It’s not only the cozy atmosphere that draws the crowds to Starbucks each morning. For regulars, part of the appeal lies in the Starbucks Rewards program and their signature handcrafted beverages. But, what is a handcrafted drink at Starbucks exactly and how can you use your rewards to claim one of those for free?
If you’re a member of the Starbucks Rewards Program chances are you want to exchange your stars for a handcrafted beverage. After all, it’s one of the most common items redeemed. And yet it’s not clear what makes a particular drink ‘regular’ or ‘handcrafted’. This article will hopefully help clear up the confusion and get you the best value in exchange for your hard-earned stars.
(Note: This is article is accurate at the time of writing; Starbucks can change their terms or beverages availability at any given point in time. Always check the program’s T&Cs for up to date information.)
- Starbucks Rewards Program
- How Many Stars For a Handcrafted Drink?
- What is a Handcrafted Drink at Starbucks?
- What Size Drink Can I Get?
- What is NOT a Handcrafted Drink?
Background: Starbucks Rewards Program
The Starbucks Stars is a loyalty program(1) where each customer gets a certain amount of stars for a dollar they spend at the shop. The unique thing about the stars is their redemption program – there’s a chart with all the different ways you can make the most of the stars, like free refills, add-on, etc.
There are many ways you can earn Starbucks Stars(2). When paying for items, you get a certain amount of stars for every dollar spent. Depending on how you choose to pay – by cash or prepaid digital card, you may even collect more stars per dollar spent. Sometimes, you can also sign up for different promotions that can earn you thousands of introductory stars just by enrolling.
How Many Stars For a Handcrafted Starbucks Drink?
A handcrafted drink will cost you 150 Stars which is between $38 and $75 spent through qualifying purchases. Prices of drinks vary depending on location, but you can generally get around 5 -10% return on your amount spent.
A handcrafted drink paid with stars can include add-ons, extra shots, and the price in stars applies to any size of the drink. So think about how else you can ‘pimp up’ your beverage for free.
What is a Handcrafted Drink at Starbucks?
If you’re a frequent at Starbucks, it’s more than likely that you’ve ordered a handcrafted beverage at some point during your visit. In a nutshell, a handcrafted beverage is Starbucks lingo for any drink made behind the counter. Think of your lattes, frappuccinos, or iced teas. Sure, there are a few exceptions but we’ll do our best to explain them below.
*** Always check with your barista to confirm if your beverage is handcrafted before ordering ***
Espresso Based Drinks
As long as the drink has an espresso shot, it’s a handcrafted drink! Espresso-based drinks are an excellent morning pick me up. They include a variety of more basic espresso drinks to more unique items like the Cinnamon Dolce Latte.
For 150 stars, you can also add as many espresso shots as you like! If you don’t feel like a handcrafted beverage, you can always redeem a brewed coffee for 50 stars.
You can find the full list of handcrafted espresso-based drinks listed on the Starbucks website or their in-store menu(3).
List of Handcrafted Espresso Drinks
- Espresso Con Panna
- Caffè Americano
- Flat White
- Caffè Latte
- Cinnamon Dolce Latte
- Espresso Macchiato
- Caramel Macchiato
- Caffè Mocha
One of Starbucks’ most popular beverage is the Frappuccino. And thankfully, it’s considered a handcrafted beverage too. It’s a great choice when you’re looking to treat yourself to a more substantial, dessert-like drink.
The frappuccinos are one of the most expensive drinks at Starbucks so getting one with your stars is a great value.
Here is a pretty comprehensive list of blended beverages but you can always find the a list of changing blended beverages on their site(4). Don’t forget you can additionally customize you drink any way you like.
List of Handcrafted Blended Beverages
- Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino
- Espresso Frappuccino
- Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino
- Caramel Frappuccino
- Java Chip Frappuccino
- Chai Crème Frappuccino
- Caramel Ribbon Crunch Crème Frappuccino
- Strawberry Crème Frappuccino
- Matcha Crème Frappuccino
- Vanilla Bean Crème
Iced coffees are every Starbucks fan’s go-to refreshment on a hot day and are classed as handcrafted drinks. They include the popular cold brew and nitro versions.
Iced mochas, iced lattes, and shaken espresso drinks are other examples of handcrafted cold coffees.
In some stores, brewed coffees with ice are excepted from the handcrafted drinks menu, so make sure to ask first.
List of Handcrafted Iced Coffees
- Cold Brew Coffee
- Salted Caramel Cream Cold Brew
- Nitro Cold Brew
- Honey Almondmilk Nitro Cold Brew
- Iced Caffè Americano
- Iced Shaken Espresso
- Iced Flat White
- Iced Caffè Latte
- Iced Caramel Macchiato
- Iced Caffè Mocha
If you’re not a big coffee drinker, you’d be happy to know that the iced teas are considered handcrafted drinks too!
But bottled teas are not covered under this category. So instead, opt for handmade iced black, green, or herbal tea. In fact, go crazy with some of the more unique flavors like guava or matcha lemonade.
Iced teas are handcrafted (except bottled ones) and are available for redemption with your Starbucks Stars!
List of Handcrafted Iced Teas
- Iced Guava Black Tea
- Iced Black Tea Lemonade
- Iced Royal English Breakfast Tea Latte
- Iced London Fog Tea Latte
- Iced Chai Tea Latte
- Iced Green Tea Lemonade
- Iced Matcha Lemonade
- Iced Peach Green Tea
- Iced Matcha Tea Latte
- Iced Passion Tango™ Tea
If you’re not feeling like iced coffee or iced tea, then cold drinks are your go-to handcrafted beverages.
Cold drinks are a high-value item you should consider purchasing with your Starbucks Stars. They can get pretty expensive if you get creative; just think of an iced pineapple matcha drink.
The cold handcrafted drinks include refreshers but exclude bottled water, milk, and juices.
List of Handcrafted Cold Drinks
- Iced Guava Passionfruit
- Iced Pineapple Matcha
- Star Drink
- Kiwi Starfruit Refreshers
- Dragon Drink
- Strawberry Açaí Refreshers
- Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade
- Very Berry Hibiscus Refreshers
- Violet Drink
- Blended Strawberry Lemonade
Seasonal beverages’ availability mainly depends on your location and the time of the year.
Make sure to check the featured menu on the website to know what’s available at the moment. They switch beverages by occasion like Christmas or by seasons like fall or spring. So don’t insist on ordering a pumpkin spice latte at the height of summer!
Check Starbucks’ featured menu(5) to know what seasonal beverages are available in your area. Remember, this list of handcrafted beverages will change often!
List of Seasonal Beverages
- Pumpkin Spice Latte
- Pistachio Latte
- Toffee Nut Latte
- Peppermint Mocha
- Christmas Cookie Latte
- Star Drink
- Pink Drink
- Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino
- Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino
- Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew
Other handcrafted drinks include steamers and specialty hot teas. If you’re not into cold drinks or coffee, these two categories will suit your taste.
Steamers include a variety of beverages like Vanilla Creme, steamed apple juice, and more. The hot teas include unique items, like handcrafted chai lattes, matcha tea latte, and the mighty London Fog latte.
What Size Drink Can I Get With Starbucks Rewards?
You’ve redeemed stars for your drink, so what size does it come in? Whether you’re getting a drink for 50 or 150 stars, all customizations, including the size, are included(6). You can get a Tall, Grande, Venti, or Trenta as long as the drink comes in that size – note, frappuccinos don’t come in Trenta.
Pro tip – order the largest handcrafted beverage available with your rewards and split it among friends or family.
What is NOT a Handcrafted Drink?
The list of handcrafted drinks is long, but there are still many items that aren’t handcrafted, therefore, not worth your star redemption or they don’t qualify based on Starbucks’ policy. By not worth it, we mean – you’re not getting the best value, or you simply don’t want to redeem 150 stars for a basic drink.
1. Pre-packaged Drinks & Alcoholic Beverages
Bottled drinks like coffee, tea, water, milk, and juices are not part of the rewards program. It’s the items you can see in the fridge as you enter the store. Starbucks used to offer alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine but they have largely been discontinued. However, even if your store still offers them, they’re still not available for purchase with star redemption. What a shame!
2. Regular Coffees & Teas
Some experienced Starbucks Rewards hackers try to maximize the drink’s value by using the add-ons included, like extra shots and syrups. Depending on some stores and the barista, these drinks can be considered ‘handcrafted’, but they’re not worth it if you’re trying to get the best value out of your Starbucks rewards.
Summary: What is a Handcrafted Drink at Starbucks?
You can use the information we’ve shared as a guide for what is a handcrafted drink at Starbucks, but bear in mind that this is only accurate at the time of writing. Starbucks reserves the right to change the terms or remove beverage availability at any time. If you’re unsure if a drink is considered handcrafted, ask your barista!
A handcrafted drink at Starbucks is essentially any drink made behind the counter by your barista. Brewed coffees and teas are the exceptions, as well as bottled and pre-prepared drinks. Refer to our guide above for more detailed lists on the handcrafted category.
Even though it’s technically pre-prepared, cold brew is still considered a handcrafted beverage. It might be since it’s more complex than regular brewed coffee. Cold brew has a medium value for star redemption.
Starbucks Stars collected by paying in cash or with a regular card expire after 6 months. You can track the Stars that are about to expire in the Rewards section of your account. If you’re using a Starbucks Rewards Visa Card, the Stars won’t expire until your card or prepaid account is open. Stars expire 6 months after the card or account is closed.
Wondering where your info comes from? We totally understand. Hey Joe only obtains our information from reputable sources. Contents from this article are sourced from the following publications:
- Starbucks Rewards: https://www.starbucks.com/rewards
- Starbucks Stars: https://starbucks-stars.com/en-us/
- Full Menu: https://www.starbucks.com/menu
- Blended Beverages: https://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/frappuccino-blended-beverages
- Featured Menu: https://www.starbucks.com/menu/featured
- Size FAQ: https://customerservice.starbucks.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/6063/kw/size%20rewards