Let’s face it, times are tough, and we are all looking for ways to tighten our belts.

The average American spends over $2,500 on coffee a year, so if you're on a tight budget, you might think you'll have to go without your favorite Starbucks order. 

Thankfully, that isn’t the case, and in this guide, I'll tell you all the cheap Starbucks drinks hacks so you can still get your fix without breaking the bank.  

 The cheapest drinks tend to be the smallest and simplest because they use fewer ingredients and take less time to make. 

Here's my list of the best budget-friendly drinks at Starbucks.

1. Espresso

Starbucks Reserve Espresso

Let’s start with the cheapest drink on the Starbucks menu, the espresso.[1]

Having an espresso on its own is not just good for my wallet - it lets me really appreciate the rich and caramelly notes in the dark roast itself. When I don't feel like going dark, I opt for Blonde shots instead.

It's available as a solo, doppio, triple, or quad (1-4 shots) with 75mg of caffeine per shot.

Espresso is generally used as the base of popular Starbucks drinks so ordering an espresso on its own gives you the same amount of caffeine at a fraction of the price.  

I get so used to my local espresso being around $1.75 that it always feels shocking to go to a big city and pay $2 - location matters!
Barista HQ Tip
  • Ask for blonde roast espresso for a lighter taste
  • Ask for multiple shots over ice as a base for other cheaper drink hacks

2. Iced Espresso 

Starbucks Iced Espresso

An iced espresso is exactly the same as a regular espresso, but the espresso shots are poured over ice.

It's used as the basis of many popular cold drinks and is available using blonde or regular roast espresso beans, or even in decaf. 

Just like a regular espresso, you can order it as a single, double, triple, or quadruple shot, though most people won't want more than a double shot when it's on its own.

I love ordering a grande in a venti cup with light ice and then adding milk, honey, and cinnamon or cocoa powder at the condiment bar.

This iced brewed coffee costs the same as a regular espresso and also has no calories or sugar. It'll set you back about $2 at most Starbucks locations.
Barista HQ Tip
  • Ask for light ice for more coffee per cup
  • Ask for a pump of classic syrup or use Splenda/Stevia to sweeten for free

3. Espresso Macchiato 

Starbucks Iced Espresso Macchiato

A Starbucks espresso macchiato is just like a regular espresso with a dollop of cream on the top of the espresso shots.

They're very strong with 150mg of caffeine in a single serving but still over 15 calories. 

This drink works well with vanilla syrup (or other flavored syrups) and caramel topping, but adding these will increase the price and calories. 

Sometimes, I add vanilla powder and sugar to the cream and stir it in as best I can to mimic vanilla sweet cream cold foam.

A short espresso macchiato will cost about $2.50, which makes it one of the cheapest drink options that any coffee chains offers.
Barista HQ Tip
  • Go wild at the condiment bar to improve the flavor profile - I love adding cinnamon to mine

4. Espresso con Panna 

Starbucks Espresso Con Panna

The espresso con panna is similar to a macchiato but uses flavored Starbucks vanilla sweet cream instead of regular cream. 

This gives it a sweeter taste which helps to counteract the bitterness of the coffee. 

The Espresso con Panna was a godsend while I was writing my dissertation! The light vanilla cream mixed with the espresso's caramel notes espresso still take me back to those late nights.

There are 150mg of caffeine and 35 calories per serving, so it's a fairly light drink, but if you mix the cream into the espresso, then it's still rich and creamy. 

It costs about the same as a macchiato, $2.50, and is one of the cheapest drinks at Starbucks.  
Barista HQ Tip
  • Are you a veteran, student, or healthcare worker? Flash your card for a cheeky discount on your Espresso con Panna.

5. Steamed Milk 

Starbucks Steamed Milk

Steamed milk is another one of the incredibly simple drinks at Starbucks that are very affordable.

It's available in every size, but because this drink is perfect for children, there's even a special kids size which is even cheaper than a short.

I loved ordering this as a broke student and adding cocoa and cinnamon powder (or a pump of syrup if I wanted to treat myself). The foamy creaminess of the steamed milk was comforting in long rainy study sessions.

There are roughly 200 calories and 19 grams of sugar in a single serving and no caffeine.

It will cost you $3 for a steamed milk short, but only $2 for the kid's size. You can change the milk, but that will cost extra if you go for a non-dairy option.  
Barista HQ Tip
  • If you only want a small amount of steamed milk, try ordering a free babyccino
  • A babyccino or grande Steamed Milk can be excellent bases for other cheaper drink hacks, like chai

6. Steamed Apple Juice 

Starbucks Steamed Apple Juice with Caramel Drizzle

This delicious Starbucks apple juice is one of the drinks that are a bit different, because there’s no milk or coffee. 

It’s made entirely from fresh apple juice, which is steamed, and there are no other additions or toppings. As a noted apple juice fiend, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for this drink.

The naturally sweet and tart flavor of the apples makes it the perfect autumn drink, and it’s guaranteed to brighten my mood on a cold morning.

There are 220 calories and 50 grams of sugar in a serving.

A short will only cost you $2.75, so it's one of the cheapest drinks available, and much cheaper than a lot of regular Starbucks coffees.
BaristaHQ Tip
  • If you want to mimic the Harry Potter Pumpkin Juice secret menu drink, order a Steamed Apple Juice and add honey and cinnamon at the condiment bar

7. Iced Tea Lemonade 

Starbucks Iced Tea Lemonade with Peach Syrup

For me, there’s nothing better on a hot summer’s day than a fresh lemonade, and the Starbucks iced tea lemonade is something special. 

It's made by hand, shaking black tea and lemonade over ice, and the combination of flavors really cuts through the sweetness and gives it a much more sophisticated taste.   

There are a few shaken iced tea lemonade flavors to choose from, but the most popular on the Starbucks menu tends to be the raspberry passion tea lemonade, which has a well balanced tart and sweet flavor. 

A Grande cup will cost you roughly $3.50, which is more affordable than comparable drinks from other coffee shops. 
BaristaHQ Tip
  • Out with friends and all want a lemonade? Try ordering a venti or trenta with three tall cups on the side. This lets you split a refreshing lemonade for cheap.

8. Caffè Americano 

Starbucks Americano

A Starbucks Caffe Americano is a classic coffee for me. It’s made with three espresso shots topped with boiling water.

It can be served black or customized with milk, cream, and other toppings, usually all available at no extra cost. I prefer mine with milk and other toppings, but I respect black coffee fans.

A Starbucks caffe Americano has a rich, bold flavor that makes it popular with coffee purists. There are 225mg of caffeine and 40 calories per serving.

Still, the Starbucks Grande Americano has three shots of espresso in the base instead of two, so in terms of caffeine content, it offers greater value for money. 

A Grande Americano costs $3.50, which is roughly the same as other coffee shops. 
BaristaHQ Tip
  • Feeling a little sweet? Ask for half a pump of classic syrup or head to the condiment bar to sweeten your coffee

9. Iced Caffè Americano 

Starbucks Iced Americano

The iced Caffe Americano is made the same way as the hot version, but cold water is poured over the espresso base instead.

It's then mixed with ice to give it a lighter and more refreshing flavor.

Many people choose to add a flavored syrup to the iced Americano to give it a sweeter taste, but you’ll have to pay extra, and it will add to the sugar and calorie content.

If I'm feeling sweet, I tend to use my Starbucks stars on syrups or just add honey at the condiments bar.

It’s a good budget Starbucks drink for iced coffee lovers on a hot day and has only 15 calories in a serving.  

An iced Caffe Americano costs $3.50
BaristaHQ Tip
  • For a cheaper iced latte, order one of these and add milk and sugar at the condiment bar

10. Caffè Misto 

Starbucks Iced Caffe Misto

A Starbucks Caffe Misto is not one everyone has heard of before, but it’s a combination of espresso and steamed milk.

This is often called a café au lait, and it's very popular with milky coffee lovers (like me!). 

The combination of steamed milk and espresso gives this hot coffee a really smooth texture, and it’s very similar to a regular latte. 

You can switch the steamed milk from whole to skimmed for free, but if you choose dairy-free options, then it will cost you extra.

It has 75mg of caffeine from the espresso and about 200 calories from the milk.  

A Grande cup of Caffe Misto will cost $3.50, which is about $1 cheaper than a regular latte, so it’s one of the cheapest Starbucks drinks for coffee lovers.  
BaristaHQ Tip
  • For a cheaper Caffe Misto, order a grande drip coffee and a babyccino

11. Cold Brew 

Starbucks Iced Cold Brew

Starbucks cold brew coffee is made by steeping coffee in cold water for 20 hours to give the coffee a much smoother taste.

This steeping method makes the cold brew one of the strongest Starbucks drinks you can order from the regular Starbucks menu. 

It is often served with a vanilla cream topping to sweeten it, but if you want to keep the costs down, you can just have this iced coffee straight. 

It’s one of the cheapest Starbucks drinks for coffee aficionados and purists who genuinely love the slightly bitter taste.

These days, I make cold brew at home, but this is a great backup for when I'm out and about.

It will cost you about $4 for a single serving of a Grande cold brew, but considering the high caffeine content, it's good value for money.
BaristaHQ Tip
  • Ask for a no ice Cold Brew for more coffee per cup. It is stored in the fridge with ice, so is still deliciously cold even without ice
Get Starbucks Cold Brew Delivered To Your Door!

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12. Hot Brewed Coffee 

Starbucks Hot Brewed Coffee

One of the cheapest Starbucks drinks is the hot brewed coffee. 

This drip coffee is brewed regularly throughout the day using dark, medium, or blonde roasts, and there’s usually a decaf option on the Starbucks menu.

The drip coffee brewing method gives it a less bold taste than a regular Americano, and there's less caffeine content, with only 75mg a serving.

There are only 15 calories in a serving of this hot coffee if you don’t add any milk, cream, or sugar.  

A Starbucks hot brewed coffee will typically cost $2.75, and you’ll get a free coffee refill for the duration of your visit with Starbucks Rewards.
BaristaHQ Tip
  • Feeling sweet? Try asking for cream as a free sweet alternative to syrup
Brew The Famous Pike Place Roast At Home!

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13. Hot Tea 

Starbucks Hot Tea

Starbucks has a wide range of regular and flavored teas to choose from, and they're all low cost - perfect for budgeting tea lovers like me.

You can choose from fruit, black, or herbal teas, and you’ll get 1 or 2 teabags depending on the size you choose. 

There are no calories in any regular teas, and they're generally low caffeine, so they're well suited for those on a detox.

I love enjoying my tea in-store and then grabbing my free refill in my reusable mug for the road!

Hot tea will generally cost $3 for a Grande cup, and you’ll get a free refill if it’s on the same visit.
BaristaHQ Tip
  • Want a little steamed milk? Ask for a babyccino
  • Want to indulge in chai for cheap? Ask for a grande steamed milk and the tea bag of your choice

14. Iced Tea 

Starbucks Iced Hibiscus Tea

Starbucks iced teas are a low-calorie option that works for when I'm watching my budget. 

They are available in a range of flavors, including peach, mango, chamomile, mint, and English breakfast. You can also get a green iced tea which has proven medicinal benefits.

There are also several pre-made shaken iced tea options in bottles. These shaken iced tea flavors are flavorful grab-and-go options for when I'm in a hurry. 

The tango passion shaken iced tea is the standout option for me with a bold, fruity, and slightly tangy flavor. It’s light, with 0 calories, but still has a strong flavor.   

Most Starbucks iced teas will cost $2.95, making it one of the cheapest Starbucks drinks, and you can add in sugar at no extra cost if you prefer it sweeter.  
BaristaHQ Tip
  • Ask for no water in your tea for a stronger tasting drink. Baristas add water to their teas to dilute their strong flavor.
  • Ask for milk for a thicker texture and richer flavor

15. Iced Coffee 

Starbucks Iced Coffee

Starbucks iced coffee is the perfect way for me to enjoy a Starbucks coffee on a hot day.

Iced coffee is brewed in the normal way and then poured over ice, which gives it a much lighter body and taste. I've really been loving this lighter taste recently - I can't stop having iced coffee!

It can be served black or with a free splash of milk (my preferred way of having it).

Iced coffee is made at double strength compared to regular Starbucks coffee with 150mg of caffeine in a single serving. 

There are 60 calories if you order and iced coffee without additions, but many people choose to add syrup to sweeten the flavor, which will add to the sugar and calorie content.  

It costs $3.50 for a Grande iced coffee and slightly more if you add any extra syrup or non-dairy milk.  
BaristaHQ Tip
  • Ask for your ice to be in a separate cup to control just how much ice you get. Plus, you get even more coffee for your money

16. Hot Chocolate 

Starbucks Hot Chocolate

Given how rich a Starbucks hot chocolate tastes, I used to assume it's an expensive option, but was shocked to find that it’s not.[2]

It’s made with steamed milk, caffe mocha sauce, and sweetened with a sweetened whipped cream and chocolate sauce topping. 

Starbucks' hot chocolate is really sweet, comforting, and loved by Starbucks drinkers worldwide - especially me!  

There are 370 calories and 37 grams of sugar per serving, so it is a bit of an indulgence. 

It’s only $3.75 for a Grande. 
BaristaHQ Tip
  • For an even cheaper hot chocolate, try ordering a Steamed Milk with two pumps of mocha sauce - this makes it even cheaper than a kid's version
Make Starbucks Hot Cocoa At Home Anytime!

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17. Refreshers Beverage 

Starbucks Kiwi Star Fruit Refresher

When I find myself craving a tart fruit drink, the Starbucks refreshers are a great budget option. 

They’re made with a flavored juice base, real fruit pieces, and topped with coconut milk which is then shaken over ice.

A range of flavors is available, including kiwi, mango, strawberry acai, and lemonade. They’re a popular alternative to Starbucks coffees and are available year-round. 

Each refresher has around 100 calories per serving, though it can vary depending on the flavor you choose.

Despite having a few more ingredients, they're still a cheap option because the bases are pre-made. 

This makes them quick and easy to make, and it will only cost you $4 per serving.  
BaristaHQ Tip
  • Got free syrup rewards? Take a leaf out of Dutch Bros' book and get wild with the syrup options - you may even craft your own secret menu item
Stock Your Fridge With Delicious Refreshers!

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18. Starbucks French Press 

Starbucks French Press

The Starbucks French press may seem like isn't one of the cheapest Starbucks drinks, but it’s still one of the best value options around.

It comes in a French press pot which gives you several cups, so I often split it between people and get a Starbucks coffee at a fraction of the price of my regular order.

Starbucks French press coffee is similar to their drip coffee, but it has a slightly bolder taste.

Some people can find this type of brewed coffee too bitter, but if you’re a hot coffee lover, then you'll definitely appreciate it. 

Not all locations have it but I am always so happy to find one that does. 

A Starbucks French press will cost about $7, but there should be enough coffee for 8 cups, meaning less than $1 a cup. 
BaristaHQ Tip
  • Head to the bar for free customizations with your French Press
  • French Press is a bargain to share with friends and family

8 Starbucks Hacks For A Cheaper Drink

You've seen our cheapest Starbucks drink list now with a lot of great budget options.

However, there are also a few hacks to shave a few extra dollars off Starbucks menu prices whatever you're buying. Here's what you need to consider:

1. Choosing The Size

Starbucks offer a range of sizes and most drinks are served in a Tall, Grade or Venti cup.

You can get a few drinks in a size larger than a Venti cup - but only certain drinks. Choosing the right drink is a great way to save money. 

Starbucks menu prices vary, but the smaller the size, the cheaper drinks are, and you’ll find that Starbucks shorts are almost always the most budget-friendly size. 

However, you can also save money by ordering a larger size and sharing it with a friend. Generally, a venti cup, or trenta, is big enough to split between two people.  

2. Selection  

I've introduced some of the best options in this article, but as a general rule, the simpler the drink, the cheaper it will be. 

This is because there are fewer ingredients and less time needed to make them. Ordering short, non-hand-crafted Starbucks drinks will always be cheaper.  

3. Using Starbucks Rewards 

By joining the Starbucks rewards program, you will be eligible for discounts and other exclusive promotions, and Starbucks gives you a free birthday drink.[3]

You can register in-store or online for free, and there's an app you can download to your phone to track when you earn free drinks.

The more you spend, the more free drinks you’ll get back as you move up the Starbucks loyalty levels. 

4. Adding Free Syrup 

As you spend money at Starbucks, you’ll advance through the reward program levels. Once you get to gold, you’ll be eligible for some free additions. 

This means you can customize your cheap hot drinks with a range of free syrups (vanilla syrup and caramel syrup tend to be the most popular), whipped cream options, and different milk types for free. 

Essentially, this means you'll get better Starbucks drinks for free.   

5. Building Your Own Drink

Another way to get a cheap Starbucks drink is to deconstruct it.

For example, instead of ordering an iced latte, you can just order an espresso and ask for free ice and milk. Then, mix it all together yourself and save yourself a few dollars.  

6. Bringing Your Own Cup 

Starbucks, in many regions, offers a discount if you bring your own reusable cup.

This varies depending on the location, but you can save up to 40 cents per drink. 

That’s good for you because you can get cheap Starbucks drinks, and good for the environment, so it's worth getting your own cup.  

7. Free Refill Option

Many participating Starbucks locations (besides the drive-thru) offer free refills on your coffee - something that I absolutely take advantage of where I can.

To access free refills, you simply need to use the Starbucks app or a registered Starbucks card to pay for your order. Then ask for a refill and show the barista that same card or app in order to cash in.

It's important to note that this does not apply to fancy specialty drinks. According to their policy, you can get refills on "brewed coffee (hot, iced coffee or cold brew), and tea (hot or iced, not including lemonade)...regardless of the original beverage."

You can only get refills in one visit - no leaving and coming back for a refill. Sit and enjoy your coffee to its fullest in-store before getting a refill on the way out. 

8. Light Ice Request

Asking for your drink with "light ice", or selecting it from the drop-down menu in app, ensures that the barista uses a smaller scoop when adding ice to your cup. 

In training, Starbucks baristas use the amount for the next size down when serving light ice - so a tall amount of ice in a grande drink, for example.

This can be a great way to ensure that you get more drink for your money.

A few others ways to get less ice in your cup include:

  • Asking for a set number of ice cubes in your drink i.e. six ice cubes
  • Ask for a drink with no ice and a short cup of ice on the side
  • Ask for the barista to use a yellow scoop of ice (the smallest scoop possible)

Each of these methods is really common and Starbucks baristas will be more than happy to make this small change for you.

Common Cheap Starbucks Drink Questions 

How can I get a latte cheaper at Starbucks? 

To get a cheaper latte at Starbucks, order the espresso and then ask for ice and milk separately. Mix them together to get an iced latte for almost the same price as an espresso shot.

How do I get free Starbucks today? 

By joining the Starbucks rewards program, you'll qualify for a free drink on your birthday. Just set your birthday to that same day, and you'll get a free drink right away.

Is Starbucks cheaper if you have a cup? 

Yes, Starbucks is slightly cheaper if you bring your own cup. You will get $0.10 off your drink at most Starbucks locations. Starbucks Rewards customers also get 25 extra points along with the 10-cent discount.

Is water free at Starbucks?

Yes, water is free at every Starbucks location. They usually give it to you in a Venti cup with ice.

What is the most expensive drink at Starbucks? 

The most expensive drink at most Starbucks is the super venti flat white, which is literally huge and contains 170 shots of espresso.[4] This will set you back over $145! 

Summary - Save Yourself Some Money!

Let’s face it, living without your favorite drinks can be really boring, and Starbucks has some of the best coffee around.

If you're on a tight budget, you can still enjoy your favorite Starbucks drinks, and hopefully, these hacks will help you save you a lot of money in the long run.

References:

1. https://www.starbucks.com/menu/product/410/hot

2. https://www.starbucks.com/menu/product/471/hot

3. https://www.starbucks.com/rewards

4. https://moneyinc.com/the-five-most-expensive-starbucks-drinks/

Chloe Page

Author

Chloe Page
A lifelong mocha fan, Chloe is an award-winning writer with over eight years’ experience weaving words. Her journey in the coffee industry is highlighted by extensive research and interviews with coffee experts. In her moments of relaxation, you'll often find her sipping on Bird and Blend tea, thoughtfully scribbling in her notebook.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... Bird and Blend Co Tea

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