Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Aftereffects of the Starbucks #starbout

Well, the #starbout is over, except perhaps in Hawaii, so let's see what the Starbucks closure hath wrought.

I found an inside source, Jenny:

We had a special espresso bar training, and every single store closed (from what I heard-I didn’t personally visit them all tonight). We went over how long shots are to be pulled, how to maintenance the machines, how to steam milk, how to make a cappuccino, etc.

And I found another source, that girl. No, not Marlo Thomas.

the meeting was so awesome. even if it did run an hour longer than it was supposed to lol. we've been using shot glasses and small pitchers for almost a month now, so it's not a massive change. i did learn a lot of new things about the technical aspects of espresso, so that was enlightening. i read a few posts in this comm about other people's meetings, and there's something i wanna say...

for those who are concerned about the small pitchers in high-traffic stores: my store averages 145 customers per hour. the average store is closer to 80-100 customers per hour. we are most definitely considered a high traffic store, and we're managing just fine. it is a bit more work, but overall its better, and its not difficult to adjust.

the new procedures aren't drastically different, it just requires a willingness to change, and a desire to step up your game. i wouldn't say that i want to make starbucks my career (i might, i might not) but either way, it is the job i agreed to do, and this particular job means CARING about what you do. i don't have passion for coffee but i do have a passion for people.

But someone who worked for competitors wonders how much retraining was really needed:

I was completely unaware of how automated everything was at Starbucks until my friend and I were discussing our barista experiences at local cafes....and she mentioned how, despite our working at lesser-known places, we were probably "more qualified" to make espressos and espresso drinks than most people who have only had barista experience at Starbucks.

Anyway, after finding out about the processes at Starbucks, I felt a little less excited about going to a Starbucks store. Learning to use a manual espresso machine has really helped me appreciate the art of espresso-making more; and it has helped me understand what people mean when they say that Starbucks has become a "fast-food chain". Even when I went in for an interview at Starbucks a few weeks ago, the manager who interviewed me asked me about my barista experience, and I mentioned using the manual machines. He in turn responded, "Oh, we don't do any of that around here; all we do is push buttons."

It's times like this that I wish that my wife blogged, because she'd be the first to tell you that sometimes the buttons aren't pushed correctly, or the machines aren't calibrated correctly, or whatever it is that's going on that causes her to avoid certain Starbucks outlets like the plague while patronizing others. If the training worked, she should be able to walk into any Starbucks come tomorrow and get the perfect mocha.

We'll see.

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