Starbucks? Not all that it's cracked up to be

August 19th, 2009

So I went by Starbucks today. The line wasn't quite as long as I had seen it on previous occasions. I went in. What struck me right away was how noisy it was inside. Mind you they're located inside a busy train terminal, with nothing but a delimiting glass panel wall, so it's not going to be a quiet, cozy café. But they clearly had done nothing to insulate from the noise. Which is just as well, because most of it was coming from inside the Starbucks. There was music blasting, and five staffers yelling orders over the music. It was literally as noisy as MacDonalds on a busy day. So much for ambience, none of it. Those stories about people hanging out in a Starbucks - those places must be categorically different from this one.

As I was pondering this, the line advanced and soon I found myself making my order. And that's when I noticed how poorly organized the staffers were. First I made my order to the girl leaning over the cake counter. She proceeded to yell it down the line to the production division. Then I approached the cash register and had to repeat my order to another girl. "A large caffè latte." "Was it a venti?" "I have no idea, I said large." I refuse to speak their pretend language.  The girl who had taken the order chimed in to clarify. I forked over cash and, strangely enough, did not receive a receipt. Are they saving on paper?

That's when I got in line behind the six previous customers who were still waiting to get theirs. Clearly, they were backed up with orders.  My coffee was ready before all of theirs was. But the girl in production had no idea whom it was for, because there were no receipts to work from. The orders were filled, but how to match them with customers? So she asks every person in turn "what are you waiting for?" That was the third time I had to say my order.

All of this somehow distracted me from noticing the beating I took on the coffee. €3.95 for a large caffè latte? That's hilarious. At MacDonalds you can get a meal for a little over 5 bucks. Maybe they could justify the price if the café was a great place to hang out. Or if the coffee were especially good. Or if they were especially well organized and efficient.

:: random entries in this category ::