Order A Starbucks Tazo Chai Latte For Half Price

Why pay full price for a Starbucks concoction when a little ordering jujitsu can produce the same drink for less? Reader Kelly devised a way to order her Starbucks Tazo Chai latte for half the price:

I spend far too much money there, and lately have been experimenting with combinations to get my delicious drinks for cheaper, but tasting the same using the Secret Menu codewords and with the help of the confessions of a Starbucks barista. The newest version? A knock off Tazo Chai latte for half price.

I simply ask for a chai tea misto, with two bags so it’s nice and strong, and half cinnamon and half vanilla syrup, with lots of foam. I sprinkle a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla on the foam and BAM! I’ve halved my drink allowance for the week, but not lost any of the flavour.

Great work, Kelly! Do you have secret money-saving drink formulas of your own? Send your recipes to us at tips [at] consumerist dot com.

(Photo: chewywong)


Edit Your Comment

  1. beyond says:

    My cup coffee with cream, sugar, and hazelnut cost about 5 cents this morning. Made it myself in a few minutes. Beat that!

  2. B says:

    Or you can just buy teabags by the box for about 3 cents a piece. Then add your own warm milk and cloves.

  3. Doc Benway says:

    or you can stay out of Starbucks and save yourself a whole lot of money. When did it become ok to charge $2.75 for an ice tea?

  4. PenguinBlue says:

    @Doc Benway: When lots of people became willing to pay $2.75 for an iced tea.

  5. m.ravian says:

    worked for assbucks for three years. how about:

    order a venti frappuccino (or anything, really) and ask that it be divided into two tall cups. two talls for the price of one venti.

    if you like a lot of cream, order tall in a grande, grande in a venti, instead of asking for “room”. will save you 10-20 cents.

    order shorts. they are essentially the same thing as a tall, minus three ounces of milk. and they generally cost 1-1.50 less.

    then, of course, there’s the ghetto latte. ask for a iced venti americano, no water, the cup filled with ice. then proceed to the condiment bar and fill cup with dairy of your choice. ignore evil looks from baristas. will save you 1.00-1.50.

    order kid’s sizes – hot cocoa or steamed cider. in most markets, only a buck plus tax.

    take your drink back half-empty and say it tastes bad, they’ll remake it for you for free! (abuse of the just say yes policy)

    say your drink tastes weak and ask for an extra shot (99 times out of 100 they won’t charge you because the way the register screens are set up, you can’t just charge an add shot).

    did i mention how happy i am to never work there again?

  6. bohemian says:

    There are rare occasions I am willing to spend $2.75 for an iced tea. They usually involve me being a captive audience desperate for something to drink other than soda or bottled water. Usually traveling, or caught downtown for meetings all day.

    Ordering something simple like a peach iced tea on your way to work seems rather stupid when you could easily make it at home.

    I detest most bottled tea because they either taste awful or have tons of extra ingredients.

  7. ReverseCarpetbagging says:

    Go to Dunkin’ Donuts.

  8. Butch Huskey says:

    RE: lookatmissohio/

    easier way is to order a doppio “on ice” ; 2 shots of espresso on ice under $2 … add some sugar and cream or milk at the bar and you’re good to go
    Starbucks may be “expensive” but the service is usually very friendly “usually” ; and the baristas act like they enjoy working there, i’ve gotten free drinks when i’ve forgotten my wallet or when they’re sampling stuff or don’t have fresh coffee ready, IMHO the they’ve done a good job preserving the brand image

  9. trecool95 says:

    Tip to save money at Starbucks: Don’t go there

  10. notlazyjustdontcare says:

    I think making coffee is fun. For less than a daily cup at Starbucks, you can use nice beans in fun gadgets like the Aeropress or various Bodum contraptions. Every time you use them, you get a miniature version of the satisfaction you can get from cooking a meal.

  11. bambino says:

    This place really has turned into Frugalist/Lifehacker.

  12. Yep says:

    This is all beginning to sound like Chris Rock’s Cheap Pete bit…

    “$3.95 for a Java Chip Frappuccino? Good LAWD thassa lotta money! How much for just the chips? I’ll give you .28 cents for the chips if you throw in a small cup of coffee, some crushed ice, and some chinos…”

  13. embean says:

    A chai tea misto is definitely not the same as a chai latte. I work for Starbucks. You could just order one thing, and then when you get it at the bar, just be like, “oh, I ordered xxx” when I know you didn’t. People do it all the time and get more expensive drinks out of it.

  14. forever_knight says:

    @lookatmissohio: ignore evil looks from baristas.


  15. kad9k says:

    I’m addicted to chai lattes and this sub doesn’t make sense to me either. The chai latte is made from a mix (a sugary, wonderful mix), not from actual tea bags. I guess adding the syrup compensates? In any case, I always ask for my chai with no water, which boosts the flavor, and they never charge me extra. It is still a ridiculously expensive habit, though.

  16. lore says:

    I want to save money as much as the next person. But as a shareholder, I ask that everyone on Consumerist please spend as much money as you can at Starbucks! Their comps have been suffering recently.

  17. amyjay says:

    Some people work the free drink coupon angle and try to be as unsatisfied with their drink as possible. When I was at Starbucks there was a guy who knew that there was one guy who never aerated the milk to give it foam (despite too many warnings to count), and he’d order a caramel macchiato when he was behind the bar. Since not having foam affects that drink, he’d raise a stink and we’ve give him a coupon. There were other angles he’d work to get one as well. If you raise enough of a stink, they’ll bend over backwards to please you. There’s nothing we could do until a co-worker, who was his friend, found out he was selling the coupons on Ebay.

    It’s pretty easy to abuse the whole just say yes system.

  18. KillingMyBrainCells says:


    Let’s see, having my coffee ready for me or having to get dressed and drive up to StarBurnt to pay for an over price cup of burnt water, yeah I’m for the cheap lazy way!!!

  19. Havok154 says:

    I went to starbucks once. I had to stop off at a rest stop to use the bathroom and decided to get a hot chocolate. $5 later and I had the worst hot chocolate I’ve drank to date.

  20. bohemian says:


    I had a mocha that tasted like hot water and chocolate, it was at the starbucks we have deemed the bad starbucks. Getting correct drinks at that one location is a crapshoot.
    The one on the first floor of the Mall of America is equally sketchy.

  21. hwestiii says:

    I save money by just buying the drip coffee. At some point I realized that when I bought a latte, mocha, or some such, even a venti, it’d be gone in about 20 minutes and I’d be ready for something else, but when I bought a venti drip, I could nurse it almost through till lunch. A little sip goes a long way. Costs half as much and last twice as long, at least.

  22. Groovymarlin says:

    Jesus, I hope I’m never in line behind her. Talk about high-maintenance!

  23. ikes says:

    the only time i purchase coffee from starbucks is when i am in an airport and it’s my only choice. i am always stuck behind some doof ordering a drink which takes a dozen words to order. “triple shot half-decaf extra hot venti latte no whip double baggged half cocked sprinkle dinkle doo”. GAH!!! what the hell happened to “large coffee”? damn yuppies.

  24. bbbici says:

    I actually looked at the menu yesterday and realized that ‘Bucks has a blueberry milkshake concoction. What the hell does that have to do with coffee?

  25. MonkeySwitch says:

    Yeah… I used to work for starbucks too. I never made chai’s with water. And absolutely not with the teabags. But like another person posted.. best way to get a dirt cheap latte is to order a doppio and then ask for a cup of ice, and waddle over to the condiment counter and it up with milk.

  26. Johnny Blackshoe says:


  27. boandmichele says:

    sorry folks, but if you work at starbucks, with their automatic machines and flash-roasted coffee, you are not a barista. you are a fast food (or drink) employee. you are not trendy, cool, or good at making coffee, unless comparing yourself to other fellow employees.

  28. shades_of_blue says:

    I’m addicted to the ‘Chai Latte Frappuccino’ I have my sister to blame for that addiction…dammit so $$$…

  29. m.ravian says:

    @boandmichele: alright, i’ll give you that i wasn’t a barista when i worked at starbucks, but i did have:

    -excellent health insurance (medical, dental, vision) for $66 a month
    -stock i bought 15% below current market price, which i just cashed out to pay part of my grad school tuition bill
    -a very healthy 401(k) for a 26 year old (when most people my age don’t even know what a 401(k) is)

    not bad for a fast food job, really.

  30. jamar0303 says:

    I like Starbucks’ seasonal frappuccinos that come around in China. Flavors of note include Banana Coconut, Banana Java chip, and red bean frappuccino (the green tea frappuccino used to be seasonal too- it’s not as good as the rest, though).

  31. Maurs says:

    All I know is that the first few sips of the caramel apple cider taste incredibly like a caramel apple and go down real nice on a cold day.

  32. mammalpants says:

    i just realized i could have the same starbucks flavor by drinking my own urine after a night of olive garden breadsticks.

  33. ToKeN2k6 says:

    Chai Tea Latte and Chai Tea are made differently. This customer is getting an imatation for cheaper, but not the same Chai.

    Tazo Chai Tea Syrup versus Tazo Chai Tea bag, thats what it is. although a Latte is 3/4 hot milk and 1/4 foam and the misto is half coffee (in this case he is using tea bags) and half milk. I think she is sprinkling the nutmeg and cinnamon for the taste that is missing from the syrup. se is getting a lot less caffeine with his chai misto.

  34. isadora says:

    Ugh. I love Iced Venti Nonfat Chai. And I’m tried these experimental concoctions to try to cut down on the sugar but! Dammit! I just can’t quite get the flavor right.

    Also? The Chai is so absurdly over-priced I finally told myself it’s a rare treat and not a morning must-have. I just can’t justify $20/week on spicy tea! Bastards.

  35. majortom1981 says:

    I try not to go to starbucks. Even though it is more expensive I get my coffee from a creperie by where I work. HE only does this and does it to support his family. I rather buy the coffee from their knowing that the money is going to help the owner pay his bills and not to some greedy corporation.

    Plus his coffee is a lot better tasting.

  36. d0x says:
  37. Nicococure says:

    Starbucks should bring back Chantico chocolate. As any chocolate lover knows from making it at home, the proper recipe for hot chocolate = melted semisweet chocolate and rich milk and cream…pure delight.

  38. dandmb50 says:

    It has always amazed me why anyone would pay so much for a bloody cup of coffee. But then if people are stupid I guess there’s no reason why they can’t be stupid. I get mine at Tim Horton’s and it’s about one third the price and about 4 times faster service. And I don’t even own any stock in Tim Hortons. Look out US coffee companies, Tim’s is coming to the US. Even if there is 20 people in line they serve you in about 4 minutes.

    Daniel………Toronto, Canada

  39. Hoyt says:

    My heart goes out to all the folks that have to work in a “customer is always right” environment.
    -The customer that is “always right” is actually “always an ass”.

  40. cabalist says:

    @lookatmissohio: That is incorrect. I have been charged $.55 x 2 = $1.10 for a double shot of espresso. When I looked at the receipt all that was listed as 2 shots of espresso @ $.55 each. That is the price for an extra shot.


  41. katewrath says:

    Jesus Pete on the cross, Consumerist. Can’t you hire some third world programmers to create a filter that automatically eats all but, say, the first 8 dozen “Starbucks is too expensive” comments? The question was about saving money WHILE shopping at Starbucks, not saving money by AVOIDING Starbucks.

    (In this instance. Other threads would also require the eating of all but the first 600 “what kind of dumbass makes this dumbass mistake in the first place, dumbass?” comments, for any story involving banks and nsf funds or the like.)

  42. Dinky1969 says:

    Just my $.02 worth.


  43. Dinky1969 says:

    Do whatever you want to skimp and save and screw Starbucks. It won’t hurt them, and if it makes you feel better, why the heck not?!

    I’ve never been a fan of Starbucks coffee anyway. Ick. I prefer McDonalds coffee, but McD’s doesn’t serve all the frothy sugary sweetness that Starbucks does. I wish the best of luck to those of you that are hooked on it. Maybe you can find an independent local coffee house that has better coffee and service at better prices.

    Meanwhile… Here’s a Salon article from several years ago about how Starbucks went after a comic book creator for his parody of them.


    And the parody artwork.


    Silly me. I thought parody was protected as free speech. Oh, well…

  44. Anonymous says:

    I am a barista, another way to save money …for those frapachinos theres a lady that does this all the time and it drives us crazy. Order a …whatever size…frapachino cream or coffee base…then ask them to add chi..or white mocha or whatever..gives you like a 30 or 40 cent difference..if your tight on money. Say ” can i have a grande cream frapachino with some cinnamon dulche syrup please.
    Working there isn’t so bad, but we are going to wright a drive thru educate book. People are so rude, baristas are people too..we have feelings and lives as much as you do. Ohh and by the way…ur nonfat no foam latte is NOT a matter of life and death.