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Starbucks customers are not happy about the company's new rewards program

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A big change to Starbucks' popular rewards program is upsetting many loyal customers. 

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Starting in April, customers will earn customers reward points based on the amount of money they spend at the company, the coffee chain announced Monday.

The current rewards system awards customers a fixed amount of points per transaction, regardless of how much money a person spends. 

The new program grant customers two points -- or stars as the company refers to them -- per dollar spent. Members will earn a reward after accumulating 125 stars.

The current program is said to be much simpler. Customers earn 12 stars -- the equivalent of 12 visits -- to get a drink or another treat for free.

The changes to the program mean customers will have to spend $62.50 before they can redeem a free item.

According to Starbucks, the change is a response to customer feedback.

But for customers who spend $4 per transaction, that means they'll have to visit a Starbucks store more than 15 times to reap the benefits of the new rewards program. Anyone who regularly gets just a $2 cup of coffee every morning before work will have to do so for a full month -- 32 trips -- before getting something for free.

Starbucks has responded to unhappy customers by asserting that there are other ways to earn stars, including purchasing Starbucks products in grocery stores and making in-store purchases on monthly "Double-Star Days." The company is also encouraging customers to explore the menu beyond drink choices. 

"If you occasionally buy a food item -- like breakfast, lunch or a pastry -- with your usual beverage, you'll likely earn free rewards just as fast or faster than you do today," Starbucks said.

Starbucks' rewards program, which began in 2009, has had a tremendous impact on the chain's mobile sales, which now account for about 6 million orders a month, according to Nation's Restaurant News.

Starbucks drinks have up to 25 teaspoons of sugar

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A new report shows some Starbucks drinks contain up to 25 teaspoons of sugar per serving.

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According to CNN, that's more than three times the maximum adult daily intake recommended by the American Heart Association and nearly three times the amount of sugar in Coca-Cola, which contains nine teaspoons of sugar per can.

The report was published by British campaign group Action on Sugar, which describes itself as "a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health" and includes doctors, nutritionists and public health specialists. One of the group's aims is advising people how to eat less sugar.

The organization reported that Starbucks' most sugar-loaded drink is the hot grape mulled fruit chai tea, which contains 25 teaspoons of sugar in the largest size offering -- the same amount of sugar in five chocolate chip muffins. Twenty-five teaspoons of sugar is equal to 100 grams of sugar. The maximum adult daily intake of free sugars is seven teaspoons per day. 

Action on Sugar says many Starbucks drinks are incorrectly perceived as healthy.

The report also reveals that a venti-sized white chocolate mochafrappucino with whipped cream contains 18 teaspoons of sugar and Starbucks' signature hot chocolate has 15 teaspoons of sugar in the venti size. The same size chai latte has 13, and the pumpkin spice latte with whipped cream has 10.

“These hot flavored drinks should be an occasional treat, not an everyday drink," said Kawther Hashem, a registered nutritionist and researcher for Action on Sugar. "They are laden with an unbelievable amount sugar and calories and are often accompanied by a high sugar and fat snack."

In comparison, a medium vanilla chai at Dunkin' Donuts has about 11 teaspoons of sugar and a hot macchiato at the same restaurant has seven. A large mocha at McDonald's has 11, and KFC's mocha contains 15.

"Earlier this year we committed to reduce added sugar in our indulgent drinks by 25 percent by the end of 2020," a Starbucks spokesperson said. "We also offer a wide variety of lighter options, sugar-free syrups and sugar-free natural sweetener and we display all nutritional information in-store and online."

'Harry Potter' fans compare Starbucks butterscotch latte to butterbeer

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Days after Starbucks released three limited-time drinks for Valentine's Day, the company has exposed a new coffee item that used to exist only on the coffee chain's secret menu.

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The limited-edition drink is called the smoked butterscotch latte and is available at participating stores nationwide for an unknown amount of time.

According to Starbucks, the smoked butterscotch latte "combines espresso with steamed milk and smoked butterscotch sauce, finished with a sprinkling of smoky butterscotch topping, perfectly crafted to give Starbucks customers new and sophisticated flavors."

“The smoky flavor balances the subtle sweetness of the butterscotch,” said Christal Canzler, whose team develops new handcrafted espresso beverages for Starbucks. “It acts as a savory ingredient that enhances the coffee.”

Many Harry Potter fans are comparing the sweet latte to the popular butterbeer drink mentioned in J.K. Rowling's series. 

Most people responded to the drink positively, saying Starbucks' rendition of the butterscotch beverage is spot on with what they imagined.

Others compared the latte to Rowlings' creation, saying the drink was tasty but not similar to what butterbeer probably tastes like. 

Overall, the response to the new drink is generally positive, but Starbucks lovers and Harry Potter fans should remember one thing: no matter how similar you think the smoked butterscotch latte tastes like butterbeer, you should probably order it using Starbucks' signature name.

Starbucks adding 3 new drinks to menu for Valentine's Day

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Good news: Whether or not you have a Valentine's Day date, Starbucks will help make the day a little sweeter.  

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Starting Monday, the Seattle-based coffee chain will begin offering three new chocolate beverages -- Molten Chocolate Latte, Molten Chocolate Frappuccino Blended Beverage and Molten Hot Chocolate.

Here's how Starbucks describes the drinks on its website

Molten Chocolate Latte – Chocolaty chips are melted into espresso, then topped with steamed milk combined with bittersweet mocha sauce. This latte is finished with mocha and espresso-infused whipped cream and an espresso mocha drizzle. It’s available hot and iced.

Molten Chocolate Frappuccino® Blended Beverage – Coffee with rich mocha sauce and chocolaty chips blended with milk and ice. This beverage is finished with mocha and espresso-infused whipped cream and an espresso mocha drizzle.

Molten Hot Chocolate – Bittersweet mocha sauce and chocolaty chips melted into steamed milk for a smooth and creamy taste. Mocha and espresso-infused whipped cream and espresso mocha drizzle tops off the beverage.

All three drinks are available between Feb. 8 and Feb. 14.  

Don't mind us, we're just over here trying out the new Valentine's drink, the Molten Chocolate Latte. The drink is infused with dark chocolatly chips melted with espresso, mocha infused milk, mocha espresso whipped cream AND mocha espresso drizzle. Yeah, we know. There may be 2 other new drinks as well. It's a good think they come out tomorrow, I guess. #lcstarbucks #moltenchocolatelatte #espresso #chocolatewhippedcream #starbucks #valentines #tobeapartner #baristalife #mochaespresso #exclusive #coffee A photo posted by Lake City Starbucks (@lcstarbucks) on Feb 7, 2016 at 3:00pm PST

#MoltenChocolateFrappuccino available only until #valentines Day. #starbucksbrightonbeach A photo posted by Anna Jennings (@iannabananasi) on Feb 8, 2016 at 4:42am PST <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>

#moltenhotchocolate #district149 #area32partners #omgyum #allthechocolate #parkridge A photo posted by Cat Grimm Lauper (@catgrimmlauper) on Feb 4, 2016 at 12:05pm PST <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>

Florida Starbucks accommodates deaf community

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A Starbucks in St. Augustine, Florida is accommodating the deaf community in the drive thru.

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A video posted on Facebook Tuesday night shows a customer using sign language for an order and the barista signing back.

After asking the customer for her order twice via speaker, the employee appears on the Starbucks menu board in real-time video.

She signs to the woman, who places her order and a friend's order.

Later that night, the woman shared her experience on Facebook, posting, "Starbucks! This is what I'm talking about! We can change the world!" 

St. Augustine is also home to the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.

Watch the full video below.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.3";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>Starbucks! This is what I'm talking about! ❤️Share it away! We can change the world! :)Posted by Rebecca King on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 

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