How Long Will Starbucks Wait Before Throwing Out Your Mobile Order?

Starbucks' abandoned drink protocol is more lax than you think.

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It’s 10 a.m. Do you know where your Starbucks order is? As we’ve reported before, it’s frustratingly easy to send a mobile order to the wrong Starbucks location. Even if you manage to send your order to the intended location, there’s always a chance that you’ll get stuck in traffic en route to pick up your caffè misto. In both cases, your drink sits unclaimed and sweating on the Starbucks counter. With that, we wanted to know: how long do Starbucks baristas allow drinks to sit unclaimed before tossing them out?

Does Starbucks have a policy for unclaimed drinks?

First, I checked in with a Starbucks corporate spokesperson. “In our cafes, items are placed at the pick-up counter when they are ready and are regularly monitored by baristas,” the spokesperson told me over email. “If a barista sees an item has been left at the pick-up counter or if the quality has deteriorated, they will ensure that item is remade for the customer upon their arrival. Similarly, if a customer arrives and their item is no longer at the pick-up counter, baristas will remake the item.”

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In other words, there’s no official company policy driving Starbucks’ abandoned drink protocol. But do baristas have an unofficial barometer for tossing unclaimed drinks? To find out, I popped over to a Starbucks near The Takeout’s Chicago headquarters. There, an anonymous barista told me that they typically let drinks sit for about 25 minutes before tossing them out. Another barista leaned over and confirmed that they usually wait between 20 and 25 minutes before throwing out a drink.

Of course, if you’re running late, you don’t have to drink a latte that’s been on the counter for 20 minutes. Per the Starbucks spokesperson cited above, baristas can remake drinks when the customer arrives. But while accidents happen, please do your best to hustle to Starbucks in a timely manner so your barista isn’t forced to remake your drink during the morning rush. And please, for the sake of your own sanity and well-being, use the mobile app carefully.

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