Starbucks' secrets gain a cult following

From an unpublished menu to online cup art, the chain has some unusual features you won't find at a Dunkin' Donuts.

By TheStreet.com Staff Mar 28, 2014 4:11PM

A Starbucks Corp., sign is displayed outside a coffee shop in London, U.K. / Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy Brian Sozzi, TheStreet


Something is brewing at Starbucks (SBUX) that has nothing to do with mobile payments. In fact, what's happening harkens back to simpler times when folks expressed themselves with their natural talents.


Yes, there is a secret underworld to Starbucks that is active from sunup to sundown right inside the stores, and on Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR), and Instagram.


Don't you feel upset that you don't even realize this legal activity is going down right in front of your eyes?


Here are three things that make up this Starbucks underworld:

  • The Starbucks secret drink menu has exploded onto the social-media scene this year. I know you are scared to order a drink off this menu, fearing a barista will laugh at you, and not make the drink. Total line shame. However, be advised, there IS a drink off this secret menu called "The Cold Buster", which is a tea pumped up on cold fighting ingredients.
  • Starbucks "cup art" has taken off, with pictures filling up dedicated sections on Tumblr and Pinterest, and to a lesser extent in various tweets. Cup art is when a person draws serious art on a white Starbucks cup using a black or colored marker. Can't do that at Dunkin Brands' (DNKN) Dunkin Donuts with its dark-colored cups!
  • One up-and-coming trend in the Starbucks underground is "tip-jar art", where baristas add some flair to the jars found at the counter and next to the drive-thru windows. Employees hold contests in store to see who comes up with the best design. Talk about bonding exercises!
I expect a secret food menu to emerge on the scene shortly. Starbucks is unveiling all sorts of new food items, and no doubt there are self-created chefs dying to mix these pre-packed goods up a bit. Winner of this underground scene is obviously Starbucks. Teams are bonding in the hopes of selling more. Consumers are taking photos of their art and sharing it on social media.

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31Comments
Mar 28, 2014 5:45PM
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Like Subway the only thing brewing is how they get you to be so happy paying overly inflated prices for what they sell.
Mar 28, 2014 11:26PM
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Will the employees now be known as "cultaristas".  How about the top secret menu: Coffee, black, no cream, no sugar.
Mar 31, 2014 3:48AM
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As hard as I try "AND I'VE TRIED"


I CAN'T MAKE THAT COFFEE AT HOME!!!!

Mar 29, 2014 10:28AM
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Americano - 3 shots, no sugar, no cream, 0 calories  ($2.74 - I bring my own travel cup)


always strong and fresh with enough caffeine to get through the day

Apr 1, 2014 9:39AM
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Coffee houses have existed all over Europe for a 100 years... there's nothing new in the concept, only our understanding and use of it is new and Starbucks is one of those things you either get or you don't get. Mostly, the people who don't get it are the same people who would never consider paying more than $10 for a bottle of wine... nothing wrong with that.

Mar 31, 2014 1:26PM
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For $75.00 on the 'hidden menu, You can get  demitasse cup of coffee that the beans are crapped out a civets' butt.
Mar 31, 2014 12:32PM
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I grind my own beans at home and have tried about every coffee out there. Starbucks is on the pricey side but they always have some of the best beans available! I usually go with another brand but if Starbucks is on sale which happens occasionally then I'll get it. It is typically $8.99 at Kroger near me for your average bag of whole bean french roast and Private Selection is closer to $5.99 for the same bag and they dont taste much different...
Apr 2, 2014 12:15AM
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How did Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks become competitors? Who started that? How can anyone compare the two? They are two completely different places. If you are in the mood for a doughnut and a cup of coffee, you go DD. If you are in the mood for a $5 glass of creamer mixed with coffee and ice and want some $3 decorated pastry, you go to Starbucks. Just depends what you are in the mood for.  I see comparing Starbucks with maybe another coffee shop like Tullys. That is apples with apples. But a doughnut shop and Starbucks are apples like comparing apples and oranges.
Mar 31, 2014 3:04AM
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For years, I have said that Starbucks coffee is awful (and way too expensive), and now they are running a commercial admitting it, and offering a different grind.  I haven't tried, but I suspect it's just as bad
Apr 2, 2014 12:35AM
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You would have to pay me to even go into Starbucks.  The coffee is terrible, the pastries and worse and the atmosphere is somewhere "what" and "why".
Apr 1, 2014 12:22PM
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consumerism at its best, a brainwashed generation of drones, without any personality to speak of, buying an obscenely overpriced cup of coffee (Brand)
Apr 26, 2014 4:10PM
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I started going to Starbucks to wonder at the uber-emo nose ring girls. Now I see people working there close to my own age trying to supplement their social security benefits.
Apr 26, 2014 4:04PM
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My Quick Books told me I spent $2800.00 at Starbucks in 2013, I will spend that apparently disposable income on gold and silver this year.
Mar 31, 2014 2:23PM
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Hungarian guy told me how to make a great cup of coffee. His father owned a general store back home and he would help in the shop. One of the things he says is that you need to pour the beans out and pick out the smallest, darkest ones. Those are burnt. The roasting process is never even and never symmetrical.

 

Grind up the "good" beans..........coffee Nirvana.

 

I had to throw Nirvana in to appease the west coast freaks who shell out the kinda money Starbucks gets. Schultz's big "I know nothing" delivery of "the greatest thing Starbucks has ever done". Oh yeah, that was make a mobile payment system.

 

Wow.

 

I'm gonna try to sound smart.

 

"Buy a cloud play" L-O-L.

 

dot cloud    

 

 

Mar 28, 2014 9:03PM
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7/11 much better and better drinks, bring your cup and fill up for around $1.00
Mar 31, 2014 12:30PM
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As long as people have enough disposable income these specialty company's will continue to be able to make a profit selling coffee, and merchandize for a nice mark up. It's interesting watching how company's not just star bucks are using simple things like decorating the tip jar to keep employee's "engaged", as I'm not sure what kind if any profit sharing, raise, or bonus is offered to the worker doing the actual work. 
 Look for more of these low cost ideas to infect other types of business's , even healthcare is not immune . A hospital will offer a 50$ gift card for the best ideas on how to save money. The employee gets 50$ and the hospital can sometimes save thousands and thousands of dollars. Of course the hospital will then purchase pricey certifications and awards to try and convince the public that the hospital is where they should come for their care . Bottom line does all the glitz make a better product?, does one purchase a brand of coffee because it tastes better, or the fact they are entertained by the staff. Same thing goes for healthcare or any other business.
Mar 31, 2014 12:53PM
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Who cares?  Tim Horton's and Gevalia have way better coffee, there's no comparison. Even Burger King coffee is good compared to Starbucks.   I last drank Starbucks coffee about 10 years ago, when I ordered one and what I got was the most bitter, horrible tasting concoction I had ever had.  It tasted like it had been burned, and a few years later, someone gave me a bag of Starbuck's coffee as a gift.  Not wanting to touch it, I took it to work unopened, and people there, after tasting it, dumped the whole pot down the drain because they thought maybe it was rotten, or tainted or something.  Tells you something about Starbuck's, doesn't it?
Mar 29, 2014 12:16PM
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And people go to Starboogie's for what...???
Mar 31, 2014 6:10AM
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Oh I like Starbucks coffee, straight?  Their paper cups always leaked before I could drink it, though? Always had this puddle in the cup holder?
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