If you're anything like me, you like espresso drinks. I personally favor iced latte's. I'm not a huge fan of Starbucks since they changed their standard from hand-made espresso shots to fully automated pushbutton systems.
I find the new pushbutton espresso machine is very stingy with the espresso shots. For a while I stopped going to Starbucks completely, because of it. Normally, I just make my espresso drinks at home, but occasionally I'll venture into a Starbucks and ponder on the eerie groups of Mac-users who congregate but do not speak to each other.
Recently, I did just that. And my step brother and I discovered something interesting...
Step 1: How It Works
Here's the general way it works.
Starbucks as a company isn't very bright. Milk is well over $6 / gallon in some parts of the country, from what I gather.
Edit: After reading some comments, I realize this estimate may be a little off. Buying milk in bulk is way cheaper. But, as a single male living alone, I don't buy milk in bulk.
I think I pay about $9 / gallon for my preferred brand of milk because I like to buy the organic stuff. ($4.50 for 1/2 gallon)
However, Starbucks (and most other coffee establishments) leave infinite milk out for customers to customize / finish their drinks.
Even though milk may be cheaper than $6 / gallon at your local grocery store, it sure isn't FREE. The FREE milk offered at coffee places is the secret here.
Step 2: How It Works, Part 2
-Espresso <--- note, it's not spelled EXpresso.
Suppose you want a Venti / Large. The cost is about $3.85 IIRC, and a Venti iced latte has 3 espresso shots. Now suppose you want an extra shot, to make up for the fact that the Starbucks pushbutton machine is serving up weak espresso shots. The cost goes up by about $0.50, for a grand total of more than $4.
(Hence the comical name "Fourbucks," since it seems difficult to leave Starbucks without spending $4)
Step 3: Ordering the Drink
"I'll have a quad-shot espresso poured over ice in a venti cup"
Remember, you can get all the free milk you want, turning your iced espresso drink into a latte at no added cost.
Grand total: $2.50 !!!!
For this price, you could easily add a flavored syrup (~$0.25) and still make out like a bandit. But, realize you are not doing anything shady / dodgy / wrong (morally or legally). You are merely ordering off of their menu and helping yourself to the free milk.
Unfortunately, this will only work with iced espresso drinks, because for hot drinks they steam the milk. But, for those hot summer days an iced latte is a nice refreshment. I prefer mine with some mint syrup on occasion.
This has been my first instructable. Thanks to google images, since I was too lazy to take my own pics. Honorable mention goes out to my step brother who was the first to order this.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Be sure to check the prices at other coffee establishments. I used Starbucks as the example because it is practically ubiquitous, however I have found that this works at other places as well.