Starbucks drink ever made.
Read more: Guide to Starbucks' secret menu
Logan Warren, a 22-year-old tech entrepreneur and student, can't afford to drink at the coffee chain daily. "At the rate I consume coffee, I'd be a pauper in a month," the Texas-based college student tells Shine.
So when he landed a coupon for a free drink, of any size with any additional add-ons, for One man. One coupon. Two baristas and 31 ounces of imagination. That's what it took to create the most expensive his birthday (a company gift if you sign up for their rewards program), he took it as a personal challenge. What's the biggest, priciest Starbucks drink money can buy?
It all starts with a Trenta, the super-sized coffee cup introduced by the company last May.
When Starbucks announced the 31-ounce option, the reaction was largely dismay. Consumerist's bloggers discovered it was larger in size than the average human stomach. Esquire writer Todd Carmichael said the concept alone made him "shudder." But almost a year later, caffeine addicts are still forking over at least $3.45 for an iced coffee the size of a big gulp.
That's without the add-ons. Warren spent a half hour with a couple of "surprisingly cheerful" baristas devising the equation for the most expensive powders, syrups and shots to fill an entire Trenta cup.
Here's how his one drink bill broke down: one Java Chip Frappucino ($4.75), plus 16 shots of espresso($12), a shot of soy milk(.60), a drop of caramel flavoring(.50), a scoop of banana puree($1), another scoop of strawberry puree(.60), a few vanilla beans(.50), a dash of Matcha powder(.75), some protein powder(.50) and a caramel and mocha drizzle to cap it off(.60).
Altogether, Warren's Franken-Frap cost $23.60, making it the most expensive Starbucks concoction money (or coupons) can buy. That's not counting the well-deserved tip for his barista co-conspirators.
But how did it taste? "Tolerable," according to Warren, "but not good. Imagine a coffee-based health food smoothie that will put you in the hospital if you drink it all."
Warren definitely didn't drink it all. With 1,400 mg of caffeine and a seemingly incalculable amount of sugar, it's literally a recipe for disaster.
Still, Warren's experiment, though extreme, is a reminder that coffee is pushing our personal budget too far. A recent survey estimated that the average American spends about $1000 on coffee a year. That number is expected to spike in 2012.
In January, Starbucks announced it would be raising prices in parts of the country by an average of one percent. With coffee drinkers already splurging between three and five bucks on a morning jolt each day, that extra one percent isn't bound to make making the 99 percent too thrilled.
Read more on Starbucks' price hikes and which areas will be hit the hardest
While it still requires an obscene amount of espresso shots alone to inch up to a $20 Starbucks order, a few more price hikes and a creatively rejiggered recipe could change that. If you can build it now, does that mean the day will come when a cup of coffee will cost the same as two large pizzas? Start saving those coupons.