Like many people, I am a coffee drinker. While I enjoy the hot beverage, I usually have only one cup per day. However, I drink more than my share of Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper. In fact, I usually by the soft drinks at CostCo, so you get the idea, right?

Starbucks coffee is far from cheap. If you’re not careful, you’ll easily spend more on a coffee than you do for lunch. In my case, I usually buy the Grande Pike, which runs about $2.00. I get it a bit cheaper because I bring my Contigo mug with me.

To make my purchases easier at Starbucks, I carry a loyalty card in my wallet, but I now use the latest in technology with the iPhone app. It’s cool that I can walk up to most Starbucks and pay with my phone. When you think about it, this is pretty cool technology.

Free Coffee #1
On a Monday recently, I decided to use the drive-thru at a Starbucks that I frequent. I was taking a Project Management Institute (PMI) exam at 9 a.m., so I decided to get an early start and review my notes.

I was the first customer at 5:30 a.m.:

BARISTA: Sir, we don’t open until 5:30 a.m.

ME: What time do you have, sir?

BARISTA: Weird! It’s 5:30 a.m. I can go ahead and take your order.

ME: Great! I would like a Grande Pike, and I have my own mug.

BARISTA: Okay. See you at the window.

ME: Here’s my mug, and I’m going to pay using my app.

BARISTA: Here’s your coffee, and don’t worry about paying. I know you’re a regular customer, so all is good.

Wow! I think a major reason I received free coffee was because he hadn’t logged into the register. Regardless, free Starbucks coffee on Monday morning is always good!

Free Coffee #2
On Tuesday, I decide to stop at the same Starbucks coffee shop. I’m feeling better today because I passed the PMI exam, which means I can enjoy my Grande Pike even more. This time I make my way to the walk-up window to place my order.

ME: I would like my usual … the Grande Pike in my mug.

BARISTA #2: Sure. It’ll be right out.

ME: Thank you.

[When the order arrives, I provide my iPhone for scanning.]

BARISTA #2: Don’t worry about payment. I know you’re a loyal customer.

Two days in a row! Not bad!

Free Coffee #3
On Wednesday, I’m going to try my luck one more time. This time, the attendant is Kelly, and I know her pretty well. She and I usually make light conversation when I buy my coffee. We sometimes talk about the weather, traffic, and anything else that comes to mind.

She said: “The coffee is on me today. Have a great day!”

In three days, three different Starbuck baristas allowed me to have free coffee. My luck ended on Saturday when I went to a Starbucks on the other side of town. “Sir, that’s $1.81.” Ouch!

It was good while it lasted!