Amid customer complaints that the Seattle-based coffee chain has reduced the fine art of coffee making to a mechanized process with all the romance of an assembly line, Starbucks baristas are being told to stop making multiple drinks at the same time and focus instead on no more than two drinks at a time—starting a second one while finishing the first, according to company documents reviewed recently by The Wall Street Journal.
Baristas are also supposed to steam milk for each drink rather than steaming an entire pitcher to be used for several beverages. Other instructions include rinsing pitchers after each use; staying at the espresso bar instead of moving around; and using only one espresso machine instead of two, according to the documents.
Of course if you are in line on the way to work waiting for your latte, these changes might make you a little steamed yourself.
The new methods have “doubled the amount of time it takes to make drinks in some cases,” according to Erik Forman, a Starbucks barista in Bloomington, Minn., who says his store began making drinks under the new guidelines last week. Longer lines have resulted, says Mr. Forman, who is a member of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union.
The Journal is running a poll, asking readers what they think of the new rule. A large percentage are saying “It will slow things down to much”.
I was at a Starbucks last month (don’t ask), and decided that, though all good baristas have a tough job, at Starbucks, they should qualify for sainthood. Listening to people ordering bordered on comical. I’m sure I’d get fired the first day for raising one eyebrow and pointing out the idiocy.
“I’d like a 1/2 decaf, 1/2 caf, extra foam, dry latte”. Huh?
From a very large woman, “a Venti (extra large) low-fat, hazelnut-pumpkin latte, with two Equal’s and extra whipped-cream”. (conspiratorial whisper – “I’m trying to be good!”) So she’s got low-fat milk with a ton of sweeteners, two additional artificial sweeteners, and a whole bunch of fat to top it off – on top of low-fat milk.
Saints I tell you, Saints!
I love this line from the article: ‘To boost the freshness of the coffee and to bring back some of the “theater” that had been lost, the baristas also started grinding beans for each batch of coffee, instead of grinding the day’s beans in the morning.‘
This is ridiculous. Who says you can’t make more than one drink at a time? If you have two lattes ordered back to back, why not steam enough milk for both? Why do you have to wait until you’re almost done with one before starting another? People aren’t going to Starbucks for the “artistry” of their drinks. They want moderately good coffee fast. This will only piss people off. If they really want to try to go back to their roots then they should stop serving milkshake-like coffee drinks.
I think its great. I’m tired of getting luke warm mochas. Take the time needed for each drink to have it hot and fresh.
Mary Sue says
I was enjoying the blogpost, until you went all jackassery on the large woman’s drink. Who died and made you the food police? I want to know, so I can flash my license to eat tasty food at you and tell you to back the heck off.
half-cup of half-caf, double decaffinated half-caf….with a twist of lemon, anyone?
Wow, people are going to have to wait a few extra seconds for their coffee flavored milkshakes? Upsetting.
“The Journal is running a poll, asking readers what they think of the new rule. A large percentage are saying “It will slow things down to much”. To much?
Gah. Journalism sinks lower.
It is being very generous calling anyone at Starbucks a “barista”, they are just part of an automated vending machine. They don’t grind. They don’t tamp. They barely are involved in the process of making coffee. The only step they are actively involved in is steaming milk, how long until that is a button on the machines?
Starbucks does not have baristas, ever get latte art from Starbucks?
sweet meat says
Instead of actually making quality espresso drinks we’ll create a theater of quality. I can’t think of a better example of American culture gone horribly wrong than the Starbucks experience.
Rarian Rakista says
Its fun to heap on the hyperbole but Starbucks really isn’t that bad, its like the subway of coffee joints and anyone who says different either hasn’t drunk the espresso-based concoctions/coffees at family diners lately or remember the days before Starbucks as getting a decent shot of espresso in the 1980’s often meant waiting for the 1 barrista out of 5 who even knew what crema was to pull your shot.
This is a super idea! If only McDonalds could fry their spamburgers slower too, they could reclaim their past glory also. It would work!
Well…what Starbucks has really done over the years is removed the taste and smell of coffee from their shops. Not sure how they accomplished that.
Even on a tight budget I’m more inclined to go to Barista for my coffee and anywhere but Starbucks for vino. Oh yeah, I’m that poor underpaid foodie with good taste(buds).
In my experience, starbucks baristas are actually pretty skilled. They know what they’re doing. The issue with starbucks isn’t the workers, it’s the coffee. Poor quality beans won’t make good coffee no matter how good you are at operating the machine. That said, grinding a whole days’ worth of beans is unacceptable. Grinding enough for two or three drinks should be fine, because it gets used right away. Steaming a full pitcher of milk should be fine, because it basically gets used right away. These new policies (as of last october) seem to be more about appearance than actually making better coffee, which would require starbucks to get better beans.