PicMonkey Collage Starbucks Refill TumblerFor many years in a row, Starbucks has offered a “Coffee and Tea Refill Tumbler.” The first time Starbucks offered this tumbler, it was available for sale late 2011. The tumbler offered free coffee in January 2012, with a price tag of $19.95. In 2014, the same Brewed Coffee Refill Tumbler was offered again, and was $30.

The concept is that you buy the special “Coffee and Tea Refill Tumbler” and you can get a free brewed coffee or tea in it daily, during the month of January 2016. This year, it is $40. The tumbler is available now at StarbucksStore.com or in stores starting tomorrow (though I’ve heard many stories that many stores have it available now, Thanksgiving Day).

I’m just going to lay my opinion on the line, knowing that some may bristle at it. I always promise that I’ll be honest with you. Starbucks doesn’t pay me to produce this website.

There are distinct pros and cons to this tumbler.

The pros:

This year’s tumbler looks beautiful, and appears to be a nice stainless steel design.

If you are addicted to coffee, this might be fun.

You can get hot coffee or tea.

It possibly could be a lovely gift for someone.

The Cons:

At $40 for the tumbler (and assuming a grande brewed coffee is about $2.45 (prices may vary)) you would need to frequent Starbucks at a minimum, about 16 times in the month of January. This isn’t realistic for the majority of customers. Most customers go to Starbucks about 6 times in a month. Sixteen (16)is a magic number at Starbucks:  Only about 20% of customers visit more than 16 times in a month. Think of the 80/20 rule of business!

It’s quite possible that you’ll get bored of 16 cups of Pike Place Roast.

It ALWAYS causes confusion at the register: Things like syrups, cafe mistos, and more cause confusion. And if you can’t get a pump of syrup in it as part of the free coffee, it makes it even less worth it. Sometimes you’ll encounter baristas who don’t even know that the tumbler offers anything at all free in it.

It puts the barista in the “Barista Sheriff” position. This is terrible for the Starbucks experience. “No” by human nature, feels good to people, like they’re grasping for power. (Most people won’t admit that they enjoy the power play of saying “no” – it’s an ego trip, but it is a powerful human nature thing). It’s terrible for creating loyal customers and living up to the high gold standard that Starbucks has adopted. I’ve heard plenty of stories of people trying to get hot tea in the tumbler and being told “no” or “I’ll do it for you this time” because hot tea is expensive.

You can’t use the tumbler at the Roastery. This also cycles back to how uninteresting it is to drink 16 cups of Pike Place Roast: There are now more than 1,400 Reserve Starbucks in the US. Being able to get something else in the cup would break up the monotony. I understand why Reserve coffee is not included in the tumbler. I personally though, don’t want to drink the coffee-of-the-day, all month at Starbucks.

Experienced customers (meaning the one who would most likely use this tumbler – the 20% of business – and the ones that Starbucks wants to keep) understand that the word “refill” at Starbucks means iced tea, iced coffee, hot brewed coffee, or hot tea.

You can’t get iced tea or iced coffee in the tumbler – which is just silly. If the tumbler can’t hold up to an iced drink, it’s not the quality of tumbler you would want to buy. And there’s no question, iced tea and iced coffee are extremely high profit margin drinks. Being able to get even a simple iced passion tea in the tumbler would break up the monotony.

It’s a tumbler that is rigid and inflexible what you can get in it. It’s expensive this year – granted in a beautiful tumbler – but most people buying this want to save money. And it has a distinct track record of creating bad experiences at the register.

I come down on the side of the argument not in favor of getting the tumbler. For me, it is not worth it. Rigid and inflexible and creates bad experiences every single year. I always get emails, stories, and questions about this tumbler and read about bad experiences on social media sites.

If you, by chance, really love drinking Pike Place Roast or other coffee of the day, without a break in what you order, maybe this tumbler is for you. (And assuming you’re in the 20% of customers who really go to Starbucks more than 16 times a month).

If you’re thinking of buying this as a gift for a friend for Christmas, maybe a $40 Starbucks gift card would be just as nice?

Reasonable minds may differ. It’s silly to think we will all agree. I’m sure this tumbler will have its fans.

2 - 1 - Black_Friday_Deals_2015_(2)[1] 21 - 1 - Refill Tumbler Online