Starbucks Is Charging Customers More for 'No Water' Refreshers

If you want more Refresher in your Refresher, it'll cost you.

If your go-to Starbucks order is one of their fruit-and-juice Refreshers, you may be paying a little extra, starting this week. The Seattle-based coffee chain is now charging one dollar extra for any Refresher drink that’s ordered with “no water” — and the price change is proving to be complicated for both customers and baristas.

A used Starbucks Strawberry Refresher cup is left on the sidewalk

B7 Photography / Shutterstock

The company says that it decided to make that price change because the Refreshers are more expensive to make when they’re made without water. “This change allows us to provide a more consistent approach to customization, similar to other beverage customizations such as adding an espresso shot or syrup, which incur an additional charge,” a Starbucks spokesperson told CNN.

Another popular way to customize Refreshers is by ordering “light ice” and “no ice,” and this is where the confusion comes in. Starbucks has confirmed that there will be no extra charges for ordering light- or no ice. But social media posts seem to indicate some stores taking a stricter stance.

A post on the r/MildlyInteresting subreddit showed a printed sign allegedly posted at a Starbucks store that said the location would be upcharging for “no water, no ice, and light ice” in all of its Refresher beverages, while a post in r/Starbucks captured another store’s sign which read “Beginning May 9, all Starbucks Refreshers will be no longer orderable with ‘light ice,'” while adding that “no ice” orders would incur the $1 upcharge.

Several other posts on r/Starbucks have attempted to clarify that the dollar upcharge should only be applied to Refreshers ordered with no water. “The amount of baristas who don’t understand the new refresher charge is concerning,” one Redditor and self-identified barista wrote. “The only new charge is a button that says ‘No Water - Extra Base’ [...] No, light ice will not get a charge. No, extra base will not get a charge. No, this does not affect any drinks other than refreshers.” 

“Everyone in my store is confused,” another presumed barista commented on a post about the new charge. “I even said to a shift yesterday ‘I’m pretty sure we’re only charging for no water, extra base. And light and no ice is still the same.’ And he said I was wrong. He also proceeded to tell everyone light ice was being taken away as an option instead of light water. Clearly I was not wrong.”

Starbucks introduced its line of Refreshers in the summer of 2012, describing them as a “global breakthrough beverage innovation that delivers a distinctly new take on thirst-quenching refreshment while providing a natural boost of energy from green coffee extract and real fruit juice.” As of this writing, there are currently nine Refreshers varieties available, including the Dragon Drink, Strawberry Acai Lemonade, and the always popular Pink Drink.

The new charge just went into effect on Tuesday, so hopefully Starbucks will get all of its locations on the same page sooner rather than later. In the meantime, whether you’re a regular or not, please be patient and kind to the staff at your local store.

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