Starbucks water and cup

How to Get Free Water at Starbucks

Not many things in life are free, but a cup of water at coffee giant Starbucks is one of them. We know the water is extra tasty because of Starbucks’ filtration system, which might make a stop for water more tempting, even if you don’t need a caffeine fix. It’s a nice nod to hospitality to get that icy cold cup from your barista, but there’s some etiquette to observe to keep the system working as it should. Don’t try to cut the line to quench your thirst by asking a barista for your water. Stay in the queue patiently and wait your turn to order, even for this free amenity.

Interrupting the flow of your barista team just leads to longer wait times for everyone in the store, which jams up service. For you, it might seem like a simple ask, but to the busy coffee slinger trying to juggle producing multiple shots of espresso while steaming three different milks in various pitchers and keeping an eye on that blender of frozen concoction — it’s simply an interruption. If you need convincing, take it from a Starbucks barista who took to the r/Starbucks subreddit to say, “Drives me insane that people expect me to drop what I’m doing to get them a water as if other people weren’t waiting for drinks that they ordered through the proper channels.”

Free doesn’t mean a free-for-all

starbucks barista working

We know that the rules for polite dining can be complicated — but simply waiting your turn in line at Starbucks is not. Heads up: Adding on a cup of water when you pick up your drink is essentially the same thing. You wouldn’t ask for an extra black coffee when you pick up your handcrafted drink, or ask for extra modifications on your coffee at the end of the counter. So plan ahead and ask for water with the rest of your order so the staff can stay organized and efficient.

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There was a time when water was complimentary at most restaurants and fast food places, but it’s no longer a guarantee, especially with the cost of cups and straws going up, squeezing the profit margins uncomfortably. In fact, some Starbucks keep a check on inventory by the number of drinks rung through the point of sale system — including free ones. So remember that hospitality can go two ways. Being a considerate customer helps keep free services available and makes life better for your hardworking Starbucks staff and everyone in the line with you.

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