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January 02, 2008


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I don't see why Starbucks couldn't just advertise its sugar-free syrups (and possibly the skim option) more prominently in the stores. Right now, it's just fine print on a gigantic menu board. I agree, "skinny" just creates more confusion. But then again I expect nothing better from corporate, who recently remodelled my store into a hellhole.

chitown's best/angriest barista

amen to that, sister! i am right there with you on everything you said and will also be refusing to call anything "skinny."


Wait a second. "Skinny" means use skim milk, has for years, why would Starbucks want it to mean anything else?


I think the skinny platform to is misguided step for Starbucks. However, it seems Winter Phase is a time when people seem to lose their minds. Remember, Chantico and how it came out in Winter 2005. Well, yeah, now we have the "skinny" platform.


so awesome...

did anyone hear about DCCF's having to be called out as double chocolaty chip frappuccino. thats 1 i deff won't be using

Camille Claudel

I was born and raised in LA. I have traveled across the globe, and for as disgusted and disappointed as I was when I saw the Sbucks logo in Paris, I knew I could go in there and order my drink without a hitch. Even in Athens, Greece, the barista knew my drink simply by calling it out in English.

I am sick of Starbucks, though, and all their bright and brilliant marketing plans. I wish they would leave well enough alone.

It's hard enough to have had to memorize my drink in order to get speedy and courteous service. But to start calling beverages "skinny" is just stupid.


I just found the double chocolaty chip thing entertaining.
But I agree on the skinny change. I recognize the reasoning to show the options and especially as people are making new years resolutions, now is the time to make sure people know to give up something other than Starbucks.
Even so, the skinny change is confusing. As a shift, I've been trying to explain the new system to my baristas and everyone is confused. As it stands, the only way a drink is skinny is if it is made with sugar free syrup, nonfat milk, no whip cream, and foam. But change just one of those details and we are back to calling out every marker on the cup. And I firmly agree that saying skinny implies that other drinks are for fat/obese people. I'm in great shape but while I prefer the taste of nonfat, I want my sugar and whip cream and I don't want to feel like I'm getting a drink for someone with no control every time I order. To xxxx employee--if you write a mission review, so will I. Maybe as partners we can bring about a change. Its worked with other things after all.


EXCELLENT letter. I actually wrote a letter myself last weekend, elaborating on points #3 and 5. I didn't bring up the discrimination-lawsuit factor, but I have to agree with you that it's a rich target for someone who may use this for his/her own gains.... in fact, as a recovering bulimic, maybe there's some money in it for me??? ;)


I hear people ask for Skinny in reference to skim milk and I think the word just sounds silly.
This whole new drink calling system is a part of the reason that I am looking for a new job, and I know it sounds ridiculous but I get enough people looking at me like I'm insane on a daily basis, I don't need this to add to it lol. I work in a BUSY store, we don't need the added stress.

And using the word skinny makes me feel ridiculous. That's all I have to say.

Oh well.


To create a response from The Consumerist forum postings:

Hmmmm, sounds like this person might be a little obsessed with her own weight or body image. The term is referring to a drink, not a person. Is she really saying that the word 'Skinny' is not appropriate in any context because it makes her think about what she looks like?

Is she gonna complain about "WARNING: HOT" written on coffee cups because not everyone is hot?

Come on. It's just a marketing ploy, get over it. I hate it when people are so insecure.

Suck it up who ever you are.

So, what's in a Rubinesque?


And my favorite:

Don't like it? Get a new job.


This was a heartfelt, well thought out, and intelligent letter. But I also disagree with her.

I respect the fact that she has personal objections to the new skinny platform, but I don't like how all of those objections are actually concerned with other people.

She *thinks* customers will be confused. Well, I *think* they won't. It's not that hard to understand the new platform, and it will all be clearly spelled out for the customers.

She *thinks* speed of service will go down. Well, I *think* it might go down at first, but it always does as a new platform or set up is introduced. Just because a short period of adjustment is needed for most changes, does that mean nothing should ever change? I *think* not.

She *thinks* people who are overweight will take offense. You know what I think is offense to people who are overweight? When people presume that they, as a whole, are so thin skinned (pardon the use of the word thin) that they will all, as a whole, be offended by the use of the word skinny. That's ridiculous, not to mention insulting.

Right now we use the word nonfat to signify a certain kind of milk. Have you ever heard a customer or barista complain about having to hear the word "fat" over and over again? Of course not. Because most Starbucks customers and partners are smart enough to understand that the word has no value beyond its use as a drink modifier.

And, finally, as well intentioned and intelligent (though misguided and off-base, in my opinion) as her letter was, she completely nullified the whole thing when she presumed to speak for every Starbucks partner in her letter's conclusion. I'm sorry, but every partner in every store does not agree that it's a bad idea. I for one don't think it's a bad idea. I don't necessarily know if it's a good idea, but I have faith in the company and am keeping an open mind. I will agree that some of the partners at my store voiced concern at first, but most of them have come around because I made it my mission to train people on the new platform, spoke positively about it, and encouraged people to try it out before writing it off completely.

I wish the person who wrote that letter had done the same.


Fuwalda, right on!


Fuwalda, right on!

Graeme Harper

One thing I think should be Skinny (Slimed down) is the letter.

Basically the 2 Skinny points are, the new name is;

1)confusing and 2) derogatory.

A simpler option would be to call a drink that is sugar free, low fat milk w/ no whip LOW CAL

i.e. a Grande Lo Cal Cinnamon Dolce! Doh!

A drink with any other combination would be called as requested!?

A sometimes happy customer. . .

That was amazing. I don't know if anyone could have said it better......


"That was amazing. I don't know if anyone could have said it better......"

Thank you!


amen. this letter could have easily been written by me. I will use the new system... but I think it's stupid and won't work. I don't get it.

Vicki Verona

As much as I would have hoped that the company would have focused on product innovation rather than menu manipulation, I agree that the letter is full of passion, but not a very convincing argument.

To respond directly to the speed of service claim. Think about when a store is taught "SBUX deployment." Everyone is always up in arms about and comes up with a hundred reasons to pushback on it. And yes, at first, when a store is having their deployment behaviors changed, speed goes down a bit because its new and unfamiliar to the partners, which means they feel unconfident, and thus aren't operating at their best.

However, after a couple of weeks, it starts to click for your the majority of your partners, which forces the rest of the partners to assimilate.

With Cashing Handling Simplification, the same thing happened for the first 2-3 weeks. It was a new way of doing our deposits and it took a lot of us some time to adjust and learn how to troubleshoot. Now, I can do a deposit in 15 minutes from start to finish and I manage a $32,000+/wk store.

Here's an idea folks. Why don't we use this thread as a way of putting together a collective message to send to some of the head honchos, including Cos, Laurie, and Jim.
This site has always been a good way of getting the attention of the most highly influential people in the company. My previous SVP, Mark Lindstrom, even admitted at an open forum he attended that he views this website regularly.


God help you all should you ever enter the proffessional workforce...

Vicki Verona

I have contacts with many people up in Seattle, so I'd be happy to post their contact information.



I see where you are coming from but i'm going to have to fill you in on a couple of points...

First off, us Starbucks Baristas have our own forum online where thousands of us from all around the world gather to discuss issues, opinions and facts. Even involved Starbucks customers often join in on the discussions. I have read atleast 5 posts and many, many (hundreds) responses concerning customers and baristas who have taken offense to the "Skinny" promotion.

Even as a fairly skinny person myself, I as well would feel a mixture of embarrassment and rudeness in calling out such a beverage.

Concerning the issue regarding the additional confusion and waiting times for customers: The promotion is scheduled to launch for tomorrow and I can guarantee you that about 2 employees in my store have understood and decided to go along with this promotion. The rest are either wary of it or confused due to all of the CONFLICTING materials we have received!! I'm doing Siren
s Eye tonight and the materials in the binder say we are NOT changing our methods of calling out the drinks, but there is a Memo that came out telling us that we will change it!!

Obviously Corporate was having issues with this promotion from the get-go. I agree with Elizabeth who said that they should have stuck with advertising the sugar-free syrups. Why waste time with all of this nonsense?

sir jorge

i say...sadly...

shut up and do your job.


amen to whoever wrote that.


This is what "entitlement in education" gets us - whinging brats who are offended by the performance of thier jobs.

it is going to be confusing, but - whatever customers are used to that...her letter was too long to make a solid point.
no one is going to read it up at HQ


Those of us who are clued in to how many carbs skim milk has versus cream know that a real 'skinny' latte is a sugar-free breve.


Ugh. I don't know why anyone wants to drink a sugar-free nonfat anything anyway.


She has a great point with the comment "why complicate a system that, for the most part, works?" I'm not totally opposed to this, but I do think it's unnecessary.

Howard Schultz

I think that the "partner" who wrote this must be a fat chick, it's the only reason that she would be worried about this.

SeaTown Coffee

This is Marketing 101 Pure and Simple.
Starbucks is the new McDonald's, and they are being attacked for the crappy fat drinks that they are putting out, while McDonald's is being lauded for the fact that they have so many 'healthy' options.

The Starbucks 'Skinny' platform is a bullshit response to the real accusation that the menu of drinks and food is far from healthy. Look at the stock price today, the 'Skinny' platform was supposed to raise the price by $2.00 or more...

Lou Sussler

She may be right or wrong in her assessment of the Skinny protocol. I don't know enough to say but my gut reaction is that she is right.

She lost me with the "I won't be doing it"

Bringing your opinion to the attention of management is laudable. Making the decision to not follow specific instructions unilaterally would get her fired from my company. Immediately.

It has happened here before.

Me: Judy (name changed), please move that rolling file out of the passageway and to the other side of your desk.

Judy: No, I like it there.

Me: It's blocking the passageway, please move it.

Judy: No.

Me: Okay, you're fired, please clean up your desk and leave.

Judy: Really?

Me: Yes.

I agreed the first time I read her letter, and I agree still. It's a ridiculous platform. Insofar as I know, most people in my store seem to dislike it as well. We all concur that the platform is silly, but have different reasons for doing so.

Seatown, that's interesting. If that's the reason for the change, then it's a lame reason. "Nonfat" is just as healthy-sounding a term as "skinny", so I wonder why they felt the need to change it.


@ Lou Sussler:

That's the way is works in business.

Dangerous Dan

I'm a fat guy and founder of the largest size-positive group in the Northwest. I think this is political correctness gone berserk. The NY barista may have a point that the new terminology might initially be confusing, but after awhile it will be second nature. As for her claim that fat people will be offended by use of the term, there will always be people with a victim's chip on their shoulder looking for any excuse to place blame. As for the 13,000 people in our Seattle-based group, we KNOW we're fat! One coffee drink isn't going to make a difference in us being "skinny" and I think anyone who takes offense at these drinks' terminology has bigger issues.

Vicki Verona

I agree with the poster who said it's fine if you question the platform, it's a whole different thing when you say you won't follow it.

Essentially, when you say that you are not going to follow it "At the risk of insubordination", ESPECIALLY now that you've put your store # and name on it, you might as well have written your opening statement as "I feel so strongly about this issue that I am willing to loose my job over it." Because that is what is going to happen.

Personally, I would have urged you to write this letter without your store # on it. You've put your SM/ASM into a political situation now. You've had your letter published on a very visible website to SBUX executives and your OWN field leadership team. I have no doubts that there will be an e-mail chain initiated which will light a fire under your DM to get involved.


I'm more offended by these coffee monkeys being called "baristas" than the whole skinny thing...

You lose all credibility with your silly typos and grammatical errors.

As the great Professor Henry Higgins said:
"Why can't the English learn how to Speak?"
Or in this case, type.


I think the platform is ridiculous because (aside from the introduction of sugarfree mocha) all it's doing is giving old items new names. I get bunches of customers every day asking me about sugarfree or nonfat or low calorie options, and they have very little difficulty figuring out our options and remembering them the next time they come in.

Also, why take a term that has been used solely to denote nonfat milk and recycle it for something much more complicated? How many times am I going to have to ask customers who say skinny whether they meant "Sbux Skinny" or just "nonfat milk skinny"? Not all my customers are regulars. I'm going to have to re-explain this platform a thousand times to new customers throughout the promotion. This isn't simplification, it's complication, and that's frustrating for everyone involved.


I don't agree with everything said in the letter but overall, co-sign.

In fact, myself and several other partners were discussing how we should send in a mission review.



You lose all credibility with your silly typos and grammatical errors."

That's precious, my little grammar nazi! Good for you for finding a way to entitle yourself! Good boy! [pat pat].


I just pasted that letter into MS Word. It took more than 3 pages, single spaced and lacking addresses and proper page breaks, etc.

First, it should not take nearly 4 pages to say what you need to say. You look like an raving idiot when you go on that long.

And second: You sell *coffee in paper cups*. Nothing about the job is worth nearly 4 pages of babbling verbiage if you are on the "serving coffee to customers" end of the equation and not on the "pulling down big bucks as the CEO" side of things.

Seriously. It's coffee.
Not brain surgery.
Not rocket science.


More from The Consumerist:

5) Aside from customers who do not fit societies standards of "smart," there are partners that are employed by Starbucks who are "stupid," and it is ridiculous to think otherwise. Imagine going to work for several hours at a time, and hearing the term "smart" being called out countless times. It will undoubtedly have a negative affect on a person's self-esteem that may already be low from living in a society that is generally not accepting of people who do not fit the mold of an "intelligent" person. It creates an environment that people will not want to be in. It will exacerbate self-image issues that partners of ANY size may have. Why would ANYONE want to go into a store where they will hear potentially hurtful terms called out repeatedly with no regard as to how they may affect people?


Inhale another dozen krispy kreme donuts and top it off with a Crisco milkshake, fatty. It'll make you feel better.


Once again, the lowest level of employee is trying to steer the ship.

Just drag yourself to work like the rest of us, and conform! It's not your business!!!! If you don't agree with the way it is run....QUIT.

Yes, because the little people have never effected change in the world.

"Conform." Blah. Life is more than just dragging yourself to work. Kudos to her for feeling so passionately about the subject that she's willing to risk her job. Heaven forbid she be an individual. Maybe it was rash to include her name and store #, but at the same time, she wasn't hiding behind the name of "anonymous barista." When one takes a stand, it should not be in anonymity. It should be open and forthright.

Vicki Verona

I keep mission review cards available in my store, but only because its a requirement. I never educate partners about it because nothing has ever been changed because of the mission review process. Its just a way to manipulate partners into thinking they have a voice, when really the company does what they see best. If they listen to anyone, its just the field leadership teams.

For example, an SM in my district hated how the roasting plant would send out a huge box just to send out 1 roll of coffee stamps. So she kept sending in mission reviews and finally she got a call from someone at the roasting plant saying that they would stop doing it.....

And we know how that story ends.......(and if you don't, they still send out oversized boxes for small items)


"When one takes a stand, it should not be in anonymity. It should be open and forthright."



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