Does The Starbucks 3-For-1 Hack Really Work?

If you're looking to save money on Starbucks, some social media users have been sharing a "3-for-1" hack that appears to be pretty simple. First, you'll need to order your desired drink as a venti or trenta but request it be made with no ice. Then, ask for three tall-sized cups with ice. Once you receive the order, simply divide the larger drink between all three smaller cups. There are plenty of hacks that can get you cheaper coffee, but is this one worth it?

In short: Yes, the hack will work to give you three separate drinks. However, you'll need to have two other people to split the cost with. A venti cold brew coffee with no ice will cost around $4.95, depending on your location. A tall with ice will cost $4.25, comparatively. So if you split the cost three ways, each person will wind up paying around $1.65 — around $2.60 less than ordering separately. There are also a few more things to take into consideration when it comes to deciding whether or not to utilize the hack.

There are some caveats when it comes to the trick

It is also important to note that you may not get as much beverage as you're hoping for, even when requesting no ice. When it comes to coffee-only drinks, some TikTok commenters noted that Starbucks employees won't necessarily give you the most concentrated-tasting coffee or tea. A self-proclaimed Starbucks supervisor on Reddit stated, "The policy, unless the customer specifies otherwise, is to give the customer extra base, or milk for iced lattes."

While it may be tempting to stop overpaying for ice in general, some Starbucks locations won't give you any extra coffee without it. Since the ice takes up space in the cup, the baristas account for this when brewing the coffee, only filling the cup to the level they're instructed to. Those lines on your iced cup? Those are for measuring different parts of a drink. 

Some Starbucks locations will allow you to get that extra little bit of drink, but social media users have reported that the company has begun to charge customers for extra product when no ice is requested. So while you might get the extra coffee you were hoping for, it could cost you.

Starbucks employees seem divided about the idea

In the comments of that same TikTok video sharing the hack, self-proclaimed Starbucks employees seemed divided. "I used to work at Starbucks and I wouldn't complain," wrote one user, noting it was "less work than making 3 separate drinks." They confirmed in a second comment that their manager "didn't care as long as the customers were happy." Other commenters, however, didn't seem so thrilled about the idea, with some expressing that they didn't want patrons to come in and order this way at their Starbucks locations. 

Some commenters suggested that splurging on Starbucks may not be the best choice if you're concerned about saving money, stating that it would be cheaper to brew your own coffee at home. Still, others noted that this trick could be a way to treat yourself without having to spend as much as usual. Ultimately, if you have three people to split a drink between, and you don't mind if your coffee or tea is a little weaker, this money-saving hack may be worthwhile to test.