takes a whole lot of sugar to keep you from pouring $54.75 worth of coffee out after one sip. (Chifari managed to consume the entire 128-ounce beverage over the course of five days.)
Chifari said the baristas at the McKinney Avenue location were “really nice about it” when he placed the order, after he explained to them what the purpose of the trip was—perhaps because he arrived at a slow time, and because the store had a pair of automatic espresso machines, which made the task a bit easier.
In fact, Chifari tweets that the baristas at the location are big fans of his achievement. Not as pumped about the enterprise, though, is the Starbucks Corporation itself, which is not particularly amused by Chifari’s “hack,” as spokeswoman Maggie Jantzen told ABC News:
“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.”
If Starbucks goal was really to ensure that customers received only the most delicious products from the store, of course, they’d probably keep the Pumpkin Spice Latte on the menu year-round. But in any case, we’ll look forward to seeing what happens when a customer breaks the $60 barrier on disgusting coffee creations.