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February 11, 2008


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Vicki Verona

Thanks Jim and if we could actually get an edit on the date and make it February 26th, that would be awesome.

Thanks for the quick response time!!

On to the chatting....

So does anyone have anymore details? Are we getting entire districts together? Is it just a store thing?

Will there be a release of new beverage quality standards that we train on?

The only reason I ask (and I really am not trying to sound pretentious or cocky here), but my partners do not need a beverage quality RE-training. They know how passionate I am about it and that myself, ASMs, and shift supervisors all hold people accountable to it.

I also make the expectation clear when I'm interviewing people that I am very strict about beverage quality and customer service.

not a barista, but "retraining" would have to be in reference to manual espresso machines and not the automatic ones right? is there really any training that takes place on the push-button ones?

Vicki Verona

Kinda surprised that they dont have a press release out yet. This is clearly something that is going to affect a lot of people and you'd think they'd give notice immediately.

chris n cali

man i was gonna go in that day n getta caremel frap..

Northern Latte

There is a 3 page action item on the portal today. We will now only pull double shots, we will never re-steam milk even if it han't gone below the re-steaming mark, thermometers in every drink, shot glasses only unless it's a espresso to go, get rid to the big pitchers....basically it seems like a meeting to reiterate how important it is for our company for all partners to be on board as we move onward to recreate the 3rd place with quality espresso drinks....the DM's all had a call this afternoon with more info to follow. A lot of stuff we've already begun to do but now just putting it all together to all our partners....I also think it's a pretty bold move think of the lost sales and added pay but it's telling America we mean business and our drinks will be quality and standards will be followed no matter what Starbucks you step into...now if only they could do this to the licensees

Yes there is a great deal of training that is needed for an "automatic" machine.

There is a huge mispercetion that the Verismo machines are fully "automatic".

They are not.

They automate some functions but one still needs to monitor and adjust the grind to ensure a proper shot is being pulled. Nor does it monitor proper milk handling for you.

I find it ironic that people refer to the LaMarzocco as the "pure" manual espresso machine of old. Truth is when it came out the same criticisms were leveled against it being "automatic" because it pumped the water for you instead of having to pull down on a piston machine.

Improvements on technology make some things in life easier....... but they do not completly take away the art. It still requires a properly trained barista to produce a great tasting espresso shot.

I'm looking forward to us having that shot pride back.


northern latte,
if I'm not mistaken, license store employees will have to attend these meetings too. Whether or not they attend a company owned store's meeting or if they have their own, I don't know. Support center staff and service techs are also to attend the meeting at their local starbucks as well.


oops, I AM mistaken.
License store DM's will be attending a meeting along with company-operated store DMs. I figure they'll still have their own meeting to go over the new standards.

I for one am overjoyed to know that I can get a drink at a different Starbucks and know they have higher standards to follow, like no more big pitchers and NO MORE RESTEAMING MILK!


I only wish Jim loved me more and said that, "The Boston Starbucks Rebel reports that all U.S. Starbucks..." Like wasn't I the one who told everyone about skinny lattes?

"shot glasses only unless it's a espresso to go"

Um, no. ALWAYS. Even "to go"

By espresso to go they mean you are supposed to pour directly into the cup when someone gets a single or doppio to go since they are typically consumed immediately. Read the message from Howard.

No, the email (voicemail) actually said that espresso shots to go are to be pulled directly into the cup.

Re read it.

It specifically says you may pour directly into the cup if it's espresso going into a demitesse (sp??) cup or a paper cup to go.


anon at 3:41:04 - You're kidding, right? Push-button or not, do you think machines refill, maintain, calibrate, and clean themselves? We are in fact (supposed ot be) trained in proper usage and maintenance of our espresso machines.


This is going to be interesting. I came on board well after Howard left the company, so this is all new for me. I'm looking forward to the retraining session, since the chick who was supposed to teach me all this was more interested in sucking up to one of the other partners for some reason. :D

By 'License store' - does that mean the SB's that are in grocery stores or Targets, but the ones you can still use SB cards at?

I hope so, as the closest SB to my house is in a grocery store, and it makes appreciate the regular SB's even more! I will purposely drive past the grocery store one and go out of my way to another SB on my way to work because I know my beverage will be made better! Not to say they are universally bad, but that one is!!

Herman M.

Look, if you think there is no in store maintenance on the 801, then you may be in for a shock on the 26th...

There has been an increase in "Powder Error" and "overtime error" calls from the stores. This is simply because the partners in the stores are not paying attention when the machines have been upgraded. These things are horribly sensitive because we have really stretched the tolerances they need to maintain.

Not being vigilant about rinsing the shot glasses can quickly lead to the new filters being clogged with the finer espresso grind. A partner who is not paying attention will do what we have done for years: Move the adjustment knob five or six notches to the right because the difference between 19 seconds and 35 seconds seems eternal. Rinse, move one notch, time the third.

The company's techs have worked hard to get you guys ready for this, the day to day maintenance is up to you, however. Just because it's in a closed box does not mean it does not need close attention.

I know this will be part of what's covered.


Yes, by licensed stores, they do mean the ones typically found in grocery stores, Target, hotels/casinos, amusement parks, and airports. The ones inside Barnes and Noble Bookstores however don't fall under this umbrella if I'm not mistaken. They are a "proudly serving Starbucks" drinks type of store, rather than a licensed store that has the same logos, menu boards, merchandise, aprons, etc...

Oh man, I hope this isn't going to be one long session, but maybe a couple of short sessions and you can pick which one works for you?? Of course I have a conflict that night!!


I have to check/ask for foam on my latte @ most of the stores I go into. Not extra foam, just the foam that it is supposed to be topped with!! I had this problem a couple of years ago, and it has now resurfaced. Retraining would be a good thing!!

I think you are right on about B&N stores being different then the umbrella of license stores. They will not accept SB cards where the others will.
I'm not as concerned with BN attending as with the license stores attending as I feel they are more a part of SB since they accept the gift cards, and use the real cups and bakery items, and merchandise. I won't go near the B&N cafe, that is in my town, within a 10 ft radius!

"I have to check/ask for foam on my latte @ most of the stores I go into. Not extra foam, just the foam that it is supposed to be topped with!! I had this problem a couple of years ago, and it has now resurfaced. Retraining would be a good thing!!"

I feel you w/ the foam issue...I have to do that too and I always order a macchiato. I don't know how they could forget!

Thank you Father Starbucks!!!

sbux stockholder and former partner

Pulling espresso into shot glasses only is nothing new.....that was always the standard. It's just that most everyone chose to ignore it. Partners would look @ me like I had 2 heads when I coached them on that issue.

You had to pull a double shot with the La Marzoccos - nothing earth shattering there either.

Quite frankly, I get bad drinks everywhere: licensed and company stores. In fact, I was getting much better drinks @ licensed kiosks than I was retail stores for awhile.

You can only control what goes on in your own stores!! The problem that a lot of people have is they are too busy looking at what everyone else, is or isn't doing, and use that as excuse for what is "wrong with Starbucks." What is wrong with Starbucks is many partners are poorly trained on the art of making a good espresso drink, they don't take the time to connect with customers anymore, and I get the sense that many of them just don't care!!

Howard has a long haul ahead of him.


shot glasses were NOT supposed to be used.. the standard was to dispense into the cup (unless cold/personal)....


Hey Mr. Stockholder and former partner. If you had actually read the manuals, when ever you worked for sbux, you would have known that it has been at the baristas discretion whether or not to use shot glasses, as stated in our pretty manuals, and therefore would not have just made a liar out of yourself in your post.

It may have always been your wish that they use the glasses but until last week it was never the standard.

Secondly, everyone has bad experiences at sbux. This training session will be our way to ensure everyone gets on the right and same page, to minimize those bad visits. It's wrong to critisize a company that is clearly bending over backwards to make things right again after such a long focus on the bottom line. As a stockholder, i'd think you'd be more in line with this mode of thinking, seeing as how you stand to make a great deal more money over the next year or so.

Lastly, I'm a stockholder too and currently still a partner. So you can dispense with the holier than thou attitude. Most of us on this board, partners and customers, own a part of starbucks and are just as important as you.



Not a barista, just a frequent customer of Starbucks... won't closing for 2.5 hrs lose a lot of business? After dinner isn't as busy as morning, but it's when I tend to stop in.


Brandon, see my above post and read the beverage resource manual on your next shift. Ty =)


Its actually "His Holiness Supreme Pontiff Howard Schultz, Servant of the Servants of the Siren."

[rhymes with kerouac]

Not an partner or manager - just a Starbucks fan. Hope it's alright to weigh in...

I'm noting the "All U.S. stores..." Does this indicate the Canadian stores have no quality issues? Not enough quality issues? Are we simply off the corporate radar? Are on phase two of the retraining / market share plan?

As an aside, I stood in front of the cash and waited this morning for someone to aknowledge my presence and take my order at a local corporate store. The partners were talking about a McCafe one of them had visited - and she was mightily impressed. I wonder if part of the retraining has to be not only to help partners create quality but to help them believe in Starbucks again. Just a thought based on a brief interaction in one store - for whatever that's worth.


Closing for these few hours on a tuesday night will indeed lose us a few dollars, but what is that when compared with what we gain? Everyone going through the motions to learn/relearn what it is to work for starbucks and provide the type of service and coffee you can't get anywhere else. We can spare a few bucks to make that happen. this is a GREAT decision.


OK so why is using the shot glasses better than letting them pour directly into the cup? I'm talking about when you make a Latte here...

If you use the shot glasses then some of the espresso residue will remain in the shot glasses when poured into the cup am I wrong?? Then you're only getting 96% of the espresso flavor rather than the 100% by letting it just pour directly into the cup?

What am I missing here??

If you pour into the shot glasses you can look at the shot (heart, crema, etc) to make sure that it is looking right. It will better help clue you in if the machine needs to be calibrated before the 1 hour mark.

Keep your shot glasses rinsed and you will have many less issues with shot residue.


If you pour straight into the cup, you miss the oppertunity to visually and arommatically observe how well the shots are comming out. That is the reason cited by our action item.

Also, there is the slightly more important quality issue of having shots sit in those paper/ceramic cups longer. I can count the number of times I've used the cup to pour straight into and all five were at the request of the customer.

If you use shot glasses, you can see when you need to recalibrate, when you need more beans, and if you rinse your glasses often, there is no quality issue, you don't lose any part of the shot and you can ensure a quality beverage more often.


what ive heard from my sm...

1) no more hitting the single shot button (for automatic machines), we MUST hit double...doesnt pour right or something.

2) pour shots into shot glasses only (effective in my store for over a week now)

3) WE ARE GETTING RID OF SPOONS! (cap/latte spoons, not mixers)



The standard is to pull into ceramic demiatsse, but if it is paper, you must use the shot glass. (the demi is a glorificed double shot glass).

The idea behind the training is this:
you will steam milk poorly (over 17o to burn it) and taste it against milk steamed correctly

you will taste shots of espress: perfer (in range), old, single vs. single pulled as dboule, etc.

there will be a section on customer service and making sure people know how to take care of the customers

and to the cocky manager whose team doesn't need retraining because he's so passionate about bevererage quality, you are not there all day, and trust me, your partners can use this. the fact that you are so quick to say you don't need it tells me you do. (do you have 10 or more coffee masters? no? then yeah, you need this.)

this also is the launch day of the new promotion that focuses on "the best espresso in town" Howard couldn't stand the idea of this slogan on our buildings knowing how broken our standards have become due to a lack of education.

shots dont form in the cup, and the flavor will fall flat. you also cannot monitor a quality shot when you pour into a cup as you can't see the layers form. A DECENT and EXPEREINCED Barista can tell a bad shot just by looking at it. That is hte true crime of the 801's. The upgrade really improved shot flavor. Its amazing how the grind gets off so easily after an hour of use. I mean seconds difference. And 96% my ass. 100% awful if its a bad shot!!! Don't be lazy. People like you make me wish they'd bring back the hand tamping. Bad baristas would be weeded out after three hours on the bar.

canadian stores are part of the US division now, so you'll probably be doing this too.

And I am sure some cusotmers will be disapointed, but this is going to make them happy in the long run if it does ignite passion over our beverages and increases quality.

This is just the beginning of some very wonderful things.


It would be nice if our machines were calibrated properly so that every time we pull the shots into the *(@&#&@! shotglasses, it didn't spit at us and burn us constantly. Not to mention the huge mess made on the bar when this happens. It already takes considerably longer to make these drinks and get people on their merry way. I hope uncle howie has increased the budget considerably for bar towels. Even before this shotglass BS, we'd barely have enough to see us through the week.

I just can't WAIT for them to take the big pitchers so we can't manage to get 2 grandes out of one pitcher. Yessirree, I can just see customer satisfaction going WAY up when they have to wait at least twice as long for their drink when they really need to get back to work/school right quick (BTW, this is referred to as sarcasm).


Hey uh, Coffeemaster, I think you missread my comments, i don't pull shots into the cup, ever, if I can help it. I'm right along with ya.

Vicki Verona

^ Uhhh first of all I'm a girl, hence the name Vicki. Second, I am not being cocky, and I even made a disclaimer about it. Third, I run a 43k/wk store and every one of my leadership team is a Coffee Master (1 SM, 3 ASMs, 5 shift supervisors)...sorry I guess I missed your arbitrary 10 CM standard by 1.

Don't tell me my store needs this without even knowing how I run my store. My customer voice numbers show us at the top in our region for Taste of Beverage and Overall Satisfaction. Our opportunities lie in speed of service, but thats only because we are a store that is passionate about quality.

I'm also an MCM so don't tell me that we need this. I specifically said that if it was just a retraining on previous standards from the BRM, then we wouldnt need it because our store has a reputation for great service and quality. However, it sounds more and more like there are new standards being put out which is why I retract my statement.

The tasting activities aren't anything new. They were actually part of the Coffee Master tab in last summer's promo workbook. The only thing different is now the company is going to actually care about it.


BTW, I also, am a coffemaster and experienced and for all intents and purposes, i can HEAR when a shot is pulling bad. I wasn't argueing against shot glasses, I was argueing in favor of them =)


Ah Nerfebarista I want to come have a beverage at your store. So much of the flavor of a coffee beverage comes from a deep and rich body to the coffee itself. Too watery is painfully wrong. This would be true whether it is drip or espresso. Frankly, I think this is partly why a french press has SO much flavor compared to drip, but I don't know ... I've always been slightly dismayed to watch espresso beverages shot directly into my personal cup (I don't use paper cups ever!). The short little tumblers fit neatly under the thingy that the espresso comes out of, but I so often wonder how a barista can tell if the shot is full-bodied enough!

I think this training can only be a good thing. Even for those who are doing things right, this can help to lift enthusiasm about what they're doing. Pride in espresso drinks!!

I'm a little surprised that the timing wasn't scheduled like on President's Day or some holiday where offices downtown are closed. I'm sure a number of my local starbucks in downtown Seattle will be dead on Monday. Makes sense that if you're located in a highrise office complex it should be on an office type holiday, and if your store is located in more suburbia, then mid week, mid day makes sense when most people are at work. I guess the Tuesday time is a compromise.

I'm so excited about the changes coming. :-) Can't wait to go the shareholders meeting on 3-19 to see what else may be around the bend.

Sorry to be long and rambly! :-)

Vicki Verona

^ Melody,
Any idea when we are getting sent our invites to the shareholder meeting? I've already booked my flight. So excited!


by the way, i dont understand why all stores havent moved to small pitchers yet.

My store is high volume, and i am always on bar, and i rarely have a till. (im pretty quick). I was the first one to object to the small pitchers a few months ago. This was in large part because i have used big pitchers for so long, and i like to keep my bar neat..and hated the idea of so many tiny pitchers with an inch of lukewarm milk cluttering the counter. But i learned to keep the pitchers in line, two 2%, 2 nonfat(with a soy and breve on the side), constantly rinsing and in rotation. Its NOT BAD at all, trust me you will get used to it.


I can't wait for this new stuff to take hold. Obviously shot glasses and little pitchers should be more or less instant, but there will be alot covered at these training sessions that will take time to get folks in the habbit of doing. We are finally heading back in the direction we should be after 8 long years of focusing on numbers.

Thanks Melody for your passion. If you are not already, you should be a partner. Drop your career and move over towards the light.


I cannot wait to be retrained. I am really excited to learn the right way to do things. Everything at my store is speed speed speed due to the volume. A custy has to wait two minutes and they think we forgot their drink. Maybe they should put out a press release stating that your drink might take longer to wait, but it will be worth it. So that I don't get sucked teeth and dirty looks my entire shift. Remind the customers that these are handcrafted drinks, that take time to make properly. People think that we have a convenience store machine back there that the latte just magically appears from.


How do you get 3 ASM's. Here in Boston, you're lucky if you're running a 30K store and get one ASM who isn't being traded around.

Vicki Verona

Really? In California, 17k gets you 1 ASM, 28k gets you 2. They actually changed our ASM threshold and no longer want 3 ASM stores. However, because I am an MCM, my RDO allowed my store to have 3 ASMs since our promotion rate was high.

What do you mean we wont have spoons? how are we suppose to hold the foam back when pouring a latte!?


On a Tuesday, really?

Hope my manager doesn't mind one of her shifts not being there. I'll be in school.

tall is small

Retraining is needed in the stores Melody goes to!!! Shot glasses MUST be used for All personal, iced and used paper cups. I bet they ask her to hold her personal lid too. All cups needs to handed off with a LID (personal and refills)
I'm very excited about the new standards, I love the smaller pitcher but I think we need to chill them first. Double shots, great idea! Shot glasses only, even better idea!!
This is just the beginning, I'm sure their will be much more to come. Go Howard. Onward!!

We DO have to ask people to hold their personal lids, smarty pants.

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