When it comes to our morning coffee, in a perfect world we'd all wake up late, stroll to our neighborhood coffee shop and linger for an hour or two over a perfectly-brewed cappuccino, espresso, or caffè latte. But in reality, our rushed schedules barely leave us enough time to dash into a Starbucks or Coffee Bean, much less wait in line for an apron-clad barista to make each individual drink with a slow hand and some TLC. But according to The Wall Street Journal slowing down is exactly what Starbucks has instructed its baristas to do, "amid customer complaints that the Seattle-based coffee chain has reduced the fine art of coffee making to a mechanized process with all the romance of an assembly line."
We're all for baristas' attention to detail and commitment to coffee craftsmanship; it just better not make us late for work. Which, according to the article, sounds like a risk of the new regulations: "Starbucks baristas are being told to stop making multiple drinks at the same time and focus instead on no more than two drinks at a time; starting a second one while finishing the first." That's in addition to -- get this -- only using one espresso machine instead of two, staying at the espresso bar instead of moving around and steaming milk for each individual drink rather than steaming a whole pitcher that can be used for several orders.
If this raises a red (or coffee-colored) flag, you're not alone. Starbucks baristas are concerned that the changes will slow them down to the point of creating long lines and grouchy customers. Erik Forman, a Starbucks barista in Bloomington, Minn, said the new rules "doubled the amount of time it takes to make drinks in some cases," while Tyler Swain, a barista in Omaha, Neb., worries how he will keep up with volume if he can only complete one drink at a time. "While I'm blending a frappuccino, it doesn't make sense to stand there and wait for the blender to finish running, because I could be making an iced tea at the same time," Swain said. While Starbucks says the new rules are part of an effort to make stores operate more efficiently, they clearly haven't met groggy Angeleno yet to have their cups o' Joe.
What do you think of Starbucks' new rules for its baristas? Will it increase efficiency or make for longer lines and pissed off patrons? Weigh in below.
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Christie Bishop also blogs for PardonMyCrumbs.com.