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You’ve Been Missing Out on Starbucks Refills for Years

November 30, 2016, 2:29 PM UTC
Paper cup in a Starbucks coffee shop.
Photo by Zhang Peng—LightRocket via Getty Images

Surprise: Starbucks (SBUX) has a refill policy.

Cold brew drinkers everywhere cursed all the money they’ve spent on seconds after Starbucks Melody, an unofficial Starbucks news website, shared news surrounding the policy. While the substance of the policy hasn’t changed in years, the coffee company has been known to tweak some of the language, according to the news site. This is what prompted the blog post in the first place.

Free refills are limited to brewed coffee (hot, Iced Coffee, or Cold Brew), and tea (hot, iced or shaken) during the same store visit at participating Starbucks stores, a spokesperson for the company told Fortune. And if you decide you want hot coffee after your cold brew, that’s fine—your second drink could be any one of those refill-eligible coffee or tea drinks.

In order to redeem refills, you must use your registered Starbucks Card or Mobile app to purchase any handcrafted beverage and then present that same Starbucks Card or Mobile app for a second drink. Refills are limited to in-store purchases and not redeemable from the drive-thru. And you relinquish any unredeemed drinks once you leave the store.


This is particularly welcome news right now, considering Starbucks quietly raised the prices of its drinks in the two days following the presidential election. It may also deter customers from trying to “beat the system” like the customer who registered 365 Starbucks cards with a different birthday in order to get a free drink every day of the year.