A Starbucks cup on a blue background.
The Clever Cup Placement Code Starbucks Once Used To
Customize Drinks
By Stacie Adams
Starbucks has turned the drink preparation process into a science, and baristas use their ever-present Sharpie markers to jot down drink orders onto cups, which ensures accuracy and efficiency. However, the massive chain of coffee shops preferred a much different approach in years past.
In previous years, Starbucks baristas would position cups on the counter in certain ways to communicate order customization, which could mean that a backward-facing cup indicated a customer wanted nonfat milk instead of whole. In some cases, a cup turned upside down might mean the customer preferred decaffeinated coffee in their beverage.
Because this system left lots of room for error, especially when serving a large volume of customers, the chain began using its current system of marking cups at some point in the '90s. These days, Starbucks claims there are over 170,000 ways to customize drinks, so the switch was certainly necessary.