This article might not be what you think it is. Before I go any further, allow me to mention one important point:

Customers please stop trying to order the most expensive drink ever at Starbucks, as if it’s a contest.

It’s silly.

Prices can vary from region to region. Any customer can order yet one more shot of espresso in their beverage.

A Florida man “claims” he has the most expensive Starbucks drink ever, with his $83.75 beverage.  What’s really silly is that he clearly is not the person who has ordered the most expensive drink ever: This Wisconsin man who ordered a $92.03 drink still holds the title of most expensive drink ever. But if you are reading this, please don’t try to beat the Wisconsin customer’s record. Let is be. We should declare John Boyd of Wisconsin the winner.

Starbucks beverage size guidelines:

Starbucks has beverage size guidelines. Linda Mills, an official Starbucks spokesperson, told me again (I’ve asked her about this many times) that Starbucks “encourages customization.” With your free reward, feel free to add shots to a drink, add a banana and try something new, for example. You earned that reward with 12 transactions. Starbucks knows how to be a profitable business. They know exactly what they’re doing with MyStarbucksRewards – the benefits to Starbucks are huge.

However, there is still a beverage size guideline. Linda Mills reminded me, “Per our existing policy, beverages larger than Trenta size (31 ounces) cannot be made or served. This includes personal cups that exceed 31 ounces.”

There’s more to the Starbucks beverage size guidelines, as per Linda Mills, “For blended beverages and espresso drinks, those cannot be made or served in sizes larger than Venti.”

It’s not about the dollar total of one mega drink:

Notice that the beverage size guidelines above makes NO reference to form of payment. I’m sure this is intentional. The beverage size guidelines are the same whether you’ve paid for your drink with cash or you’ve redeemed a MyStarbucksRewards Lucky Dozen Reward.

In fact, if you watched the YouTube video of the Wisconsin man who bought the most expensive drink ever, you’ll notice he paid with cash!

I think that if you get tunnel-vision on just the mere cost of one single beverage, you’ll miss important points. If I get 30 comments that say, “These people are ruining MyStarbucksRewards with their expensive drinks,” I’ll probably delete this post and/or close the comments. If it were about the rewards, the beverage size guideline would mention the rewards.

It’s not about just the cost of that one single transaction. And I would argue that for any one single transaction, if all you can see is just the cost of that one drink, you’ll always miss important things like the experience, the connection, what people say about the brand when they walk out the door – those things really are important. Starbucks has said that there are 8 million My Starbucks Rewards members in the United States. There are about 7,500 company-operated Starbucks in the United States. Starbucks boasts 70 million customers a week coming through their doors. Starbucks card holders loaded more than 4 billion dollars on cards in 2013. That’s millions and million of transactions a week. Please don’t look at that one isolated transaction and conclude that the sky is falling down on Starbucks. They’re a very savvy business.

The beverage size guideline doesn’t make any mention of form of payment: it’s not relevant in this conversation about the mega drinks, trying to beat out some record.

What is the real issue?

Mega drinks might make you sick. I can’t even imagine how terrible a person might feel after consuming a beverage in excess of 100 ounces with 99 shots of espresso. Starbucks has a special responsibility not get their customers sick. Retailers always have a special duty to warn customers of hazards (this is why the many “wet floor” signs and other such signs) and keep them safe. Retailers can easily be sued. That’s just the reality of the world we live in. You might not like it, but the theory behind this special duty to keep customers safe, and to put the burden on the retailer – give them a big motivation – not to make customers sick or create hazards for them.

A mega drink will almost always cause great delay for the customers behind the person who has the 100+ ounce drink. Starbucks always hopes to maintain speed of service, whether in cafes or the drive-thru. I’ve had partners tell me that they’re supposed to make a person’s drink within three minutes. Now that sounds super-human fast too me. But no matter how you look at it, a mega drink with over 50 shots of espresso is going to slow down everyone else’s beverage.

The barista promise doesn’t work for such huge drinks. This past summer, Starbucks started putting the “barista promise” on the side of their cups. “Love your beverage or let us know. We’ll always make it right.” I can’t imagine what a “drink remake” scenario would look like for a beverage over 100 ounces. Starbucks genuinely wants to uphold the barista promise. It’s part of maintaining a premium, highly-esteemed brand. For normal beverages, it’s often really quick to say what went wrong and correct a beverage: “This tea doesn’t taste sweetened? I wanted it sweetened.” “This latte is too hot.” At some point, when a beverage appears to be an amalgamation of many syrups, sauces, espresso shots, and other modifiers, it would be almost impossible to figure out when it should ever be remade!

Drink quality will suffer. I don’t know how you pull 99 shots and not have a few expired shots in the drink. Starbucks drinks weren’t designed to be so huge. Starbucks wants to give you a quality drink to enjoy, and at some point, if the drink is too huge, it’s very hard to promise that your drink quality hasn’t suffered.

Customers, you don’t want to get your baristas in trouble! Let’s face it, Starbucks baristas are pretty strictly told that they can’t make drinks over a certain size. Your baristas are working to serve you the best drink ever, and if someone says they’ll make you a 100 ounce beverage, they are at risk of losing their jobs over that!

So hopefully, I’ve persuaded you from never trying to break a Starbucks “most expensive drink” record!

Spread the word!