The Etiquette Rule To Remember When Ordering Water At Starbucks

Starbucks is dedicated to satisfying its customers, but patrons should do their best to make their baristas happy, as well. As is the case with ordering food at Starbucks, you should do your best to abide by certain rules when you order a cup of water, which is available free of charge. Sure, it's one of the easiest drinks to assemble, but putting a free water together is still a task that your barista has to juggle. While it might not seem like that big a deal to you, employees always appreciate when customers are cognizant of their workflow.

If you want to order a cup of water at Starbucks, do so when you're placing the rest of your order, so the barista can factor it into their drink-making routine. Asking for water after the barista has made your other drinks requires them to go back into their workspace, grab a cup, pour water, add ice, and take it back to you, costing everyone more time.

Likewise, when you request a cup of water, you should always specify the size of the cup, whether you want it hot or cold, and whether or not you'd like ice. The barista doesn't want you returning to the counter to complain when they give you Starbucks' default water option — a grande with ice – especially if you randomly tacked the water onto your order at the last second.

There's only one exception to the water rule at Starbucks

You should always try to tell your Starbucks barista that you want water at the same time you order your other items, but there's one situation where this isn't possible. When ordering through the Starbucks mobile app, you can't add a cup of water to your order. It's not known why the app doesn't list water as a drink option. Some Starbucks baristas suggest it's because the feature would be abused. Customers could potentially tack water onto their order every single time they use the app just because it's free.This would waste water, plastic cups, and employee's time. You can still order bottled or canned water through the app, but these options can cost nearly $3 apiece.

Instead, if you would like a free cup of water with your mobile order, ask at the counter before picking up your order. Just as you would when ordering in-store, try to avoid asking for water at the pick-up point, unless business is relatively slow. The pick-up counter can get pretty crowded, and baristas are often relieved to drop off large orders there and be done with them — you wouldn't want to surprise them by asking for an extra drink, delaying them from moving on to other tasks. Be sure to ask politely in advance, and your barista will be more than happy to help.

Don't try to customize your Starbucks water too much

Although you can certainly upgrade your cup of water to a larger size (sometimes for a small fee), you shouldn't try to modify your Starbucks water beyond the temperature, size, and the use of ice. Starbucks baristas are well within their rights to refuse customizations for a cup of water. In recent years, many TikTok users have tried to order water with fruit inclusions or syrups as a means of scoring a fancier drink for free. Some have even requested that their ice water be blended into a "water slushie." 

Given the added ingredients and effort being put into some of these drinks, your barista will likely charge you for such modifications, if they choose to honor them at all. For example, a "matcha water," a mixture of matcha powder and water, might earn you a $0.60 upcharge on your otherwise free cup of water. And some locations might just charge you for a custom iced tea, as that's basically what you're ordering when you try to dress up your water. Seriously, don't even bother trying to cheat the system with this one.