Global coffee chain Starbucks has angered UK customers by changing the terms of its loyalty scheme.

The company’s existing rewards card has been changed, so that coffee drinkers must gain 50 Gold stars to obtain freebies such as espresso shots, syrups and whipped cream, with one Gold star equating to a single transaction.

Starbucks UK initially offered its customers 50p off a refillable filter coffee, in addition to a free drink when buying a bag of ground coffee. Existing loyal customers will automatically be made Gold members, but in order to retain that status for next year, they must make 50 transactions.

A spokesperson from Starbucks told Marketing Week: “We appreciate that a small number of customers on social media are being very vocal, but in our stores we’re seeing a positive movement towards the My Rewards scheme and record traffic on our site for people registering cards and opting in to offers. By far, latte and cappuccino are our best-sellers and only a small percentage of sales is filter coffee. The scheme looks at rewarding a lot more people than the previous niche offer.”

Frustrated customers have taken to social media sites to vent their anger towards the new scheme, with Facebook groups being set up specifically to question changes to Starbucks’ existing offers.