Today, the mailman brought me something I’ve been waiting exactly six weeks to arrive:  My Starbucks Gold Card!  Yes, it’s crass, and indulgent, and unnecessary, and gaudy — but oh, do I love it so!

You earn a personalized Starbucks Gold Card by making 30 transactions at Starbucks in a year, and you have another year to earn 30 stars to keep your Gold status.

The trick of getting Gold Stars is to ring up everything in your order as a separate transaction.  Yes, that slows down the line, and, yes, it earns you glares from those waiting behind you, but that’s the way Starbucks set up the game, and your Barista understands that, and will happily to ring up the five things in your order five, separate, times.

To keep my Gold Card status at Starbucks, I will have to buy “30 Stars Worth” of stuff each year, but at the clip Janna and I are heading into our local stores — we often tend to earn that many stars in a month.

Some dedicated Starbuckers want a Platinum level card — not just the $450 steel card — and I’m all in for that, too.

I’m used to using my ancient Pike’s Place Starbucks card — Baristas always comment on that card, saying, “Whoa, I haven’t seen THAT one in awhile!” — but now I’m going to be using my Gold card as my default, go-to, coffee and tea standard.

Starbucks certainly knows how to make buying their stuff fun.

We just finished getting rewarded for earning “10 Stars in 10 Days.”  We won a free drink and a possible trip to the movie premier of the new “Oz” movie.  I think it’s sort of silly to have to give the Barista a code to collect your promotional award, though.  Having Starbucks tell us to, “Tell your Barista to ring up code 571 to get your free drink” isn’t really tons of rewarding fun — especially when your Barista has no idea what you’re talking about…

I’ve never been big on these sorts of rewards programs, but I see now how companies are using loyalty awards as a bigger and better form of giving back to repeat customers, and so, if we’re already heading into a Starbucks, we might as well take home a Gold Star or two, and even out the exchange rate.

17 Comments

  1. David!

    Glad to have you with us in Gold land!

    I never have a problem hitting 30 transactions a year because of my weekly flower delivery for Elizabeth — most of which are paid! Then you have the summer months, when I have two transactions per Friday. One tall iced coffee in the morning, and a grande drink for her at night for only $2 — a $4 savings! We end up paying $4 for two drinks instead of nearly 5 for one! 🙂

    Gold membership used to be MUCH better because you got free soy and free syrup. That saved me about a dollar every week, or $52 a year. Now they are trying to make up for that by giving you a free drink every 12 transactions rather than every 15. It doesn’t nearly even out. Still, they know they have me!

    1. Once you decide to “Go Gold” you really become addicted to the fun of it all and counting the stars and seeing the stars fill up your iPhone. Starbucks knows how to reel you in and keep you in sight.

      When you hit Gold — they’re only just getting started with you!

      Yes, the “Old Gold” was much kinder to healthy living. I really don’t even care about the free stuff — but Janna does! — so she always does the collecting for us. SMILE!

  2. My only comment is to look lovingly at my wonderful Portuguese Delta Coffee making machine which makes what I want when I want for a max cost of 35 euro cents and share the knowledge that a commercial version of the same machine makes most of the coffee from similar capsules when I amout of the house for about 70 eurocents.

    Having said that – I think the the Algarve and Lisbon are now ” civilised ” enough to have at least one Starbucks apiece and I know for a fact that Costa Coffee has landed at both Faro and Lisbon Airports.

    It will probably stay that way too – this part of Europe likes their coffee short , strong and black ……. shudder.

    1. Yes, you make a fair and excellent point about American indulgences.

      Starbucks and the UK are having a row over taxes:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/feb/10/tax-loopholes-poorest-countries

      I like your homemade coffee style!

      I love thick and syrupy — not sweet — coffee. Turkish is my favorite.

      At home, I use Medaglia d’Oro — the best!

      http://www.medagliadoro.com/

      Starbucks used to be easier to find. They closed a lot of stores. We don’t have one near us in Jersey City, so Janna hunts them down in Queens and Manhattan — luckily they appear near where she works!

  3. I love that I can enjoy “Proper coffee” again – it is far more affordable here than in the UK and instant coffee messes with my insides so coffee had been elevated to special treat status. It is one of the many unespected benefits of moving here.

    I am aware of the massive tax row with Starbucks and Amazon – I found it very interesting that when I pointed the ongoing tax war to certain people I was told that they were only using the system that was in place and that the system should be changed . It is a fair point to make. The only reason that the tax issue is being highlighted so much is because of all the benefit cuts being implemented in the UK at the moment and people are looking for the bogeymen.

    I am going to look out for your brand next time I shop anywhere international !

    1. I used to be a huge coffee drinker — then the acid made me stop — and so now it is a special treat for me, too. I mainly drink green tea all day and Starbucks has been on a tea buying binge lately with Tazo and Teavana — so it’s all working out just great.

      The Medaglia d’Oro comes in many varieties. I was weaned on the instant, but the whole bean is also delicious if you like espresso roast.

      Starbucks, fighting the popular notion that they “burn” their beans, now have a “Blonde” roast that is doing really well. Some people like a lighter coffee, and now they have it:

      http://www.starbucks.com/coffee/blonde

      Smart move!

      The tax thing with Starbucks does seem to be a lot about nothing — but it’s fascinating to read about the details.

      1. Might have to try that if I ever find a Starbucks again – my preference is for lighter coffees – I even keep a cafetière to brew my extra indulgent Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee a friend lovingly supplies me with for birthdays and Christmas.

  4. Here’s some interesting news:

    42% of coffee shops in NYC are either Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, and the average New Yorker spends $5 on coffee:

    There are 454 Dunkin Donuts locations and 272 Starbucks stores across the five boroughs, according to findings that the E.D.C.’s StatsBee’s blog published on Friday. The East Village’s 10003 zip code was the most caffeinated in the city, with 49 cafes. Midtown and Hell’s Kitchen’s 10019 zip code followed, with 47 shops. Outside Manhattan, Park Slope (11215) and Glendale (11385) each had 32 coffee shops. Both narrowly edged out Williamsburg (11211), which had 31 joe-providing freelancer magnets.

    http://commercialobserver.com/2013/02/starbucks-and-dunkin-donuts-account-for-more-than-40-percent-of-new-york-coffee-shops/

  5. I haven’t been to Starbucks in a while, this article makes me want to go and earn some stars myself. I love coffee and because I’m in college the only really “indulgence” I get is from the school’s barista and in my honest opinion it’s more expensive than Starbucks. I really need to get off campus and get my “fix”.

    1. Ha! That’s precisely what all the Starbucks look like here, Katha. Always packed with people and always a forever line. Starbucks closed a lot of stores in the NYC area several years ago — no longer a “Starbucks on every corner” — and so the lines at the remaining stores are even more insanely long.

      There’s a tiny, corner, Starbucks near Bryant Park that is literally 10 feet by 10 feet — and 15 people routinely pack in there trying to form an ovalish-snaking line inside! It’s like a Marx Brothers movie where everyone sardines into a tiny room at the same time.

      http://www.yelp.com/biz/starbucks-manhattan-140

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