Over the past year, I've been asked many times, 'What happened to the free brewed tall coffee that you used to get for buying Starbucks packaged coffee at the grocery store?' That program is gone. The packaging that used to offer a free tall coffee has been phased out in favor of MyStarbucksRewards loyalty program. If you happen to find coffee that still has the free brewed coffee coupon on the side, I would assume it's old packaging.
If you don't remember the old program, there's an official Starbucks.com article here on Exchange Empty Coffee Bag for a Tall Coffee.
So why oh why did Starbucks eliminate that perk? I can only make an educated guess, but it seems to me that Starbucks wanted their rewards program to be seamless between grocery stores and between the actual retail stores. It shouldn't matter where you're buying your whole bean coffee, you're earning stars. (And when you're inside company-operated Starbucks stores, as of March this year, you're earning bonus stars for your at-home coffee purchases.) In order to start earning stars, put money on any Starbucks card, register it at Starbucks.com, and use it to pay for your purchases. Be sure to track your rewards by frequently logging into Starbucks.com or using the phone app. Every time the register barista swipes your card, it's one star (there are some limited exceptions: you're not earning stars during card reload swipes, and when you're getting a free refill, no star is earned).
I suspect that customers who are particularly upset about the loss of the tall brewed coffee coupon don't understand the fun things you can do with Starbucks Lucky Dozen rewards. When your account at Starbucks.com is gold level, every 12 stars you earn a "Lucky Dozen" reward.
What can you get with a Lucky Dozen reward? Let me throw out some suggestions:
You can doctor up a Frappuccino and make it a fancy "secret menu" item. Always know the recipe for what you're ordering! I tried this Strawberry Shortcake Frappuccino recipe. It was totally delicious. What an amazing treat. I wouldn't do this all the time - it's dessert in a cup!
You can use your Lucky Dozen reward on any salad, panini, or food item at Starbucks. (Evenings food and beer and wine is not included as a Lucky Dozen reward). This is incredibly valuable if you like either the salads or the paninis! The salads are often $6.95!
At any Evolution Fresh store, you can use your Lucky Dozen reward for any bottled Evolution Fresh juice. By the way, you can do the same at Starbucks - use your reward for an Evolution Fresh cold-pressed bottled juice or any other bottled beverage:
As should be obvious, I was totally stuffed by the time I was done doing the "research" for this article. I ate and drank my way through most of my rewards! I hope you can see that in the long run, you've got a lot more flexibility and value in a MyStarbucksRewards Lucky Dozen reward than in just a tall brewed cup of coffee. So enter your star codes, and earn stars!