From limited-edition drinks to sweets and secret deals, these 10 ideas will help you get the best out of your trip to Starbucks in Japan.

Despite rising prices, a meal in Japan is still a lot more affordable than a lot of other countries around the world right now. To find out just how much bang you can get for your yen, our Japanese-language reporters have been visiting some of the top cafe and restaurant chains with a strict budget, and this time they’re stopping by Starbucks to show us what you can buy with just 1,000 yen (US$6.97).

We’ve long been fans of the chain, once even purchasing a giant Starbucks mug back in 2015 for the grand price of 86,400 yen (US$703.64, going by exchange rates at the time).

The competitive spirit is strong amongst our team, so each member is aiming to make the best use of their funds with as little as possible left over. So let’s take a look at the menu items they’d like to introduce us to, along with the creative names they came up for their unique combinations.

▼ Takashi Harada’s “Newbie Mistake Profuse Sweating Takeout Set

Hot Drip Coffee (Tall): 355 yen plus tax
An (Adzuki Bean Paste) Butter Sandwich: 287 yen plus tax
Butterscotch Doughnut: 264 yen plus tax

Total: 978 yen including tax

“I knew that Starbucks offers a ‘Size-up’ service in the morning so I planned to use it to get a good deal on food. However, when I went to purchase it, I learned that it’s only available when you buy a coffee or latte with an eligible food item and you can only make the drink bigger, not the food, which was a newbie mistake.

I was so worked up about not being able to size-up my food that I started sweating profusely in front of the cash register. So I just bought the sweets I wanted and upsized my drink from a Short to a Tall and left the store.”

While Takashi’s dreams of eating a giant doughnut may not have come true, at least he knows better for next time!

▼ Yuuichiro Wasai’s “The Simple Yet Strongest Combo

White Mocha Cake: 464 yen plus tax
Today’s Hot Coffee (Grande): 396 yen plus tax

Total: 946 yen, including tax and for dine-in

“Starbucks has sold countless crappy frappes and lattes, but has there ever been anything better than the combination of black coffee and cake? In my opinion, no. Black coffee and cake is the best — it’s supreme.

While there are many kinds of cakes, when it comes to compatibility with coffee, the white mocha cake is the best. What goes well with that is a simple ‘coffee of the day’. Though the Short size is usually fine for me, I went for the Grande size to get it as near to 1,000 yen as possible.

As for extra toppings, I had no need for them. When it comes to the perfect marriage of black coffee and cake, extra toppings just get in the way of things.”

Yuuichiro proves that sometimes it’s best to keep things simple.

▼ Seiji Nakazawa’s “Hard-boiled Men’s Morning Coffee Set

Hot Drip Coffee (Tall): 355 yen plus tax
Chocolate Cream Doughnut: 264 yen plus tax

Total: 680 yen

Seiji is a fan of the hard-boiled genre, where stereotypically manly men fight crimes and show little emotion, and this was the inspiration behind his Starbucks choices.

“Men need no words in the morning. Just one spoonful of grace is enough. I think Starbucks is a place that gives you a moment of grace in life rather than being all about value for money. Therefore, I pay no mind to everyone’s desire to get close to the 1,000 yen limit.

In order to eliminate waste, the chocolate cream doughnut adds minimal flair. I don’t need a bouquet of flowers in the living room. One flower in a vase is enough.”

▼ Yoshio’s “‘Til 11 a.m. Takeout Value Set

Hot Drip Coffee (Tall): 355 yen plus tax
Sugar Doughnut: 237 yen plus tax
Semi-Dried Tomato Pizza Toast: 355 yen plus tax

Total: 983 yen

“At Starbucks, if you purchase a drip coffee or latte with an eligible food item before 11 a.m., your drink will be upsized for free. This time, I bought a bought a Short drip coffee and a sugar doughnut, so my coffee was upsized from a Short to a Tall.

I also bought some Pizza Toast, so I was able to get a total of three items for less than 1,000 yen. Starbucks doesn’t just focus on drinks, they also focus on food, and everything is delicious! Please do try the food.”

Yoshio used to work part-time at Starbucks, so he knew all about the “Size-up” deal, and he did a gallant job of getting a lot in return for his 1,000-yen budget.

▼ Masanuki Sunakoma’s “Exciting Heart-Pounding Venti Size Set

Starbucks Latte (Soy Milk): 528 yen plus tax
Vanilla Syrup: 50 yen plus tax
Coarsely Ground Sausage Pie: 328 yen plus tax

Total: 951 yen including tax

“As a newbie to Starbucks, this is the menu I came up with for less than 1,000 yen after consulting with the staff. Adding vanilla syrup to the latte is a classic customisation that’s recommended even for first-timers, and its scent is soothing in the morning.

Furthermore, if you purchase eligible food items, you can upsize your drink for free, so I ordered the Sausage Pie. The latte I ordered in the Grande size was upsized to the largest Venti size, making it my first time ever trying a Starbucks drink that big. I was so happy to be able to order  it — I had a delicious day!”

Masanuki couldn’t hide his excitement at trying a Venti for the first time, which was particularly sweet because out of all the team members, he’s the one who is least familiar with Starbucks.

▼ Go Hatori’s “The Usual, but with ‘The First Time in my Life’

Mango Passion Tea Frappuccino (“the biggest one”): 605 yen plus tax
Sugar Doughnut: 237 yen plus tax

Total: 909 yen including tax

“For me, Starbucks is the ‘Mango Passionfruit Tea Frappuccino Shop’. I’m a Mango Passionfruit Tea Frappuccino fanatic who can drink up to three of them in one day, so of course I had to use this opportunity to buy one.

I splurged by buying the biggest one (I’m not sure what that size is called), and though I would’ve been happy with that alone, I had some money left over so I decided to buy one of the tasty looking doughnuts for the first time in my life. Bitter coffee might have been a better partner for the doughnut, but it was sweet and very delicious.

After combining my usual with something that’s “The First Time in my Life“, I couldn’t be happier!”

This combo is a good reminder to try something new every once in while, although this pairing is definitely one for the sweet tooths.

▼ P.K. Sanjun’s “One More Coffee Set

Hot Drip Coffee (Grande): 396 yen plus tax
Almond Croccante: 291 yen plus tax
One More Coffee: 165 yen plus tax

Total: 906 yen including tax

“I don’t go to Starbucks that often, but on the days I do, I almost always use ‘One More Coffee’, which is where you buy a coffee and then pay 165 for a ‘refill’ (or ‘one more coffee’) that you can use at any branch on the same day.

If you like Starbucks drip coffee and drink it more than once a day, this is a fantastic offer — you just have to remember to keep your receipt from the first visit and show it when you want to retrieve your second cup.”

P.K. definitely flexed his Starbucks knowledge with this tip, which some of our less-seasoned members will definitely remember for future.

▼ Mr Sato’s “Snack Set to Satisfy Your Stomach

Hot Drip Coffee (Tall): 355 yen plus tax
Chocolate Chunk Scone: 273 yen plus tax
American Waffle: 264 yen excluding tax

Total: 981 yen including tax

“Starbucks is all about coffee…and fascinating sweets. By pairing bitter coffee with sweets, you can enjoy the unique flavours of both. A sweet drink doesn’t do them justice.

Not only does this combination taste good, it fills you up the perfect amount, making it a good option for lunch or as a snack. It’s the best choice for less than 1,000 yen.”

Ever the aficionado, Mr Sato makes a good point with his selection, and he did a good job of making use of his funds, with just 19 yen to spare.

▼ Ahiruneko’s “Enjoy the Winter Early Afternoon Pair Set

White Mocha (Hot/Short): 446 yen plus tax
White Mocha (Hot/Short): 446 yen plus tax

Total: 981 yen including tax

“I ran into a problem because I don’t usually go to places like cafes, let alone Starbucks. So I took my wife out on a break from work and asked her to choose her favourite drink for less than 500 yen.

I ordered the drink she requested and got one for me as well, and though the White Mocha was a little too sweet for my liking, it felt nice to enjoy a leisurely winter afternoon with her for the first time in a while.”

Ahiruneko, also known as “Mr. Sake” due to his fondness for alcohol, might’ve failed this mission due to the general lack of alcoholic drinks at Starbucks, but he rose to the challenge, impressing everyone with his selections and the partner he chose to share them with.

▼ Mariko Ohanabatake’s “Merry Christmas ♪ Set from the Starbucks Limited-Edition Menu

Melty White Pistachio Mocha (Short): 550 yen including tax
Bacon and Spinach Quiche: 440 yen including tax

Total: 990 yen including tax

“Starbucks has gorgeous limited-edition drinks, especially during the Christmas season, so you can’t miss the chance to try them. This year’s Christmas mocha is a combination of pistachio and white chocolate, and I thought it would go well with a quiche. The taste turned out to be perfect, with a great balance between sweet and salty flavours.

As expected, most of my colleagues focussed on volume, by ordering a black coffee with one or two two side menu items, but come on — we’re at Starbucks! We shouldn’t shy away from ordering the special items here that you can’t get anywhere else!”

Mariko makes a good point, and beats everyone else with her expenditure at the same time, with just 10 yen left to spare. Incidentally, Yoshio took the second spot in terms of maximum spend, with 17 yen to spare, and Mr Sato and Ahiruneko tied for third place, with 19 yen left over.

So, there you have it — 10 different ways to spend 1,000 yen at Starbucks in Japan. As for which was the best, well that’s up to you to decide, so let us know which one was your favourite in the comments section below!

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