Starbucks Brass to Baristas: "Slow Down!"

If your latte takes a little longer but tastes a little better, here’s why.

October 14, 2010

Starbucks slows down service in the name of better drinks.

Whenever I’m at Starbucks, I make sure to stand, obnoxiously, right near the little round counter corner where the baristas place their completed drinks.

It’s not because I’m impatient (though I am), it’s because whenever anyone is making anything, I like to watch how they do it.

And what I’ve noticed at the ‘Bucks is baristas maximizing efficiency by working on several—four or five—drinks at once. My coworker, a former Buck-a-neer (employees aren’t really called Buck-a-neers), speaks of the company’s emphasis on efficiency—He says baristas were told spooky stories about undercover testers who come to stores and secretly evaluated them. And one of the principal measures on which they were evaluated was how long it took them to make drinks.

Well things have apparently changed. According to this Wall Street Journal article, Starbucks is about to start instructing baristas to make just two drinks at a time. The WSj acquired company documents detailing the new procedure.

From the article:
"Customers have indicated that the quality of espresso drinks at Starbucks is ‘average’ and that the beverages are inconsistently prepared from barista to barista and from store to store, the documents say….Baristas say it can take anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute to make an espresso-based drink, depending on the complexity of the drink and the barista’s skill. In the documents, Starbucks says one of the goals of the new drink-making method is to produce beverages ‘at a more consistent pace.’"

Your latte might take longer, in other words, but it will take the same amount longer at every store.

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