« California appeals court overturns $86 million tips decision against Starbucks | Main | "From the Comfy Chair:" A first good impression goes a long way »

June 03, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


"Food has been the Achilles' heel of the company" because Starbucks baked goods SUCK. It doesn't have anything to do with HFCS, dyes or other operational problems. The real truth is that Seattle (and therefore Starbucks) is the land of granolas and none of them know how to make baked goods.

Good baked goods require sugar and butter and a real baker to taste and bake. Seriously, when my sister moved to Seattle 6 years ago (and we've discussed it ever since), that was one of the first things we noticed -- there are NO BAKED GOODS there that are edible. Rock-hard scones and tasteless crap made from spelt? Sure. But baked goods? Nope.

My sister and I have actually considered (in all seriousness) storming Starbucks HQ with a basket full of real chocolate chip cookies and banana bread just so the execs can taste baked goods. I actually spent quite a bit of time online and in a phone queue once, trying to figure out if there's anyone we could talk to.

I never fully understood why Starbucks' food was so bad until my sister moved there. Now we know. And no amount of removing artificial dyes and HFCS will help make their food better. They need to hire someone's mom from the Midwest to come in and do a Home Ec class. That might be a good place to start.


The new double chocolate brownies that went through 130 revisions before deciding on a final product should have gone through several more recipes. They taste like a brown sponge. Same with the Valencia cake, and the new chocolate chip cookies.

Ron Le Beau

Frozen baked goods will never have the same quality as fresh and local.
Here in LA, The new oatmeal cookie and butter croissants are so inferior in quality to the old ones, I have stopped buying them.
I don't even know where these new products are made! it may be in Mexico or Canada.
The old products did not have any HFCS, so I don't understand the argument.


Starbucks food tastes horrible because it is all made by Swartz Brothers - a giant instructional bakery. The baked goods at smaller coffee shops are far superior because they are baked locally with fresh ingredients.

It would be cool if Starbucks would make local agreements with neighborhood bakeries. Things would be inconsistent across the country, but they would be far better and I think this would be more in line with what Starbucks says they value (community involvement).

With all of this said, I applaud Starbucks for moving toward healthier options. They deserve a ton of recognition for this and awards. They also deserve your support. This is the path to success and differentiation from McDonalds and Dunkin’ Donuts – serve quality – not fast food.


Achilles' Heel? That's putting it nicely. I have long stopped purchasing Starbucks food items because I think they're so below average and over-priced. The donuts always taste stale and the muffins have a funny after-taste. The one thing I do on occasion buy are the breakfast sandwiches but they're loaded with carbs and fat. I'd rather just skip it or go to a bakery and get something there. I know I'm not alone.

SBUX Alum Bill

Off topic, but are any of you surprised at how quickly Howie reversed himself on the "no more layoffs" prediction that he made in March:
Starbucks announced Customer Service layoffs


Wagstaffe--AMEN! I have talked with partners about supporting our local economy with local bakers.

Doing this would not only support them but create an 'indivdualized' feel to each store/Region. Although I know (feel) this is what Starbucks is trying to move away from. Which, personally, breaks my heart. If I were a customer that travels regularly it would be a treat to head to a different region and a different flair/specialty item.

Beignets in New Orleans
Ooey Gooey Butter cakes in St Louis...
possibilities are endless. But what do I know...


We have a new strawberry sauce for the STCF now! I'm curious to try it!


The pastries were different among the regions. I work on the west coast but during holiday times I go home to the east coast and pick up a few shifts there.
All the new west coast pastries are just like the east coast pastries.
I wonder how they decided that that region was better than any other region in the country?

Ol' Dirty Barista

Wagstaffe-- about half of the pastries we serve are from a local bakery... our scones, the croissants (butter, chocolate, almond), banana bread, mango bread, the cheese baguettes, the turkey pesto melt/eggplant parmesan... I think the muffins are as well except for the apple-bran. When I work in Honolulu we've got the oatcakes as well which I know are made locally.

Are the rules different in Hawaii?


Ol' Dirty, if this is the case, why don't they talk this up? I really wish they would - it is the exact type of thing that would imporve SBUX image.



Where in The East you from??


starbucks and FOOD should not go together,



If any of you read that in-store communications in detail you would've read that Starbucks is using a single recipe for all bakery products through Retail North America. This means a standardization of baked goods for each Starbucks.

I do notice that Starbucks does not actively say, BTW, by sitting in this Starbucks you are just making your butt bigger.



were do you live?? In which state?




More cushion, for the pushin'


I get SPRUNG want to whip out TONGUE!!!!

Oh man thanks for the laughs, PRICELESS!!!





Mat the FORCE be with you BSR :) DRONE



I'm from New York; apparently land of big starbucks cookies. I'm told the Boston market was similar.









The fresh local Starbucks bakery.


Brewed Coffee Availability Better Way: A Longer Wait Time At Starbucks: Coming to you Soon.

You thought that it was a long wait already?


Repeatable Routine Job Aid

Brewed Coffee Availability

During Cadence (adjusted throughout the day as the number of coffee types offered changes)

1.       Reset Timer

2.       Drain Twin Server at Sink

3.       Grind Coffee

4.       Clean Brew Basket and Server


Load Brew Basket

6.       Brew Coffee

7.       Proficiency Time: 53-56 seconds

Building the Foundation

The Brewed Coffee Availability Better Way was created by store managers like you to address the problems of not having fresh coffee available when the customer orders it. To truly understand why this is a Better Way and how it will help your partners serve customers better, you must first understand the life cycle of coffee.

At Starbucks, the life cycle of coffee is 31 minutes in length and includes preparation, brewing and holds time. Once the 31 minute life cycle is complete, the rotation begins again.

The life cycle pictured above represents current Starbucks quality standards, which will not change as a result of this Better Way. To understand how the Brewed Coffee Availability Better Way works, this will not change as a result of this Better Way. To understand how the Brewed Coffee Availability Better Way works, we have to look at the life cycle a little differently. Using this linear illustration of the life cycle, we can begin to see some of the problems that exist with the way we currently brew coffee. Today, the majority of Starbucks stores dedicate serves to a particular coffee type. This method results in a coffee outage when it is time to brew another batch. The image below depicts what occurs when a server is dedicated to one coffee type.

Coffee Outage: Any Brewed Coffee order that is not filled because the specific type of coffee is not available.

By using dedicated servers to brew coffee, our customers may experience a coffee outage 14 minutes out of every hour, or 23% of the time! This coffee outage occurs for seven minutes during every batch, making Brewed Coffee unavailable to our customers. To address this problem, many of our stores have added more servers; brew more than one coffee type or attempt to stagger the servers. Unfortunately, these actions still leave our customers experiencing a coffee outage. To solve the Brewed Coffee outage problem, we must change the way we brew coffee.

Understanding Cadence

Cadence: The frequency of brewing coffee

Cadence is the core of the Brewed Coffee Availability Better Way. Today, our partners decide when to brew coffee based on multiple signals ranging from demand (quantity), to expiration and timing. This Better Way reduces this complexity by eliminating many of these signals. Using a cadence, our partners will make brewing decisions based on quantity alone.

By using one timer to signal when it is time to brew again, partners can stagger different coffee types. This is a fundamental shift from the way we use timers today and enables partners to manage the cadence for brewing fresh coffee. Knowing the life cycle of coffee is 31 minutes in length and it takes seven minutes to prepare and brew a fresh batch, we can apply these numbers to a cadence. Let’s start by understanding the 24-minute cadence.

The 24-minute cadence, controlled by one timer to set to go off every 24 minutes, allows partners to consistently brew one coffee type continuously using two servers. By following the Repeatable Routine, the preparation and brewing time of the coffee overlap perfectly. This results in available coffee 100% of the time.

It is important to notice that the cadence only addresses the frequency of brewing coffee and not the quantity. Batch size is independent of the cadence and can be adjusted to meet your store’s exact needs, just as before.

Apply the same principles that comprise the 24-minute cadence to brew more than one coffee type. The 12-minute cadence is used when two coffee types are brewed. The 12-minute cadence, controlled by one timer set to go off every 12 minutes, allows your partners to consistently brew two coffee types continuously using three servers without every experiencing an outage due to expiration.

Unlike the 24-minute cadence, the 12-minute cadence requires a rotation of three servers. By staggering the cadence, the server that held Pike Place Roast will now hold Decaf Pike Place Roast. This server rotation will continue through the day, resulting in no coffee outages due to expiration.

You can further apply the idea of cadence to all three coffee types, resulting in the 8-minute cadence. The 8-minute cadence, controlled by one timer set to go off every 8-minutes, allows your partners to consistently brew three coffee types continuously using four servers without ever experiencing an outage due to expiration. This is an effective cadence to use during the peak period.

As with the 12-minute cadence, the rotation of the servers is also necessary here. The server that previously held Pike Place Roast will next hold Decaf Pike Place Roast.

While brewing on a cadence is initially difficult to understand, partners have expressed that they learned it through seeing it in action. Always choose the cadence based on the amount of coffee types are offering and like any Better Way, make it yours! Use the Getting Started job aid to help you visualize and use the Repeatable Routine to brew coffee on an 8-minute cadence.


·         Reset Timer

·         Restart cadence immediately

·         Drain Twin Server at Sink

·         Use ramp

·         Secure Spigot in open position

·         Do step three while draining


Use grinding container

·         Follow grinding directions

·         Level spoodle

·         Check grind setting

·         Return full server to home while grinding

·         Begin step four while grinding

·         Rinse brew basket thoroughly


Pour one shot glass of water through server’s

·         Close spigot

·         Transfer rinses serve to brewer

·         Clean Brew Basket and Server

·         Grind Coffee

·         Insert filter flush against brew basket’s walls

·         Tap grinding container


Return brew basket to brewer

·         Select batch size

·         Switch server labeled

·         Brew Coffee


Let's hope this means they're going to change the awful packaging on the lemon loaf. Please? There is no good way to open that.


Damn dude BSR go get laid really


Oh believe me I do get laid. Almost every night. I take a walk through the Fens.


NO I Don't believe you and WTF is the Fens??


Is that like a "prostitute" house of some sort? damn LAPD DRONE AKA BSR you're strange?


That sounds ridiculous. I'm really glad that I left when I did.


I'm simply delicious.

Thought of the Day

@BSR....All that effort for Pike Puke? You've got to be kidding?


OH MY GOD! I couldn't even read that entire post, let alone have ANY desire to do it! I HATE THIS COMPANY!!

Do they realize how ridiculous that sounds? really?

I bleed Starbucks green

Could this shit be any more confusing??? I just stage another brew basket as soon as the lock shuts off. Once I notice the coffee is low I drain and rebrew one while serving the other. I rarely ever run out of coffee.

I agree go get laid, you are the most negative person on this board. Judgemental and bigoted as well. Try smoking some weed or get a prescription for Xanax cuz you are way too uptight!!

The new lemon loaf and double chocolate cookies rock!!


That brew cadence makes my head spin. Hut two three four. Hut two three four. Better solutions: put more brewers in stores. (if you can spend $10 mill for product placement, you can buy at least a few more brewers). Go back to one hour hold times. And that urn that previously held PPR, and now holds decaf PPR, so uh, does it get rinsed in between?

Pre-stage coffee as much as possible, and then when an urn is getting a little low, start a new batch ... which is pretty much what the person above me just said. LOL



It will be interesting to pull that off with a two person deployment. Can anyone share their experiences with the cadence and their deployment?


how is any of that a stretch?
it's idiotic to brew to coffees at the exact same time. what if someone comes in and orders a traveller?.. or decaf?.. or you realize there's grinds in one of the coffees? instead of being a 4 minute wait, it's up to 8.

i've been using a timer to let me know when to rebrew since about a week into working for starbucks. no one told me to do so. i used common sense.

and why would you brew decaf coffee into a server that previously had dark roast?

if releases like that are coming out.. it really just proves how moronic most partners are.

maxdoesnt workthereanymore

at my old store (yay!) during non-peak time we just kept an eye on the coffee like reasonable people. don't dump a batch until you have another, nothing about the brewer or coffees changed when 30 min. became the (newest) magic number so just let it sit for 37 min. until you have another. the bc rotation is really only for peak


Ugh, I hate the food in the case because it all tastes the same after sitting there all day.


Coffee Cadence...once again has anyone done the math on how much weight a barista is lifting in a shift when rotating urns? Considering an empty urn is approximately 11# and a full urn is approximately 20# then imagine rotating every eight minutes, 7.5 times in one hour, so in an hour a barista is lifting approximately 120 pounds! Then multiply 120 pounds times four to six hours minus a ten minute brake and you have approxmiately 480 pounds to 720 pounds of weight being lifted per shift! If your SM does not rotate evert two hours according to standard expect pain! Lets not forget that turning your back on the customer every eight minutes in a rush is NOT legendary! When is Starbucks going to stop hiring "effeciency experts"? Go to the Baristas Howie! Give us equal time. Get our feedback. We are the face of Starbucks! Finally as I conclude my rant, give us time to be legendary! If a customer wants bold, they should have it, served with a smile. The face of Starbucks is tired and overwhelmed.


Most of the people at the SSC think we're idiots and can't do math when the joke is on them and they're the idiots.


Who decided coffee "expires" after 31 minutes? Panera Bread's coffee sits for two hours before "expiring" and no one complains about freshness. As a former PB employee and a customer at Starbucks and assorted other coffee shops, I'm absolutely fine with coffee that has been sitting for 2 hours, as long as its in an insulated container and not burning away on a hot plate. On another side note, theoretically Dunkin brews every 18 minutes, so if I want fresh coffee, shouldn't I just go there? And hell, Waffle house seems to brew at least every half hour when I'm sitting in there all day and all night.


Well Nacho, for like 20+ years Starbucks told baristas that coffee was good for one hour. Things magically changed when along came a change of CEO in Jan 2008.

@seriously - to think that Starbucks was ever worried about the job-injury risk with hand-tamped espresso ... your post is amazing.

It's only going to get harder to get "brew on demand" to work:

Melody: I'd like a tall Sumatra

Barista: hut, two, brew, four ...

Melody: Isn't Sumatra the coffee of the week?

Barista: shhh ... I can't get out of step otherwise the drill sargents will get mad that I can't keep time ... hut, two, brew, four, 8 minutes and brew more, lift, turn, pour, hut, two, three, four ...

Melody: Can I get a coffee other than Pike Place Roast drip-brewed through your brewers?

Barista: We've got a new cadence and I can't interrupt it. Sorry. I have to keep marching ...

Seriously, what barista will want to throw off their afternoon brew cadence to brew a quarter-batch of bold?

When does someone yell out, "at ease soldier"?


The Air Force actually calls cadence like that. But anyway, cadence for you to get bold would have to be at 8 minutes. I believe brewing bold can only be done during peak periods. That is why they have been pushing Pike's Puke so hard, is to prepare us for brewing on cadence. I guess the baristas who move to slow won't be able to stay in step. HA.


I think we should all SUE STARBUCKS for the stress fractures we are going to have in our wrists after doing this crap everyday.

(former) FLA SM

I'm SO glad I'm gone!


Whatever this brew cadence is, I am NOT doing it. Like Melody said, it makes my head spin, too.

On the topic at hand, I'd love love love to see Starbucks using local bakeries... there is a breadstore/bakery just a few doors down from my store, and the stuff that they have is just delicious! Although, some of the new recipes seem to have improved our pastries. The cinnamon swirl is extra cinnamon-y. Yum.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Search Site

Ads (2)