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8 Starbucks slang terms you'll only know if you work there, according to former baristas

Kaila Yu   

8 Starbucks slang terms you'll only know if you work there, according to former baristas
  • Insider spoke to former Starbucks workers about the slang terms used to do their jobs.
  • "Green bean" is a term they use for a new hire that's never worked for Starbucks before.

With roughly 9,300 corporate-owned Starbucks in the US alone, the brand is a common and welcome sight for the caffeine-starved. It has dominated the coffee landscape and infiltrated our lives with well-known secrets, like its secret menu. But did you know that Starbucks also has its own secret lingo used by employees?

The brand and employees have developed their own jargon to describe daily tasks, menu items, and customers. Insider spoke to current and former Starbucks employees who shared some slang words only Starbucks workers use — along with their definitions. Here's everything we learned.

1. Green bean

"Green bean is a term they'll use for a new hire that's never worked for Starbucks or been a barista," says Kerri Shea, a former Starbucks barista. Green Beans are often paired with long-time employees who act like mentors in a training program designed to prevent turnover.

2. Decaffing or 'Extra hot'

A former Starbucks employee said that some employees practice "decaffing" on rude customers, or swapping in decaf coffee for regular. In a now-removed viral TikTok, a man who claimed to be a former Starbucks employee shared that he would often serve decaf coffee to obnoxious customers. He admitted that he would often decaf people whenever he felt like that.

Max Bliss, a former Starbucks employee for over ten years, confirmed they'd observed this practice. "This happens big time, even though it's against the rules," they said. "Each store has its special lingo; at our store, someone might say, 'John wants his latte extra hot,' but the employees know that's code for making it decaf."

"I was a shift supervisor, and I've called out baristas for doing it to customers who were giving them flack," Shea shared.

3. Lobby slide

This term references when it's time for employees to clean and sanitize public surfaces. Employees may use a sani rag — cleaning rags dipped in sanitizer — to wipe the tables, chairs, register, counters, etc. Lobby sliding also includes organizing and straightening out shelved products, sweeping floors, and making everything look spic and span.

4. Flexing the play

"Flexing the play" means shifting workers to other roles as needed. For example, if the bar gets busy, the supervisor might flex the play and shift someone from the oven to the bar for extra hands.

5. Go mode

During hectic times or peak hours, employees are supposed to turn on "go mode." Bliss shared that "go mode" wasn't used often at their store. "It was a function on the iPad, giving a play-by-play of what to do when it's busy. For example, it might tell you to put five people out on the floor instead of just three."


Employees must frequently replenish beverage ingredients when working at a high-volume brand like Starbucks. Shea explained that PARS are the inventory, or the set minimum amount of supplies needed to be stocked behind the bars. PARS help supervisors determine how much product is being used and sold and help with accurate re-ordering.

"I used to handle the ingredients orders as a supervisor," said Bliss. "I had to order coffee, filters, and other ingredients. On the job, I might say, 'We should have seven coffee filters on the shelf; we need to order more."

7. Puppuchino

Most dog parents know about these Starbucks treats for their furry friends, and they're especially popular since puppuchinos are free. The name sounds super fancy, but it's simply a small Starbucks cup filled to the brim with fluffy whipped cream — often leaving your dog's face covered in cream. Bliss shared that at least one or more puppuchino orders came in daily when they worked for the company.

8. Partners

Starbucks employees are considered more than just baristas or employees, which is why they are known as partners. The brand considers employees to be partners because employees are eligible to become stock partners. After at least a year of employment, partners can acquire Bean Stock or shares of Starbucks stock. Other Starbucks partner benefits may include 401(k)s, health care benefits, and all the coffee they could drink.

Bliss shared an opposing point of view. "They called us partners because they wanted it to seem like we're all in this together, like we were actually part of the team." However, Bliss explained that Starbucks can be a hard place to work and that they were part of unionization efforts.

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