Phase two of Starbucks’ world domination plan: get baristas to slow down their beverage-making

Phase two of Starbucks’ world domination plan: get baristas to slow down their beverage-making

Starbucking the trend: a location of the famed chain at College and Dovercourt

Mark our words: this will not end well.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Starbucks has instructed its baristas to slow down their latte-slinging in order to ensure better drink quality. That’s a noble goal, but anyone who’s watched the espresso bar at a Yorkville Starbucks on a Saturday morning could be forgiven for thinking these reforms aren’t likely to last long.

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.

The funniest thing here is that the Seattle-based coffee giant is only now discovering that maybe its drinks have become too “mechanized,” “with all the romance of an assembly line.” A perceptive caffeine addict will note that Starbucks replaced its machines years ago with models that literally operate with the push of a button—eliminating the inconsistency, but also the personal touches, of individual baristas.

In any case, daring to slow down the flow of caffeine in places like New York and Toronto sounds like something that could touch off riots and topple governments. It’s just too dangerous—unless this is part of Starbucks’ sinister “phase two” of operations.

• At Starbucks, Baristas Told No More Than Two Drinks [Wall Street Journal]
• Starbucks tells baristas: Slow down [Chicago Sun-Times]
• Starbucks sign goes up, baristas slow down, news here on hiatus [Seattle Times]