Starbucks mastermind

All month, the closest Starbucks’s chalkboard has read: “Try a Skinny or Mocha Cinnamon dolce Latté A Non-fat, Sugar-free dairy delight!

I had to stop ordering them because I dislike the sugar-free aftertaste. This means that I’m now faced with the question, “Do I want whip cream in it?”

Of course, when given an option for my food, I almost always say “yes,” and I started to realize that this is eating into my need for variety. How to balance those two?

[choice, choice, and more choice after the jump]

Starbucks challenge

They messed up Mark #1’s order, so I had a lot of time to mull about this problem.

Then it occurred to me: why not try to “flip every bit” in my order—what’s the maximal order? That challenge would allow me to justify a “no-whip” since the bit is default on and I have to actively flip it off. It’d also mean that I need to “white” my Mocha which is always a nice change. Of course, I’ll stop having to order Tall and graduate to a Grande or Venti, but I think it’d be worth it. Plus you get to push the boundaries of taste—what’s the maximal pump? is there a quadruple? What bits can be flipped on the Iced-Tea or Frappucino?

Of course, there needs to be an extended ruleset. Like, I can dodge having to order hated “non-fat, no-whip, sugar-free” combination because it gets bundled into the aforementioned “skinny” which is like Lempel-Ziving the order and nets one less bits overall.

How many bits can you toggle in your Starbucks?


I mentioned this to Mark #2 (Yes, I drink coffee with two Marks) and he pointed out that all these combinations would make a great game of Starbucks® branded Mastermind.

Starbucks® Mastermind

Ordering trauma

When I was a seven, I ordered a restaurant burger for the first time. They asked me how I wanted it my meat cooked. I was like “Huh?”

Then my dad explained, “Terry, would you like it rare, medium, or well done?”

Given that choice, the answer is obvious! “I’d like my burger done well, thank you!”

It turns out, there is a difference between “done well” and “well done.” I didn’t like well done.

(Of course, nowadays I prefer my meat medium-rare.)

Ordering food has always been a private trauma.

Permuting your order

I found out that due to product ordering design error, Starbucks can’t start inputting your order into the register until you tell them the size of the cup.

After I figure out the maximal order, I’m definitely going to put off mentioning the size until the very end. :devil

11 thoughts on “Starbucks mastermind

  1. You could also go for the negated value of your order, which would – if the order was treated like two’s complement – be calculated by flipping all the bits and adding one.

    This could provide a “life-saver”, because you can “add one” to flip the no-fat bit back to 0 again..

  2. @Luke Welling: I never saw L.A. Story (it’s buried somewhere in my Netflix queue). Is this the reference?
    Tom: I’ll have a decaf coffee.
    Trudi: I’ll have a decaf espresso.
    Morris Frost: I’ll have a double decaf cappuccino.
    Ted: Give me decaffeinated coffee ice cream.
    Harris: I’ll have a half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon.
    Trudi: I’ll have a twist of lemon.
    Tom: I’ll have a twist of lemon.
    Morris Frost: I’ll have a twist of lemon.
    Cynthia: I’ll have a twist of lemon.

  3. Yeah, that is probably an accurate transcript. Interestingly, it seemed funnier than it reads. I wonder if was just funnier in 1991 (when I had presumably heard a few thousand fewer complicated coffee orders in real life), or if it just needs appropriate delivery.

  4. You do realize that starbucks is not coffee, right? They have all those extra options to mask the bad flavor of their brown juice.

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