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March 06, 2009


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I love the ladies

well where is my loptop so i can have a seat in the lobby and watch the new lean operation goes?


so what exactly is being done in these stores differently?

SSC Watchdog

This Starbucks Barista has broken his/her confidentiality agreements, corporate will undoubtedly be contacting this store and well as all immediate management.


I think this might signal a formal roll out that moves further down the company. I know that RDOs and RVPs have been getting Lean management training for a while. This will probably formally extend the training to other members of management.


LOL, you guys will believe anything. How is this news? LEAN has been in test in the NW for almost a year now.


We've had "Lean" hinted about for a long time: I'm with JavaJane that I would love to hear more details about what's different.

Also, @S - what stores here in the northwest are lean stores?


Well Watchdog, since there is no specific store mentioned above I assume "corporate" will shake down all partners in all 28 stores in the Louisville/Lexington/Cincinnati areas to find the perpetrator.

My assupmtion is, since the book is a national business best seller that is being adopted by every company out there and the "Shared Planet" platform is blasted across the front page of the Sbux website, nothing will come of this "leak".


@ Watchdog:

You wouldn't know green_cup would you. Kind of sounds like you both work for the same people.

The only thing lean at Starbucks is the I.Q. level of the senior management.


Like the previous poster has stated, LEAN has been implemented in the PNW for a while now. Nothing new here.


Customers come into Starbucks,at least they did, to experience something that could only happen without LEAN - friendly banter with a barista, sampling coffee or a pastry, etc.

LEAN is best suited to assembly lines and factories. Not so for managing human interaction which is never a "repeatable routine".


i totally see ways the store can be lean. they way the store is set up is not lean we have to go back and forth for mocha lids etc... weh ave no communication on how much prep to make so most gets thrown out. our store has 2 people everynight so you can't get much leaner than that. we have way to much old crap sitting aroung in the back.we have no room for recyling we have software from 1996 give me a break...


reminds me of when I was managing fast food. we had hourly labor projections and revised them on a weekly basis.

no time for friendly banter except "would you like fries with that".

Paco Loco

-------------------0 0_______LEAN
-------------------0 00

Papi I think my LEAn is leaking!!!

Paco Loco

I put up a nice picture but it won't come out when I post, sorry everyone it was a work of art!!


Have they announced the new vacation standards yet?


i would like some specific examples of the things being tested in these stores. is there going to be fundamental changes of how things are done, or is prep just going to be scaled back?

Karl Kenya

One of the changes I've heard about has to do with brewing coffee. Stores will be brewing coffee every 6 minutes on a four urn rotation and every 8 minutes on a three urn rotation. Basically, you brew a pot of coffee (which should take around six minutes) and then move it over to the warmer. Then you brew the next coffee and move that one to the warmer, moving the first one over. Then you brew the next coffee and move everyone down on. So that the very first coffee is about 24 minutes old by the time the fourth one is done brewing. You then repeat the process continually all day. This is supposed to eliminate customers having to wait for coffee, as well as keep our coffee fresh. Like most things that come from the SSC, I find this to be asinine.

I also heard something about having a "starback" on during peak times. A "starback" is equivalent to a bar-back at bars - the person who stocks beer and liquor, gets ice, and taps new kegs. It sounds pretty much like what a floater does currently, but less involved with the customer.

My store is supposed to begin implementing this coffee rotational scheme in the next few weeks. As of right now, I don't know any more details.


I can confirm the coffee "Stager Brew" system

Karl Kenya

My main criticism of the coffee rotation scheme is that it's unnecessary. It just seems like a mechanistic effort to make up for stores that don't have competent people managing their coffee. It really isn't that hard.

When someone brought up the question of what happens when be blow through a full-batch of PPR in ten minutes during peak, the response from above was, "don't exaggerate." HA! The disconnect makes my head hurt.


We're currently doing the coffee rotating thing - I don't get it (I mean - I get it but don't get WHY), don't understand how it saves waste since you can always adjust the batch size, and it seems like we actually run out of coffee and have to ask the customer to wait MORE than before... even worse, not all baristas are on the same page and if I'm not watching closely, something gets screwed up, especially during morning rush unless I (the shift) hover over the coffee - and I'm normally on bar during rush....

whoa run on sentences.


LEAN systems have been proven effective!!


Sorry if this seems like a stupid question, but... could someone please elaborate more on what a "LEAN" store is? I think that I understand the streamlining of the back room and barista/shift positions, but what about drink making? I feel like there is something missing... could be my brain cells, ha ha.


Lean is a word, not an acronym...no need for all caps.

The lean thing has been cooking for a year + and there are some good ideas. Everyone should be aware that there was little interest in it from senior managers prior to the $500 million cost savings promise to Wall Street. Now it's the "answer" and largely a smokescreen for the continued fast food izing of our stores. Where we need lean is in our supply chain and back of house...the stores actually do a good job serving customers when they are allowed to have enough people working.



Don't worry, your brain cells are still intact. If they weren't you'd be promoted to Senior V.P.
I don't know if the LEAN systems works or not, but I do know it doesn't matter. Starbucks present management will screw it up one way or another.


sounds like lean six sigma, which takes years for it to bear fruit.

and in the meantime, those inbetween years are WORSE than beginning six sigma.

sacrificing the present for the future. BUT ONLY IF THE CHAMPION STAYS THAT LONG!


So let me get this straight: Lean involves rearranging the line so that things flow more smoothly and logically. Hmmm, call me crazy, but (A) shouldn't the stores have been set up this way to begin with, and (B) haven't most SMs already done this to their own stores out of necessity? Also, brewing a batch of coffee every 6 (or 8) minutes seems a lot more labor intensive than brewing every 30 minutes. Who's taking care of the customers when you turn your back to them every 6 minutes?


@ Watchdog:

You wouldn't know green_cup would you. Kind of sounds like you both work for the same people.

The only thing lean at Starbucks is the I.Q. level of the senior management.

Posted by: TNT | March 06, 2009 at 12:38 PM


You're the true insider here, working for Starbucks, aren't you?!

Wow! Only an insider would know the intellect and capabilities of a clearly expressed, very public opinion and management direction of an executive team of a huge, multinational company like Starbucks!

You insider you! :D


Green Scum

You were a waist of sperm, it's to bad...

Everyone else, why you got to make this so complicated, we serve coffee...COFFEE.

Posted by: Paco Loco | March 06, 2009 at 06:18 PM

Heh. Pretty hilarious. That is all.

want to head out for some fun!

i think that the numbers guys at the corporate office have the idea that this will be able to precisely determine when the customers will walk up and what they will be ordering. they truly believe that they can use a mathmatical formula to calculate this down to the second and this will save enough money to keep a store open. i think they have been watching to much NUMBERS at those friday night cocktail parties... think it will work? we shall see!

former dm what "new" vacation policies? are they different than the memo telling us that we get half the vacation time and that if you are under your third year that you accrue none above 40? please let me know because i'm trying to figure out what and when to take a vacation.



We can only hope "that is all".


I would like somebody to please print out all store materials related to LEAN procedures and standards to the website. I think that would be alot easier.

Java Jane

lean has already been in place for quite awhile. Its nothing new. Most of us are already doing this. Sorry Kentucky and Cincinatti, I think you guys were more out of the loop.


Lean is a system that has worked for several other companies and only now being implemented in Starbucks the past year or so. It's not created by Starbucks, so they probably won't publish it on the website.

I work at a very large store in the NW - we started implementing Lean procedures last spring. The way it has worked for us:

We ran several "time tests" on daily processes, counting and timing each and EVERY step (making a frappuccino, ringing up and pouring drip coffee, making & storing prep, getting ice, whether the 4th register was necessary, sampling...) in order to weed out unnecessary steps. Also, we tried to rearrange certain stations to make them easier to use, for example, our cold beverage station was home to a couple of items that made more sense to keep at the bean counter or espresso bar as they were used there more often. Another example - we realized every time someone ordered hot tea, we were reaching around the brewing shuttles for the tea after grabbing the cup and then returning to the cup station to fill with hot water...we just made room for the tea where the cups are. Basically - we stopped saying "It's always been done that way" and started asking "Can that be done a better way? How?" We timed different methods of deployment, computed averages, came up with "lean" standards, and it's been a great success! We definitely had some experiments that didn't work, which is fine! You just have to be willing to change and go through a period of weirdness until it gets figured out.

PS I'm the closing shift, so I can't give much comment on the 6 min brewing system since we don't brew as much in the eves, but we're saving coffee by only grinding enough for the hour, keeping it for 25min, and then pouring it in a small pot to keep & serve until the next batch is done brewing.


Stores, especially older stores, never had an ergonomic flow. Lean may fix some of that crap. Need matcha for a green tea latte? Walk 10 feet to the blended station, which is at the other end of a 20 foot work line.


Dolce? er..."grinding"...really?... There are Sbux stores that Grind drip?

Either your store is a holder-over from the good old days or there is true reform afoot (reform would be good).

All the Toronto stores stopped grinding over a decade ago.


I'm interested to see it in action, although we have been doing some of the things now. I do know that if it works at Starbucks it's going to require upper management to keep things simple. They have a knack of complicating things to a point of ultra stupid.


I think there is a point of diminishing returns. Streamlining only can go so far...lets not loose the culture! Hey its coffee! Relax a little! A little common sense goes a long way! I never knew a company whose employees "thrived" under micro-management. Allot of this stuff needs to 1)be considered 2) then be filtered out 3) a good manager is in touch and knows what works in his or her store...don't do the thinking for them let them be the operators your paying them to be.

A Customer

This concept of lean operations has been around for a long time. Starbucks is just late doing anything with it. Hey when sales and stocks were up nobody cared. Now it scramble time. When times were good, maybe you could have even been more profitable then you were,every one just "settle",rode the wave. Nobody paid attention or had a plan B.



I totally agree with you!!!

However, if Starbucks managers were allowed to manage, what would we do with all the worthless DM's? Maybe lay them off and save the company millions. We could even afford to keep one of the airplanes for Howard to play with.


After reading these posts, the lean store operations make more sense to me... thank you! That said, I have to agree with what starbucksmanager wrote above: it is just coffee, and indeed it would be good for us to relax a bit. I feel that any barista, shift supervisor, manager, or whoever has the capabilities to make things more efficient. However, streamlining things to such a degree seems excessive to me.


Yes, in the PNW, there are MANY stores that grind on demand. They grind coffee fresh each time they brew a batch. It REALLY helps eliminate waste and it doesn't take as long as you would think. It definitely helps with the coffee counts.

Lexie Littleton

Here are more details... (btw this is not confidential info as it is all out in plain sight for customers, anyone to see in stores that are going lean)

Beans are now ground on demand, in an exact amount for just the next brew batch, just prior to brewing. Beans are spoodled (same sizes:1 = qtr batch, 2= half batch, etc.) directly into the grinder and then ground into small paper bag, Contents of bag are then directly deposited into filter and brewed. No un-used grounds are discarded at the end of day.

Coffee is continuously being brewed and urns are in continuous rotation. Depending on the time of day/number of coffees being brewed timers are re-set to reflect:
3 coffee offerings (morning: bold/pike/decaf): every 7:30 minutes
2 coffee offerings (mid-day: pike/decaf): every 12 minutes
1 coffee offering (night: pike): every 25 minutes

When timer beeps, urn is moved into next brew station position and next coffee is brewed. No coffee is discarded until a new batch of the same type is brewed.

The objective is to always have fresh coffee available- to not run out of any type, especially during morning rushes. (Exception of course at night when bold & decaf are only brewed upon request).

Baristas are encouraged to “over-brew” coffees in the morning (full batches) even if not fully sold in order to keep supply ready & available. This is compensated for by “under-brew” of coffees in the evening (quarter batches or less).

All registers (both drive-thru & café) are now tied to “sticker machines” that automatically print labels for drinks- NO MORE MARKING CUPS.

The labels indicate which barista took the order so the finished drink is routed to the appropriate customer (drive thru vs. café)

SLEEVES are only used for cups with hot water based drinks (i.e. Americanos, Teas and at the barista discretion, coffee). Otherwise, they are available upon request only at the drive-thru or in a small self-serve container at the hand off plane/condiment bar.

All production elements for both hot & cold bar are integrated into one station- there is no more stand-alone “cold-bar” or “double-barring”. The BARista makes all the drinks- except for hot teas & pouring coffee, which the register partner still handles.

If the store has a “Sure-Shot” or frapp mix dispensing machine, this is now moved next to the espresso machine and will hold 2% and Non-Fat Milk.

Frapp bases are now kept in “old-school style” in pitchers in refrigerators. Blenders are within arm's reach of espresso bar.

For “Sure-Shot” less stores, galloons of milk are kept in ice-bath bins with two hour timers next to espresso machines. This is to eliminate barista bending,etc. to pull milk from fridges.

There are only 3 types of steam pitchers: MILK (all types + signature hot chocolate mix & half-half/breve), NON-MILK (all fruit juices & soy) and WATER (to hold hot water from insta-tap for chais & americanos- instead of pouring from insta-tap into cup)

Make each drink individually. Steam only enough milk for one drink at a time- use the least amount possible with no overage. (If you have 2 tall lattes in a row, still steam milk for one, and then the other- not “venti” size for both split in half). And press button to start pouring shots into cup BEFORE starting to steam milk.

All steam pitchers are to be used once, to make one drink, then rinsed.

After each drink, wipe steam wands clean with sanitized cloth and blow steam wands out.

No thermometers are used except for kid temperature drinks and drinks with special temperature requests.

Whip Cream canisters, plus mocha & caramel drizzle bottles are kept introverted in containers on bar counter- ready to dispense.

The objective is to reduce the average time it takes to make a drink to under a minute.

During morning rushes, a “Starback” or SuperFloater is deployed. This partner is to have no direct contact with the customer and is not to have direct interaction with the drink production. This partner’s duties are to:

Brew Coffee (so register partner stays forward facing/customer order ready)
Rinse Steam Pitchers (so bar partner stays planted at espresso station)
Insert items in warming oven (if applicable/as needed)
Check condi bar as needed
Stock backline as needed
Make prep as needed
Café Sweeps/remove trash/clean up spills as needed

Bar partners still place stickers/prep cups and Register partners still pull pastries/pour coffee; however in stores with only 3 partners deployment in morning, Starback may assist with these duties as needed.

Karl Kenya

@Lexi - This actually doesn't sound too bad. I'm sure there's a bit of a learning curve, but from the other comments it seems like it's working out well.


It does sound interesting. Thanks Lexie for the indepth discription.

I still think it could all get messed up with starbuck upper managment wanting to micro manage and complicate everything. They could turn the whole thing into a three ring cicus and make it even worse than it is now. Managements past actions lead me to beleive this. I don't listen to what the company says anymore, I listen to what they do.

Actions speak louder (and more truthful) than words...


How is pouring shots BEFORE starting milk going to prevent shots from expiring? The only substance in which shots don't taste expired is white mocha -- in everything else the shots go stale at 10 seconds. I start shots when milk is around 100 and I start shots AFTER milk is done for no-foam drinks to get true foam separation. Otherwise - it WILL contain foam no matter how well you hold your spoon.


How do you NOT use a thermometer if you are NOT on a Mastrena?


Hey, quick question -- can anyone here hold a pitcher steaming for a cappuccino in one hand and use the other hand to punch in orders on the register? The question implies an answer.


why don't they use milk dispensors isntead of gallon jugs, the time and waste of a dispensor pulling the exact amount of milk needed into a pitcher would help

Lexie Littleton

Most of the stores have Verm801 expresso machines. So the avg time from pressing the shot button to the shot actually hitting the cup is :23 (with the shot itself still pulling between the required :15-:19) and the avg time from pressing the "auto" steam button to an exactly tall size amount of milk completing steaming is :13.

Thus, in theory you start shots before milk- but they should still finish so shots sit no longer than :10. But like always, it all depends on the skill/smarts of the barista to know how (or care how) to execute proper espresso excellence.

Yes, spoons are still used, but for therms, you just rely on the machine to heat correctly on auto setting. And in theory, just like we're suppose to time shots once an hour for consistency/correctness, same to test heating temps on steam wands once an hour.

And yes, you are expected to be a bit ambidexterous with this espresso bar set up, i.e. whip a drink with one hand, pour milk from sure shot with another- set the steam pitcher at an angle rather than hold it, so your hand can prep the next cup, etc.


OK, I will but that. What does Lean say about labor? Is turnover expected to stagnate due to rising unemployment/fear of job loss/optimal scheduling becoming implemented across the board? Are customers seeing same faces morning in and morning out instead of a different face every week?

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