Starbucks on the Cheap

by Lindy on October 21, 2011

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Starbucks Coffee

Once a week I go to Starbucks to do some writing. There’s one in town where all the business happens. Every table is filled with people in meetings discussing their latest web startup, or video production, or something else that sounds exciting and enviable to eavesdroppers like me. The buzz and energy there makes me more productive.

When I walk up to order my drink, I’m often tempted to indulge in the latest pumpkin chocolate caramel salted truffle cinnamon with whip ooey gooey specialty creation.

Otherwise known as a foofy drink.

Sometimes I give in to those urges. But most other times I can fool myself with my own foofy knockoff for half the price.

I get a coffee misto (half coffee, half steamed milk) with foam, then I dress it up with a few generous shakes of the free cocoa powder and cinnamon.

The result is a sweet (but not too sweet) imitation foofy drink for only $2.30 including tax. And it has more caffeine than those other drinks, so that makes it even better in my book.

I suppose if you were ultra crafty you could sneak in your own mini bottles of flavored coffee syrup and DIY your own fancy drink that way.

At times I’ve considered carrying a few Brach’s caramels around in my purse and tossing them into my hot coffee drink as an imitation caramel macchiato. (Do you think that would work?)

Do you have a Starbucks weakness?  Mine’s the cocoa cappuccino (espresso mixed with hot chocolate). I get dangerous when that drink’s season comes around.

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  • I totally do this! Except I don’t even bother with the americano misto, and just get a regular coffee and dress it up with milk and the shakers. Which is a little ridiculous. I heard someone describe it once as a “faux-puccino.”

    • Lindy

      Haha. I like that name. Your method saves even more money!

  • I love their Strawberries and Cream Frapps! They are too good.

    • Lindy

      Yes, those are quite yummy. Kind of like milkshakes, but not. I try to limit my frap consumption to the springtime when they have frappy hour.

  • With my food allergies, I can’t indulge. :( But I do buy the bags of beans all the time… Love them!

    • Lindy

      Yes, the beans are part of our monthly repertoire as well. Did you know I once loathed Starbucks for turning coffee into fast food and kicking all the genuine coffee shops out of town? Now I’m a slave.

  • Ooh, I like this idea. I’ve been a little uninspired by their chai lattes recently. Even ordering them with no water, they still taste watered down… I think I’ll try this next time I’m there rather than ordering a decaf latte :)

    • Lindy

      I hope you enjoy it! And, they put water in chai? Who knew?

  • I feel if I am going to the trouble of sneaking in flavour shots I minus well make a latte at home :(. I will try the cinnomon and cocoa trick though. I used to visit Starbucks more frequently but where I live now it’s NOT convenient. I am surprised how my shitty location has improved my budget.

    • Lindy

      Living in an inconvenient location is one way to ease the budget. :)

  • I used to like Starbucks fancy drinks a lot, but now I find them too sugary. Since It’s a Grind went out of business in our town, I find that making our own is really the best tasting thing we can do. Especially with a French press and DH’s homemade vanilla.

    • Lindy

      Mmm, you had me at homemade vanilla. After I got back from Europe I made all my coffee in a stove top metal percolator. I need to start doing that again, it’s good stuff.

      I also find the specialty drinks to be too sweet. I think I want them, but after I get them I feel like I shouldn’t have bothered. Except for the chai. That splurge is a keeper.

  • I’ve never even heard of that coffee misto and I am at Starbucks AT LEAST once a week! But I am not a sweet drink person. I like my coffee with no sugar, no syrup, just espresso shots (2-3) and whole milk. Latte in other words. Maybe I should try your receipe. Would save me tons! :)

    • Lindy

      It’s one of those not on the menu drinks. It’s not as strong in flavor as the latte, but it does have more caffeine.

  • Ann

    For awhile, I could get a cheapo London Fog (steamed milk with Earl Grey tea and vanilla syrup) by asking for a vanilla Earl Grey tea misto. Tea misto is way cheaper than a drink with a name… but then Starbucks wised up and added London Fog to their menu. So now if you ask for a vanilla Earl Grey tea misto, they say, “London Fog!” and charge you the higher amount.

    My weaknesses alternate between chai and pumpkin spice latte (and eggnog latte closet to Christmas). My Mom does this up cheap by ordering black coffee and then adding eggnog instead of milk.

    • Lindy

      Those tricksy Starbucks ways of getting us to pay more. That would be a circumstance in which the bottle of vanilla syrup in your purse could come in handy, then you could just order an Earl Grey latte and call it good. (PS: I love that drink too…except for the time the new barista didn’t know how to make it and added a shot of espresso to it too. That was pretty gross.)

  • I’ve never thought of putting caramels in my drink, but that sounds like a great idea. I’m a huge coffee lover too, but my first choice is a local place that sells Illy branded coffee (from Italy). Starbucks is the next best for sure.

    • Lindy

      Mmmm. I like the Illy brand too. Sadly, there are few local coffee shops that aren’t Starbucks in my town, at least not ones within driving distance.

  • Love a hot Caramel Machiatto …. okay I can’t spell it but I can durn sure order it! Lol!

  • I don’t drink coffee and am so repulsed by even the smell of it that Starbucks has no appeal to me. Most of the time. About twice a year, I get a blended vanilla creme. And it is delicious!

  • Amy

    If you have a registered starbucks card, you can get free coffee refills (most people don’t know that covers mistos too, if the barista say no, tell them to charge it as a refill add dairy) also you get free syrups (doesn’t include the sauces like mocha). You can also get free refills on iced teas with the registered starbucks card. Some people just use their card for refills, but remember you need to use your registered starbucks card five times before you get all of these perks.
    -A Starbucks Partner

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