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Starbucks Opens First-Ever Smaller ‘Expresso’ Location for Busy People

Starbucks Opens First-Ever Smaller ‘Expresso’ Location for Busy People

This Starbucks location in New York will be smaller and no-frills, with only counters and zero seating

This express Starbucks will be located, where else? On Wall Street.

Have you ever walked into a Starbucks, befuddled by the long menu of pastries, teas, sandwiches, and coffee drinks loaded with syrup, and thought to yourself, “I’m a busy Wall Street executive. Starbucks is opening up its first-ever express location, cleverly described as an “Espresso shot” of a Starbucks experience, on Wall Street in New York. We think they missed the boat on calling it the Starbucks Expresso Experience, but that’s beside the point.

The “Espresso Shot” Starbucks location will actually be a regular Starbucks store, only smaller and stripped down to its basics: that means no couches or any seating (just countertops), and a focus on getting your order to you quickly and conveniently. The 538-square-foot space is apparently also supposed to be aesthetically appealing, with minimal wooden and steel décor and a digital menu board displayed on four low-glare monitors that turn into a work of artwork at night with images of coffee farms.

“This location on Wall Street was intentionally designed to take what’s at the heart of our cafés and distill that for a smaller space,” said Bill Sleeth, Starbucks vice president for store design. “It is the perfect example of how to balance high design, attention to detail and efficiency, while maintaining what is unique to who we are — our coffee and the connection between our customers and partners.”


Your experience in a Target Licensed Store? What's the deal?

I've been a starbucks barista for the better part of three years now. Originally, at a licensed store (which was run by a former Sbucks manager), to a corporate location, then eventually a Target licensed store.

I understand my way around the store like it's nobody's business. The recipes, promotions, shortcuts, and etc. are all ingrained into my brain. However, having transitioned from store to store, licensed to corporate - and back, I understand that different stores have different approaches to some things. As long as things are done efficiently and effectively, I'm all for it.

So, just two months ago I had started working at a Target Licensed Store and, to be quite frank, have hated it since the very first week. The store doesn't have all the right necessary tools and equipment and even storage space. But, those shortcomings I can deal with.

What's really irritating is the fact that most of the staff lack the proper training to handle the high traffic that is accumulated on a daily basis. For example: properly marking cups, calling out drink names (specifications), aerating milk, cleaning the espresso machine, and beverage queuing, only to name a few. Aren't these the very basics of barista certification? Such problems cause loads of miscommunication among baristas, long lineups, angry customers, and just bad representation of the brand.

I believe that a majority of these issues are down to the managerial staff which rarely pay attention to the Starbucks (as it is inside of a Target), and down to poor training from Starbucks officials (DM's, etc.) upon opening of the store. However, there is a recipe handbook and handbooks on how to properly run a Starbucks store - they are not without proper guidelines. Despite that and personally letting them know of the correct, more efficient methods, staff and managerial staff persist on doing nothing about it.

If there is anybody out there who has worked in or has visited one of these stores (even any sub-standard licensed store at that) please share your experience? Do you like it, hate it? Why or why not?

TLDR - Sbucks barista for 3 years. Transitioned to Target Licensed Store. Worst Starbucks I've ever seen in my life. Store/Staff isn't set up for success yet persists on keeping their ways. What do I do? Do you have any experience with poorly run licensed stores?

As a current Starbucks Team Leader in a Target location, I have quite a bit to say.

There are many problems. First and foremost are the resources (rather, lack of) given to effectively run a Starbucks. Target knows how to run a Target, but not a Starbucks - this is the ultimate issue. I'm sure there are reps at both Target/Starbucks corporate offices that exclusively handle the Target account, just based on number of locations, but Starbucks obviously lets Target run a loose canon when it comes to Tarbucks and the results can be disastrous for the Starbucks brand. Perhaps Target gets a little more leniency and ability to bend the rules since they are the largest US licensee. Who knows?

First and foremost, I often see Starbucks company-operated partners complain about lack of "labor" in their stores. Target payroll allocations for Tarbucks makes a Starbucks company operated store look like it's raining payroll. On an normal week, Target allocates me 120 payroll hours to run a Tarbucks. For the entire week. 40 of those hours go to me. That leaves me with 80 hours left to give to my minimum Starbucks requirement of 8 certified baristas. That's 10 hours a week per person. Very few people want a job with 10 hours a week. But we cannot employ less than 8 certified baristas at any given store - that's part of the license agreement.

When operating that lean, things like training, cleaning, and generally getting your team to the next level in terms of product/brand knowledge is virtually impossible. For example, when I train a new team member, we essentially have to throw the barista basics program out the window because my new team members train alongside me while I work a shift behind the bar (there's rarely double coverage). Because of this, training is inconsistent and fragmented and it's virtually impossible to use the training blocks. Plus, chronic team member turnover is a plague that Target can't shake, which also doesn't help. So you're always working with a "green" team.

Additionally, in a Starbucks company operated store, you're surrounded by layers of shift supervisors, assistant managers, store managers, district managers etc. that eat, sleep and breathe Starbucks. Not the case at Target. It's just me. My boss oversees a larger part of the entire Target store of which Starbucks is a tiny fraction. He knows nothing about Starbucks - couldn't tell you the difference between a latte or a cappuccino, much less make them. It's not his fault that he doesn't know - that's just how Target operates. Otherwise, it's me and my baristas. No assistant managers, shift supervisors, etc. Quarterly DSVs and a few other in-between visits from our Starbucks LS district manager are the only other exposure to actual Starbucks/training/brand that I get - direct from someone who actually receives a paycheck from Starbucks and knows what she's talking about. Otherwise it's random e-mails and internal updates from Target headquarters teams who clearly know virtually nothing about Starbucks. A funny example: right before holiday promo, Target marked down all core merchandise 30% to lighten inventory and make room for dot collection and the like. The clearance should have ended and core merch should have gone back to full price, but the Target headquarters team who controls this stuff let it go "salvage" - this is when another Target process team (unrelated to the Tarbucks operation - they wear red/khaki) removes merchandise from the salesfloor and ships it out of the store for garbage or donation to places like Goodwill. So, across the country, right before our 2014 holiday promo, Tarbucks nationwide ended up tossing tens of thousands of dollars worth of core merchandise. About a week later, Target directed to reorder everything we just threw away. Oops! Like I said before, Target knows how to run Target. Not Starbucks.

I love Target, don't get me wrong, but I've always said Starbucks needs to be more aggressive with controlling how licensees such as Target staff/run their stores. Otherwise Target is just trying to run Starbucks as a half-hearted loss-leader that provides a better shopping experience/destination.


"Another Day, Another Starbies!" May 15, 2021 6:06 PM Subscribe

"Starbucks itself is perfectly fine with elaborate drink orders". What is "Starbucks itself" if not the people who, like, make the actual drinks? No, of course, it's the CEO, who has never done blue collar work in his life and whose children and grandchildren will lead lives of pointless wealth as everyone else dies of climate change.


So I work at a university. I also attended this university for a couple of years in the late nineties doing a post-BA certification. What used to be a relatively charming university area has been totally transformed - almost everything is a chain now, the independent bookstores are basically gone, there's a Target, there are tons of lofts catering to wealthy students. The only upside is that the enrollment of a lot more Chinese international students has dramatically improved the Chinese food options.

There is one independent coffee shop left and it gets some kind of major, major rent break or other subsidy as far as I can tell. There used to be at least four other ones, one of which was a really gorgeous cafe that made you feel sophisticated and intellectual just sitting there. The kicker, of course, is that these places were not more expensive than Starbucks.

I, a nineties person, refused to go to Starbucks ever until I started working with people who went there all the time and then I hated to be a bad sport and so I'd occasionally go along for a small plain coffee. I had assumed that it would be super cheap because it's a chain, right, and what's the point of chains if they're not super cheap? But it's not super cheap! And the drinks are gross with all these fake flavors like you're just getting a big old cup of International Coffee from 1992 only much worse. And their default iced coffee is sweetened with a weird caramel gross syrup - you have to ask them not to add it and every once in a while I'd forget and get this horrible undrinkable thing.

But of course there's no outside anymore. People are going to drink coffee, there's no longer anywhere to drink coffee except the gross exploitation influencer machine so people are going to go to the gross exploitation influencer machine.

The main difference between the nineties and the now, business-wise, was that in the nineties algo-capital hadn't captured absolutely everything so you could still choose not to engage with it but now everything has been digested.
posted by Frowner at 6:36 PM on May 15 [59 favorites]

My feeling on the super-complicated Starbucks drinks, with 10 pumps of every kind of syrup plus chocolate chips plus whipped cream plus caramel topping, is “Next time cut out the middleman — just buy a 5-pound bag of sugar and a spoon.”

I do not mind a Starbucks soy latte at all — when I used to travel more regularly, it was a great go-to coffee option. But so many of their “standard” drinks are just such massive sugar bombs that make me feel ill as though I’d eaten a whole bag of candy. And then to make a barista’s life harder with a stupid complicated order, just to cram more sugar in? Definitely not.
posted by snowmentality at 6:48 PM on May 15 [12 favorites]

Starbucks makes me think of the Murakami line. It's just awful, all around:

If you can't understand it without an explanation, you can't understand it with an explanation.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:53 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]

I have coworkers who frequent one of the upscale locations so I’ve tried their various beans & preparation methods and have been impressed by how consistently bad their beans are. Single-origin “blonde” roast on a Clover tasted almost as burnt as their regular drip or espresso.

The phenomenon you mentioned makes sense as a contest to find ever more effective layers to cover up the ruins of those beans.
posted by adamsc at 6:59 PM on May 15 [10 favorites]

Maybe this is a case where intent doesn't really matter, but I'm inclined to judge people a bit less harshly if they're doing this regularly because they like their custom drink, rather than as a form of liquid dare. Also, of course, if they're tipping very well, avoiding peak times and generally being extremely nice to their baristas.

This may identify me as unspeakably pedestrian, but while I enjoy an artisanal coffee as much as the next person, I like Starbucks just fine. And while I'm more of a black coffee person, I don't generally consider liking a frappuccino a form of moral failure on anyone's part.
posted by eponym at 7:02 PM on May 15 [32 favorites]

making a "Suicide" at a soda fountain by getting a little bit of all (or most) of the drinks on tap

As a young teenager, I was asking for that. Never heard the term "Suicide", I just asked for some of everything. Then one time the guy added ketchup and mustard, and I stopped asking for that.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:09 PM on May 15 [42 favorites]

I don't generally consider liking a frappuccino a form of moral failure on anyone's part.

My thought is that a frappuccino is (relative to other Starbucks coffee drinks) fine because it isn't even pretending to be coffee. It's a coffee-flavored dessert thing, and it's honest about that fact.
posted by nosewings at 7:15 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]

it’s the rude customers that can make the job suck.

That’s every public-facing job. I know I’m old not because I probably wouldn’t like any of these cake smoothies, but because I’d never ask someone to make one.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:25 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]

The trouble with sweetened Starbucks drinks IMO is that the sweeteners are weird and fake-tasting. Like, the first time I had a frappuccino it was great - icy, coffee-y, sweet, creamy! - but once the novelty wore off the strange taste of the sweeteners really came through and I don't get them anymore.

The remaining independent shop near work makes lots of foofy coffee and tea drinks, and I am telling you that if you like a Starbucks foofy drink, you will really like one made with better beans and more straightforward ingredients.


The other thing about Starbucks is that the customer culture, at least around here, is basically anti-tip. Hardly anyone tips even when they've made an incredibly fussy stunt order, and if they do tip it's not 20%. People don't really think about tipping at counter-service chains, but they do tend to think about tipping at independent places - I'm sure there are enough non-tippers at the independent shop, but I see a lot more tipping even given that many transactions at both places are credit card-based.
posted by Frowner at 7:26 PM on May 15

I, a nineties person, refused to go to Starbucks ever until.

The article mentions that historical moment, too: "To many Gen X’ers, Starbucks in the ’90s was a symbol of corporate evils, a chain with middle-class pretensions (“venti”) replacing real, authentic coffee shops. "

I like the basic coffee + milk drinks at Starbucks just fine (things like their latte, cappuccino, or flat white, though the last time I ordered a macchiato there was some kind of misunderstanding and I got a weird hybrid drink that tasted ok but sure wasn't a macchiato). Their sweet drinks, hot or cold, are way too sweet for my tastes, so none of the drinks described in the article and shown in the videos sound good to me, but I'm not the demographic for that.

The article is more nuanced than some of the hot takes here. Some of the baristas like making the drinks, some don't corporate likes the trend for the branding and as a way of reaching people who aren't going to be ordering traditional hot coffee drinks etc. If it was hurting store productivity or profits, the company would shut it down, but they are if anything doing the opposite.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:51 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]

> Some of the baristas like making the drinks

While it's certainly possible, I think it's more probable that some of the baristas like having a job and thus gave nice play-along quotes on the record, especially considering the barista in the core case here was fired.
posted by glonous keming at 8:27 PM on May 15 [21 favorites]

The weird thing about this is how bad starbucks drinks are. It's like obsessing about variations on mcdonalds 'hamburgers' or different versions of taco bell 'burritos'.

At Wendy's, at least 30 mumble years ago, you could order a no-salt burger. Want to piss off the grill worker? Order a no salt burger during a busy time. It takes 5 minutes to cook a burger and you have to clean a specific part of the grill and then tend that one specific stupid piece of meat (normally one has dozens of patties slowly making their way across the entire area of hte grill) for five minutes. And the whole time the customer is standing there looking annoyed his fast food is taking so long.

Any other special order is no harder than a standard burger though.
posted by Mitheral at 8:30 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]

Can you even ask for a flat white at a North American Starbucks?

Melbourne coffee culture is next level and I’d guess Starbucks makes a flat white there, but it’s a lot of culture to overcome and commoditize.
posted by notyou at 8:30 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]

I rarely go to Starbucks because I am a coffee aficionado which means coffee has been ruined for me because I only drink “good” coffee. Anyhoo, I used to have a “secret” order at Starbucks and I forget what the order was but it was a proper sized cappuccino. So you’d have their smallest cup with a proper sized drink which of course was about 1/3 of the volume of the cup. Last time I tried to order it, maybe 10 years ago, I was informed that they weren’t allowed to make it anymore. Probably because it was also much cheaper than any of the fancier drinks.

I also call Frappuccino’s “milkshakes” because really, who are you kidding?

I am insufferable.
posted by misterpatrick at 8:38 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]

In the viral drink in the linked article when it says “5 banana” is it literally 5 bananas blended in? Or 5 scoops of something derived from bananas? The linked drink seems like it’s about a thousand calories and it’s probably a pretty good deal in calories per dollar.

If that’s your goal and you’re bored of Hostess Fruit Pies.
posted by GuyZero at 9:05 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]

As a non-coffee drinker, I roll my eyes at a lot of this. There is so much drama about coffee, y'all. As far as I can tell, everyone throws fits if they don't get Just The Right Coffee and The Right Number of Cups of it before X time in the morning, and there's all the "chino" drinks I can't keep track of, and the Starbucks Skin Scale TV Trope (I was nice and didn't link it). And now we have TikTok seekrit drinks and people who order 15 different things in their beverage? Good lord, people.

I'd be angry if I was a barista too and a bunch of 2020's equivalent of Sally Albright-types were listing that much specialness that HAD to go into their drinks, especially during rush time or if they were a jerk about it. A friend of mine used to work at Starbucks and so far I have restrained myself from making her life worse by mentioning the existence of this whole controversy to her, because I'm sure she'd Have Thoughts. Seriously, I feel bad asking someone to substitute any other kind of cheese instead of blue cheese in a salad, much less this level of fussery. But upon reading this, it sounds like they're just plugging these orders in online rather than actually SAYING them to a human's face, which I guess makes it easier for you to feel like you can get away with this nitpickery.

That said, as a non-coffee drinker, I appreciate that Starbucks actually has non-coffee beverages I can drink whenever someone in the beforetimes wanted to go to Starbucks. (Now I have probably at least $50 of Starbucks gift cards I haven't used from my work since I haven't been able to go anywhere with anyone.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:12 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]

Can you even ask for a flat white at a North American Starbucks?

It's been on the menu for about six years. Others can speak better to how it compares to the original.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:22 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]

As a father of a tweenage daughter I'm living this dream/nightmare daily. Ignore the Starbucks hacking, that's just a bystander to all of this.

Check out this cool birria taco recipe! It's a 27 second rapidly edited video of ingredients flying around with no measurements or times but hey that smiling girl at the end says it's delicious so yeah, let's try it.

Check out this cool new bakery that I found! The cookies look awesome! It's 30 minutes away and there's a 45 minute queue of similar kids who are prepping their tiktok video recordings once they get inside. IF they get inside. It looks like they're running out of cookies.

These kids are looking for something/anything to latch on to. I kind of feel for them.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:22 PM on May 15 [35 favorites]

Hmm. Well, I normally drink instant coffee.

(Secretly hoping instant coffee becomes the new "I don't own a TV"-esque thing people say)
posted by FJT at 9:25 PM on May 15 [16 favorites]

"Starbucks itself is perfectly fine with elaborate drink orders". What is "Starbucks itself" if not the people who, like, make the actual drinks? No, of course, it's the CEO, who has never done blue collar work in his life and whose children and grandchildren will lead lives of pointless wealth as everyone else dies of climate change.

None coffee with left beef? (I kid)

I'm no fan of Starbucks, but sometimes it is nice to know that (normal, non-abusive) customization is allowed there and won't be judged. It's the place I go when I want espresso with whipped cream, for instance -- which is about the simplest possible drink to make short of black coffee, but man, the looks I get some places. At one particularly snooty café I was informed that I could not order this because they prided themselves on their beans and adding whipped cream would "ruin" the coffee.

Chains offer bland professionalism and, usually, a high floor (and low ceiling) on what kind of interactions you'll have. I can see the appeal of that. The injustice is that it only applies on one side of the counter.
posted by aws17576 at 9:25 PM on May 15 [11 favorites]

The great thing about Starbucks for me when I visit North America is I know I can reliably get free wifi and access to a toilet.

Here in New Zealand it never got beyond catering for tourists and foreign students. Some say that is because of the strong well-established coffee culture. I think that's one part, the other part is that the US Starbucks company sold the rights to the franchise to a local company who didn't have the same deep pockets that let them take over every viable site and undercharged until the competition died. If OG Starbucks really wanted to add another territory of a few million things might be different.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:54 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]

How about we go back to stacking a dozen trollish songs on the jukebox after all.

Piss on all the customers instead of on the working stiff.
posted by away for regrooving at 10:04 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]

The article mentions that historical moment, too: "To many Gen X’ers, Starbucks in the ’90s was a symbol of corporate evils, a chain with middle-class pretensions (“venti”) replacing real, authentic coffee shops. "

In my version of the 90s, at least, the choice was not Starbucks vs. "Authentic", it was Starbucks vs. deli coffee.

It came in a cup that looked like this and the only special order was if you wanted regular or black.

These days there seems to be a coffee shop that caters to every niche imageable.
We have a regional chain for the teenagers, Starbucks for soccer moms and college girls, drive through for the commuters. Hell, we even have one that refuses to carry milk.

Honestly, if Starbucks is ok with it and these people aren't ordering 5 minute drinks in the middle of the morning rush, I don't see the harm.
posted by madajb at 10:12 PM on May 15 [11 favorites]

Honestly, if Starbucks is ok with it and these people aren't ordering 5 minute drinks in the middle of the morning rush, I don't see the harm.

This is literally the problem with consumerism in a nutshell. You are saying "if their employer is okay with it and it doesn't inconvenience any other fellow consumers, it's okay to abuse a service worker for one's own benefit."
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:31 PM on May 15 [12 favorites]

This is literally the problem with consumerism in a nutshell. You are saying "if their employer is okay with it and it doesn't inconvenience any other fellow consumers, it's okay to abuse a service worker for one's own benefit."

How is ordering a stupid drink "abusing a service worker"?

I worked summers in an ice cream stand and we'd get tourists coming in ordering all kinds of ridiculous combinations, but it made no difference to me what the hell it was.

Would I prefer it if everyone had just gotten two scoops of chocolate, sure.
But if you want to stand there while I have to open 4 different freezer, shake nuts on one half, pump strawberry on the other, chocolate dip it and then slice bananas, that's on you.
I got paid the same regardless.

I'm not saying the people doing this aren't jerks, but it is a long way from "abuse".
posted by madajb at 11:11 PM on May 15 [27 favorites]

I am in Seattle, which is my hometown, right now because my grandpa is on hospice. My grandparents’ house is within walking distance of several different wonderful coffee shops, one of which is a particularly nice Starbucks. For the last few years, my grandpa has been going to that Starbucks with my mom because they will make him a consistently lovely cappuccino and they have a beautiful fireplace and they are always so kind and patient with him. It’s one of the few things he seemed really exited about in his routine. He can’t really leave the house so now I bring him Starbucks daily - sometimes that cappuccino, sometimes a tasty frou-frou menu drink so I can try to encourage him to eat more calories. They’re so kind and patient with me, too.

I don’t know why I’m saying that - I guess I’m just really glad for everyone at our local store. We have a lot of options nearby, but they’re just the best around.
posted by mosst at 11:30 PM on May 15 [56 favorites]

At one particularly snooty café I was informed that I could not order this because they prided themselves on their beans and adding whipped cream would "ruin" the coffee.

Bet they'd have given you your order just fine if you'd asked for an espresso with (regular) cream, despite that being basically the same thing. This is an indictment of them, not you.
posted by Dysk at 12:42 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]

Buzzfeed on Starbucks on TikTok.

Welcome to millennial hell.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 1:02 AM on May 16 [19 favorites]

I lived in Amsterdam in the late 90s when the city was fiercely protective of its cafe heritage. I'm not sure whether globalised chain shops were simply discouraged or actually prohibited, but basically there weren't any.

Starbucks opened its first outlet in Amsterdam in 2011 the city now has 21 of them.

(A couple of other cities similar in population to Amsterdam: Seattle has 133 Starbucks Turin has one.)
posted by Cardinal Fang at 1:15 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]

Check out this cool new bakery that I found!

Back in the day, there'd be several responses of 'Yeah right you "found" it. Go advertise your bakery somewhere else', followed by a kill-filing.

It is just grotesque that kids now actually aspire to a career in lying about being paid to advertise something.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 1:26 AM on May 16 [12 favorites]

"I'll have a half double decaffeinated half-caff, with a twist of lemon."

My favorite detail of that scene is that Iman orders a twist of lemon without having ordered a coffee.
posted by The Tensor at 2:09 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]

I like the basic coffee + milk drinks at Starbucks just fine (things like their latte, cappuccino, or flat white, though the last time I ordered a macchiato there was some kind of misunderstanding and I got a weird hybrid drink that tasted ok but sure wasn't a macchiato)

taquito boyfriend was a barista at an independent joint in San Jose when Starbucks debuted their version of the macchiato as a sweet sticky caramel. bidness. completely unlike a traditional macchiato, & his theory is they did it on purpose so that customers who liked the Starbucks macchiato & tried to order one in an indie shop would get something completely different & not to their liking

(whether this strikes you as overparanoid or "yeah that checks out" probably depends on your existing view of Starbucks)

he gives me mild side-eye if I order a frappucino because apparently they're kind of a pain in the ass to make, but

A) you should hear how respectfully he talks about the polite but very exacting gentleman who used to order a very specific beverage with a very specific amount of ice from the Philz truck in San Francisco's financial district, how much pride he took in finally figuring out the exact right number of ice cubes* so the guy would accept his coffee the first time instead of handing it back, teaching everyone else on the truck so they could get this guy's coffee right the first time too

(my take is it's like Stockholm Syndrome: The Anecdote but also I wasn't there, so)

B) as an on-spectrum person the idea that I can commit a social faux pas simply by walking into a restaurant and ordering something off the menu is horrifying and I basically need it to not be true in my reality**

C) nothing is ever gonna top the time I was in Chipotle & the person in front of me ordered a quesadilla (which is not a standard menu item) & the poor employee, who had clearly never been taught how to make a quesadilla on the store's equipment, was trying to pick it up off the tortilla warmer & kept burning their fingers on molten cheese through their non-heat-protective plastic gloves

* there was some other shit that needed to be perfect with this drink but all I remember is there was an exact right number of ice cubes

** I barely ever get fraps anymore because he got in my head, relationships are for masochists

actually you know what Starbucks drink I do like? the pumpkin cream cold brew. have a theory going that modern Americans who aren't otherwise connected to a culture besides our consumer one have a deep yearning to experience seasonal traditions & ancestral connection, but all we know is capitalism, so it manifests as feeling like we need to pay six bucks for a pumpkin spice latte whenever the weather gets a slight bit chilly

anyway the pumpkin cream cold brew tastes better than a PSL imo
posted by taquito sunrise at 3:07 AM on May 16 [22 favorites]

Starbucks came to Portugal (checks Google. arrrgh!) 13 years ago and this being a strong coffee culture built around tiny, dementedly strong espressos many eyes rolled. No one goes there for the coffee (except tourists). It's more like an ice cream parlor with milkshakes, big cookies & flavored gels. Wildly popular, for that.
[You can also buy Starbucks coffee capsules for your Nespresso machine.]

Me, when I want a sugarbomb disguised as a caffeine-adjacent drink? Bubbletea.
posted by chavenet at 3:44 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]

On the rare instances I find myself at a Starbucks, I make sure my order is as bog-standard as can be because I have always loathed the ridiculously tortured orders I've heard people demand.

I try to be as equally easy whenever I find myself at a Subway. My order is always simply a veggie flatbread. But, I've always felt a pang of guilt when I watch the person struggling to wrap-up my order because it always seems like none of them have ever had a customer simply request they drag it through whole garden, instead of requesting a list of specific veggies.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:24 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]

I understand that ordering a complicated drink (especially in a drive through) and being a shitty customer is impolite. All those customizations take time and can are pretty obnoxious during a rush. I’m not a coffee drinker, so maybe I’m not realistic about people getting these at a drive through at 7am but is this not just another version of shitting on things teenage girls like? Isn’t the classic trope that middle school girls go to get frappachinos together after school?

Starbucks encourages the customizations and weird combos. Never has the app suggested to me a hot coffee with caramel and whipped cream (fairly simple), right now it’s an iced guava and coconut milk refresher. Why would customers think that it’s a problem to order custom drinks when the store and app encourage it (again, doesn’t give you a right to be a jerk to employees though)

I don’t know how to explain it but people who complain about how Starbucks is bad coffee and a purist would never go there just seem like the other end of the spectrum of the people who freak out about getting exactly 4.5 pumps of caramel rather than 4 or 5
posted by raccoon409 at 5:44 AM on May 16 [12 favorites]

Years and years ago at one (awesome) temp job, my boss and I were discussing coffee. He grumbled that his 13-year-old daughter had started asking him if she could start drinking coffee but he knew it was because she wanted the foofy Starbucks' iced/sweetened stuff. "I told her that the only way she can have coffee," he said, "was if the FIRST TIME she ever drank it, it would have to be a cup of that super-strong bitter stuff you get at diners. She needs to accept the whole package."

I've usually tried (half-heartedly) to avoid Starbucks I prefer the smaller indie places (which in New York are still legion, thankfully) for hanging-out kind of visits. But there have been times when I'm in need of some kind of in-between location - work lets out at 5, I have a 7 pm movie ticket, I need to go somewhere in between - and Starbucks is the only nearby option. And when I was doing theater, coffee was just a caffeine delivery system and you didn't care WHO you were getting your coffee from, you just needed it, and whoever was closer to the rehearsal studio that's where you went.

I was at a cool place yesterday that I think had the opposite thing going on. They did Yemeni-style coffee and pastries - and most of its menu were these wonderful-sounding but traditional coffee drinks, where they mixed the beans with things like cardamom pods or ginger or cinnamon and they could serve it to you in a super-cool pot set atop a tea light to keep it warm while you lingered, or different kinds of chai tea. But when I looked at the big menu on the wall, down in one corner was a section they had titled ". but I just want coffee. " that listed the prices of different sizes of regular cups.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:55 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]

Starbucks encourages the customizations and weird combos. Never has the app suggested to me a hot coffee with caramel and whipped cream (fairly simple), right now it’s an iced guava and coconut milk refresher. Why would customers think that it’s a problem to order custom drinks when the store and app encourage it (again, doesn’t give you a right to be a jerk to employees though)

Because we as individuals are responsible for moral reasoning about how we treat others - we are capable of doing more than just accepting whatever gross "norms" capital tries to inflict. Employers encourage me to yell and whine and not feel obliged to tip and to assume that if I complain enough over bullshit I can get someone fired. Employers encourage me to believe that I should walk into a store at 7:59 when they close at 8pm and then spend forty minutes dicking around and causing unpaid overtime for the employees - now missing their buses and rides, needing to let their partners know that they won't be home to put the kids to bed, etc - who are not allowed to tell me that they're closed.

Employers just want my money, they don't care how many employees they grind up in the process. Since I am not capable of subsistence farming and absolute removal from capitalism, this means that I am left with the responsibility to think of how my demands affect staff.

It is conventional to say that this is structural problem and therefore I have no responsibility to do anything but take the easier path until some outside force - not me! maybe someone else will start a union or something - fixes the structure and until then I should just roll with it.

It's also conventional to say that if teenage girls like something and you criticize it, you must hate teenage girls. The complicated Starbucks drink guy I've actually met was in his fifties and the staff pretty clearly didn't think it was cute and fun, especially during rush.
posted by Frowner at 6:16 AM on May 16 [25 favorites]

On the rare instances I find myself at a Starbucks, I make sure my order is as bog-standard as can be because I have always loathed the ridiculously tortured orders I've heard people demand.

I always just get a "tall Pike Place, no room for cream" because I just don't have capacity in my brain to figure out anything more complicated. (and I don't like milk or sugar in coffee).
posted by octothorpe at 6:23 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]

I'm just in here to say that my partner is a major Starbucks regular because it consistently tastes good, has a drive thru (autism and dysphoria make going inside to order coffee much more difficult), and isn't located downtown where the traffic always sucks. They'd love to be more self-righteous about their coffee but unfortunately the indie coffee shops around us don't meet all or even most of those requirements, so Starbucks it is.

They always take note of people's nametags so they can say "Thank you, Alice!" or whatever. One day one of the workers thanked them for always being courteous and noted, "You're the only person who ever uses my name!" We live in a major metro area, so it wasn't like a small n situation. I despair for humanity.
posted by brook horse at 6:36 AM on May 16 [11 favorites]

There's a disappointing amount of classism and food shaming going on in here that I wish people would reflect on.

This isn't abuse, but it definitely happens. Yesterday my sister, who is the GM for a Smoothie Franchise, wouldn't remake an order for a customer due to a combo of the store policy and the attitude of the customer. When she turned around to continue working the customer threw, one after the other, both smoothies into the back of my sister's head. I wish I was kidding. This is the 2nd time this year she's been assaulted.
posted by FirstMateKate at 6:58 AM on May 16 [35 favorites]

I know technically It's Allowed and encouraged by the corporate overlords to order what you want no matter how long and elaborate, but as someone who's been abused because my job was to help you, I just want to cause as little trouble to others as I have to. I so don't want to be That Person. I hate Those People.

I actually wanted to try the Unicorn Frappuchino or whatever it was a few years ago, but felt like such an asshole wanting to because the Starbucks employees were so open about how horrible it was for them to deal with, and god knows I have equivalents to that in my job I have no choice about- it's not just a froofy drink. My mother tried toward the end of the week to order it and they said they were out, and I was relieved.

I guess every week is Unicorn Frappuchino Week now, though.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:23 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]

misterpatrick: "I also call Frappuccino’s “milkshakes” because really, who are you kidding?

They're also really bad milkshakes. Mostly ice.
posted by signal at 8:40 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]

Melbourne coffee culture is next level and I’d guess Starbucks makes a flat white there, but it’s a lot of culture to overcome and commoditize.

I first met my wife (then potential partner) in Melbourne after two years of long distance over WoW. She said she wanted coffee while I, not a huge coffee drinker, wanted a donut. So I suggested a the donut shop over in the corner of the mall we were walking down. She said something about "real coffee" and I kind of drew a blank. She said she wanted espresso and I said "they'll have espresso" to which she expressed complete shock and disbelief. Walk over there and the shiny steel espresso maker was sitting there waiting for an order. She got her first taste of a flat white and I got my donut man.

It's not that different from Perth but yeah, Starbucks was kind of a non-starter in Australia thanks to Italian immigrants giving us coffee culture decades ago.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:49 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]

I like coffee, but do not care for the dark roast Starbucks serves, so if I get coffee there, it's a pourover, which is more effort, and I feel bad and tip. The food is too sweet. I mostly go for wifi when I'm away from home and order coffee or tea to be polite.

Chains really have taken over, which is handy when you're in an unfamiliar place and need wifi and a bathroom, but it's a shame to lose local businesses.
posted by theora55 at 9:25 AM on May 16

The framing of "a complicated drink order got a barista fired" is misleading, because the barista didn't get fired for being slow, or because the customer complained the order wasn't perfect: he got fired for publicly mocking the order in a tweet, which prompted a thread of other baristas to post photos of similarly complicated orders they had gotten.

Depending on where you fall on the question of how much companies should be able to police their employees' behavior outside of work, either Starbucks is at fault for overzealously guarding their brand image, or the barista is at fault for publicly complaining about and mocking his customers, but in neither case is the customer meaningfully responsible.
posted by Pyry at 9:27 AM on May 16 [7 favorites]

Depending on where you fall on the question of how much companies should be able to police their employees' behavior outside of work, either Starbucks is at fault for overzealously guarding their brand image, or the barista is at fault for publicly complaining about and mocking his customers, but in neither case is the customer meaningfully responsible.

However, the fact that the original tweet you refer to yielded several responses suggests that there are VERY MANY baristas who have been quietly frustrated by overly-demanding customers in general, and so while this INDIVIDUAL customer in the original tweet may not have been responsible, he is a member of a growing trend that is still really kinda sucky.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:33 AM on May 16 [7 favorites]

I also call Frappuccino’s “milkshakes” because really, who are you kidding?

What? They were named after the distinctive vestments of the Frappuchin order of friars. I mean, they might not be very good, but you can't claim to be a coffee aficionado without at least understanding the origins of the name.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:36 AM on May 16 [20 favorites]

Also, putting extra strain on another person so you can get social media clout is scum behaviour.

I feel like "influencers" are a scourge on humanity. The Antichrist will probably be an anti-vaxx influencer who is really into crypto-currencies.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:41 AM on May 16 [12 favorites]

When you order through the app, you're not picking up at the drive through, are you? There's a designated part of the counter where you pick it up. You don't even need to be standing there inconveniencing anyone. It takes (for example) 7 minutes to get to your local Starbucks, the app says my order will take 10 minutes, I can order, put on my shoes, whatever, drive over and my order will be ready in a few minutes. I don't even have to talk to anyone. There's an easy spot in the app to include a tip. I just don't see the inconvenience and source of outrage over this method of ordering.

Also, while no ethical consumption under capitalism and all that, Starbucks seems to do alright by their employees. They have trans inclusive health care, retirement, PTO, college tuition. No place is perfect, but some people gotta gripe, I guess.
posted by Is It Over Yet? at 9:45 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]

They always take note of people's nametags so they can say "Thank you, Alice!" or whatever. One day one of the workers thanked them for always being courteous and noted, "You're the only person who ever uses my name!" We live in a major metro area, so it wasn't like a small n situation. I despair for humanity.

This seems like something people might have a wide range of feelings about, though. Wearing those nametags isn't a choice, so I don't assume that someone wearing one actually wants me to know or use their name.

There's a clerk at my local garden store who would recognize me when I came in, and one day he started calling me by my name. I was taken aback -- I hadn't told him my name, he'd learned it from my credit card -- and though he meant nothing but friendliness, it made me uncomfortable. (He also started giving me discounts, which only increased my feelings of unearned intimacy. Curiously, after he left that job, I ran into him on the street once and we talked for a few minutes I found that my discomfort had totally evaporated, so there's definitely something about the power asymmetry in employee-customer interactions that had been in play.)

In Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea books, to know someone's true name is to hold power over them. I think she was onto something.
posted by aws17576 at 10:12 AM on May 16 [13 favorites]

When you order through the app, you're not picking up at the drive through, are you? There's a designated part of the counter where you pick it up. You don't even need to be standing there inconveniencing anyone. It takes (for example) 7 minutes to get to your local Starbucks, the app says my order will take 10 minutes, I can order, put on my shoes, whatever, drive over and my order will be ready in a few minutes.

Except if a few other people all have the same idea as you, and then you have a couple other people come in to order in person, and there's only two baristas, suddenly they're stuck making 7 drinks for people who might all be coming Any Minute Now, and the time spent faffing around with "Trenti iced coffee, 12 pumps [sugar-free] vanilla, 12 pumps [sugar-free] hazelnut, 12 pumps [sugar-free] caramel, 5 pumps skinny mocha, a splash of soy, pour in coffee only up to the star on the siren's head, ice, and then double blend it!" is gonna feel damn inconvenient, I'd wager.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:13 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]

What? They were named after the distinctive vestments of the Frappuchin order of friars.

Lest anyone should repeat the monk story elsewhere as fact.
posted by Dysk at 10:26 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]

They always take note of people's nametags so they can say "Thank you, Alice!" or whatever. One day one of the workers thanked them for always being courteous and noted, "You're the only person who ever uses my name!" We live in a major metro area, so it wasn't like a small n situation. I despair for humanity.

This seems like something people might have a wide range of feelings about, though. Wearing those nametags isn't a choice, so I don't assume that someone wearing one actually wants me to know or use their name.

Yeah, this's come up in a couple threads in the past, depending on who you ask, where you're at, social class, etc. you've got about even odds of someone going "Aww, how humane" or "burn it with fire" at the prospect of using an employee's name un-offered. (naturally this gets complicated by frequency of people doing so to harass said employee, etc.)

Myself, I'm inclined towards the "true names have power" interpretation. It's like believing the singing & dancing that happens at Coldstone when you tip them is that the employees are just that happy, rather than it being corporate policy & people like seeing just how small of a tip they can still buy someone's forced cheer with.

But either way, there's no escaping some people thinking you're rude!
posted by CrystalDave at 10:27 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]

This thread makes many fine points about employee difficulties but it also has a very strong “No, it’s the children who are wrong” vibe.

In Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea books, to know someone's true name is to hold power over them. I think she was onto something.

To be a pedant, being able to name things gives people power over them in the New Testament as well, if not in even older literature.as well.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:27 AM on May 16

In Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea books, to know someone's true name is to hold power over them. I think she was onto something.

We are instructed not to dress children in anything bearing their name, to protect them from strangers.

Employees, meanwhile.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 10:31 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]

Dysk: "Have you heard of rhetorical questions?"

No, could you explain?
posted by signal at 10:55 AM on May 16 [14 favorites]

Calling people by their name , especially people you don't know and depending on how you do it, is a way of establishing dominance.

I also associate it with people who have gone through certain kinds of sales trainings they are the ones who repeat your name way too often in a single sentence.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:04 AM on May 16 [13 favorites]

I could, but you see, I have heard of rhetorical questions.
posted by Dysk at 11:06 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]

I actually wanted to try the Unicorn Frappuchino or whatever it was a few years ago

Oh, oh, I can answer this one - my work buddies had walked over to Starbucks and got one and we all tried it and it was disgusting and the person who bought it threw it away - there was way, way too much going on with it and out of a group of four or five people, one of whom really, really loves sweet Starbucks drinks, no one wanted to finish it . Now, I am not a huge fan of Starbucks, as you can tell, but in general their sweet summer drinks are tasty enough for occasional drinking and I wouldn't turn down a free one. But that Unicorn one was a pure stunt drink and I don't think you missed much - I think their other fun drinks have been funner.
posted by Frowner at 11:06 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]

I just don't see the inconvenience and source of outrage over this method of ordering.
Because there are human beings making your drink. If your drink is three times as complicated as an average order, that is inconvenient. If everybody starts doing it because it's a tiktok trend, it's just going to make your job three times harder, and no one will extend anything your way even though your job is now that much more difficult. You're not going to get a higher salary, you're not going to get more understanding customers, you probably won't even make much more in tips because of the way that tips operate at Starbucks.

I couldn't even buy feta cheese at the grocery store for 2 months because it went viral on tiktok. I can't imagine what these baristas are going through, especially on top of the unbelievable nonsense that service workers (in the United States particularly) have had to deal with throughout the pandemic. We seem to have really lost sight of the fact that convenience comes from human labor, and in these situations the laborers are usually woefully underpaid for what they do and overworked without any care for their wellness, health, or anything approaching job satisfaction.

As far as calling the people who are making your coffee for you by their name, I have found that people appreciate direct eye contact, a smize (can't see your smile with a mask on!), and a large tip.
posted by twelve cent archie at 11:20 AM on May 16 [14 favorites]

I'm starting to wonder if threads like these should have trigger warnings for people coming from front of house service industry jobs. Cannot read anymore myself.

Calling people by their name , especially people you don't know and depending on how you do it, is a way of establishing dominance.

"Oh, you're JENNIFER!" says the eagle-eyed biddy spotting my nametag at some work event, making me feel like a pinned bug. She uses the name multiple times in conversation, making me deeply wish she wouldn't. Like uh. I know who you're talking to here and I'm the only Jennifer in the vicinity, you don't need to hammer it into me.
"JENNIFER said that," says some random jerk claiming something that isn't true. They use your name like a bludgeon, like a weapon, to report it to your boss to get you in trouble. All because they have your name.
I really don't want to give my name since it can and will be used against me in the court of work. There's just something worse about that happening in live action/conversation as opposed to them just getting your name over email. There's kind of a shame about the "name on your shirt" because you don't have a choice about handing your name over to assholes that can and will use it against you.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:18 PM on May 16 [13 favorites]

There's kind of a shame about the "name on your shirt" because you don't have a choice about handing your name over to assholes that can and will use it against you.

And if they don't see it, they'll demand it, especially when they want to try to intimidate you "What's your name?" they ask angrily and almost sure to be followed by I'm going to speak to your manager or some variation of "Do you know who I am?"/"I come here all the time and. " Fuck that.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:30 PM on May 16 [12 favorites]

Dip Flash: "I also associate it with people who have gone through certain kinds of sales trainings they are the ones who repeat your name way too often in a single sentence."

It's great fun to turn the technique back at them and watch them get flustered. They usually double down and use your name MORE, as if they could beat you into submission.
posted by signal at 12:59 PM on May 16 [4 favorites]

I couldn't even buy feta cheese at the grocery store for 2 months because it went viral on tiktok.

I also associate it with people who have gone through certain kinds of sales trainings

Either that or some kind of bullshit self-help book they've read. When anyone does it to me, I immediately conclude I shouldn't trust this person an inch - which is presumably the opposite of the desired effect.
posted by Paul Slade at 2:04 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]

Oh man I totally forgot about that feta cheese tomato sauce thing from earlier this year. Another tiktok recipe I got roped into.

That. was not a good recipe.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:25 PM on May 16

Because we as individuals are responsible for moral reasoning about how we treat others

Yes I think that's important, but individual reasoning is also imperfect and has its limits. It's susceptible to a person's own biases and past experiences. And it gets short-circuited when people are stressed, tired, hungry or even just haven't gotten their caffeine. And it's not only you reasoning how you individually treat others, but in this case it's also how you and other people around you doing the same thing (e.g., buying something) are treating others, which adds another layer of complexity to the whole thing because you're bringing in more actors that you need to be aware of and attempt to anticipate behavior for but have no way of knowing what they are actually going to do. And not only because people will order differently, but two people can have the same information and be in the same situation but come to different conclusions on how to act.

I mean, I think we saw part of it during the last year of the pandemic. The expectation that everyone would just reason that it's good to wear masks took way too long to happen in the US. And it felt like places like Costco that just made mask wearing as mandatory as possible were right not to rely on that.

And are the other suggestions in this thread to think about Starbucks and it's staff is just an indirect way to suggest people to maybe not go to Starbucks to begin with? Because rather than having to understand at what times a Starbucks is busy, whether it's understaffed at the moment, if there are any active online trends that would increase the likelihood of a custom order, and whether someone's own order adds a unnecessary burden to staff production capacity in comparison to other orders, it may just be easier for an individual to get their drink elsewhere. I mean, it's not like other places don't serve caffeinated drinks. And Thai tea, Vietnamese iced coffee, and boba milk tea are all sweet drinks with caffeine that are delicious (and usually are served by Asian-owned businesses, which the social media tells me to support too—Uh oh, I can see where this is going).
posted by FJT at 2:50 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]

I have the app and was using it from time-to-time pre-pandemic (when your job can end at 3 in the morning and start up again at 10 am the next day, it's. useful) but everything about it is designed to separate the customer from seeing or acknowledging the labor that goes into making their drinks. You press a few buttons on your phone when you're going over the bridge, walk into Starbucks and your drink is waiting for you -- without interacting with either a cashier or a barista in the process. Though it's sold as an easy way to avoid the line and score yourself an occasional free drink, I feel like the actual reason for its existence is to get people to order much more expensive drinks than they would normally without fearing the eyeroll of the people making those drinks (or the people behind you in line). Pre-app, I would poke an eye in to the Starbucks -- are they slammed? Maybe I'll just drink the coffee at work. Or even -- are they slammed? Maybe today's not the day for my cold foam cold brew. The app is designed so that even basically compassionate people won't have to face that choice -- Your drink is probably ready when you get there no matter how busy they are, and if you do feel guilty about it, hey, what can you do, you didn't know, what's done is done.

All this to say - thank (and tip) your barista no matter what you're ordering and be conscious that whether you are in the store or not your drink takes time and effort to make (and some more than others). Just because you're following the rules of the app doesn't mean you're not being an asshole.
posted by matcha action at 2:54 PM on May 16 [10 favorites]

I never drank coffee before my last in-office job. I treated it as something medicinal rather than tasty, a slow-drip caffeine IV, so the taste didn't bother me much. The darker, the better.

But I did pour in a shot of Torani syrups from home once in a while. Chocolate, usually sometimes raspberry or blackberry or black cherry.

I felt like I was cheating. I don't any more.
posted by delfin at 3:03 PM on May 16

And not to abuse the edit button.

I’m certainly not condoning ruining a barista’s day to indulge a horde of tiktok followers but after this Sugared or Iced Coffee is An Abomination thread and the cake thread and the last several alcohol threads. I feel like one thing that has become clear is that Metafilter’s revolution will absolutely not have dancing.

I think the problem is the mismatch of expectations, compensation, and what's reasonable to demand. My spouse is a bartender who currently works in the event-and-festival end, because it makes a lot more sense financially. He likes working gigs where it's about getting the drinks out quickly and efficiently without too much polish.

He previously worked at a high-end tiki bar and LOVED it. You want the garnishes of crushed-ice domes drizzled with grenadine? GOT THAT. You want pineapple leaf garnishes and flamed toppings? GOT THAT. You want a bartender who's just waiting for an opportunity to dunk an edible orchid in high-proof rum, then light it on fire and eat it for your entertainment? GOT THAT.

And if people are willing to pay $14+ per cocktail (not adjusted for 2021 pricing, probably more like $18-20 now), that's possible. If they're not, that's not possible.
posted by Lexica at 3:40 PM on May 16 [10 favorites]

I lived in Seattle from the early 90s through the late 2000s and Starbucks is pretty much bred in the bone at this point. Have known lots of folks who worked at corporate. shared an office with an analytical chemist who developed their instant coffee. I live in the Boston area now and as I am not a sports fan in any way, shape, or form, when the subject of sports comes up I will say that after living in Seattle so long, Starbucks is my home team.

In the last year one of the few things that helped me fight lockdown claustrophobia in a safe way was ordering my standard drink (grande Pike Place with heavy cream) through the app, ducking into the storefront to pick it up while wearing my mask, and drinking it while driving around in the bubble of my car. I care not one whit if this makes me basic. There were many long weeks when this was the only thing that would feel normal and happy, and I was glad for it.
posted by Sublimity at 4:59 PM on May 16 [13 favorites]

Oh man I totally forgot about that feta cheese tomato sauce thing from earlier this year. Another tiktok recipe I got roped into.

That. was not a good recipe.

Are you kidding? That recipe is amazing. And FWIW it didn't get its start on TikTok but on a Finnish food blog.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 6:00 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]

OJ has different levels of pulp in US supermarkets, are you kidding me?)

A couple of days ago I saw a social media post for a vaccine clinic at a Dick's in Seattle, which had a choice of vaccines, and came with a free burger. Obviously this is a pretty unmitigated good thing, but it is also 1000% an "Only In America" situation.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:29 PM on May 16 [4 favorites]

I’m certainly not condoning ruining a barista’s day to indulge a horde of tiktok followers but after this Sugared or Iced Coffee is An Abomination thread and the cake thread and the last several alcohol threads. I feel like one thing that has become clear is that Metafilter’s revolution will absolutely not have dancing.

Come on, dude. No one here is against fun or anything. We just also happen to believe that barista's should not be exploited in the interest of pursuing that fun.

. I mean, you're talkin' to someone who is developing an addiction to spiking her soft drinks with this freaky neon-green mint syrup. I just make them myself is all, instead of bugging someone else to make me up something not on the regular menu.

Lemon soda with the mint is best, don't knock it till you try it
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:05 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]

Melbourne coffee culture is next level

My dad was a huge coffee drinker his whole life, but in a country without a "coffee" culture, when he came to Melbourne, his mind was completely blown when he found out the 7/11 store on the corner does a "real" expresso coffee, for just $1, and that it (in his words) was SOOOOO good. He had one every morning while he here on holiday.

Starbucks failure in Australia is quite amusing. In its first seven years in Australia, Starbucks accumulated $105 million in losses, forcing the company to close 61 locations, leaving only 23 Starbucks stores throughout the entire continent.

Australian coffee culture was born out of Italian culture of meeting with friends at a cafe and knowing your local barista - contrast this to Starbucks, where coffee is a reliable mass market commodity like McDonalds.
posted by xdvesper at 7:12 PM on May 16 [4 favorites]

I feel like one thing that has become clear is that Metafilter’s revolution will absolutely not have dancing.

Oh yes it will. What it won't have is dancing on other people's faces.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 12:34 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]

"I also associate it with people who have gone through certain kinds of sales trainings they are the ones who repeat your name way too often in a single sentence."

It's great fun to turn the technique back at them and watch them get flustered. They usually double down and use your name MORE, as if they could beat you into submission.

Do not laugh. I have it on reasonable authority that in a certain call centre they used to have a competition to see who could say the customer's name the most number of times during one call.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 12:38 AM on May 17

The way hot coffee is quickly dying out among people under 30 really does make you marvel at how it became so popular in the first place.

Its a drink with a very acquired taste which nosedives into bitter garbage if you mess up the complicated brewing process even a bit and it only stays drinkable for a brief period.

I think its similar to the way vapes are replacing cigarettes in that an iced coffee confection or even a can of peach monster just makes so much more sense to anyone without a history with hot coffee.
posted by zymil at 2:03 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]

Are you kidding? That recipe is amazing

Perhaps I did it wrong (again, TikTok is the worst possible platform to convey a recipe but it's 2021 and here we are), but the unbalanced acid in the cheese just made the whole sauce unpalatable for me. Like, I enjoy blue cheese on a salad but I wouldn't bathe my lasagna in it.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:11 AM on May 17

There was a LOT of negative, shaming commentary about sweetened drinks in general on this thread, well aside from any face-dancing, thanks. I think it was the comment about adding any flavor to your own coffee at home being "cheating" that pushed me over.

My anger at the Evil Evil Sugar Is For Children and People of No Taste drumbeat goes well beyond MeFi though, and perhaps it is unfair to single one perpetrator out.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:40 AM on May 17 [13 favorites]

Any coffee discussion on Metafilter reminds me of the charms of my India-born British piano teacher who taught me how to make proper tea on penalty of having to do arpeggios twice if I did it wrong. Here it seems like someone asks for a Mr. Coffee recommendation and is advised to heat their water to the precise temperature of hot springs at the base of Cotopaxi on the first day of the rainy season before spending the length of time it takes a coffee plant leaf to unfurl in the morning to depress the plunger in their aeropress or whatever.

Anyways, orthodoxy aside, I'll add my voice to the crowd that find calling people using an app to order a drink with 8 add ons abusive distasteful.

If you think your lovingly prepared artisanal coffee experience is any less marketing than what we're talking about here, I have a lovely bridge for you.

I would certainly agree that people who are standing in a long line at the train station at 8:10 in the morning ordering a drink with 11 customizations are committing a vaguely anti-social act. Service jobs are hard, and corporate decisions fall on service people, and we can all be mindful and tip well. it is a toxic culture. But the exploitation is coming from above. Like in the context of a well-run, well-staffed, well-stocked store which analyses drink orders to be sure there's an increase in staffing if the Pumpkin Spice X takes 3 more minutes to produce, and assuming the person buying the drink picks it up cheerfully and tips, is this really a labour issue? Or is it the base conditions that are the issue.

I'm not actually fully clear on this myself, like in my own mind.

But just slamming people for daring to use an app to order a drink seems off to me. The people I know who get the most joy out of their super customized macha lattes or whatever are my young, entry-level staff, who make enough above minimum to be able to get a fancy Starbucks now and then but who are not going to a Michelin star class restaurant anytime soon or driving out of town to get heirloom parsnips. They haven't been able to party in a group, see a concert, or go to a festival in over a year. I have seen them comparing their Friday treat drinks. I find it hard to get upset about it. (Knowing them I am sure they tipped and were kind.)

I used to work in a bakery and I remember the feeling of a complicated order. It was a pain and there was a certain anxious feeling because it wasn't just sticking a croissant in a bag. I'm sure I went home and bitched about them. And yet, it was being a part of that small business with a very delighted baker/owner whose eyes lit up at weird challenges (examples: "a cake that tastes like spring" and "200 marzipan tongues for our Dyke March party") that gave me the sense of what a real community business is, the joy of a kind of. co-creation.

I guess I tend to rail more against the idea that the best consumer experience is one that is mechanically fast and standardized.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:28 AM on May 17 [9 favorites]

My anger at the Evil Evil Sugar Is For Children and People of No Taste drumbeat goes well beyond MeFi though, and perhaps it is unfair to single one perpetrator out.

I agree that it's futile and ultimately harmful to just criticize people's personal tastes., but the photo in the OP lists "7 pumps. Dk Crml Sauce". The internet tells me that a pump of Caramel Sauce is about 1 ounce and approximately 100 calories. So aside from any complaints about personal taste, 700 calories of pure sugar is not a great choice health-wise. As a sometimes thing, sure. As a daily thing, it's a lot. It's an entire extra meal for a lot of people.

But like I said above, it's a good value for money in terms of calories if that's your primary concern. And I suppose there's someone out there for whom this is a good choice.
posted by GuyZero at 9:17 AM on May 17

But just slamming people for daring to use an app to order a drink seems off to me. The people I know who get the most joy out of their super customized macha lattes or whatever are my young, entry-level staff, who make enough above minimum to be able to get a fancy Starbucks now and then but who are not going to a Michelin star class restaurant anytime soon or driving out of town to get heirloom parsnips. They haven't been able to party in a group, see a concert, or go to a festival in over a year. I have seen them comparing their Friday treat drinks. I find it hard to get upset about it. (Knowing them I am sure they tipped and were kind.)

If they tipped and were kind they are actually not the people being slammed in the OP article, however.

I think the criticism of the app is more about how it removes a potential level of protection between the busy barista and the customer. What I mean is:

* Before the app came along, if someone wanted to try the latest New Hotness TikTok trend at their local Starbucks, they actually had to go to Starbucks in person - where they might potentially see that there's a big line there already, which might make them decide "whoops, maybe lemme try again when it is less busy so the poor baristas aren't tied up doing this for me."

* After the app, they could just order, without any foreknowledge about "but are the baristas super-busy right now". So the nice people might end up causing hassle for the barista without intending to. But as far as the barista is concerned, whether they meant to cause a headache or not is irrelevant, the headache is still there.

And anyway, the real source of the headache is the people who use the app and then are shits about it ("what do you mean my double reverse caramel soy decaf with chi powder isn't ready? I ordered an ENTIRE THREE MINUTES AGO on my app when I was TWO BLOCKS AWAY!").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:30 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]

Service jobs are hard, and corporate decisions fall on service people, and we can all be mindful and tip well. it is a toxic culture. But the exploitation is coming from above. Like in the context of a well-run, well-staffed, well-stocked store which analyses drink orders to be sure there's an increase in staffing if the Pumpkin Spice X takes 3 more minutes to produce, and assuming the person buying the drink picks it up cheerfully and tips, is this really a labour issue? Or is it the base conditions that are the issue.

It's both. Part of worker solidarity is not making life unduly hard for other workers - while the root of the problem is up the chain, our own choices do impact the lives of service workers, and we need to consider that as well. And the point of calling it abuse is to cut through how consumerism teaches us to consider service workers, and regard how our actions impact their lives.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:39 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]

The way hot coffee is quickly dying out among people under 30 really does make you marvel at how it became so popular in the first place.

I'm closing in on 40 myself, but I suspect two-thirds of it is that plain hot coffee is cheap and easy to make at home -- especially if you're just pouring over Folgers grounds from a can, which within living memory was the norm.

Even now, I would guess that plenty of the folks who order iced drinks at Starbucks still make hot coffee at home. (Though the discovery that cold brew is also, with a little forethought, easy to make has shaken up my home routine a little.)
posted by aws17576 at 9:41 AM on May 17 [4 favorites]

And anyway, the real source of the headache is the people who use the app and then are shits about it

The author of the article remembered nasty customers from the 90s and this is a MetaFilter add on but I don't see the article talking about snippy customers. I do see it talking about frustration in supply chains. And I'm sure that these drinks do make things harder during a rush, no question.

And yes, we agree the app isn't connecting to the front staff experience.

But in this thread people have literally said If you make one of these orders, you are an abusive asshole who is shitting on retail workers because you can. [First comment. Also, on preview, two comments up.]
posted by warriorqueen at 9:43 AM on May 17 [5 favorites]

You have a guy who has run into Starbucks to get a $3 Pike Place coffee with 5 minutes before his meeting.

You have a 17 year old who has ordered a $14 drink through the app.

Starbucks has created both of these customers.

The guy in line does not tip and starts screaming that his coffee is taking too long. But, we’re going to blame the girl because. She’s responsible for never slowing the world down and causing captains of industry to be late with her crazy banana powder?
posted by warriorqueen at 10:04 AM on May 17 [4 favorites]

TikTok is the worst possible platform to convey a recipe

TikTok is the worst possible platform to convey anything.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 10:11 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]

Any coffee discussion on Metafilter reminds me of the charms of my India-born British piano teacher who taught me how to make proper tea on penalty of having to do arpeggios twice if I did it wrong.

I guess the young Eddie Van Halen must have made lousy coffee.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 10:13 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]

But, we’re going to blame the girl because.

Because it turns out that someone has to make that drink she ordered, and she's just made their job harder. Yes, Starbucks is at fault by giving her the options, but she also holds responsibility for taking those options. And yes, this comes back to discussions of "no ethical consumption under capitalism", but even then, one is obligated to consider one's impact.

Also, my point isn't that app ordering is bad (it's not), but the ordering of complex drinks that increase the amount of labor that the barista needs to do is making things worse for the service worker who has to fulfill the order, and that is on the head of the person making the order.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:19 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]

You have a guy who has run into Starbucks to get a $3 Pike Place coffee with 5 minutes before his meeting.

You have a 17 year old who has ordered a $14 drink through the app.

This is basic Operations Research and job management stuff and people have been studying how to optimize this kind of thing for decades. Starbucks the faceless inhuman entity is more than capable of building a priority queuing system that dynamically reorders jobs in the queue to minimize average wait time or total aggregate wait time or whatever metric you want. That they have not indicates that they really don't care. Also, fundamentally peak periods are short and shitty and no amount of job ordering optimization really fixes that.

I don't think anyone has a moral responsibility to minimize the complexity of their order as some sort of tragedy-of-the-commons situation. Starbucks sets their store staffing levels as they will and that's a much bigger deal than any one order. Fundamentally 5-minute-man is never going to always get his coffee instantly regardless of the how simple his order is, depending on the current job backlog.

My personal opinion is that Americans think shared queues are fundamentally repugnant and that they should be able to move to the head of the line because they're rich or important or whatever but, thank the uncaring cold of space, it is not always possible. It is a fundamental rule of life that sometimes you're going to have to wait.
posted by GuyZero at 10:28 AM on May 17 [7 favorites]

You have a guy who has run into Starbucks to get a $3 Pike Place coffee with 5 minutes before his meeting. You have a 17 year old who has ordered a $14 drink through the app. The guy in line does not tip and starts screaming that his coffee is taking too long. But, we’re going to blame the girl because. She’s responsible for never slowing the world down and causing captains of industry to be late with her crazy banana powder?

I was about to say "who's blaming the girl", but it's been pointed out that someone is. So I will preface this by saying that this is my own opinion:

In your scenario, I'd blame the dude for losing his shit, and I would not blame the 17-year-old. However, I would also point out that "good customer behavior" is a very broad range: the 17-year-old may be nice about it, but I'm hoping she's maybe realizing that "maybe let's wait until it's less busy to get the wacky drink" just because it'd be a nice thing to do (Sounds like she's patient, though, which is good and puts her above average). If it was the 17-year-old raising a snit, that would be an issue.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:35 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]

Perhaps I did it wrong (again, TikTok is the worst possible platform to convey a recipe but it's 2021 and here we are), but the unbalanced acid in the cheese just made the whole sauce unpalatable for me. Like, I enjoy blue cheese on a salad but I wouldn't bathe my lasagna in it.

Also, my point isn't that app ordering is bad (it's not), but the ordering of complex drinks that increase the amount of labor that the barista needs to do is making things worse for the service worker who has to fulfill the order, and that is on the head of the person making the order.

Again, I agree that Tik Tok driven stunt drinks are a trend that makes baristas' lives needlessly difficult and most of the Tik Tok users involved are probably right about at the age where someone needs to sit them down and remind them that life isn't a video game and they need to be good citizens, and give them some guidance on how to do that.

I think the problem is we all have something in our minds that crosses the line from "well this is somewhat complex but acceptable" to "this is a stunt drink," but for a lot of folks on the thread that line falls right about at "latte with a flavored syrup" and for others it's when you get to the 5-banana range.

If the argument is simply that Starbucks should never have ever begun giving customers an option much beyond a plain cappuccino or a latte, or that it is irresponsible of anyone to order anything from basically the right-most 85% of the menu. I just don't know if that's. like at that point this isn't about Starbucks or TikTok or even the baristas anymore it's just about taste.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:42 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]

I agree that Tik Tok driven stunt drinks are a trend that makes baristas' lives needlessly difficult

I sort of understand this position but I also sort of don't. if a barista spends 10 minutes making 10 black coffees or 4 espresso shots or one stunt drink why does it matter? Because people waiting get abusive? One one hand, sure, that's bad, but fundamentally I think if people are being abusive it's not the victims' fault.

Baristas are paid for their time and if people stop going to Starbucks because they have to wait 5 minutes for plain coffee I don't think it's anyone's fault but Starbucks' management for understaffing their stores.
posted by GuyZero at 1:00 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]

But, we’re going to blame the girl because&hellip?

Because it turns out that someone has to make that drink she ordered, and she's just made their job harder. Yes, Starbucks is at fault by giving her the options, but she also holds responsibility for taking those options. And yes, this comes back to discussions of "no ethical consumption under capitalism", but even then, one is obligated to consider one's impact.

Also, my point isn't that app ordering is bad (it's not), but the ordering of complex drinks that increase the amount of labor that the barista needs to do is making things worse for the service worker who has to fulfill the order, and that is on the head of the person making the order.

Seems to me, if blame must be assigned to someone for the crime of customizing coffee because they could without stopping to think if they should, perhaps it should go to the app designer for providing certain affordances for unlimited bonus items. I leave it to God, baristas, and Starbucks corporate to define what that cap should be and then to push a patch.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:32 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]

Are Starbucks baristas incentivized/graded/judged by their number of drinks produced per hour?

EDIT: Are they "penalized" for low drinks per hour? It's Starbucks so probably, but, just checking.
posted by Windopaene at 3:55 PM on May 17

EDIT: Are they "penalized" for low drinks per hour? It’s Starbucks so probably, but, just checking.

This seems like a weird assumption to me, so I too would be interested to know. (A very quick search of r/starbucks gave me some people complaining, but not about that kind of tracking.) Do other fast food / fast drink places rate employees based on throughput?
posted by Going To Maine at 4:20 PM on May 17

So aside from any complaints about personal taste, 700 calories of pure sugar is not a great choice health-wise. As a sometimes thing, sure. As a daily thing, it's a lot. It's an entire extra meal for a lot of people.

How on earth is this any of your business?
posted by naoko at 4:54 PM on May 17 [14 favorites]

Do other fast food / fast drink places rate employees based on throughput?

When I was at Wendy's we were tracked on order prep time (basically time handed to customer - time order was entered at register). Also how much chili meat (ie hamburgers that have been overcooked because your order projection was optimistic) produced. Those two things were loosely inversely proportional. I could get my chili meat count to practically zero by screwing over the order time target. And finally on other wastage. There were ways to juke all those stats.
posted by Mitheral at 7:17 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]

The overwhelming take home message appears to be that fancy drinks are too hard to make, so we should just stay home and not buy anything at all.

I am genuinely not seeing that as "the overwhelming take home message".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:37 AM on May 18 [4 favorites]

Some comments really have been "how DARE you make a complicated order you MONSTER" or "what is WRONG with you for LIKING a thing!" Honest, they're in this thread.

I know, I've seen them. My point is that I don't see them as being the majority opinion, as it appears was being claimed.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:32 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]

My point is that I don't see them as being the majority opinion, as it appears was being claimed.

The 61 favourites on "if you [teenage girl who likes TikTok] order one of these drinks you are an abusive asshole and also, a guy got fired"* does lend that impression.

* Due to a Twitter post (I am not supporting this either), not due to the complexity of a drink or a speed issue, but hey, truth is not an issue here.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:46 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]

Yes, the barista got fired over a tweet - in which they were venting over having to make an overcomplicated drink for someone calling themselves "Edward". Which is why Starbucks fired them for the tweet.

If you're going to complain about the truth not being an issue here, you shouldn't be omitting details yourself.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:54 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]

If you're going to complain about the truth not being an issue here, you shouldn't be omitting details yourself.

I'm not. The Starbucks staff person was complaining on social media and their post went viral. If they'd been complaining about something other than an overcomplicated drink, they also would have been at risk of being fired.

The fact that they got fired rather than Starbucks fixing its app to limit customization tells you exactly who is at fault, and it's not the people using the app. Are people ordering stunt drinks occasionally annoying? No doubt.

GuyZero put it best, in my opinion: I don't think anyone has a moral responsibility to minimize the complexity of their order as some sort of tragedy-of-the-commons situation.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:59 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]

I do think if Starbucks workers launched some sort of mass “stop complicating our drinks!” campaign that would change the calculus here. But they haven’t, and this article doesn’t make it sound like they’re going to.

That's more a problem with the article than anything else for framing the story as it does. Starbucks isn't going to stop "complicated" drinks because that's what they are now, a cold drink franchise with coffee as a major secondary element. While they certainly don't want all customers to order drinks with as many ingredients as the guy in the article because they are more time consuming, the fancy ass cold drinks are what they use to differ themselves from the hordes and hordes of other coffeeshops nearby. In my moderate sized college town, the Starbucks in our four block by six block downtown area had six other coffeeshops, two conveniences stores that had a variety of to-go coffees, and five or six other places that were restaurant/coffeeshops all within a few block radius.

Starbucks coffee tastes different than that of other coffeeshops, which helps create repeat business once people grow use to their brand flavor profiles, and they, like a bunch of other coffee pagodas do a ton of drive through business and have their to-go stands in grocery stores and the like, so quick is a big concern, which is why they want people to use the app instead of waiting to order in line. But talking about Starbucks as if the traditional coffee drinker should have preference just doesn't fit their sales that much any more. The article mentions they now sell more cold drinks than hot, and their variety of offerings in that area are what the small coffeeshops can't compete with, so complaining about making "fancy drinks" is basically complaining about their business model, would be like someone at REI being annoyed people are bothering them with questions about camping gear.

The barista in the article seemed like he just wanted to show off a particularly complex order and hyperbolize the difficulty for the funny of it being an extreme example more than anything else, and while I'm sure really complicated drinks can be annoying as fuck when you're busy, there's a lot of annoyances in any public facing business and the employees are frequently overworked and underpaid. Starbucks is better than many low wage work places for benefits and pay and that comes from being a busier than many other workplaces. There's plenty to complain about in working public facing low wage jobs, but doing the work that the business specializes in isn't really one of them.
posted by gusottertrout at 3:15 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]

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Exposed brick and a mural with a shortened quote from “To Kill a Mockingbird” greet customers at this eclectic and comfy downtown coffee shop that’s hip without being hipster, cool without being too cool. The vibe here is casual, friendly and inclusive. Share one of the larger tables just inside the back door or opt for a two- or four-top opposite the counter, where the pastry case features treats – scones, muffins, croissants, cinnamon buns – from local bakeries. Look, also, for French street-style baguette sandwiches in four flavor combinations, an assortment of loose-leaf teas and a small outdoor seating area in summer. Wifi is available Monday through Friday. And loyal customers are rewarded. Atticus offers old-school punch cards buy 10 beverages, get one free. Be sure to browse titles in the book nook as well as the whimsical wrapping papers, cards, Spokane-themed prints by local artist Chris Bovey, scented candles and assorted mugs and other collectibles. 222 N. Howard St. (509) 747-0336.

Spaceman Coffee

Fun and funky, cozy and cool, this galactic-themed coffee shop pays homage to all things celestial, including David Bowie, and, of course, a smooth, balanced and velvety cup of coffee. It’s a hip little hole-in-the-wall, with sci-fi and philosophy books, a welcoming vibe and eclectic beats. Music depends on which one of the three owners is working and runs from Britney Spears and the Beatles to Radiohead, Spoon, Tupac Shakur, A Tribe Called Quest and Queen. Coffee comes from Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters in Sandpoint. Syrups are house-made. Bench seating hugs the red-and-white walls lined with art and floating shelves. There’s spill-over seating in the art gallery in back. 228A W. Sprague Ave. (509) 312-9824. spacemancoffeepnw.com

Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters

This Sandpoint coffee shop and roastery has twice been honored with a Good Food Award, recognizing its efforts to support sustainability and social good as well as for producing a quality product. Opened in 2009 and run by two brothers, Rick and Randy, Evans Brothers started as a wholesale coffee roaster, adding its café about three years later. Now it’s a North Idaho must-stop for coffee connoisseurs. Located in the shadow of the historic granary tower, the shop offers a relaxed and comfy vibe. Decor is a mix of the modern, rustic and industrial. The menu is written on a chalkboard above the counter and coffee bar, accented with barn wood and corrugated metal. Outdoor seating is available in front. 524 Church St., Sandpoint. (208) 265-5553. evansbrotherscoffee.com

Paper and Cup

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Roast House Coffee

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Indaba Coffee Roasters

This local coffee roaster has two locations: the original spot in West Central with a cozy, neighborhood vibe and the newer, sleeker shop downtown. The first one opened on West Broadway Avenue in 2009, becoming a popular meeting place. Indaba began roasting five years later. And a year after that, in 2015, it expanded to North Howard Street. The downtown outpost offers a contemporary feel with clean lines that are tempered with a brick wall behind the coffee bar and exposed beams. The showstopper is the shiny and chic ModBar brewing system. Indaba was the second local coffee business to install the technology and the first one to use it in a retail, coffee-shop capacity. They also sell beans to go. West Central: 1425 W. Broadway Ave. (509) 443-3566. Downtown: 210 N. Howard St. (509) 413-2569. indabacoffee.com

Vessel Coffee Roasters

The focal point of this newer North Side coffee shop and roastery is a white quartz waterfall countertop with a pour-over station and an espresso machine by Kees Van der Westen of the Netherlands. Decor is modern, minimalist and slightly industrial – with clean lines, exposed wooden beams and a polished concrete floor. Large windows overlook busy North Monroe Street. Biking is encouraged there’s a rack near the garage-style roll-top door. There’s also a mix of seating in this spacious place: benches, tall and short stools, chairs and even a pair of couches set in front of a gas fireplace. Counters run along the window. And there are communal tables as well as two-tops. Late Sunday mornings and early afternoons are busy with folks stopping by for coffee after church. Vessel is also a popular spot to study and do work. Mainstays are the 509 Seasonal Espresso and Expo Blend, roasted with the French press or even auto-dripper in mind. Buy a bag of beans to go. 2823 N. Monroe St. (509) 290-5051. vesselroasters.com

Revel 77

The spacious, airy, well-lighted South Hill coffee shop features clean lines and a modern vibe. The space, located in a strip mall, features a concrete floor, wood and black accents, and bench seating around the perimeter. There are plenty of electrical outlets, making it a popular spot to study or work. Colorful throw pillows are also provided. So is ample free parking in the lot. Large windows let in natural light. Coffee comes from local roasters. A special treat here is the assorted house-made syrups in creative flavors. Look, also, for assorted hand pies and other pastries. 3223 E. 57th Ave., Suite K. (509) 280-0518. revel77coffee.com

Strada

A couple of roll-top doors on two sides of this coffee shop keep the space light, bright and airy. There’s a lot of natural light at Strada, which means street in Italian. The coffee shop is located in a converted oil change shop – the building used to house an Oil Can Henry’s – which might sound strange but it really works with the rustic, industrial chic decor and concrete floor with wood and corrugated metal accents. Of course, the old underground oil-changing bays have been concealed and part of the driveway has been redone to allow for plenty of outdoor seating. There’s also plenty of free parking in the surrounding lot and assorted baked goods. Plan to linger over specialty drinks such as the Cubano latte with Cubano espresso and vanilla, the Felix mocha with Mexican and white chocolate, Turkish latte with vanilla and spice, and star anise latte with caramel and licorice. 1830 N. Third St., Coeur d’Alene. (208) 966-4098. stradacda.com

Vault

This modern corner coffee shop – located in downtown Coeur d’Alene and done in black and white and gray with lime green accents – offers a hip yet relaxed vibe. White subway tile frames the chalkboard menu. Seating is a mix of comfy armchairs set around low tables as well as stools which line a counter and cafe chairs paired with two-tops. Chandeliers add to the whimsy and charm. Pastries are kept in glass-domed cake stands. Signature drinks include the honey-lavender latte, chai bomb and Mexican mocha. Look, also, for seasonal specialties such as the huckleberry mocha, s’mores mocha and Hawaiian latte. The name comes from the building’s old bank vault. It was built in 1904 by William Dollar and housed the Exchange National Bank of Coeur d’Alene until 1929, according to the coffee shop’s website, which also offers vintage photos of the place. 324 E. Sherman Ave. (208) 966-4193. vaultcda.com

Union Roasters

This hip new coffee shop and roastery – it opened earlier this year – specializes not only in espresso but also Belgian-style waffles which come in both savory and sweet combinations. Look, also, for assorted house-made pastries and seasonal specialty drinks such as espresso with Mexican Coca-Cola and lime. The motto here is “for the people.” The decor is contemporary – done in black and white with dark with accents, chalkboard signs and metal stools. 2102 N. Fourth St. (208) 966-4041. facebook.com/unionroasters

Calypso’s Coffee and Creamery

This eclectic coffee shop in downtown Coeur d’Alene offers a homey, laid-back atmosphere underscored by a collection of mismatched tables and chairs and artwork from local artists on the walls, which are painted different and bright colors. There’s often live music Friday and Saturday nights. Coffee beans are roasted right in the shop. Look, also, for breakfast croissant and bagel sandwiches, avocado toast with tomatoes, French toast and an assortment of pastries, soups, salads and sandwiches. The “Smart Room” can be rented for groups and meetings. 116 E. Lakeside Ave., Coeur d’Alene. (208) 665-0591. calypsoscoffee.com

Missed a spot? Please let us know by posting a comment on the story online. Or, reach Food editor Adriana Janovich at [email protected] or 999 W. Riverside Ave., Spokane, WA 99201. For the complete Spokane Eating Guide, visit www.spokesman.com/eating-guide/

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1. Rise Brewing Co. Nitro Cold Brew Coffee

After tasting all other nine brands, I keep coming back to this little, extra caffeinated can of wonders. It has a very round, roasted flavor with a pleasantly creamy texture even without the milk that I added. It’s mildly sweet, easy to drink, and loaded with caffeine. The unfortunate part is because it is infused with nitrogen, this brew comes in two forms: 11 ounce cans and coffee kegs (5, 7, and 15 gallons). It’s local to New York City, and isn’t any cheaper than a cafe cold brew at $3.99. However, I would drink this over any cold brew a cafe offers.


Starbucks Gossip

Starbucks' breakfast sandwiches are "only marginally edible," says food critic

Eggs aren't made to be cooked in one spot and shipped to another to be eaten -- the way it's done at Starbucks. "This dooms these breakfast sandwiches," writes Ed Levine. "What Starbucks ends up serving is a slightly more upscale version of the same scary things we can also buy at 7-Eleven, McDonald's, and every gas station on interstates all across America. . I found the best way to eat a Starbucks breakfast sandwich is to discard the egg loaf slice and eat the rest." (Seriouseats.com)

40 Comments

I think that the Starbucks Breakfast sandwiches are pretty decient. Compared to the pastries and other suggery options in the fast food breakfast catergory the sandwiches is a better health option. they are under $3 bucks. What are one's other options for breakfast? mcdonalds?

I haven't been to a Starbucks with the hot food station yet, so I have only others' comments to go on, but.

The description of the sandwiches look remarkably similar to the precooked egg things they foist off on us at Dunkin' Donuts.

I keep trying to tell them - that isn't a croissant! But neither is the thing they sell at Burger King, or - I'm ashamed to say - Starbucks. It is merely a croissant-shaped roll.

(Croissants are fresh, light, flaky, fluffy, and delightful any of the frozen/thawed stuff is just another roll.)

You might want to check the nutrition chart before using "Starbucks breakfast sandwiches" and "health" in the same sentence.

i don't know where you're getting your information, but as far as i know, croissants at starbucks are fresh every day and not "any of the frozen/thawed stuff"

about the sandwiches, i do work at a store that sells them, i actually haven't eaten them, i'm not a big breakfast person, but they don't look too bad. PLUS they all have expiration dates of months in the future, but they are thrown out if not sold at the end of the day after they are received at the store.

as the article touches on, actually preparing sandwiches on location is completely impractical for most starbucks stores. so if you like them, eat them, if you don't then you don't have to eat them.

one last thought. with the complicated drinks that our customers already have, could you imagine preparing breakfast sandwiches to order?

A few years ago, I worked in a licensed store where we made our own sandwiches (lunch, not breakfast) and they were fantastic: fresh baked baguettes eauch morning, filled with freshly sliced tomatoes and lettuce, and meat and cheese each sliced daily. Now I work in a corporate store, and sometimes cover a shift at a store with warming ovens. the difference between the two is like night and day, I could never eat the breakfast sandwiches, especially after eating the fresh ones our lc used to make.

The breakfast sandwiches arrive fresh everyday and are tossed at the end of the day. English muffins not pastries. Fresh and very good. Our store sells about 80 a day before 11am.

When we get the sandwiches, I will shoot myself.

Posted by: Boston Starbucks Rebel | November 28, 2006 at 08:09 PM

I'm lucky that I dont work at a store that sells sandwiches/breakfast stuff. We are always have customers comming in telling us they had a sandwich at another store, and got sick. seems to be constant with the egg salad. so I doubt the breakie sandwich will be any better.

Yeah. our store doesn't sell them (thank God) but i really think Starbucks should just stick with what they know. COFFEE.

"one last thought. with the complicated drinks that our customers already have, could you imagine preparing breakfast sandwiches to order?"

too late. we had the warming program all of 1 day before we were taking apart the sammiches and reconfiguring them to customer whim. "no cheese please" "Can i have extra sausage." "i want the bacon one but on the bagel instead."

just say yes and throw a whole bunch of food in the garbage.

Again, my store is far too small. we can barely fit in a cold drink station, let alone our weekly unisource order. so a warming oven or sandwich case would never fit.

Just say yes does not apply. If they want the extra sausage or (this seems to be popular in my store), sausage on the tomato basil, then they have to pay for both sandwiches. they come as is.

Our store was lucky enough not to get special orders on the sandwiches from customers. The little things are tasty, but before they're fully cooked. The sight of them reminds me of the 'Carl's Jr' days.

I think customers know what they're getting into when they buy those things, though. Really, with the drive thrus and breakfast sandwiches and whatnot, Starbucks is becoming more like a fast food comany every day. It's scary.

I'm not too excited about the whole "warming" idea, to say the least. There just is not enough room, nor do we have enough staffing hours to have that extra hand to help. some mornings it is even difficult to step away and grind coffee for a customer, let alone having to warm up the sandwiches, which I'm sure people will expect to ONLY take all of 10 seconds!! Plus I have been to a warming equiped store before, and tried one of the sandwiches, and it wasn't that impressive. I could go through my morning WITHOUT one.

p.s. I agree w/ those who say "Stick to what you know. COFFEE" or "Starbucks is trying too hard and becoming more like a fast food place every day."

oh man, those sadnwiches are awful! they make the entire store smell like burnt nastiness and they slow things down and make orderign even more complicated. people either order them at the register adn we have to yell it down to the pasrty partners, or they order at the pastry case and "forget" to tell the register partner, or say "i have a sandwich." well great, which one?
not to mention they look nasty like all greasy and fast food-ish.
now we have partners getting pretty bad "cheese burns" from the icky stuff dripping off them right after they come out of the oven.
please, take those damn sandwiches out of my store!

Posted by: Chi-towns best/angriest barista | November 29, 2006 at 12:20 AM

SBUX tried this years ago in Seattle and it bombed then. Sadly this is moving them even closer to a Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds level of standards. It's only a matter of time before the deep friers are installed!

personally I feel that while Sandwiches are within our possibility to serve the only way to do them properly to adhere to our customers high expectations is to do them up on the spot fresh every day or have a sandwich bar installed and have someone making sandwiches by hand.

Our customers expect the highest quality from us and 7-11 and Dunkin dounuts are not that level of quality.

What's that saying again. Go big or go home. If Seattle is serious about doing this I would say that installing sandwich bars and having an extra barista on the floor solely to make the lunch sandwiches is about the only way to go that we can adhere to our high standards. Either that or have the local bakery make up the sandwiches and have them dropped off freshly made each morning.

Quality I personally think is key to having this work and work the way our customers expect.

Of course I'll plainly admit I'm heavily against the drive thru's as well. I just don't think it's possible to have legendary service with the limited customer interaction a drive thru provides. Someone gets bad service at a drive thru odds are they are not coming back to that store.

Barista Lane - you wonder where I get my info on the frozen/thawed croissants?

I work in a Sbux in the NE US, and we get our deliveries on M-W-F. The croissants come frozen on the truck along with the cinnimon twists, scones, muffins, bagels, brioche, danish, etc.

If you are lucky enough to work at a store that gets fresh croissants daily, then take advantage of it! Because you are the only one that I know about.

Breakfast sandwiches are a good start, but they really need to give thought to preparing custom-order crepes with a choice of salmon, turkey, or sliced steak. I'm kidding, of course. I hope they give up the idea of sandwiches and stick to what they do best–coffee!

Sbuxnewbie and Baristalane

All the way across the US there are "fresh" strores and "frozen" stores. Now, "fresh" stores aren't all fresh, all of the Colorado stores (for the most part) get fresh denver deliveries like croissants, bagels, etc, but receive loafs (pumpkin, etc) which were once frozen (but are thawed at shipping).

I'm not sure how it's split but I know most of the west are fresh stores and any near bigger cities are usually fresh, but that's just my experience.

Also, they say when I get my baristas to get their rags off their counters we get warming. maybe I'll start making it a rule that whenever health inspectors come rags must be on the counters.

Ohm.. This is why I don't EAT my breakfast at a COFFEE SHOP. You might as well buy the frozen stuff from the supermarket.
Nothing comes "fresh". Everything is frozen. The meat from the fast food places. Probably frozen. Fries? FROZEN. FAST FOOD is their specialty. This isn't a diner.
If you want tasty. Learn how to make it yourself. At HOME. With FRESH ingredients. Oh.. No, you don't want to? Then stop complaining or don't eat it.
&this is why I don't eat fast food. Or frozen dinners.

I can't believe that there are stores that get their pastries delivered frozen! I work in Chicago and our pastries get delivered every morning before we open. We never keep them for the next day. Also, about the breakfast sandwiches, I agree, they are average. They are kind of dry and just ok. They are essentially the same as an egg mcmuffin @mcdonalds, except with fancier ingredients to make it seem better and fancier. I won't lie though, I have eaten them and will probably eat them again. It's a matter of convenience. I get my coffee there and if I'm hungry at that moment I would choose the sandwich over a sugar loaded pastry 75%of the time. It's just another sbux marketing ploy just like selling cd's in the stores, and it seems to be working.

Starbucks, are you listening?
You need to concentrate all your efforts on serving the best, the very best, coffee to be found anywhere.

If you move in any direction. Consider fresh roasting your beans in the stores.

Many of the Dunn Bros. coffee shops in the Twin Cities roast their beans at their stores. Metropolis in Chicago (Granville Ave.) does, too. There's a tiny, tiny coffee shop in Wilmette, IL called Alchemy Coffee (on Linden) that has a roaster in the back of the store. In Milwaukee, the Alterra Coffee on Prospect has an in-store roaster. Fresh coffee equals the best coffee.

Posted by: STARBUCKS GOSSIP webmaster | November 29, 2006 at 12:37 PM

I'll add some of my thoughts. First of all, any customer who cares about quality food won't buy a pre-made sandwich. I work in Midtown Manhattan and I balk at the idea of paying around $6 for a sandwich that was made in the morning and has sat in plastic wrap waiting for lunch.

This is partly because I've worked in a coffee shop that also baked their own bread throughout the day and made fresh sandwiches. It does take a certain amount of room, but it really only takes about 30 seconds for an experienced employee to make a fully custom sandwich. At that shop, we could move the line steadily, and I've never seen a Midtown deli, coffee shop, etc. as busy at lunch as the place I used to work. The customization only becomes a problem when the sandwiches are pre-made. Our shop dealt with it by having little cards that the customers could check off each possible ingredient, type of bread, etc. And there were preset recipes also.

In response to the first comment, a good option for breakfast in NYC is an egg and cheese from a little corner deli joint. Sesame bagel is toasted, cheese is nice and melted, and the egg is fried right there in front of me, not from a bag, not pre-cooked, and it comes to around $3. May not have fancy herbs or ingredients, but it's fresh, and the quality is actually better.

Starbucks and Noah's Bagels should merge. 'Bux does the coffee and let Noah's handle the sandwiches, breakfast and lunch.

We're a flippin' COFFEE SHOP. *LOL* The new name should be "Starbucks Coffee and Deli" if they keep this up.

on the pastries, fyi. even the "fresh" stores's pastries are flash frozen and then thawed when needed, only not at the store but at some damn warehouse in Jersey. sorry, no "fresh" at the buck.

Wow. I'm trying to imagine a store where partners are trained properly on coffee roasting and all the coffee is roasted on spot.

The smell alone would make me wake up a bit in the morning.

The only problem is that I can see that buttered vegetable smell not being so pleasing for some people.

I'm confused. I thought most of the pastries were baked fresh daily for Starbucks. We get our pastries delivered every night after closing for the next morning here. All from the local bakery in town. The only things aren't baked daily are like expresso brownies, snowman cookies, bliss bar, etc. The items that are labled with info. But everything else is fresh everyday here in Las Vegas. Strange to hear that some cities get all frozen pastries.

cute barista:
watch what you say, since it's not accurate at all.

there are stores that are IN the cities where the pastries are born. those stores ALWAYS get fresh pastries.

there are stores that are OUT of the cities where the pastries are born, and those stores get frozen ones.

there are many more stores IN than OUT of cities with distribution centres.

please don't create more urban legends, we're still dealing with all the other ones.
:)

Our pastries come frozen. I think that may be cos we don't have any local pastry shops that are big enough to handle 8+ Starbucks locations in our area. We're not a big market, but big enough that a small shop probably wouldn't keep up. Also, I don't think pastries are a big thing here either. We sell enough. But not worth the cost.

As for roasting, I think that would take a lot of time and money. I'm at a mall store so we obviously wouldn't be able to fit anything big.. anywhere.
We have only a couple local coffee shops here that actually roast their coffee. And let me just say that just cos they can roast, doesn't mean the coffee is good.

Interestingly, many years ago BS (before Startbucks), Dunkin Donuts used to make their breakfast sandwiches fresh right there in front of you. They had these little rings they put in the microwave and cracked a fresh egg in the ring. The bacon and sausage were pre-cooked of course, but I think they actually cooked the bacon in the morning. They were actually really good, mostly because of the fresh egg. They don't do this anymore of course, but it was good while they did. I think Starbucks would need more employees to pull off something like that, though, because it was clearly labor intensive.

"I'm trying to imagine a store where partners are trained properly on coffee roasting and all the coffee is roasted on spot."

Then read the other thread about how most Starbucks "Barrista's" can't get Latte Temp right.

I'm sorry, while some stores would do better at it, I'm guessing about 50% of the Bux out there would wind up with unevenly roasted crap. Considering Starbucks burns their beans anyway, it might not be a bad thing.

One thing you'll find over time is that Starbucks roasts way too darkly. The lighter roasts on high quality beans preserve the flavor.

I think that if starbucks started to roast the beans in store, you would find that there would be a shift in employment. I would imagine that there would be one or two designated roasters at the store, but the reason so many people are getting bad experiences at Starbucks these days is because they have made the job too easy. We all know that the espresso shots don't taste as good on a verismo, but it also means that a monkey could make the drinks. This means that we are getting more and more incompetent people being hired. Half of the employees at my store wouldn't have even gotten a second interview back when making drinks required some skill. If they make the job harder again, there will be a short time period of mrginalized quality, but it would quickly increase again.

why is it that the verismo shots aren't as good? I do agree with you, the few times i got to try a latte made on a marzocco, it was ay better, but don't you think they could create a verismo like machine that recreated the taste?

what about the magistrales (sp?), i know they break down a lot, but how do the shots come out?

Gad again what a bunch of different comments. In Seattle we have fresh pasteries and as to this comment above==> "SBUX tried this years ago in Seattle and it bombed then. Sadly this is moving them even closer to a Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds level of standards. It's only a matter of time before the deep friers are installed!

Posted by: Eddie | Nov 28, 2006 "

umm excuse me Eddie are you still in seattle or what? I have been eating many of the different breakfast sandwiches, Low fat turkey, rossted tomatol the ham egg bagel, etc for the last year. And yes like the guy above says many stores run out before noon. Guess why . NO it's not because they throw them in the garbage or they go bad or they stink too much. IT IS BECAUSE PEOPLE LIKE THEM. So please those of you who do not like eating them or selling them or cooking them. stay out of the store or just go bye your 7-11 donut ( gad comparing a Low Fat turkey bacon sandwich made and delivered early the same morning to that thing they have at 7-11).
Any way leave my breakfast alone thank you. Fan from Seattle

I just had a low fat turkey breakfast sandwich from starbucks last week when I was in New York City and I thought it was great. Would like to know the nutritional information and if it is good than I would hope that starbucks continues to make them and hopefully carry them in the new jersey market.

From the first time I walked into a Starbucks, I knew that it wouldn't be my last. It was quite simple really, and it only took a sniff of that beautiful aroma of roast coffee to figure out that I wasn't alone. Finally, it wasn't just I who had walked into all those other coffee places to smell everything else but the coffee. Nor was it only I who sniffed the steam out of my hot cup of coffee before every sip, to be disappointed once and again for the lack of that beautiful coffee aroma. No, there were others out there and finally someone had catered to our senses. Call it Starbucks, call it starpenny, to me it was all about the aroma. That same experience I used to enjoy in any coffee house in Paris, Cairo or Rome.

Ever since, I used to rejoice the intoxicating aroma of my cup of coffee at Starbucks every day. It’s been so long now that I can’t even recall when this all started. The smell of roast coffee the minute I walk into Starbucks every morning was the “good morning” I received and the promise that a cup of my choice of brew will be just as good – like those small complementary pieces of chocolate they offer when you walk into Godiva at times.

Then came the bacon. Yes, I recall that morning when I opened the door to the store to walk in and thought to myself that something at the store was burning. I actually thought that something must have accidentally happened in the store overnight that caused this terrible smell, or, if not, that a new breakfast place was really cooking up breakfast nearby. I must say that I never tasted bacon, so I can’t say what it smells or tastes like nor can my brain associate any food-like association to it. As far as my nose will tell me, it is the smell of something burning – something strange that’s burning, and it doesn’t smell like food to me.

Ever since that day, I tried a couple of times to go back to Starbucks but I just can’t – my nose just won’t let me. From the door, to the line-up, the line-up it self, and smell that sticks to my clothes and inner nostrils till way past my morning coffee is just unbearable. But worst of all, I can’t smell or enjoy my coffee any more.

The bacon has reduced my two-dimensional coffee experience into a one-dimensional tainted cup of starpenny coffee. It’s too bad, now I hold my breath while passing Starbucks on my way to Timothy’s or Second Cup.

Nothing wrong with Timothy’s, Second Cup or any coffee bean brewing place of course, but then I have to ask for soy milk or lactose free milk and get a long stare or your typical “sorry, we are out” or a “we have skim milk” which doesn’t help my lactose intolerance one bit. Then there’s Splenda – last time I asked for it I got “yes all our coffee is splendid”. Sometimes it feels like I stepped back in time to get my morning cup of Joe.

I burned my face by the cheese splattrering up from a bacon sandwhich the other day when I pulled it out of the oven. it burned me so bad on my cheek it scabbed and now there's a faint scar like wth man that cheese is dangerous always burning us baristas. grrrr


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Starting A Coffee Shop: Equipment Needs

First of all, do yourself a favor and DO NOT buy any used equipment unless you know the exact age, where it came from, who used it, and that maintenance records are verifiable. I am only referring to anything with a motor or compressor. Used sinks, tables, counters, etc are fine as long as they are in decent shape. All other equipment, be VERY careful!

Even if you get it from a friend, you might be assured by them that the equipment was maintained properly and often, however did they get it used and can they get that guarantee from whom they bought it from? And how old really is it?

As you may have guessed, I fell into this trap and had things breaking down when I did not expect it shortly after I opened my coffee shop. Yes even my espresso machine. I was in a bad spot then! Luckily I had access to a one group machine for backup and a local guy was able to fix the other fast but you may not be as lucky.

I eventually upgraded to mostly new equipment when, but this can be avoided by getting new equipment at the start. You will be glad you did it, trust me!

Cash register or POS computer? – A computer POS (point of sale) system is good there is no doubt about it. These are the ones that have the touch screen monitors and such. However, they are probably (and arguably) best for analyzing your sales and inventory only, and not much more. They do not speed up your customer line.

If you want one of these guys, be prepared to pay about $5000 for a base system. The price goes up for multiple terminals and printers, monitors, a kitchen printer, etc.

In my opinion though, a POS fast food register that has price look ups (PLU) and department categories is sufficient for most coffee shops. Try to get one that allows you to download the information to your computer. Most have this feature today. It may, however increase your manual inventory and sales tracking if you have to put this info into your accounting software and spreadsheets manually but it can be a big money saver. If you get in the habit of entering the figures daily, you will not have a huge amount of data entry to do at month’s end. You can usually get these types of registers for about $800 or so.
If you end up opening other stores, I think the touch screen computer POS may be the way to go then because it will make your management and inventory control much easier, and you can link all of your stores together and control them from one place.

This is the Mack daddy of the whole business, your life blood. DO NOT SKIMP ON IT! However, having said that there is the line of overkill you do not need to cross either. I say, two group maximum, if you need more power or want a backup, get a one group as well.

The feasibility of a three or four group is great but it’s difficult to get more than one person working on them due to spacing of the group heads, etc. Ordinarily, you do not need more than one person pulling shots and making the espresso beverages anyway. It is almost impossible for one barista to use all four groups at one time so you be the judge! However that may be up to debate if you get REALLY busy. However, a two group is always my choice.

There are three basic types of espresso machines: Semi-Automatic, Automatic or Super Automatic. Well My choice is always the automatic because you can program them to cut off a shot at 23 seconds, or whatever you choose but still do it manually. The semi-automatic requires manual shut off by the operator.

The super automatic machine will grind the beans, tamp, pull the shot, shut it off and even discard the used grounds. Yes, I am serious. I believe you lose a lot of ‘art’ when you use one of these. You’d be surprised at the amount of people that love to see a barista set up and then pull a great shot. These super autos are also big bucks. But if all you want to do is move your cattle call through the line, this is the machine for you!

The boiler capacity should be large enough for a big rush, 9-14 liters should be sufficient. You do not want to run out of steam or hot water in a rush and with a smaller boiler that will happen! Trust me on this from experience!

Buy a machine based on the availability to get parts and service locally. Do not buy based on price alone, or ‘coolness’ or ‘features’ of a machine. They are all good these days. Features will not mean anything if you cannot get local service on your machine.

As far as water softeners, the choice to get a whole water system softener is going to depend on where you are located. In central Texas, the water is VERY hard but I chose to not soften my whole water system, just for the espresso machine. If you are not familiar with hard water, this is what causes lime build-up. It’s a white, crusty looking build up that will kill your $5000 or 10,000 espresso machine. It clogs up the piping that in time, builds up to the point of the water not being able to get through. Then your machine needs to be completely taken apart and de-limed. Not pretty and not cheap!

You will most likely have to have a complete de-liming performed several times over the life of your machine, however if your water is very hard and you do not soften it for your espresso machine, you will most likely have to have it de-limed at a minimum of once per year. This will get time-consuming and expensive, even if you learn to do it yourself. I had my one group de-limed for about $900 so do the math. Avoid lime scale build-up by getting a water softener.

You will need one for decaf and one for regular espresso. There are several manufacturers and models. I will tell you though to be sure it’s automatic and has a doser/coffee hopper. They make a doserless model that grinds right into the portafilter and though this is freshly ground espresso, it does not work well in a rush! The units with a hopper allow the hopper to fill with ground espresso and have a lid to keep out the air. The bigger units have a bigger hopper and vice versa. Also, these have a bean hopper that you can get about 2 lbs of espresso beans in.

These are the types you see in the food store bulk coffee aisle. Be sure to get the full scale version, not the shorter one. The only difference I can see is the taller one is easier to get a bag under to grind beans for customers. The shorter one is not! Try to have one grinder for regular and decaf, and another for flavored coffee if you will serve it. Using the same for all three will make the regular and decaf coffee taste like the flavored coffee. This grinder will need proper maintenance and burr replacement after so many hours as well. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on this.

Be sure to buy for your volume. Automatics are best as they are plumbed to a water line. Pour over units will you need to fill manually! The air pot brewers are the better fits because they brew the coffee directly into the air pots. There are single unit models and double unit models. You will save a lot of time especially in a rush, with a double brew unit.

Pastry Case (refrigerated and non)

There are several different sizes. Take your floor space into consideration but also buy for capacity and visual display. A nice, attractive unit that holds and displays a nice array of pastries is key for merchandising. Dual zone cases are a good idea because they let you have part cold, and part room temperature (dry case) pastries that do not need to be refrigerated.

There are several models to choose from but some have features you just won’t need. Be sure to get a commercial blender. Consumer units do not have the heavy duty types of motors that commercial units have. That means they will break down a lot faster than a commercial one! I would suggest you give Vitamix a look here.

These come in single, double and triple door units. Of course, plan for your overall room but your needs as well. The larger units have more capacity inside the unit, but the bigger plus is the prep top area that has more compartments to put meats, vegetables, etc in. If you are planning on a regular deli and Panini service, I would say the double door unit would be good. You may even get away with the smaller one!

Under Counter Refrigerator

Do yourself a favor and get a double door unit. These are basically like the sandwich prep units but without the top compartments. The inside capacity should be big enough to hold a good portion of your dairy, as well as opened soy cartons, smoothie mix, bottled water and soda (if you do not have a larger unit or merchandiser for water and soda. Plan accordingly.

This is for the back of your shop. This will be your commercial refrigerator in the back area to house your back stock of refrigerated items such as milk, as well as your baking ingredients, food items, etc. There are double and single door units.

Getting an ice maker that can make an average of 600-1000 lbs per day is good. It will give you enough and still be able to make more within 24 hours. In a busy shop, you’d be surprised how much ice you can go through: sodas, fruit smoothies, frappes, frozen chai.

You will need one of these to keep your ice cream, and other food ingredients that can and need to be frozen.

Get this based on your baking level. A ¼ size may be too small and a full size may be too big. The median unit is a ½ size and has 3 racks.

Convection oven? Most pastries, pies and other baking can be done well in a convection oven. That is an oven that has a blower wheel that disperses the heat evenly and faster throughout the oven. Therefore your baking time is usually cut in half.

Cast iron (non-ceramic) with ribbed plates are the better units. With the ribbed, rather than flat plates you will get the ‘grill marks’ on the bread and that always looks impressive. I recommend a double plate unit so you can effectively grill up to four Panini at once if you have a large order

This will be essential per most health departments for wash, rinse and sanitize. If you have a commercial dishwasher, it usually overrides the 3 bay sink. However, most restaurants have both. You don’t need a big one, just one big enough to get your biggest ‘washable’ piece of baking or cooking hardware into.

Check your health department requirements because you may need a hand sink every so many feet or based on how many employees you have, or based on your floor plan. These are sinks only big enough to wash your hands in and that is it. That is why they are so small.

Pick and choose what is in between comfortable and not. This will help you avoid squatters that love to stay all day. Ordinarily, people in your store is a good thing but not if they are taking up space and just being comfy! This will include your tables and chairs, as well as couch, wing hairs, etc. If you are an eclectic coffee house, good finds can be had at Goodwill and other resale shops.

Just get one that you can hear when it rings! A cordless phone is a great idea.

If u can, get extra speakers and have one in at least all four corners for best sound quality.

This is the swiper w/pin pad – If you accept credit and debit cards, this is essential. Usually they are purchased from your credit card processor. Leasing one of these is usually a rip-off. Try to buy it outright.

These are stainless steel or aluminum and great to make a kitchen prep area. They clean easily too. They come in various heights and widths, with or without a backsplash and usually have a shelf underneath.

So there you have some information to get you started on planning your equipment needs for staring a coffee shop. Be sure you take your floor space into account when figuring the sizes of your equipment. Also be sure you account for your anticipated customer volume. Early planning is key to having the right equipment to begin with.


Guadalupe Gets a Makeover

By Daniel Mottola, Fri., July 22, 2005

Demolition crews have been busy all summer in the 3000 and 3100 blocks of Guadalupe Street, making rubble and dust out of the former Ray's Steakhouse, Expresso Lube, and an old strip mall, and clearing the way for a new mixed-use condo/retail development that planners say will embody the pedestrian-oriented values of the city's proposed commercial design standards.

That's not the only change afoot on Guadalupe. Earlier this year, neighborhood fixture Half Price Books vacated its longtime location at 3110 Guadalupe, on the corner of West 31st Street, for a much larger former Randalls on North Lamar. The abandoned run-down building will get a face-lift. Half Price's old rare books building (a former used car office), on the south side of 31st, is being replaced with another building of a similar scale in the same location.

The makeovers of both former Half Price Books buildings are basically gussied up versions of the traditional architecture and development that defines the north-central corridors of Guadalupe, Lamar, and Burnet. The star of the show, however, will be Guadalupe 31, a "vertical mixed-use" development designed by Austin's Dick Clark Architects. The three-story development, which will fill the space left by recently demolished structures just south of the old Half Price buildings, will feature two residential stories (38 condos priced from $185,000-$190,000 for one bedroom, one bath, to $220,000-$300,000 for two bedrooms, two baths) on top of 18,000 square feet of ground floor mixed retail with separated business and residential parking located within the 40-foot-tall structure. Mikal Grimes, past president of the surrounding Heritage Neighborhood Association – from Lamar to Guadalupe and from 29th to 38th streets – said neighbors gave developers Joe and Peter Lamy of Capital City Partners zoning concessions in exchange for the developers' willingness to conform to a new neighborhood zoning plan intended to concentrate mixed-use density along major corridors. Heritage neighbors recommended bringing the building directly up to the sidewalk to create a pedestrian-oriented "streetscape environment," and moving parking and car activity to the back of the building, according to Grimes. He called neighbors' interactions with the father and son Lamy duo a "success story." The only unresolved concern at this point, says Grimes, is how to handle additional cut-through traffic on the neighborhood streets.

Guadalupe 31's brand of redevelopment is consistent with the City Council's proposed commercial design standards, which are intent on promoting a more pedestrian-friendly, aesthetically pleasurable Austin. The city is expected to codify and enact the new rules by the end of August. "We have a clear mandate from Envision Central Texas to pursue vertical mixed-use and infill developments. This is one of several [projects] that achieves that goal," said Council Member Brewster McCracken.

Asked about the somewhat steep price of the new condos compared to Guadalupe 31's originally planned rental apartments, Grimes said, "It's neither good nor bad." While affordable housing is an important goal, he said, it wasn't specifically addressed in the Heritage neighborhood plan, but rather by provisions in the University Neighborhood Overlay, a new zoning plan for nearby West Campus with built-in affordable housing components, including as many as 14 new residential projects. Expected to add residential occupancy in the area for another 5,000 people over the next five years, the UNO will make renting around the university much more affordable, said Heritage neighbor Ric Hardin.

In what he described as the precarious task of securing local businesses for the project, developer Joe Lamy said the decision to go condo was made in part because "a typical owner occupant is more likely than a renter to maintain the quality of the property," making it more attractive to local commercial tenants who are less likely to take a chance on a risky location. "Retailers don't want something that will get trashed," he said. "We're trying to pick [retail] tenants who are local, but we'll probably end up with a mix," he said. While Grimes says he and neighbors "clearly articulated desires that we want local businesses," he acknowledges that the economic reality of redevelopment will likely yield a mix of local and national businesses.

Austin-based Southwest Strategies Group, owner and developer of the former Half Price Books site, is known for such projects as South Congress' Penn Field and the recently awarded downtown Seaholm Power Plant revamp. Partner Danny Roth says, "our emphasis is on local businesses still having a home." He says SWSG has already inked agreements with three local outfits: Celebration!, a gift shop that's been in Hyde Park for 20 years Boomerang's Veggie and Meat Pies, a restaurant he calls a "new concept" for Austin and Gelato's, an ice-cream, coffee, and panini shop with two other Austin locations. (Incidentally, Gelato's features coffee and signage from Starbucks subsidiary Seattle's Best Coffee.)

While SWSG's proposed makeover of the old Half Price Books building elicited little reaction from neighbors, the redevelopment of its smaller counterpart to the south, the former rare books house where Gelato's will be located, has left neighbors feeling jilted. By demolishing and resurrecting the building in the same location with a similar footprint and paved parking area, the developers were able to side-step city requirements for a new zoning site plan and, as a result, avoided triggering neighborhood compatibility requirements that would've required a new site plan to coincide with the Heritage neighborhood plan, Grimes said. "Obviously, we would've preferred redevelopment in accordance with the neighborhood plan," he said, explaining that the site's massive front and rear paved parking areas are considered a "nonconforming use" by the Heritage plan. SWSG plans to use the site as parking for the several businesses housed in the main building. "The reality is that we had to replace a dilapidated building," Roth said. McCracken, however, argues that this sort of redevelopment is "only there to serve auto traffic, not people," and ultimately "degrades the corridor."

Construction will begin on the "classic contemporary" Guadalupe 31 in about two weeks and will end by summer 2006, Lamy said. Gelato's and the other aforementioned businesses at 3110 Guadalupe will open by the end of the summer, says Roth, who hopes to have the rest of the project completed by the end of the year.

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