Soooooo a new record has just been set in the coffee world, and I’m pretty sure it’s not for what you’re thinking it’s for. In fact, I’m almost positive it’s not. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with the largest pyramid built out of coffee cups. It also doesn’t have anything to do with, oh, the longest journey made by a coffee-powered car. No, this time, it’s about money: At a mind-blowing $54.75, the most expensive Starbucks drink ever created came into existence this weekend. It’s called the Sexagintuple Vanilla Bean Mocha Frappucchino, and it’s pretty much death in a glass. A 128-ounce glass. Um… yikes.
Surprisingly, though, the Starbucks patron who asked for this improbable coffee creation didn’t have to pay a cent for it. You see, Andrew, the Dallas-based Twitter user who brought us the Sexagintuple Vanilla Bean Mocha Frappucchino, is a Gold member of Starbucks’ loyalty program, which means that he gets one free drink for every twelve that he buys — with no limitations. So, after watching a YouTube video featuring what had hitherto been the most expensive ‘Bucks drink ever (a $47.30 Quadriginoctuple Frappucchino), he brought in his very own 128-ounce glass, charmed the baristas enough to work with him on the whole thing, and got to work breaking the record. The drink was made up of 60 shots of espresso and a whole bunch of other ingredients of Andrew’s choosing. “It took a few minutes to figure out all the math,” the coffee lover wrote in an email to Consumerist, “but in the end, it took about 55 shots to get us over the $40 line, and we just rounded it up to 60 to make it easy.” I wonder if it inspires Fry-like super powers in its drinkers?
I cannot be the only one a little horrified that our culture of excess has gotten so bad that this is actually a thing now, right? I mean, why on Earth would anyone need a drink with that may espresso shots in it? No one is going to drink that whole thing, so it all just seems like a waste of perfectly good coffee to me (and vanilla, and ice, an whatever the hell else is in there). And it gets even worse when you consider that there wasn’t even an economic transaction going on there. Given that Starbucks can’t even afford to buy coffee beans anymore, I’m kind of surprised the execs on the business end of things haven’t gone into apoplectic fits about that much espresso going towards one free drink. Or maybe they have: Said Starbucks rep Linda Mills to Seattle Weekly, “[While we love our free drink program], this type of beverage order is totally excessive and not something we encourage people to do. After they make that beverage, it’s pretty inedible. Nor is it safe.” Although after a couple of days, Andrew is apparently almost done with his crazy drink:
Some interesting questions emerge as a result of the Sexagintuple Vanilla Bean Mocha Frappucchino’s rise to fame — namely, should Starbucks make some official rules about what can and cannot be ordered as a Gold free drink? I can’t even believe this is something we’re debating, but if it’s becoming a free-for-all, then yeah, I kind of think it should. Luckily, AdAge’s Simon Dumenco has a few suggestions, all of which I think are quite sound:
- No more bringing in your own cup for rewards beverages. As he puts it, “128 ounces is a gallon, for chrissakes.”
- Limit the amount of caffeine per beverage. There are 64mg of caffeine in a shot of espresso. That means that there are a whopping 3,840mg — or 3.85g — of caffeine in the beverage monstrosity that Andrew created. PopSci noted in 2012 amidst a law suit filed against Monster energy drinks that although one study pegs the amount of caffeine that could kill at person at 10g, another puts it closer to five — and 3.85g isn’t too far from that number. Andrew only drank about a third of his creation, but that’s still about 20 shots of espresso. Yikes.
- If there is anyone in line behind you, do not order something like this. Seriously. Andrew’s drink may have only taken 10 minutes to make, but what does that number rise to when you add how long it took to do the math?
Sounds about right to me. Thoughts? I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me… over by my coffee maker.