Starbucks To Gold Card Customers: Sorry, We're Not Paying For Your Lactose Intolerance Anymore

A soy-fueled storm is brewing in the Internets today, as we’ve heard from Consumerist readers who received an email update about changes to their Starbucks Gold Cards. Sure, Starbucks loyalists will now get a free drink or food item after every 12 purchases instead of 15, but if those card-carriers happen to be lactose intolerant or otherwise indisposed toward dairy, they’ll have to start paying for their soy, as well as syrups.

After touting which rewards are changing for the better, Starbucks adds in the email “Unfortunately, we will no longer offer syrups and soymilk on the house.”

As one soy drinker explains, this stinks. Consumerist reader Maya writes:

As someone who can’t stomach cows milk and has a hard time with digestion, soy milk has been a great alternative for my morning latte and Starbucks has been oh so kind to offer soy milk free of charge for those who have gold card status and spend a significant amount of moolah each year at their retail locations (we can’t even count Starbucks vendor stands or airport kiosks in this number). We are SHOCKED that this is ending.

Rader Dorian adds that the new benefits aren’t enough to make up for what’s been taken away:

One of the great benefits of having a Starbucks Card was NOT the free drink for every 15 or on ones BD, but the Free Soy and Syrup.
As of Oct. 16th, that is going away. Yeah, they are changing the free drink to every 12, but that is not going to do it.

I also got an annoyed message from one of my friends who is lactose-intolerant (and who I never cease to ask if she wants cheese on something because my brain refuses to remember that we don’t all constantly gorge on dairy):  “There goes my loyalty to Starbucks. Charging 60 cents for soymilk is just too much.”

There are plenty of comments over at Starbucks’ site for its rewards programs for those who’d like to make themselves heard on this issue, as well as more than a few enraged tweets directed toward @Starbucks. Join the soy fray — you never know, Starbucks could back down when faced with such fury.


Edit Your Comment

  1. chiieddy says:

    Honestly, the ability to use the card for food and get it 3 drinks sooner far makes up for the $.60 per drink cost of soy.

    3 * .60 = $1.80 = cost of free soy [incl free drink or food] of the 3 drinks you won’t be needing to get the freebie.

    The free drink is worth more as is the ability to use on food. I believe syrup is all of $.30 add on

    • who? says:

      Agreed. I think the changes are great. But I don’t care about soy or syrups. Soy milk is nasty stuff.

    • Coffee says:

      Thank you…I was going to go off about this…either the OP is terrible at math or is a bad person and should feel bad.

      • SpeakR40Dead says:

        Or that person is like most people—who scan over issues and focuses on the apparent flaws without any further study of the issues.

        I say most people because most people are fast to react to changes (one way or the other) without really much in-depth understanding.

    • longdvsn says:

      Maybe I don’t understand the previous rewards program, but it sounded like it was free soy or syrup for all drinks purchased, right?

      Thus, let’s suppose you buy 60 drinks at Starbucks (to get to a common denominator of free drinks).
      A) bought 60 drinks, got 4 free along the way, free soy and syrup in all
      B) bought 60 drinks, got 5 free along the way, paid $0.60 (just going with what chiieddy mentioned) for soy in each (65*$0.60=$39).

      The cost of the 60 drinks purchased is the same…so Option B – the new program – means that you pay $39 extra for the privilege of one extra free drink (if you always take soy in your drink).

      • psm321 says:

        Thank you. It’s amazing how people who can’t do math are so quick to disparage people who can for supposedly not being able to.

        • Coffee says:

          Read the posted picture…the change is occurring in rewards drinks only. So the new added cost it only to the free drink, not every single drink purchased. Unless Starbucks is omitting something here…

          • Hirayuki says:

            No, it’s the free syrup reward, the free soy reward, and the free tall drink reward that are being eliminated. Gold Card customers currently get free syrup and free soy in any drink (if desired), whether it’s a free-after-15-drinks drink or a purchased-with-cash-money drink.

            • Coffee says:

              Oh…well fuck me. I had no idea that the reward was a standard freebie on all drinks. If that’s the case, I take back everything I said. And to think my name was Coffee.

      • who? says:

        If someone is a soy drinker, even with the free drinks figured in, it ends up being about $0.50 more per drink. The math I had to do isn’t worth showing (and is probably wrong, anyway). Essentially, it’s a 15-18% price increase for the soy drinkers, and a 2% decrease for the milk drinkers. From Starbucks perspective, it’s probably a wash, but since there are more milk drinkers than soy drinkers, they’re making more people happy.

      • Macaddct1984 says:

        Say you always buy a $3 drink + $0.60 soy milk

        Buy 15 drinks, get 1 free, free soy milk
        Spend $45 (3*15), save $12 (.6*15+3)

        Buy 12 drinks, get 1 free, no free soy milk
        Spend $43.20 (3.60*12), save $3

        • longdvsn says:

          Before – you had 16 drinks with free soy (15*$3 + 1 free)…$45!

          After – you had only 13 drinks (12*$3.60 +1 free (plus 0.60 soy)) = 43.80…but you have 3 less drinks!

          That’s why you need to use a common denominator for getting free drinks. In this case, I used 60 because it is the first number of drinks purchased in which both programs yield a reward drink.

      • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

        longdvsn, you’re leaving out the retail value (what you would have had to pay) for the extra free drink

        • longdvsn says:

          I guess it depends on your calculation method. I was assuming we were looking at the reward value for a set number of drink purchases. You could also calculate, as you suggest, the cost of getting to a certain number of total drinks.

          So to get that extra drink under option A requires another drink purchase, say $5 – such that option B still costs $34 more over those 65 drinks

          • Coffee says:

            You’re applying the extra charge to every drink. The picture at the top of the article reads, “We’re saying goodbye to free soy, syrup, and tall…rewards.” So the extra charge in your equation should only be applied to the “reward drink”, which is now every 13th drink instead of every 16th.

            • longdvsn says:

              If that’s the case, then my initial comment should just be shortened to ‘I haven’t used Starbucks rewards and the diagram isn’t completely clear’. But Hirayuki above says that gold members got free soy in EVERY drink, including those purchased and the reward drink. Thus the extra charge applies to all drinks.
              I’m not familiar with the program – so I’ll let someone else sort out the details.

              • Coffee says:

                No…sounds like you’re right…I thought from the way it was written – not being a Starbucks regular – that the reward they stipulated was the reward drink, not all drinks. Makes more sense now.

      • dks64 says:

        Thank YOU for being able to do math. :) People are calculating it on FB, it’s absolutely more expensive now.

      • dks64 says:

        Plus, my Gold card gets me $1.10 off of my favorite, so it will really be a price increase for me. About 25% more.

      • Jason Litka says:

        You’ve got it dead on, except that you’re forgetting about the $0.50 for syrups. Since most drinks I hear people ordering have a flavor in them you’re adding $0.50 to every drink ordered.

        Those of us that are lactose intolerant don’t get a choice in the matter. If we drink regular milk we end up in pain for the next 8 hours. I’m done with Starbucks, I’m just going to get my lattes at Wegman’s. It’s 5 minutes out of the way but it’s 2/3 the price and they don’t penalize people for their genetic background…

    • ovalseven says:

      16 drinks with old plan: extra $0

      16 drinks with new plan: extra $9

      How is this a better deal?

      • ovalseven says:

        Yes, I know the math is more complicated than that and that I didn’t subtract the cost of the free drink.

    • MuleHeadJoe says:

      Your analysis of the opportunity cost is looking at the wrong numbers … your heart’s in the right place, but your math sucks.

      Old gold club method, buy 15 drinks to get one free, replace dairy with soy for free, using $5.00 as the estimated average cost of beverage gives us this equation:

      15 x 5 = 75.00

      Soy replacement cost under the old method = 0 out of pocket to the member.

      New gold club method, buy 12 drinks to get one free, soy replacement costs $0.60, total cost:

      12 x 5.6 = 67.20

      with soy & syrup:

      12 x 5.9 = 70.80

      … still less than the original cost of $75.

      However, that analysis only addressed the cost/benefit to aquire a free item. The article’s complainant said she didnae care aboot the free drink, and was ticked off at the loss of free switch to soy.

      While she spends less overall to achieve the reward point, the reward itself (using the assumed price of $5.00) is not equal to the lost opportunity cost of free soy whilst on path for the freebie:

      12 x .6 = 7.20 (lost value; i.e., more expense to acquire same products)

      So she is receiving a net reduction in perceived value under the new program. But that’s all it is … a perception.

    • Jason Litka says:

      Your math is off. If you look at it over 120 drinks (+/- about what I go through in a year) then with the old program I’d get 8 freebies and with the new program I’d get 10. Assuming I’m just getting free soy ($0.60) and no syrups then I was saving $72 with the old program. At an average of $5/drink I’m going to be in the hole $62 after my extra 2 free drinks.

      If you add a syrup to the drink as well ($0.50) then I’d be out a total of $122 after my two free ones.

      Even if you’re not lactose intolerant and just going with regular milk you’re almost certainly getting a flavored drink which means that this is adding $0.50 to the net of every drink you buy. The people that stop in 6 times a year aren’t going to care but they’re screwing their most loyal customers.

    • Carlee says:

      I believe the syrup is more than 30 cents – I think a tall latte is $2.75 and a tall vanilla (or whatever else) latte is $3.15 or $3.25, so that would make the syrup 40 or 50 cents. I can’t remember – I’ve never had to remember the cost of syrup because it’s been free (with gold card)!

      I think the issue that people are having with this new promo is that Starbucks is taking away a perk that has been around for a while. If Starbucks never offered free soy or syrup, we wouldn’t know any different. Starbucks (and probably many retail establishments) depend on repeat customers. Having your customers feel like something is being taken away from them is not good for encouraging people to come back.

      I get that Starbucks is a company and is looking out for their profits, and they would have projected the financial impact of making these changes – but why not just switch to digital rewards and leave it as a free drink after every 15 (instead of free drink or food after every 12)? Or something like that.

    • bigroblee says:

      I think your math is flawed, although it may be mine… Using a hypothetical scenario where someone spends five bucks a day at Starbucks over the course of 180 days… That gives a current base price of 900 dollars. Getting a free drink every 15 would drop that by 60 dollars with twelve free drinks, and getting a free drink every twelve would drop it by 75 dollars with fifteen free drinks. So, for the previous discounts you would spend 860 dollars over those 180 days. With the new discount you would spend 99 dollars in soymilk at 60 cents per over 165 drinks (assuming the soy milk is free along with the free drink) in addition to the 825 dollar price for the 165 drinks, for a total of 924 dollars, with the old discount total price coming in at 840 dollars.

  2. Applekid says:

    Do soybeans have nipples?

  3. NotEd says:

    Soy Juice?

  4. techstar25 says:

    “Charging 60 cents for soymilk is just too much.”
    But paying $6 for a cup of coffee is perfectly acceptable.

  5. Coffee says:

    I’m gonna get slammed for this because this is entire blog is, to some extent, #firstworldproblems, but the tenor of that…(s)oy vey. SHOCKED! APPALLED! This is clearly the worst thing to happen to anybody ever.

  6. Ed says:

    Oh my gosh. What a society of entitlement we have become. Starbucks isn’t a charity and they aren’t the government, so they actually have to take in more cash than they outlay to survive. You don’t have to have a starbucks coffee or drink to survive. If you can’t hack milk, or simply don’t like it (which is my case) then you can get whatever substitute you want, and pay for it! I will continue to go there and get soy and have no problem paying 60¢ on top of a $4.00 drink when I want. Grow up people.

    • dks64 says:

      The problem is they got a lot of people to spend large amounts of money to earn the Gold card in the first place. I know many people who registered the card and went frequently just to earn the long term discount. A lot of people feel like they were scammed because they jumped through the hoops for the discount, paid the money, and now they’re changing it. They should at least wait until the end of the year, give people time to adjust to the idea.

      • operator207 says:

        ??? You get a card, use it to buy a drink food etc (one star per visit), you get 30 of these stars you become a gold member. this is not hard if you go to Starbucks every day. In fact you can become a Gold member by getting a coffee every day for a month. From here: is looks like you get the free soy at the Green Level NOT the Gold level.

        How does My Starbucks Rewards work?

        It’s as easy as registering a loaded Starbucks Card. This will automatically enter you into the Welcome level of the program, which means you’ll receive a free beverage on your birthday.

        Once you have visited and used your card five times (which earns you 5 Stars), you will move into our Green level, where you will receive the following benefits:

        All Welcome level benefits
        Free select syrups and milk options such as soy
        Free refills on brewed or iced coffee or tea during the same store visit
        Free tall (12 fl oz) beverage with one pound of whole bean coffee purchase
        Special exclusive offers and coupons (If you want to receive everything, please make sure you opt-in to Starbucks emails)
        After you earn 30 Stars in 12 months (25 additional Stars after initially qualifying for Green level), you will qualify for the Gold level. At this level you earn the following benefits:

        All Welcome and Green level benefits
        A personalized card (unavailable in stores) and Welcome Packet
        The ability to earn a free drink after every 15 Stars.

    • Jason Litka says:

      Soy doesn’t cost significantly more than regular milk. Last time I bought some it was about 10% higher. That doesn’t translate into $0.60 per drink.

      In any case, I am grown up. In fact, I’m going to do what grown ups do, I’m going to speak with my wallet and take the $600/year I spend at Starbucks elsewhere.

      • ChuckECheese says:

        I’m not so sure about that. I bet SB gets its moo juice pretty cheap – maybe $2/gallon. But soy milk? Probably at least twice that much. They could hire some Asians and start their own soy dairy and bring the price down. SB probably uses Silk or Westsoy or some other name-brand.

  7. VicMatson says:

    When living life in the fast lane, pay up and shut up. Going elsewhere is the fix (pun intended)!

  8. Abradax says:

    Shocked is now on my list with outraged and beyond the pale for overused phrases meant to elicit an emotional response.

    The holocaust was shocking.

    Not getting free soy, while disappointing, probably shouldn’t be elevated to the level of shock.

    • whonichol says:

      Because as well all know, it’s not bad unless it’s as bad as the Holocaust.

      • Abradax says:

        And that wasn’t my point at all, and you know it.

        But words have meaning, and the word shocked (in caps no less) is defined as a sudden or violent disturbance of the mind in the context that it was used at in the article.

        Is he now outraged at how shocked he was? Because this slight is beyond the pale.

        • Cat_In_A_Hat says:

          SHOCKED commenter here. When I wrote to the consumerist this morning regarding my opinion on this matter my statement was written in a way to exaggerate my point on this subject (hence my use of capital letters). No, this is not the most horrific thing to ever happen in my life, but as a person who has remained very loyal to a particular brand along with many others, it came as a surprise to us this morning. You can all scream first world problems all you want, (and as I mentioned in my note to the consumerist there are things in this world that are worth crying over more than this), but this piece is about a particular subject and using the world shocked described how I felt when I heard of the changes to come along with my fellow gold card carrying Starbucks loyalists. I’m sorry if YOU were offended by my word choice. The bigger point I was making was about brand and customer loyalty which is something companies should be fighting to maintain in this day and age.

          • Abradax says:

            My point is that people try to exaggerate their points too often. Your post was perfectly valid without the use of exaggeration to get your point across. You even noted in your own post that you were surprised at the decision. That would have been a perfectly valid word choice to make your point.

            I was not offended by your word choice. It is just grating to see people every day people using the words shocked, disgusted, outraged, etc for daily slights that in no logical person’s mind could reach the levels expressed by these words.

            Why do people feel the need to exaggerate their points, even when perfectly valid to begin with?

            • ChuckECheese says:

              I am going to do my part to ignore all first world problems sufficiently so that we all become third world. The only real answer to first world problems is to abase ourselves. Excuse me while I go throw my toilet-bucket out the apartment front door into the parking lot. Just doing my part!

            • whonichol says:

              Have you ever seen Casablanca, Abradax?

    • Jawaka says:

      I guess I should have read the existing responses before making my own.

      Either way I agree with you.

    • ovalseven says:

      Awesome comment.

  9. yankinwaoz says:

    I”m sad about the cancellation of the post cards. I always gave them to my sister who liked to get her free drink every once in a while.

  10. triana says:

    You’re lucky Starbucks has a rewards program at all and that you can get ANYTHING for free. It kinda sucks that the program is changing, but you can’t justifiably complain about a handout. No one is obligated to give you free stuff.

    And yes, I’m a frequent Starbucks customer who always gets soy.

    • RandomHookup says:

      I’m not sure “lucky” is the right term. Starbucks offered a marketing incentive to generate a more loyal clientele (and make more money). Because people concentrate on the bonus aspect, it’s always painful to see a benefit taken away (extremely important for some folks). In a way, it’s a change in the terms of the customer relationship.

      But I’ll still take a once a year free drink (or now food) for just registering my card, even though I don’t like coffee.

  11. CosmosHuman says:

    I’m lactose intolerant as well. If I choose soy I need to take Beano. So I just take a couple of Lactaid before my daily Misto or Latte. Both milk and soy give me gas but Lactaid gives me better coverage with nonfat mild. In an office that helps and I do care about my fellow workers.

    I’m still waiting for my free coffee with the changes.

  12. jacobs cows says:

    Anyone willing to pay $4.00 for a cup of coffee shouldnt be SHOCKED at paynig a little extra change to have it the way they want it.McDonalds coffee is much better tasting than Starbucks and a large regular in my neighborhood costs $1.00.

    • who? says:

      You’re comparing apples and oranges. Starbucks is more expensive, but not by that much. In markets outside of NYC, prices are different, and Starbucks is in the middle of the pack, pricewise.

      “In New York City, a medium cup of McDonald’s coffee is $1.49; at Dunkin’ Donuts it’s $1.79; and a Starbucks grande, the equivalent of a medium, costs $2.29.”

    • Cat_In_A_Hat says:

      Glad to see prices are relatively low in your neighborhood compared to where I pick up my latte. A small soy latte is cheaper at Starbucks than at the other cafe’s in the my area with the discount on soy. Soy milk and cow’s milk retail for about the same, so the outrage is fueled by the lack of explanation. I’m not asking for my latte to be made with the milk of a mama sheep who just birthed a fresh baby, or from a cocoanut tree in the middle of the amazon rain forest, for a simple milk alternative when purchasing an items whose main ingredient is milk. I understand charging extra on syrup, as that is not a component of a standard latte, but one should be able to pick their milk option when the cost to the business is the same. If they can offer, regular, 2% and non fat milk, then Starbucks can sure throw in soy milk which has a longer shelf life than any of the other options.

    • dks64 says:

      And yet, they don’t have soy. Plus, I would never give my business to McD’s.

  13. Jawaka says:

    People throw around the term “SHOCKED” way too often an easily.

    If I saw a person murdered in front of me I might be shocked.

    If Starbucks discontinues free soy milk I’m simply disappointed.

    • makingcentsofit says:

      I agree with this statement. I’m upset at the situation in general. Starbucks is a business that wants to make money. They can do whatever they want and sadly we’ll all still go there because they have a good product.

  14. glopezz05 says:

    oh my god… they’re not giving me the same free crap! I’ll never shop there again after doing so daily for years!


    It’s free stuff…
    It’s no longer free…
    Probably isn’t free from other places…
    Harder to find all those other alternatives so just keep going to starbucks and stop making the rest of us conform to your needs. You have a need for a difference the majority, and rest of us, don’t. Get use to having to *GASP* overcome your problems by yourself.

    • who? says:

      The soy drinkers will freak out, then do a little comparison shopping, and realize that Starbucks prices are generally comparable or a little lower than their local competitors. Then the uproar will be over, and things will go back to being exactly as they were before.

  15. oldtaku says:


    • dks64 says:

      How is it entitled when you jump through hoops for a reward (buy and register a card, then reach 30 stars, then maintain gold with 30 more stars), then they take it away? Starbucks was ALWAYS pushing the Gold card for these perks, so it’s no surprise that people are upset. I’m very disappointed, but I’ll survive.

  16. CosmosHuman says:

    Have you had their Clover brew method coffee? Better than my French Press at home. They also have quite a few new blends as well. *B prices are not out of line with other places.

  17. longfeltwant says:

    “I’m not getting a free ride anymore. Boo hoo!”

    Pay for what you like, stop complaining. You got something for nothing for a long time, so you are a big winner. You’re not a big loser now that you don’t get free stuff anymore.

    Cf. that Jesus parable about earning a day’s wages.

    • dks64 says:

      Except it’s not a free ride, the Gold card was earned. I actually bought a lot of Starbucks to get that perk. I knew that spending money in the short term would save me money long term. You think I would have bought 30 Starbucks drinks in a short period of time just because? *pause* Never mind…. ;) Although I know people who did, bought lots of Starbucks to get that discount every time after.

  18. wombats lives in [redacted] says:

    There’s no such thing as soy milk. It’s soy juice. But they couldn’t sell soy juice, so they called it soy milk. Because anytime you say soy juice, you actually… start to gag. And they put Soy Milk in with my Moo-Cow fuck milk, and it doesn’t belong there, because we all know there’s no such thing as Soy milk ’cause there’s no soy titty, is there? – Lewis Black

  19. makingcentsofit says:

    I’ve been a gold member since basically the program began in 2010. The best part for me was the free soy milk. For those of you that like regular milk it’s not a big deal, but for some of us regular milk makes us sick.
    I’m also kind of upset that I didn’t even get the email. As someone that has been a loyal customer for so long, it would have been nice to hear this from the company and not from The Consumerist.

    • curtisa says:

      I have a friend who doesn’t get gold member emails and usually gets the news from me because I do get the emails. Turns out, he unsubscribed from the emails and had to go in and re subscribe to get them again. Before you complain that they left you out of the announcement, I’d check to see if I’m properly subscribed to their email list.

    • dks64 says:

      I was unsubscribed somehow, I had to re-check the box to start getting the e-mails. I was sad to miss so many.

  20. in2insight says:

    Okay, so it wasn’t exactly free, you know? You had to have a SB card, keep it in good standing, and purchase X number of drinks for that.
    Also, the bigger question is why is soy so much more?
    Unlike dairy milk that needs to be stored in the fridge, the soy is stored anywhere until opened.
    Say what you will about whining or a sense of entitlement, it’s a big change in a program that SB has been driving home for a number of years.
    At the end of the day, we will each make our choice how to react. I for one will be visiting the Bucks a lot less.

    • Cat_In_A_Hat says:

      Thank you. Finally someone who “gets” it. The perks were a mechanism to keep people loyal. We’re not talk free by any means. You still had to buy x to receive y. The outrage comes from those who would, when faced with the option of where to purchase a coffee or latte, choose to visit Starbucks rather than another chain or cafe because they felt as if they were getting something in return for remaining loyal. When the black card ran it’s course, the gold card became a great way to still get a little extra in return for spending your money and people love the idea of the ease of using the card or app to make purchases. I’m sure Starbucks also loves the fact that their loyalists happily load a minimum of $10 on their cards each time they need to reload. Now the loyalists especially the latte and customizable drink drinkers feel they have been betrayed by a program that has reaped countless benefits from the consumer in the form of additional revenue associated with holding a gold card.

    • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

      No it wasn’t free. Do you expect it to be free?
      Your question of the cost of soy “milk” really is not relevant to the discussion. At the end of the day Starbucks is a company designed to make a profit. If you can make soy “milk” cost less than milk and provide enough to supply the chains daily needs. They would probably go back to providing it for free.
      Thank you for welcoming the allowance to note that you are being whiny. Whether its a big change or not is dependent of where you’re coming from. I’m assuming a good majority of their customers will welcome the changes as alienating a majority would not be to their benefit.
      I for one hope that people like you do visit less as I’ll be visiting more.

    • dks64 says:

      I agree with what you and Cat_in_a_hat said.

  21. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    I rarely go to Starbucks anymore – used to but now it’s second choice and Caribou Coffee is my favorite (Midwest). Signed up on their website and I get free drinks on my birthday! That’s all I really needed.

    I occasionally crave for SB’s frappucinos, but I make my own coffee at home mixed with my favorite creamer.

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      I’m so jealous. I wish we’d get a Caribou Coffee here! It really is quite a bit better than Starbucks. Do they still put the chocolate-covered espresso bean on top of your mocha’s lid?

  22. poco says:

    Starbucks has been going downhill for the better part of a decade. It’s a shame, since I used to love the place.

  23. bon says:

    Granted it is a reduction in benefits of the gold card, but the soy alternative is going to cost you more if you made your latte at home too. Approx $0.60 (based off the average cost of soy milk being around 8 cents an oz vs milk being 3-4cent an oz) more than if you used the equivalent amount of milk, so Starbucks isn’t screwing you over as much as it’s having you pay for the luxury of using a more expensive ingredient that it used to give you for free.

  24. dave says:

    I received a e mail from starbucks stating the benefits going away were the syrup and soy milk.There was no mention it would pertain to rewards drinks only. I usually buy a skinny latte grande and receive 50 cents off for the syrup. In the future I will still use the gold card but just purchase less drinks.

  25. NorthAlabama says:

    glad they got rid of the syrups and soy that i never use.

    wish they would go back to the discount instead of free drinks (except bd).

  26. shthar says:


    • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

      You seem to have a little bit too much coffee, but not enough soy milk. :D

  27. lettucefactory says:

    I have a few coffee shops near my home and work that are more convenient than Starbucks. They all charge for soy, though, so a while back, I diligently earned Gold Card status, then would regularly go a little out of my way to get my drinks at Starbucks instead and save myself sixty cents per drink.

    That adds up, you know? So it was worth the trouble.

    As a couple of people capably demonstrated above, changing the soy policy amounts to a price increase for someone like me, who doesn’t drink dairy milk. I am absolutely not going to go out of my way to buy my drinks at Starbucks any longer, the way I have been doing. This is not whining, this is not OMG I DESERVE FREE SOY ME ME ME. This is, I have a choice over where to spend my coffee money, and now I’m significantly less likely to choose Starbucks. And trust me, I drink a lot of lattes. Too many. It’s a loss for them.

    Maybe for all the Starbucks in all the land, I am the only person in this position, but I doubt it. They surely had a team of well-paid people analyze the hell out of this move (right? I mean, they’re a retail giant) – they will probably make a ton of money on this, even if everyone in my shoes stops coming to Starbucks. But it feels tone deaf and abrupt. And this might sound silly, but it even almost feels like they’re kind of betraying me a little bit, after I’ve been relentlessly loyal to their brand for years.

    I mean, I’m not an idiot. The almost $5 I pay for my grande latte, even with free soy, is still a lot of money to pay for a drink. I’ve mostly been okay with that, and had they gradually raised the price of the latte by sixty cents over time but continued to comp my soy, I’d probably not have even noticed. The free soy was a very effective way to pull me to their stores and keep me coming back; I’m left to conclude that they don’t really care if I come back or not.

    Plus, they leave several containers of dairy milk out on the counters all day, which I’m sure are refilled a million times. I’ve never used any of those in all my visits to Starbucks. Yes, soy is more expensive than (non-organic) milk per ounce, but come on. They give away the latter for free to anyone who walks in the door.

    • LadyTL says:

      The problem with you thinking about Starbucks looking at the Gold card members is that soy drinkers are not the Only people who use the program. I’m sure Starbucks did look at the profits and such connected with Gold cards and decided to do this anyways.

      It’s not really tone deaf if you aren’t the only people using the program.

  28. Deeya says:

    Starbucks must be hurting, they can’t even absorb the 60 cents cost of soy milk for repeat customers in their $6 coffees.

    Looks like Oct. 16th will be the last time I stop there, I can get a cheaper coffee a lot of other places who don’t make me pay extra for soy milk.

  29. Floobtronics says:

    Milk drinker here. Soybean juice is yucky, imho.

    This is a considerable improvement in the scheme. The original gold scheme just gave you a flat 10% off every visit. So, assuming you always ordered the same thing, it was effectively buy 10, get 1 free. Then they changed to buy 15, get 1 free. To me, this was a disservice.

    Now, we’re going to buy 12, get 1 free, so this is getting closer to what the program started as. To me, this is a win.

  30. ashley440 says:

    So, maybe I’m being insensitive here, but people who drink exclusively soy milk are in the minority…. and soy milk is more expensive than regular milk, so why is it a terrible injustice to ask people to pay for what they want? As a person who drinks soy (out of choice, not necessity), I count myself lucky that I was able to get it for free as long as I did, and now I have to start paying for it. For some people (not me), this might be a deal breaker and they will stop frequenting Starbucks, but I am sure the company has taken this into account. If it’s too many people, then the company will reconsider. I’m just happy that they are still giving out rewards at all.

  31. jph55 says:

    Just go in and say you want soy JUICE, since soy MILK does not exist!

  32. operator207 says: is looks like you get the free soy at the Green Level NOT the Gold level.

    How does My Starbucks Rewards work?

    It’s as easy as registering a loaded Starbucks Card. This will automatically enter you into the Welcome level of the program, which means you’ll receive a free beverage on your birthday.

    Once you have visited and used your card five times (which earns you 5 Stars), you will move into our Green level, where you will receive the following benefits:

    All Welcome level benefits
    Free select syrups and milk options such as soy
    Free refills on brewed or iced coffee or tea during the same store visit
    Free tall (12 fl oz) beverage with one pound of whole bean coffee purchase
    Special exclusive offers and coupons (If you want to receive everything, please make sure you opt-in to Starbucks emails)
    After you earn 30 Stars in 12 months (25 additional Stars after initially qualifying for Green level), you will qualify for the Gold level. At this level you earn the following benefits:

    All Welcome and Green level benefits
    A personalized card (unavailable in stores) and Welcome Packet
    The ability to earn a free drink after every 15 Stars.

  33. Nessiah says:

    Dunkin is still free on syrups, right? Easy and more economical switch.