What You Should Know About Bringing Your Own Cup To Starbucks

Starbucks will accept personal cups at the drive-thru as part of a new pilot program.

In a press release sent to The Takeout, Starbucks announced this week that it's currently testing a program in Colorado in which customers can bring their own personal cups to the drive-thru—a practice the company hopes to eventually standardize nationwide.

The pilot program began April 10 and will run through June 30 at the 192 participating locations throughout Colorado. No extra work is required on the customer end, other than to let the barista know that you brought your own cup. Consistent with all other U.S. Starbucks locations, customers who bring a personal cup to the store get a $0.10 discount, and Starbucks Rewards members can additionally earn 25 bonus stars.

How reusable cups work at Starbucks

Starbucks hopes that expanding this program to the drive-thru will help further reduce waste from paper cups. While the drive-thru component is new, the coffee chain has actually offered a 10-cent discount for bringing in reusable cups since the '80s.


The only time this benefit was paused was during the height of the pandemic, but by 2021 Starbucks had reinstated the program with some more hygienic modifications. Instead of just handing off the cup to the barista, customers were asked to place their personal cup in a ceramic Starbucks mug to eliminate the barista's direct contact with the cup while preparing the drink.

Now, however, Starbucks is back to the old process, and customers can simply hand their personal cup to the barista. Although the opportunity to bring in a personal cup has been around for decades, both the policy and its exact rules are still not widely known.

Rules for bringing your own cup to Starbucks

Since personal mugs come in all shapes and sizes—yes, you can bring in that cat-shaped mug your grandma got you last Christmas—it might be hard to judge whether your cup qualifies as a grande or a venti. Per Starbucks' customer service site, it's up to the barista to make that call, but you'll never be charged for a size larger than the amount your personal cup can hold.


Other than the current test program in Colorado, the reusable cup discount has only been available for in-store purchases, not in the drive-thru lane. Starbucks has also noted that when a customer brings in a personal cup, it needs to be clean or else it may not be accepted. Baristas are not there to be your dishwashers. Help them help you.

A recent Reddit thread discussing the reusable cup benefit includes input from users who claim to be Starbucks employees. Those users emphasize the importance of a clean cup, and they also clarify that it doesn't matter whether you order a hot or cold beverage—the discount will apply regardless.

Starbucks has also noted that its reusable personal cup discount can only be taken advantage of three times in one day, and only when making at least a one-star earning transaction. Despite these restrictions, Starbucks' goal is for customers to be able to use their own cups during every store visit in the U.S. and Canada by the start of next year.


In another Reddit thread, a user inquires whether the reusable cup program is a hassle for the workers in any way.

"Personal cups don't bother me," one user tagged as a barista replied. "I'm grateful for it when we have cup shortages at my store. Just make sure it's clean before you give it to the barista at the register."

We all love a good discount, a full cup of coffee, and some bonus loyalty points. Hopefully as more customers make it a habit to bring their own cup to Starbucks, baristas won't begin to experience any unforeseen logistical complications. Again, just don't make them deal with a dirty cup. Gross.