The refill policy at Starbucks: Refills are regardless of original beverage purchased.

by Melody on January 6, 2013

Just a short lesson on what a refill is at Starbucks:  I think this is valuable information for many people!

If you order a  Starbucks tall latte, and then want Pike Place Roast as a refill, the answer is “yes.”  I should clarify, the answer is “yes” only if you have stayed inside the store.  Once you leave the store, when you return, you will be paying full price for your beverage again.  The refill price is available only for same store visits.  The refill only becomes free if you are paying for your beverage with a registered Starbucks Card, at the green level of benefits.  And there is no refill price for any handcrafted beverages. Iced tea, iced coffee, and hot brewed coffee all have a refill price available to them.  In other words, if I drink a grande Frappuccino, stay in the store, and want grande iced passion tea as a refill, then I should be charged the refill price for the passion tea, not the the full price of the iced passion tea.  However, there is no way to order a Frappuccino as a refill.

I bring this up because I noticed (thanks to a comment in another blog article!) that Starbucks has finally updated their website to truly clarify the refill policy.  This had been in an area, where in the past, the website had had ambiguous language.  Thank you Starbucks for this!  Here’s the official Starbucks page on the refill benefit.



In previous articles, I have talked about the theories behind the refill policy.  As many people know, iced coffee, iced tea, and brewed coffee are beverages that are low cost to the business.  Furthermore, those who stay inside the store are more likely to linger and purchase food or other items as well.  Also, it makes no sense to tell customers, you must only purchase the lowest cost beverages to be able to receive the refill price.  In other words, there’s no logic to saying that a customer who spends a premium for a handcrafted drink may not receive a refill because he or she didn’t start out with a cheaper beverage.  And of course, there is never a refill price for drive-thru customers.

And you really do have to stay in the store to get a refill.  If you have left the store, and you return later in the day with your cup, the baristas should tell you there is no refill price available.

Hope that my readers find this helpful!

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{ 211 comments… read them below or add one }

David March 18, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Hello all,

Brenda, I get a Venti Sweetened passion tea. sit down drink it and get another refill. comes up as $.053 then they swipe my card and it is free. I even got a passion tea lemonade once and got a passion tea (no lemonade) as my refill. Sometimes they re-use the cup sometimes they give me a new cup.

The way I read the policy is you can get free refills on same size iced coffee and tea and you can get a passion tea and get an iced coffee as your refill. Keep in mind you have to stay in the store.

David March 18, 2014 at 12:55 pm

IzzyJ, you cannot get a refill with additional items. A misto does not have a refill price. Only iced coffee, hot brewed coffee and tea have a refill price.

Melody March 18, 2014 at 7:06 pm

@David and @IzzyJ – I have been meaning to come back to this thread. Just busy.

As to a Coffee Misto as a refill. I would be inclined to say “no.” The website lists only 4 items that ever have a refill price: Iced Tea, Iced Coffee, Hot Brewed Coffee (but not Clover-brewed), and Hot Tea. Since a Misto isn’t one of those 4 things, my answer would be “no.” But I know I have had a couple of conversations with Starbucks partners who insisted that a Coffee Misto is available as a refill perk. I wouldn’t count on that.

Carl Black March 18, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Please refer to the image and comment I posted previously (above). This clearly identifies Misto as a refill option, even if that was not the original purchase. Thanks.

Jim Wong March 26, 2014 at 7:40 pm

There is no Iced coffee on menu. I always order Ice Cafe Americano and I always got a free fill. Today, my free refill was refused, I was told Ice Cafe Americano is not eligible to free refill.

ivy March 28, 2014 at 10:46 am

What if you sit outside because non patrons are taking inside seats??

Sophie March 31, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Very informative, thank you so much! Can you clarify where it says you can get a misto as a refill? I do not see it. Thank you.

Kelly April 18, 2014 at 5:30 am

I was wondering… Shaken Iced Tea Lemonade is listed under tea. Can you get this as a free refill?

Melody April 18, 2014 at 6:56 am

@Kelly – If you ordered a Grande Black Tea Lemonade, you cannot get the exact same thing as a “refill,” but you could order a Grande Black Tea as your refill. The only items which ever have a “refill” price associated with them are: (1) Iced Coffee (2) Hot brewed coffee (coffee of the day, whatever is available) (3) Hot Tea and (4) Iced Tea.

Hope this helps. Iced Tea Lemonade is not considered to be the same drink as Iced Tea. The lemonade is an expensive component.

John April 22, 2014 at 3:00 pm

As an Ex Barista I had to take time to read this, (the post) AND all the comments to go with it. Listen to Melody, she generally knows what she’s talking about. I personally haven’t found anything she said to be incorrect yet.

As far as Carl Black goes. Any store, including licensed store (Stores that have their own policy) Could have posted that piece of paper. In fact, I could print one out right now, that looks just like it, go to a starbucks even, post it up, take that picture, and come back here continue my string of BS.

The best way to go about this, is simply to look at starbucks website and absorb their policy, which I’m sorry my Misto drinking friend, it DOES NOT include Coffee Misto’s.

Julie April 22, 2014 at 3:43 pm

The part that tripped up the barista’s I have shown the policy too (as in I brought up the page on my phone and showed it when they tell me no), they read “regardless of the original beverage purchased” and say that yeah as long as your original purchase is a brewed or iced coffee or tea. I think Starbucks needs to reword the policy so that it doesn’t make it seem that the original beverage has to be an iced/hot coffee/tea.

I think Starbucks Corp. needs to send an email out to all district and store managers reminding them of this policy.

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