Miami-Dade County

July 18, 2014

Coffee craze: Pembroke Pines woman tops curious competition for costliest Starbucks drink

In a competition fueled by social media, a Pembroke Pines woman ordered a $57.75 Starbucks drink and scored Internet fame.

Posing with a jug brimming with a gallon and half of Starbucks frappuccino, Sameera Raziuddin smiled with the pride of a champion.

The Pembroke Pines woman ordered a $57.75 concoction last week that — according to one of a number of websites that track this frothy statistic — ranked as the most expensive Starbucks drink ever ordered.

Raziuddin — at least maybe and briefly — was record holder in a curious competition driven by an insatiable thirst for coffee, social media and the fact that Starbucks offers frequent buyer cards that reward customers with a free cup.

Starbucks does not log the most expensive drink purchases but several websites, for whatever reason, do. Champions appear short-lived.

A website called Consumerist crowned Raziuddin the Starbucks free drink record holder after her July 12 purchase, which topped a $54.75 order earlier in the year. But another called Caffeine Informer reported that Raziuddin had already dropped into third-place, most recently bested by a West Virginia man who poured his $71.35 drink Thursday into a cooler.

Raziuddin’s Frankenbeverage – filling a large plastic jug with a spigot on the bottom – was a Venti Caramel Ribbon Crunch, with 60 shots of espresso along with a variety of syrups, drizzles and powders. She chose the additions with an eye towards making it drinkable, Raziuddin said.

“You would expect it to be gross, but it’s surprisingly delicious,” she said.

Raziuddin – a 23-year-old student enrolled in a medical preparatory program at Devry University’s Miramar campus – said she got the idea from all the time spent studying in a Pembroke Pines Starbucks. As a gold-level member at Starbucks, she earns a free drink reward after the purchase of 12 beverages. She used her card to purchase the brew on a lark, with the intention of sharing it with friends.

And share it she did on the internet, tweeting photos of her giant java, one taken with a sign that says “Coffee made me do it.” Her lengthy receipt documented the record-breaking price that she did not have to pay. Her store, like some others across the country, honored the card without a limit on size or cost.

Starbucks, it is safe to say, is not amused.

Spokeswoman Maggie Jantzen said drinks like Raziuddin’s don’t fit into the company’s size guidelines for beverages — where the largest drink is 24 ounces, compared to Raziuddin’s 192 ounces.

“We want to make sure customers are getting something they’ll enjoy, a high-quality product. We don’t believe this is representative of that,” Jantzen said. “We do feel this particular customization was excessive. It’s not something that we encourage.”

A week later, Raziuddin said she is still only about halfway through the beverage, stored in her fridge. Her sipping has been slowed because, as a Muslim celebrating Ramadan, the holiday limits her window for caffeine consumption.

Though she drinks a lot of coffee, Raziuddin said she’s by no means an addict – she drinks it more for the taste. The beverage is strong so she dilutes it with milk as she goes.

“That’s why I haven’t finished the 60 shots yet,” she said. “It could be a few more weeks to finish it.”

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