Starbucks Card Rewards Comes To Ireland / UK (Unfortunately)

5 Jan

Today Starbucks UK and Ireland have launched the Starbucks Card Rewards program over here. There is already a storm brewing on the internet about what is changing and it seems for the worst. Twitter and Starbucks Facebook pages are full of angry users passionate to show Starbucks how they will be effected. Starbucks seems to “think” they know what users will spend or what they are willing to do instead of listening to them. If you are a Starbucks drinker that has a daily cup of coffee or even two, you will see this new scheme as not much different and to be honest (and funny) the only people defending the new program are ‘heavy’ coffee drinkers or Baristas that are in store all day every day. But sadly, for drinkers that don’t have a lot of coffee or can’t get to a Starbucks regularly, you will be hit HARD by these new rewards. So much has been taken away from the original card rewards, here is what Starbucks is offering with the new rewards, thanks to Patrick Mooney for finding this image yesterday –



Now here is a copy of what Starbucks offered BEFORE today –

With Starbucks Card Rewards, you’ll automatically get free extras every time you pay with your registered Starbucks Card. This means you can add extra shots of coffee, flavoured syrups and soya milk, all for free! You’ll also get free Wi-Fi whenever you’re in our stores.
Free extras every day
Paying for your drink with a registered Starbucks Card means you’ll enjoy free extras every day. We know there’s lots of different combinations, and our expert baristas are here to help you find your perfect coffee.
Free extras include select syrups, extra shots of coffee, soya milk and whipped cream.  This is your chance to try something delicious.
80c off fresh filter coffee
Paying for your fresh filter coffee with a registered Starbucks Card means you’ll get 80c off the price of your coffee.
Free Wi-Fi instore
Get free Wi-Fi whilst your sipping your latte! With your registered Starbucks Card, you’ll receive free Wi-Fi service every day. To find out the closest store near you with Wi-Fi take a look here.
Free tall drink when you buy a 250g bag of coffee
Get a free tall drink every time you buy a 250g bag of coffee in your local Starbucks. Not sure what coffee to drink at home? Just speak to your local coffee master instore (they are the ones in the black aprons).

Now, as you can see, there is so much cut for the average user. Firstly a free tall drink with a purchase of whole bean coffee or a 12 pack of VIA has totally been taken away. There is now no 80c off fresh filter coffee any more either, basically doubling the cost of a fresh filter coffee for customers with Starbucks cards. As you can see from the table above having a basic Starbucks card now entitles you to have nothing in Starbucks eyes, before this point you can see that simply by paying for your drink with your Starbucks card you got extra shots, syrups, soya milk or whipped cream for nothing. This is all gone! But I think what really annoys me the most is that Starbucks America only asks customers to get 30 Stars a year to become ‘Gold Level’, Starbucks UK and Ireland are clearly not happy with that amount and have upped the number to a massive 50 Stars.

(For those of you that are not familiar with Rewards 1 Star = 1 drink OR a single transaction or multiple items. That means you have to buy 50 drinks or have 50 single transactions to become a gold level member.)

The ONLY thing that registered users now get (who haven’t already been upgraded) is a free tall drink for every 15 Stars. That is it, that is all they get, one single thing (news and offers doesn’t mean anything, lets face it). You must now get 50 Stars to get all the other rewards that were free up until now. This is from Starbucks website outlining the new rewards system –

Use your card once, get your first reward. And membership is free. Sweet!
Free drink every 15 Stars
We want to give you more of what you love. Use your Card 15 times and the next one’s on us.
News and offers
We’ll make sure you’re among the first to hear about any new products or special offers.
Collect 50 Stars within a year, and you’re Gold. Once you go Gold, keep your Gold benefits for another year by earning another 50 Stars.
At the Gold level, you get the Green level reward of a free tall beverage every 15 visits and special updates, plus:
Free extra shot(s)
Get an even bigger boost. Have an extra shot – or more than one – for free.
Free select syrups
Put a little extra flavour in your drink. Add select syrups for free.
Complimentary flavour choices include Caramel syrup, Vanilla syrup (regular or sugar free), Hazelnut syrup (regular or sugar free), Almond syrup, Irish Cream syrup, Peppermint syrup, extra shot of espresso, choice or soy milk and whipped cream.  A combination of complimentary choices is also acceptable, for example an order of an extra shot vanilla latte would mean that the extra shot and vanilla syrup are for free when you pay with your registered Starbucks Card. Offer valid at participating UK and Ireland stores and is subject to change.
Use soy milk instead
Not in the mood for dairy? Swap in soy milk at no extra charge.
Free whipped cream
Top any drink with a free fluffy cloud of sweetened whipped cream.

As I said, for heavy users 50 transactions or drinks might not seem a huge amount but for loyal users that can only go once or even less a week it will take a year to get to gold level. If you miss one week that means you must go twice the next week, this is simply screwing over occasional Starbucks visitors that would like the same rewards they got for nothing only yesterday. They must now pay full price for extra shots, syrups, cream and so on until they hit 50 transactions forcing them to spend far more in stores each visit than they would have had to before. As of today Starbucks have made everyone with a registered card Gold Level as a thank you, but I really do think this is simply a smoke screen to cover up the fact that you will be stripped your free extras if you don’t buy 50 items from stores in the next 12 months. This is hardly an improvement and if you think so you obviously have Starbucks tinted glasses on! (Or you work for them and can’t say anything against it for fear of loosing your job).


Finally here is just a TINY snapshot of what users are saying online – they are really not happy, but some valid points!

Sorry SBUX but after being a loyal customer for 10 years, I am for the first time looking at my options. The new loyalty card deal just is not fair in today’s climate, especially when other competitors are giving more not to mention SBux giving better offers to the US!
Problem is Starbucks UK and Ireland management. Kris Engskov is making his mark. This is all about cost savings and not loyalty. What would Darcy say?
Your New Starbucks rewards system is not very good for people who drink filter coffee (the easiest to produce too, time to serve etc factored in). You have taken the rewards off your filter drinkers. I used to save 80c everytime I got a filter coffee (which I do every morning) But now what you are saying to us is that for every €39 euro I speand (two weeks worth of coffee) I get a free 1.50 coffee. You actually had the best rewards scheme of any food and beverage company I used but now. Its actually going to become one of the worst.
Cant believe there is no more filter coffee offer. That was the reason I got my card!
dear Starbucks Epic fail. Lots of disappointed customers.
Now would be a good time to reconsider
will be getting his morning fix of filter from McDonalds Drive Through from now on…well done Starbucks :o)
If I’m spending £25 on lunch for children & drinks, would I be better splitting the transaction (to the annoyance of the other customers) and paying for each panini, frap, coffee, cookie etc separately? Why should I earn the same amount of stars as a single coffee?
Very disappointing in so many ways, the short notice of the changes is quite unbelievable and to remove two of the most favoured benefits in my workplace (filter coffee discount and free drink with beans) after ‘customer feedback’ seems misguided at best.
Sorry Starbucks. Another one here who thinks the new rewards scheme is suckety suck suck sucky! I want the cheap filter coffee back! I’m getting double points at Costa at the mo’, so I guess I’ll be going there instead!!

I for one will be charging everything I buy separately to maximize the number of transactions I have, buying drinks and Coffee Beans individually for 2 or 3 stars per visit, I would really urge every Starbucks goer in UK and Ireland to do the same. If Starbucks Baristas have issues with this maybe they should talk to management about the situation and maybe we can get the Stars changed down to 30 to match the US rewards system.

If any information or item here is incorrect or you have more info on the program that I have not included, please leave a comment and I can update as time goes on.


Christmas Comes To Starbucks

5 Nov

Yes it’s that time of the year again! Winter is here, Christmas is coming and that means only one thing – Starbucks Red cups and Christmas merchandise is here. It launched yesterday (04.11.11) in Ireland and I went along to check out what was on offer.

Firstly the new season drinks included:

Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino
Praline Mocha
Toffee Nut Latte
Gingerbread Latte
Eggnog Latte

I went for a Praline Mocha and it was really amazing, hazelnut and mocha sauce topped with espresso and steamed milk. It’s really nutty with a perfect sweetness and deep undertones of chocolate. As time goes on I plan to have the rest of these and I’m really looking forward to it if the first one is anything to go by.

Some new merchandise includes:

Coffee Sampler Pack (including Christmas blend, espresso Christmas blend and Sumatra)
New Christmas Mugs (cold and hot mugs)
Starbucks linen bags to carry whole bean coffees
Christmas blend whole bean coffee
Espresso roast Christmas blend whole bean coffee
Christmas tumblers
Lastly – 3 new Starbucks Cards (With a great Christmas designed holder)

I just recently heard that Christmas Blend VIA came out also, but on launch day I wasn’t on the shelves. Can’t wait to get some of that!

The smell when walking into the ‘new’ Christmas stores was not that of Starbucks anymore but of roasted nuts and hot peppermint which really set the scene and mood for the coming winter. I hope you enjoy the images I took in store and share anything else new in your stores. Here’s to a great Starbucks Christmas! 🙂

Update 22.11.11 – Having tried all the Christmas drinks I honestly have to say that my favorite one is the Toffee Nut Latte. It’s a nutty coffee topped with cream and delicious crispy caramel sprinkles. Whats your favorite so far this year?

Starbucks – Now At Your Local Irish Supermarket

22 Oct

Starbucks Coffee has now hit supermarkets in Ireland. Going to my local Tesco store today I came across Starbucks in the coffee section. They currently have whole bean bags of Columbia and House Blend, which it has to be said they have carried for months now, however this was the first time I seen Starbucks VIA Ready Brew in stores. They have two flavours, Italian Roast and Columbia Roast, each priced at €3.55 ($4.93). It’s great to see Starbucks moving into local supermarkets all over the country as the only stores are currently in Dublin city, most people not having access to it without traveling to the capital. I hope it sells well and they keep carrying these items as it makes it much easier to always have great coffee.

So, are they in your local store? Do they carry other items apart from this? I would be interested to know what they have in stores in the US and if the items are similar at all. I hope you enjoy a great cup of coffee today and come back again soon.

Starbucks Changing Whole Bean Categories and More

13 Oct

Latest news of Starbucks changing their whole bean categories and removing some blends from their lineup are unsettling. Baristas and insiders have hinted that blends getting axed are – Estima, Decaf Verona, Columbia, Sanani, Sidamo, Decaf House Blend and Shade Grown Mexican. However some will be replaced by new blends under the new categories like – LightNote Blend (returning), Veranda Blend and Willow Blend – which Starbucks have filed trademarks for like this one:

The new category that will be ‘under’ Mild Roast is rumored to be called “Blonde”. A super light roast presumably to cover coffee drinkers that don’t like strong roasts. So now there will be Blonde, Mild, Bold, Extra Bold, at least that is my guess. Lets hope one of these is not getting axed as I love extra bold coffees. Another trademark filed by Starbucks hints at the new blend category:

What are your ideas on this news? Do you have any insider news to add? Lets hope is wont be changing to drastically as they seem to be removing a lot of great coffees in the lineup. If I hear any more it will be added to this post each time with an update, so check back to see how it’s progressing.

Starbucks Caramel Iced VIA

9 Sep

Having received this wonderful gift from a great friend Sarah @Pencil_to_Paper in “Aggieland” 😉 this morning, I was so excited it had to be made into a Blog post. I am totally obsessed with iced coffee drinks, from Iced Lattes, Iced Mocha, Iced Americano and my favorite Iced Caramel Macchiatos – so I really had to try some of this stuff. This is the new Starbucks Iced VIA in Caramel flavor. It was released this summer in the US market and has not yet made its way over to the European markets, so trying this item is a real must for die hard Starbucks fans!

The box is a wonderful design with a Starbucks cold cup filled with iced coffee on the front. On the sides there are two images one that reads “On the porch” with the coffee in a glass and “Window shopping” with the coffee in a bottle of water. These VIA’s are really marketed to be anywhere, anytime. Unlike the other hot VIA which is said to be the same but really is not. The hot VIA needs hot water, sugar, and most of the time milk, if you are out camping or “window shopping” where are you going to get hot water, sugar and milk? It just wouldn’t happen. However, Iced VIA is a totally stand alone item that just needs cold water added – buy a bottle of cold water in a shop while walking through town, pop in a pack of this VIA and you got a great sweet Iced coffee, perfect!

On to the opening and tasting, you get 5 quite large packets of VIA in each box. They are a lot larger than the hot VIA packs which only make 8oz of hot coffee, while these Iced VIA’s make 16oz’s each. That’s a whole size up in Starbucks land, from Tall to Grande. When seeing the actually coffee inside the packs it looks kind of white and brown, like sugar added to a normal pack of VIA, but it dissolves very quickly with the exception of the sugar at the bottom which needs to be stirred in a little. Adding some ice and stirring, the Iced VIA is ready to try. The smell of these are really amazing, it smells half like a caramel frappuccino and half like really sweet caramel fudge. I was really excited to try some, but on taking the first sip I was taken aback back how slightly chemically it tasted. It was EXTREMELY sweet with a smokey after taste of coffee and dark caramel. Reading the pack again, I noticed on the back that it says when making it in a glass you can “add milk to taste”, so I did and it totally transformed the taste. Adding milk takes away the chemically caramel flavor and adds a new depth to the overall drink. Like when I tried hot VIA for the first time is really takes time to get used to these, after drinking half a glass I really started to like it. The taste developed and got more and more caramel like, maybe it was the build up of flavorings on my tongue. By the end it had smokey caramel taste with a sweet coffee after taste and really went down well. So, there is my tasting of Starbucks Iced VIA Ready Brew Caramel. The verdict? Try some for yourself, drink a whole glass and see what you think, I have a feeling people will either love it or hate it, either way, go and try some. Enjoy..