Do Starbucks Employees Eat And Drink For Free?

Fast food establishments don't just reward customers via loyalty apps, though there are some pretty nice ones. Many also provide employees with discounts on food and beverages either while they are working or when they come in on a day off. This, of course, provides the employees with needed nourishment, but also educates them on the menu. But some companies take it a step further and offer free food to employees, generally while they are working. Certain McDonald's locations around the world, for instance, provide free meals and sodas during shifts. So, where does Starbucks, a company that has at times been at loggerheads with its employees, fall on the issue of free food and drinks?

According to the company's food and beverage benefits page, employees — referred to as "partners" internally — may consume an unlimited amount of "handcrafted beverages" during a shift. That means everything from drip coffee to artisan espresso drinks are gratis, but, presumably, not pre-packaged coffees and other sealed drinks. Additionally, partners are afforded a ration of seven "free food items from the pastry or ready-to-eat case per week." Given Starbucks' wide gamut of comestibles, that essentially covers meals if say a sandwich is taken, but could also just be a sweet treat like a signature cake pop.

The inside scoop on Starbucks

As it turns out, Starbucks isn't only giving free food to its employees. With most customers simply getting a beverage when they visit, the pastry case can, at times, be quite full at closing time. Freshness being key to baked goods, this leaves each location to decide what to do with pastries and other food items that are still fine to eat but outside of the coffee shop's quality standards. Partners get first crack at these items, but what's left over Starbucks donates to charities, such as food banks. We know this because one of our own writers, Dani Zoeller, recounted her experience as Starbucks barista in an article.

In addition to the generous food donations Starbucks makes to provide food for those experiencing hunger, Zoeller says that the unlimited drink program is a hit with employees. The caffeine is flowing as baristas sip on frappuccinos, iced tea, and everything in between, including off-menu combinations of their own creation. Thus, they're fonts of knowledge when it comes to what you might like, so feel free to ask them for recommendations as they've likely tried various amalgams of coffee, syrups, and creams that you've never dreamed of.