It Turns Out That Target Starbucks Locations Don't Count As 'Real' Starbucks

The Target run. Just ask anyone who spends more than 20 minutes in the store and they will tell you — it's a form of self-care. Sure you may run in thinking you need to pick up milk and toilet paper, but more than likely you end up perusing the aisles. From clothing to home decor, beauty products, electronics, groceries, and more, Target has something for everyone on just about any budget. Even if you don't have a specific item in mind, you'll probably find something you just can't live without at Target

Aside from the $5 spot and usually large clearance sections, most Targets now have a Starbucks — talk about a winning combo! Not only can you enjoy walking aisles and aisles of your favorite products, but you can do it all while sipping on your favorite Starbucks coffee or nibbling on your favorite treat. Or can you? Unfortunately, Target Starbucks locations don't always offer a full Starbucks menu. But why is that? 

The Starbucks that isn't really a Starbucks

The simple answer is that Starbucks locations inside Target stores are licensed stores operated by Target, rather than company-owned Starbucks stores. While they serve Starbucks products and use the Starbucks logo, they are not operated by the Starbucks Corporation itself. However, the products are authentic Starbucks products because Target is licensed to sell them. Unfortunately, though, they are usually scaled-down versions of the full-sized Starbucks stores that the coffee company owns and operates, which means that not all of them will have the same menu as a full-sized Starbucks location.

In an interview with Mental Floss, a Target employee stated that "A Starbucks in a Target is not actually a Starbucks," and noted that "If they transferred to Starbucks, they would have to be re-trained, or trained. Starbucks doesn't consider Target Starbucks to be Starbucks." Part of that could be because of the differences in the menus and the payment options used.

Differences between a Target Starbucks and a regular Starbucks

You can use your Target RedCard and your Starbucks Rewards at any Target Starbucks. However, you cannot use your Target RedCard to pay for coffee at a non-Target Starbucks location. Additionally, you can use a Target gift card to pay for a Starbucks order inside of Target, but you cannot use a Target gift card at a regular Starbucks location. This is not limited to just food or drinks, though. You can use your Target RedCard store card or a Target gift card to pay for Starbucks merchandise, like mugs and tumblers, at Target Starbucks locations.

One major menu difference between the two Starbucks locations is that Target Starbucks does not offer nitro cold brew drinks. You can buy a Starbucks nitro cold brew in the can in any Target grocery store, but if you want a fresh-made Starbucks nitro brew, you will have to visit a full-sized Starbucks location. Other menu changes will be on a case-by-case basis and subject to what the store has in stock.