This Is How to Use a Reusable Cup at Starbucks

The Starbucks reusable cup program has been around for a long, long time.

As long as we’ve been going to Starbucks, we’ve been taking advantage of their excellent reusable cup program. If you don’t visit Starbucks on the regular, you might want to understand how it works—and even if you’re a dedicated coffee-lover, you might want to update yourself on the changes to the program.

The Starbucks reusable cup program is part of Starbucks’ to reduce waste by 2030, and if you’re interested in things like reusable grocery bags and other reusable items, you’ll definitely want to know how bring your own cup.

What Is the Reusable Cups Program?

Starbucks’ reusable cups program is pretty simple—bring in your own clean cup, and the baristas will use that for your drink. This program was started in 1985, and continued on till March 2020 without pause. It’s been around for a while!

However, in March 2020, Starbucks paused its reusable cup program due to the coronavirus pandemic. They finally brought the program back in June 2021, but with some tweaks. They eliminated any shared touchpoints between the customer and the barista, with customers placing their clean cup in a ceramic mug offered by the barista. The barista then makes the drink as usual, and delivers it to the pick-up point still inside the ceramic mug, making the whole experience contact-free. Personal lids are left with the customer, to be popped back on once the drink is made to maintain the no-touch factor.

Starbucks Reusable Cup ProcessCourtesy Starbucks

Do I Get a Discount?

Yep! Bringing in your reusable cup gives you a 10-cent discount every time. While that may not sound like much, it adds up over time, making your coffee habit that much more sustainable—for both you and the planet.

How Does It Work?

The program’s goal is to reduce single-use cup waste. Starbucks has committed to reducing waste by 50% by 2030, which is a serious goal. The company is working on other earth-friendly options, too, including research into cups and lids that will be easier to recycle and compost. They’ve been steadily working toward greener cups, too.

In fact, Starbucks may phase out disposable cups altogether. Recently, they’ve been testing out Borrow-A-Cup initiatives at certain stores that allow customers to borrow reusable cups from the store itself, then return them. However, until this becomes widespread, you can still bring your own cup and avail of that sweet, sweet 10-cent discount.

What Kind of Cup Can I Use?

Your personal cup certainly doesn’t have to be one purchased at Starbucks, although there are some Starbucks cups we can’t resist, including a striking mermaid-tail cup that’s part of the Starbucks 50th Anniversary Collection.

Reusable Starbucks Cups We Love

You can make like Starbucks and go green at home, too! Check out our picks for lunch boxes that are reusable and save you money on eating out, and see why wrapping up your leftovers in beeswax wrap is the way to go.

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Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is a pop culture junkie and the co-author of Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops and The Totally Sweet '90s. She covers TV, movies, books and pop culture, as well as food news of all kinds. Gael is a weblog pioneer who started her first blog, Pop Culture Junk Mail, in 1999.