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February 26, 2008

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not an x-sbux  employee

Has anyone read Howard's recent pep talk? #7. What a slap in the face to all those poor souls fired last Thursday who believed in him in his American dream. Respect and dignity?? You may want to look those words up in the dictionary Mr.Schultz.

Darleen

Not an x-sbux employee,
While I certainly understand how you feel, I think you need to know that this was not a decision that was made without any sadness on Howard's part. I'm sure he doesn't delight in the fact that 220 partners are no longer partners. It is a sad thing and my heart really goes out to all the people who have been affected by this.

Madeline

Closing for training from 5:30p.m. to 9:00p.m.? Really? Definitely not thought of with the customer in mind.
I'm not in the business, but I might have gone from say 3:00a.m. - 6:30a.m. to close for training. Just a thought.
I'll be going to the Coffee Bean & tea leaf tonight to try the complimentary beverages they are offering while Starbucks is closed.

molly

Some claim our branding is slipping away, but some people are in a sheer state of panic that we will be closed for three hours....even a.m. customers are panicked, and they don't even come into the store in the evenings....

No one tell these people that some of us close for 6 hours overnight, okay?

Madeline,
Would you go to work from 3am-6:30am for training? Enjoy your beverage

justsayno

THe Sbux location I worked at opened at 4:30, by 6 we were full on in our morning rush. The am would not have worked for this. Not to mention who could learn at 300 am?

Kittymoose

I would LOVE to get a jump on my spring cleaning :) But instead I'll be getting a jump on my barista skills. I'm still excited. I don't think I was really trained properly, so maybe I'll get all the stuff I missed.

Coffebean

n deep respect for a sinking giant in the coffee shop business we will be closing from 5:30pm today.

While they try and retrain their "Partners" in how to make a great cup of coffee during a nationwide 3 hour closure today.

We will honor the giant that was, and the many small mom and pop coffee shops it has created.

While some of their competition offers free or greatly reduced coffee drinks to try and capture some of the fleeing customers, we feel a moment of silence
is due. For without the once formidable Starbucks, many Americans might not have sampled a latte or cappuccino and learned to tell the difference between fresh roast coffee and warehoused product.

R.C.

I just read about the 3 hour training on CNN. I'm not sure what Mr. Shultz, expects when he wants his baristas to share the "passion" for making espresso. The last time I was at my Starbucks, they had replaced the espresso machine with a computer based monster that did just about all of the work except pouring some liquids. A monkey could be trained to operate these machines.

At some point technology will be available to replace even the barista. How are people supposed to get passion about their jobs when everyone can see the writing on the wall?

Cheers!

Obscure Coffee

It's just an espresso! You push the button on the machine and it comes out!

How much training can you fit into three hours, especially if the slowest person in each store has to keep up? Why can't each employee get their training during a paid shift?

I can't imagine any reason why this could possibly make sense. I usually stop by Starbucks in the afternoon because of its convenient location. Today I'll go to Dunkin Donuts instead. Their donuts are probably better than the new, overpriced, inedible Starbucks pastries anyway. Dunkin might just be worth the daily detour!

Are you guys getting paid for your 3 hour training or is it all for the love of coffee?

 barista jack

Well this is just a trained monkey's point of view, first of all, all us partners are getting paid during their in store training, and it should be as easy to just push a button, Apparently R.C has never worked behind the counter and been in the customer serviuce business, I practiced what will be the training module, the precise timing of an espresso shot is key in the taste of the beverage,as is the angle and temperature of steaming milk to fully bring out the sugars and create the perfect foam. And incase you havent looked, dunkin donuts has automatic espresso shots, as im sure MickeyD's will. so feel free at any time to enjoy your drink there, make sure you have had spanish 101, feel free to ask them fora grande 170 degree 1/4 caf 2 pump peppermint 2 pump mocha, 1/3 soy, 1/3 nonfat, 1/3 1% milk, in a venti cup with light whipped, and keep smiling and be involved when they hand it back because something is not right, dont ask whats wrong with it, just remake it, and at the same time, make sure your drip is fresh. coffee bar is clean, be sure to rinse your pitcher, clean your wand ..signed your barista monkey who takes pride in what he does

Will

Thank you Jack. These idiots just don't get it.

ben

I did the training last week because a group of us really couldn't make it in tonight. As a result I was on bar all weekend, and it is seriously a jolt.

This training works, people.

I steamed fresh milk for every single beverage, shots were calibrated every hour without fail, and for the first time IN MONTHS I actually felt like I was enjoying my job and connecting with customers.

For the random people who are just now floating on this website to complain about Starbucks being closed for THREE HOURS, please don't be so judgemental. Go get your free drink where ever, and tomorrow we'll welcome you back to Starbucks. I hope you'll notice the change like I already have.

Oh, and I'm not a "monkey." I was trained on a manual, got carpal tunnel at the age of 22 (whoo!), and although I miss the manual I welcome the automatics with the understanding that it's necessary for a store with the volume of Starbucks.

The training will be what we make of it.. there is always something to learn for everyone.
Yeah we push buttons.. but 'beyond the button' we control the adjustment of the grind..the time of the shot.. the upkeep of the machine all to bring the perfect shot. With limited availability amongst our partners I think it is a good thing to have everyone together to get on the same page.

Melody

This whole thing about pushing buttons pushes my buttons. Here's why:

To all the customers out there who drink some milky sugar espresso beverage from Starbucks: The reality is that if you were to do a taste test side by side with a beverage made from a manual starbucks machine versus their current verismos, I really bet that 90% of you wouldn't be able to tell any difference.

Try it: This weekend I ran around Starbucks and had a honey latte from a Starbucks with a La Mazarcco (3702) and then one from a verismo (358).

Seriously, the only way to get a fair comparison is to compare starbucks to starbucks, and once you started adding steamed milk and flavors like cin dolce to a beverage, you just can't tell the difference.

I ordered seriously like 6 drinks (3 each for comparison test - 3 from 3702 and 3 from a verismo starbucks) and the only place there was any noticeable difference was with an americano. The americano made with a la mazarcco somehow had more of an aroma.

Go compare (assuming you're in Sea) :
There is a heck of a lot to know about making an espreso beverage and having a trained barista behind the counter is much much more important than whether it is made with a La Mazarcco or Verismo.

This should be the new pepsi challenge. ;)

Pat Nerr

"Thank you Jack. These idiots just don't get it."

Will, I get it... What I don't get is that this is so publicized. Why not just announce that the stores will be closing for a meeting... Why tell the world that there's going to be a magical training session and all will be fixed overnight? I think an 8+ million dollar training expense with no income for that period will mislead customers and shareholders.... This is NOT a training issue folks... It's one of motivation. What happens if this "training" doesn't work?? Have you all thought about the fallout in the media and how that might affect your morale?

Just sayin'

zoom

Hey Pat,

It's funny that you brought this up, as I was thinking about it as I was going through the materials for tonight's meeting/training.

While there is no doubt that everyone needs to be on the same page with the new standards(shot length, small pitchers, etc), I just don't see any real benefit in going to all the media outlets and letting them know WHY we are closing. One could say that he is scapegoating store partners for non-coffee related decisions by senior leadership. I dunno, but I certainly don't want to be part of the " Hey we been doing it all wrong the past few years, but tonight it will be all fixed..." since (and I speak for myself and my partners) have been doing it right since day 1. I just think the approach on trying to fix one of many issues plaguing Retail NA is a little flawed....

It was also announced a few weeks back that all Western division stores will be required to have a store meeting to be scheduled March 31-April 6th to roll down Q3 goals to all partners. Not sure if this is a company wide initiative, but I am interested in finding out on March 10th what it's all about.

Antof9

Many thoughts on this and although I haven't been to this blog in months, when I saw the news last night, I thought I'd come here to see what you guys were saying about it. In no particular order:
1. "evening" is a great time to close a coffee shop. Although I do like coffee in the evenings, clearly there's less business to lose then than any other time of day. Makes sense to me!
2. I wish they would spend these 3 hours re-stocking the old raspberry flavoring in all stores.
3. I don't get the big deal, and the idea of suggesting a home-cooked meal is priceless!

Good luck to all you baristas. I hope you enjoy your time and learn a lot. And for those of you who will open stores at 4 in the morning the day of AND the day after, thank you for your dedication. It's not your fault the raspberry syrup was changed and I hardly ever frequent a Starbucks anymore!

a. i wish there was a dunkin donuts around here, id get about 3 of their .99 espressos.

b. anybody have some idea of what a starbucks store manager makes per year or per hour, and any idea about how much a district manager pays? or like what other levels there are between those two, if any. im unemployed right now and i think itd be cool to work at a starbucks, but id like to know what kind of salary you could reach at some point.

Addressing the timing of the training....

I think many of you are missing the real benefits of Starbucks closing from 5:30pm-8:30pm on a weekday. This has generated huge PR for Starbucks. As I'm writing this, SBUX stock is up 3.06%. There are articles in Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Associated Press, etc about the store closures. Dunkin Donuts and local coffee houses are also indirectly advertising Starbucks by telling their customers to come in for cheap coffee when Starbucks will be closed.

Sure Starbucks wants to increase the quality of its product, but by making such a big deal about this, Starbucks is making Wall Street salivate at a time when their stock is at an all-time low since 2004. On the store sales level, for customers, and for partners, it would have made much more sense to close the store at 7:30pm on Sunday instead of mid-week.

Do you think stocks are up because of the firing of "partners" last week?

I think the current rally is being fueled by a combination of factors. Certainly firing partners by Starbucks is a big deal. Also, Starbucks announced after the stock market closed that Arthur Rubinfeld, who was exec VP of Corporate Development Strategy, would be returning to Starbucks. Following that news, there was some after-hours trading of SBUX.

When you take everything in consideration from the announcement of "big changes" at the next investor conference to a bold move of closing stores and removing breakfast sandwiches, you have a company which shows that it is willing to do what it needs to fix itself.

Charlie

This story was picked up by CNN and I jsut had to post. Starbucks' lost my busness forever a couple of weeks ago when I had to wait for the one person on duty to take 4 orders before she thought about starting mine. I asked for my money back instead but rather than just giving me back my $4.50 she told me she would have to get the manager first. I told her to keep the money and I would voice my complaints in exchange. The little local shops have all my business now, I even make the time to go further away to visit them.
Their employees NEED training!
Just my .02 ex-starbucks Enthusiast

P.R.I.D.E.

I posted on another thread about how it seems that brands now are the new celebrity...plagued by the paparazzi (ie major news organizations)

I am blown away, though, that this press release went out. I don't find it funny, I find it silly, and I wonder where this came from? Sure, announce that we are closing. I don't even mind that we disclose it is for training. But come on, roasting a turkey or getting your hair done? Why not suggest volunteering at a soup kitchen, or paying it forward in some other fashion? This was a little lame, to me...

Hey P.R.I.D.E do you really think Starbucks is in the people business anymore.This is not just directed at you but when is the last time anyone stores actually did something for the community your store is located? And if you have good on you that is what part of their mission statement is right? I think SBUXS toots it's own horn a bit much about how much it does for the world.

Cat Ears

So is this "training" going to make my beverage taste any better? What exactly is the customer going to get as a result of this barista "training" session? Won't you be distracted when you see possible large crowds outside the doors wondering WTF is going on?

Jwilk

I am very happy for this training to take place in my area. With the 3 full Starbucks stores with in a mile of my house one has good espresso, 1 tolerable, and the other is like like a cup of watered down coffee from a greasy spoon. I was very disappointed I politely tried to point out the espresso was off at the worse Starbucks store and the partner told me it was all automatic and calibrated in the morning so it should be fine. Who ever calabrated that machine must really hate espresso or have no idea what they are doing because there is NO way any coffee lover would sell that to someone.

EX-BARISTA

Holy cow. I can see how this training will go; half an hour to learn how to push a button with a smile, pretending that you know how to make espresso, followed by two and half hours exhorting employees to buy more stock and "clap harder". It is truly sad what this company and its helpless, incompetent management has come to.

pinkypie

I'm getting really annoyed about a few things::
1) people calling partners, "partners". Really. They are, WE are Partners of one another in the company. Stop putting brackets around the word as if it's some sort of joke.

2) people calling the training, "training". And I'll just add to the list of people saying, if you think it's just about pushing a button you are WRONG, so, so wrong.

There are nothing but negative people and bitter ex-partners around here lately and it's very annoying to read. I keep coming back like it's some sort of horrible train wreck I can't keep from looking at.

If the American consumer weren't so spoiled to death of having perfection and NOW, maybe we would have a lot better baristas out there who were actually allowed to take the time to make YOUR drink the way YOU want it. But no, we are now reduced to "button-pushing monkeys" and you are still not happy about it. You wouldn't last a day in ANY retail food/drink service environment outside of the States.

Madeline,
Our store opens at 4 AM, and 4AM to around 9ish AM is our busiest time of day.

Camille Claudel

First of all, Illy taught me about the fine taste of coffee and espresso. Not Starbucks. Get it right, people.

More importantly, the Press Release is silly, insulting and cheesy. Highly ridiculous.

In defense of my pals, I still adore the Members at my local Starbucks, and support them as much as I can. But once again, Corporate is giving me another reason to drop the brand.

I will enjoy sampling Dunkin, Tea Leaf and Peet's tonight so I can compare and contrast. Thanks Starbucks!!

Pinkypie your not being very starbuckion with that ugly attitude.You need to loose that before your shift. The environment is going to be negative at SBUXS for sometime to come look at what they have turned into? Yuck...

Coco

I've been a barista at Starbucks now for 1 1/2 years...a second job to a full-time job. I love working at Starbucks and love the atmosphere. It sounds like we have a bunch of people out there that are burnt out and need to find another job. Starbucks is what it is, a modern coffee shop with lots of other good stuff. People LOVE IT and keep returning in droves so something must be right. Most of them could care less about coffe beans and so what? They come to Starbucks for a reason....already brewed coffee, lattes, frappicinos and to socialize a little. It is trendy...every where you go you see people of all ages and backgrounds with Starbucks cups. I think 90% of the poeple could never tell you if the shot was pulled right or not....as long as it is really sweet and creamy...For those that want that quaint coffee shop nirvana, they probably need to go somewhere else and drink a cappucino and maybe read some poetry. I think the 3 hour training is great and much needed. Most baristas do not get adequate training and get off on the wrong foot to start with. Maybe Howard needs to look at setting up barista training centers in each district to ensure new hires get trained right.

baristajoe

Yes, ex-barista, that is EXACTLY what the training is about. We're going to spend hours building human pyramids and falling backwards into each other's arms in a trust exercise.

Actually, what we will be doing is using various examples and hands-on training to show our partners how to make the perfect beverage. We will have milk steaming and shot pulling with tasting to see how the taste and texture are for perfect and imperfect milk and espresso shots. We will also be refocusing on our customers, encouraging our partners to solicit feedback on drink quality. Finally, we will be working as a team to renew our commitment to each other, our stores, our customers, and our company.

Consider it a waste of time if you must, but your bitterness is quite telling.

Worth a read:

http://adage.com/adages/post?article_id=125355

EX-BARISTA

@BARISTAJOE

No, you won't be "showing your partners how to make the perfect beverage". Don't insult my intelligence or my experience. I left the company in 2004 after having worked there for five years. The training and equipment to make "the perfect beverage" no longer exists, and neither does the corporate will to make it happen.

I still have friends who work for the Green Monster, and both they and I already know how this will go - another useless exercise in top-down, feel-good management.

Your willingness to call me bitter is quite telling; likely you're one of the many home office shills posting here in a futile attempt at message management. I'm not bitter; the company was a great company to work for at the time. What I AM is a realist who watched coworkers and friends get forced out of the company when their wages and benefits were seen as an unneccesary, wasteful expense - their experience was adjudged not useful, as the machines could replace them easily.

It's not a great company to work for any more, not at the retail level, unless you enjoy poverty as a lifestyle.

Super Shifter

Suggested: "Train from 3am until 6am"

Ok, so even after pushing back our opening time by a half hour, we would need to close at 8pm the night before so that those closing partners are legally available to come in for the training. Not to mention those minors who are in some states unable to work before 7am and who have school.

Suggested: "Do your training after the store closes"

Closing time at our store is 11pm. Some are later, some are 24 hours. So, we are done closing at 11:30, and begin the session at 11:45. We're done by 4am. Hm, that's an hour before the openers usually come in. That means we can't legally open until 11:00 AM. Also, the minors are again left out of the picture.

This has been thought through, folks.

peppermint mocha

As a former asst mgr at Starbucks and manager of other retail outlets I have this to say: Is extra training good? Yes it is the long term answer? No. To me this is like a hospital closing down to teach nurses how to clean a wound. Sad. It shows that the maunal and detailed training program they have certainly isn't working. I always felt time spent learning when the store was closed or in a separate training location in peace and quiet would work better then being launched into the craziness as new baristas often all. They should have a good understanding of the basics before that. The scheduling program is a major headache to any manager I ever talked to coverage/non coverage just annoying. But the bigger issue is this. There are many great people at Starbucks of course. But hiring and maintaining a staff of often 20+ where each and every employee 'drinks the Starbucks kool-aid' and is obsessed with constant perfection is just about impossible. Corporate will say keep hiring etc but reality is reality and there will always be a few who when no one is looking will cut corners due to stress/other stuff in their lives/just being there for the money. Reality is reality and any company I have worked for has always lived in a fantasy land where the perfect staff 365 days a year is possible. It is not. All any of us can do is our best but the stress of working at Starbucks is that that is often not enough. Nothing there is difficult it is just that there are SO MANY details,so much to keep track of that somewhere people are goind to slip. I do find it odd that the company is advertising the need for this training so much it is embarrassing and makes it seem as though every single store is screwed up which is not so. Training is on going every day. 6 months from now there will as always be much turnover in many stores and will this have to be done again?

I opened at my store today. I am trying to remain upbeat about the training tonight, it actually is a really nicely planned meeting agenda. However, I wasn't expecting so many customers to almost laugh at us all day long. Telling us we have to learn how to make coffee again, asking us why we don't know how to do it right in the first place. At first I was surprised by their questions, then after awhile I started getting upset. I take alot of pride in producing a very high quality beverage each and every time, and it almost seems to me that Howard has taken this opportunity to blame the partners, who work so hard every day in the stores, for the down slide of the company. After my shift was over today, I felt embarrassed and quite honestly, like I've somehow failed the company because I need to be "re-trained". Perhaps if it hadn't been announced to the whole world what the meeting was about, the customers would have treated us with more respect and dignity today. I can't wait to see how we are treated by them tomorrow.... more jokes and ridicule I can imagine.

baristajoe

Actually ex-barista, I'm a 4 year partner and currently an ASM at one of the busiest stores in my region. I started as a barista and worked my way up. I've seen this company take very good care of its people over the years, taking extraordinary steps to make sure our partners are taken care of. This is a company I am proud to work for and support.

I live nowhere near Seattle, nor am I a plant or shill for corporate. So sorry to disappoint you.

EX-BARISTA

"Howard has taken this opportunity to blame the partners"

Damn right! Now you're getting the big picture. This has been Howard's modus operandi since day one. And he's damn good at it; witness the thrashing the last CEO got for doing nothing more than carrying out Howard's orders and vision.

Barrister Barista

Anon at 1:45:11

I hear ya. I had the same experience opening today. I heard everything from "why don't you do it when you're not open" to "What... so you guys don't know what you're doing already?" to "Well...so...what's going to be different tomorrow."

That said, our store is pretty good about following standards. We steam milk constantly, don't let shots sit, calibrate and time the machines and all the stuff you're supposed to do. The only change that's happened has been the machine upgrade. So I'm not sure what our customers will actually notice as being different. I look forward to the training, but I wish it had be presented to the media as a Continuing Education, which most people understand as being part of a job ( I mean, even lawyers go to Continuing Legal Education classes and nobody says they're being "retrained" )and not "Hahah, starbucks baristas need to be retrained cause they're all dumb." We're not. Some stores have issues with standards. Not all.

EX-BARISTA

@BARISTAJOE:

Really? You think the company takes good care of your partners?

What's the starting wage in your district?

Barrister Barista

Just to follow up, I'm by no means saying my store is perfect. Just that we don't seem to have the quality issues that our customers tell us other stores in our area have. But no, we're not perfect and I'm not holding up my store as a model store. Just saying that sometimes the bad store reputations makes us all look bad, when that's not the case.

KitKat

I will, unfortunately, be unable to attend the training meeting tonight. I have a math class that starts at the same time. (I know.....fired! :P) Anyways, I really don't see the point of the whole thing. The espresso machine alredy is updated, we've been brifed by shifts as well as the SM what's basicly going to be talked about. I wouldn't be learning anything I couldn't learn during a shift.

On the other hand I really like the people I work with and would have liked to spend some time with our new SM and some of the newer baristas. I think the training will put everyone on the same page but will do little long term.

To whoever suggested the 3Am shift...

Are you insane? Would you get up for a part time job at 3 Am. We'd be drinking espresso before the meeting started! But I am in a mall store where we are lazy bums who open at 8:30 :P

~Kit Kat (7 month old Sbux (basically a rock star and completely amazing) barista)

Starbucks Confusion

My Starbucks normally closes at 10pm during the week. When I asked if they were opening up from 9pm you would think I asked for their first born. Why the heck are they advertising that the store will be closed from 5:30 until 9pm if they aren't planning to re-open from 9-10? I can understand WHY they would not want to open from 9-10, but why not just have the training the 3 hours before closing, that is, from 7-10. By the way, the Starbucks in my neighborhood gets VERY busy from 9-10pm....

matt

Not ask whats wrong, thats terrible, thats disrespecting the customer.

Hey supershifter... everyone across the planet does not need to be trained at the same time. ALso there is no magic where learning is better from 5:30 - 9pm local time.

Kit Kat

True...but it makes things much less confusing.

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