The 10 Cent Cup Discount at Starbucks: Clearing Up Confusion.
Over the years, I’ve been asked about the cup discount at Starbucks many times. I have had people ask me whether the cup discount should be applied to beverages in for-here ware.
The cup discount is simply this: It is ten cents off your beverage if you are getting your beverage inside your own cup, mug, or tumbler.
If you happen to be using a paper cup, you will always be given a new paper cup in the event you have a competitor’s paper coffee cup. If you happen to be using a paper cup, and it’s a Starbucks paper cup, depending on local ordinance and health codes, you may or may not receive a new paper cup.
You do not receive a cup discount when getting your beverage in a for-here (ceramic) in-store cup.
Here’s the official Starbucks link with all the details: How do I qualify for a cup discount?
The official Starbucks page says the following:
How do I qualify for a cup discount?
Published 08/07/2013 05:38 PM | Updated 08/07/2013 05:49 PM
You can get $.10 off any beverage (except bottled and ready-to-drink) when you bring in a personal cup.
Any personal cup qualifies for the discount. If you bring in a competitor’s paper cup, we’ll offer to replace it and apply the discount when we pour your drink in a new Starbucks paper cup.
There is no discount if using our “for here” cups. The $.10 discount applies to all beverage sizes (from Small to Venti).
Keep in mind, as with every single Starbucks policy, Starbucks reserves the right to update or change it. But at least with the cup discount, the policy as listed as above, has been that way for years and years. Please note, if you have a tumbler that is from a competitor, there is no requirement to buy a Starbucks tumbler to receive the cup discount.
The idea is to encourage personal cup use, and reduce the consumption of Starbucks paper cups and plastic throw-away cold cups.
That’s it. This is just a quick message about what the cup discount is. (And, a good reminder to myself to use a personal cup more often – it’s good for the environment. I do remember sometimes, but I need to improve in this area.)
Hey I love your blog and updates! Keep it up!
About the cup discount… 🙂 I am a Store Manager and in my store you do get a 10 cent discount for using a for here mug. One because its right for the costumer and bushiness AND….because our current policy says so. 🙂
Melody, this 10-Cent Personal Cup discount has remained the same for a long time… at least 20 years. Given inflation over the past two decades, this 10-cent hasn’t kept up. Starbucks prices fluctuate market to market but generally speaking, a Tall Coffee of the Day in 1994 cost around $1.50. Today, a Tall COD costs around $1.90. That’s a 27% price increase yet the 10-cent personal cup discount hasn’t increased at all.
SBUX could make a bolder environmental statement and quite possibly encourage current customers to buy more often by raising the personal cup discount to 20-cents or better yet, a full quarter.
Some partners apply it for for-here ware and some customers want it increased…the reason these both can’t work (imhba…in my humble barista opinion) is labor. Coming from an evening store, where we mostly use for-here ware…it a pain to wash. I don’t mind b/c environment and such, but the labor that it takes to wash isn’t equal to a 10 cent discount. Same with it increasing. Even seasoned tumbler users forget to take the lid off till at the front of the line. Doesn’t seem like much, but to a barista, every second of our shift counts. I think the selling of the 1$ reusable cup is a huge step…and I hope we take more to encouraging it!
I transferred to Sbx Germany about a year ago, and the policy is much better here. The discount is 0,30€, huge on a tall drip that costs 1,80€. Also, partners generally ask if the customer wants to hang on to their lid or have us put it on.
While on mat leave in Canada, I was once in a Starbucks line, wrangling my newborn, wallet and 1.5 year old, and had the barista at the counter give my clean tumbler the most disgusted look as she asked me to take the lid off. I said, “I’ve kind of got my hands full. Do you mind?” And she snottily argued, “no, it’s policy.” I said, “look. I am a partner, and a store manager, and YES, you can take my lid off for me and give me a hand here.” She sullenly got a pair of pastry gloves and made a big production out of doing it.
I can’t think I’ve ever seen the policy of “partner can never touch personal lids ever” written down anywhere in my 10+ years. It drives me crazy.
I have to admit I do not make use of this discount although I should because I am in the store everyday. I also do not see many people bringing in their own tumblers. I wonder if the stores should advertise you can use in store mug ware because I doubt many people are aware SB has that.
I have to admit I do not use this discount although for the amount of times I go to SB I should bring my own cup. I rarely see people bring their own mugs at my local store. Also, I do not see very many customers using in house mugs in fact I think very few people know you can ask for one. At my local store it is hard to see where they are.
In the UK we get a 25p discount which isn’t too bad.
More important than the environment or the saved dime: Not having the wax flavor from the cup contaminating one’s coffee. 🙂
I don’t think the 0.10 discount is worth the labor/supplies to clean for here cups, but we give the discount.
About half of the cups that people bring in we have to wash first. I already have to do your dishes, I’m not handling your gross lid, too.
So if I bring in my used McDonald’s or Jack in the Box cup from my car, I should be able to get a new paper cup AND a ten cent discount, not to mention help remove some junk from my car? This policy doesn’t make any sense. The cup needs to be designed to be reusable – paper cups do not qualify, except maybe same day Starbucks paper cups. The discount should be 15 cents. As for the for here cup thing, arguable a for here cup user is more likely to hang around and get free refills. Of course, when’s the last time you’ve seen someone use a for here cup, especially outside urban Seattle or other central city cores?
First: I agree with @John Moore about the % increase in all things Sbux over the yrs, except the ‘personal cup’ discount. I don’t think the discount, whatever it is, is the ‘incentive’ for anyone using a personal cup. But, for those of us who do, it would be a decent gesture to increase it after all these yrs.
Secondly: I’ve had many (many) tumblers through-out the yrs with Sbux. Some I wish I still had because I remember some design I really liked (ie: back ~ ’96 ?, when AZ was first changing the logo on their license plates, Sbux was giving away tumblers with any bar drink with same very pretty logo…I have no idea where that went but I don’t have it anymore). However, since they came out with the ‘dollar’ grande sz cup, I’ve been using that for months. I really like the lightness of it and still durable. I have two that I keep in 2 cars. This is one of my favorite ones…so simple and I feel lost if I don’t happen to have it with me. I highly recommend this one.
Still, I think it would be almost nothing for Sbux to increase that discount to something even close to say….our sales tax! (which here is 10.6%)
@Denise and JohnMoore – I fundamentally agree that the cup discount could be more. 15 to 20 cents seems about right. I’m on my phone and I’ve had connection problems for a week. No long replies from me.
In New Zealand the discount is 40c, which is great
thank you for posting this! i have been going around and around with my partners about discounts using for here cups. 🙂
@Jocelyn – I have come to realize that some partners will just get stuck in their head an idea of what a policy is, and nothing will change it. (That’s not really a Starbucks thing – lots of people don’t want to realize they may have been told something erroneously, learned it wrong, or whatever). Shortly after posting this, I had a few tweets back and forth with a Starbucks partner who INSISTED that it IS policy to give a cup discount for for-here ware. All I could say (in 140 characters) is that Starbucks website expressly says “no” to that. Lo and behold, she unfollowed me. Seems like rigid and concrete thinking. People just get very, very stuck on this one, for some reason.
@melody at my new store, i constantly am met with the comment “this is how we do it here” or “this is how we have always done it”.
ie: i am constantly being reminded, or reprimanded, for giving out a large straw with an iced grande beverage with whipped cream, because the large straws are too expensive, never give them out. so i pull up the official rule that says which straw to hand out, and that battle has ended. but there are hundreds of these conversations every single day i work.
but for the cup discount, i appreciate if everyone is consistent. because being a new partner at this store, but not to the company, customers are getting mad at me because i do not give them the .10 discount. it’s the same thing with the refill policy.
@Jocelyn – I didn’t know about the straw thing at all. Hadn’t thought about it. I will say with the for-here ware, most partners here in Seattle get it right – no cup discount. I think there could be a larger, and more interesting conversation about clicking the for-here ware button and earning labor. I know (or have heard) that much labor is earned through the registers – transactions, etc… I think labor is much more complicated than that, and I don’t profess to understand it well. I’ve also heard that the more seating a store has, there is more labor allotted based upon that. I just know that there are a number of Seattle stores that use a ton of for-here cups! They create a lot of dishes to do. I kind of think that there should be some special “For Here” button which does not affect the price of the beverage/item but earns the store a little more labor because there are now more dishes to wash. Just my two cents.
there is a “for here” button on the pos, and it should always be used when food/drink is served in the lobby. it doesn’t change the price, it just pops up as “for here” under it.
another question. do stores in seattle/washington have “real” flatware? in california we did, but since i’ve been here, we only have plastic knives and such to give to customers. i tried to order some, and got told that i am not allowed to do that. sorry, but it seems kind of ghetto to eat my la boulange pastries with a plastic knife/fork.
@Jocelyn – Was there always a “for here” button? I didn’t realize that. I hope it is earning the store partners labor. As to the flatware, I hadn’t thought about that. I know for sure that the “Evenings” Starbucks do have real knives, forks, and spoons. I think that many, many, Starbucks do have real flatware. I just had my oatmeal at Pike & Broadway this morning with a real spoon, and I know I’ve been offered real silverware at the 4th & Union Starbucks. I guess all I can say is that many of them do – but not sure about all of them.
there are actually two buttons for “for here”. one of them doesn’t add the ‘for here’ under the item, so i don’t use it. the one that does is on the second custom menu, i think it’s near the double blended button. it’s been there for as long as i can remember, i think it’s moved around a few times though. as far as it earning labor? i hope so! 😉
i’m going to follow up with my dm about the flatware issue. i did a coffee tasting a few weeks ago (black tea jelly with cinnamon cream) and i brought my own silverware just so we wouldn’t have to use plastic spoons!!!
my new store has a lot of made up rules, and i assume this is one of them. my new store is pretty great, don’t get me wrong, but there are a lot of opportunities & challenges there.
We ask you to hold onto your lid and straw for sanitary reasons. I don’t want to contaminate your lid and straw – I don’t want your lid and straw to contaminate my bar.
I’ve been enjoying the 10¢ discount for several weeks now after I bought one of the reusable plastic cups. Its easily paid for the cup itself. I thought I saw somewhere that these cups only had a lifespan of 10 uses or so but I think I’ve had more than 15 and its still in great shape. This might sound a little extreme but I even started reusing the cup sleeve until it finally came unglued! You definitely need a sleeve on these cups because it gets hot!
My usual order is a dark roast and a cranberry orange scone. I try to go two or three times a week and I feel more of a sense of urgency to have as many scones as I can before my local stores change over to La Boulange, mainly cause I read more dislike than like for the new pastries.
Thanks for this post! I never knew there was a discount for using your own cup. I have always hesitated to bring my own cup, because I am afraid that my drink won’t fit into it. Also I almost always use the drive thru, so I’m not sure how that would work. But I will try to remember it the next time I ma planning to be in a store 🙂
What about getting the 10 cent discount for reusing one of the grande (tea, frappacino, iced coffee) drinks?
If you bring a cup that is not a SB cup ive seen employees fill a paper cup and dump the coffee into the reusable cup and throw away the paper cup……fully defeats the purpose.
I recently spoke to a customer service rep and two separate starbucks locations in NYC. They all said the cup needs to be Starbucks branded (either the $2 refill cup or any tumbler, mug, cup sold by Starbucks) maybe they changed the policy?
It is shame that you get only 10 cents off at SB for bringing your own cup. Today for the first time I brought my own 14oz travel mug at DD and I was charged only 99 cents for medium 14 oz brewed coffee. The regular rate for their medium brewed coffee is $1.89. That’s a discount of whopping 90 cents.
Just denied my discount, was told a Tall beverage in a personal cup no longer applies. The person behind the register was confused to begin with on previous orders, so don’t know if it’s just this one time. We’ll see.
I tried to use a reusable mug for a coffee at the 43rd St and 6th Ave location in Manhattan. I was turned away because my cup was not Starbucks-branded and was forced to use a plastic cup for my iced coffee. What kind of policy is this? Is it intended to reduce single-use plastic or coerce customers into purchasing more expensive Starbucks-branded cups/mugs/thermoses? … Or is this another case of Starbucks employees who do not know the Starbucks code of conduct (a la Philadelphia bathroom incident)?
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I do feel so environmentally responsible when I walk in to Starbucks with my personal cup 🙂 I must say that I am BY FAR a minority, in my local store… $.10 discount, I think it should be more but I’ll take a discount when/where I can!
I like that the barista’s have you remove and retain your lid until the drink order is complete 🙂