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July 27, 2009


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Bearded Barista


Barista Ben

Hmm. So, they WILL be able to match the 401(k) to some degree? Fantastic, I guess, although it does sting a bit that they are celebrating being able to do what they did all the past years without pause. I guess this is good, but it is good news veiled over bad news.
"Congrats, we are gonna match your 401k! We almost weren't gonna do it but wheew that stock increase pushed us over the amount!" yay. x_x

Dobbs Fox

The way the economy still is and will probably stay for a while, instead of bitching about it you should be happy you're getting anything.


I wonder if they feel the need to do this to attract and keep better quality managers.

Bearded Barista

Barista Ben, Starbucks isnt the only corporation that thought about or decided to cut back 401k contributions. A lot of big companies decided to cut it out entirely after the economy tanked, they didn't say "we may not be able to match". I was a little ticked when they originally said they were gonna take it away, even though I understood why they were doing it, so I am pretty glad that they have decided to match contributions this year.


can anyone tell me if this will be so in Canada?

Coffee Soldier

Do the Canadian stores have portal access on their manager work station? Because I feel like I often see questions like....Will they have XYZ product or will we be doing this XYZ program in Canada? This memo came out today on the portal here in the US and every partner in the store has access to it so I'd assume our friends to the north would also be able to receive this information.


guess I will have to check the portal when I go in to work tomorrow. :)
Several times, the promotions (ie. free pastry day) are only available in the States, however Starbucks sends all the info to North America as a whole, so sometimes frustrating as a Northern Partner.

burned bean

i take this news with a grain of salt. starbucks is dying a slow death. hundreds of partners have been laid off. the mission statement has been changed. high pressure sales tactics have been implemented. situational leadership was replaced by fierce feedback. labor was removed to the degree that work/life balance was no longer a focus or possibility. morale is at an all time low. benefits were removed. knee jerk decisions are made daily.

i expect that this will change back by Q2 FY10...


Does anyone know when merit increases were in question? I was not aware that salaried partners were potentially not going to be receiving yearly merit increases. That is a memo I am sure to have remembered.

Howard the chameleon

i know this is what some will say are apples and oranges but in the last year and a half how many things Howard stated have recanted? just saying it's a long time till the end of the year.


What was changed about the mission???


Just read a story that some UK Marines in Iraq wrote to Starbucks to say how much they liked the coffee and could they send them some. In reply, Starbucks said they did not support the war or anyone in it, ....and that they would not send any coffee. So.....Bye Bye Starbucks, you loose a 25 year customer today.

Coffee Soldier

The salaried partners were RD's or directors and above that did not receive raises last year. It had nothing to do with DM's or lower.


@ burned bean,

You are most correct in your summation. Starbucks leadership is filled with dishonesty. But, if by chance I do receive my match this year or in the future I will be grateful for the huge egos at the top that for whatever reason had to make this decision.

@ curious,

Nothing changed in the wording, just the behavior of Starbucks management. Don’t listen to what they say, listen to what they do.


RDMoulton, This rumor has been spreading for years. It keeps resurfacing. Starbucks.com even has a post about it on their site under rumors.
Thousands of stores across the country send coffee to the troops and have for decades.



I am looking for a Sbux employee, is there a directory I could find? This person was part of the licensed store division...

SBUX Alum Bill

I think Starbucks is trying to boost employee morale by making this announcement now. I know that the Great Place to Work Institute is compiling its annual survey results for Starbucks' rating, and my guess is that Starbucks wants to enhance its chances of remaining on the Top 100 list (Starbucks' ratings on the list have always been prominently displayed on the HR website - it's the first thing that candidates see when they apply for a job at Starbucks). The company probably realizes that it had to do something dramatic in order to boost morale before the employee survey forms were completed & returned to the Institute. Sorry to be so cynical about this, but I've discovered (the hard way) that Starbucks' claim of high ethical standards is all PR and no substance.

me myself and I

It's always funny to see how people spread rumors and base decisions on them without even so much as doing an easy Google search on it.

Yeah, sure, bad Starbucks is not supporting the war. Well, in fact, they are not supporting any war, like most companies out there don't (maybe the arms dealers do). But they (and especially their employees) are supporting the troops. So please stop spreading any unchecked rumors or chain letters (which are equally a pain).

me myself and I

Sorry, I forgot to actually reply to the thread.

I'm afraid SBUX Alum Bill is 100% right. And payday isn't here yet, so there could still be changes to what was said and what is going to be done about it.


@coffeesoldier We are not allowed on the portal at our store. Only the SM and SS (when they do deposits). Otherwise it is off limits to baristas and the baristas are never told the passwords. They are hidden from us. The ASM at our store always kept us informed because of this "rule" of "off limits to the portal" but this awesome ASM was one of the ones let go in the round of ASM layoffs. This is why it is hard for me to understand how Melody gets copies of training CD's and can listen to conference calls when she says she is "just a customer".

Melody (reply to seriously)

[quote=seriously] it is hard for me to understand how Melody gets copies of training CD's and can listen to conference calls [/quote]

@seriously - ANYONE can listen to the quarterly conference calls. Just go to the investor relations page at starbucks.com. That's hardly a mystery. You can do that too!

As for CDs - That's a horse of a different color from information off the portal (we used to have BostonStarbucksRebel for that!). It's a CD. It can be burned. Uploaded. With over 100,000 partners and the many ways to connect with people via MSI, SG, V2V, email, in person, do you really think that if once or twice (I definitely don't have a collection of that stuff!!!) I said to a couple of people I've connected with, "Hey, I heard the Tazo training DVD is just a kick to watch. Any chance you'd get me a copy?" ... is it really so unfathomable to you that I might get a copy?

What IS true, seriously, is that ordinary customers have NO interest in watching a Tazo Training DVD, and so the fact that I was curious about it (because of posts here at SG!) really means that I am a little weird! But maybe you weren't here at this site when people were talking about the new tea lattes. There were a rash of well-earned comments that Apurva from the Tazo Tea DVD was humorous to watch. It really did pique my curiosity! Curiosity killed the cat! That's me to the t! LOL

And it's just my opinion, but in all honesty I absolutely believe that the thought of Melody having a little giggle over the tazo tea stone in the privacy of her own home is FAR less damaging than a fraction of the things that get posted here right off the portal, as partners say that they do.

I firmly believe that Starbucks has to keep one step ahead of new product information leaked here ... I don't know how they do that, but they do.


Melody - you seem to have your ear so close to the Starbucks ground, perhaps you would like to share your thoughts on story that Starbucks is to start selling Rwandan textiles and baskets at the stores.
Seems Howard signed a deal in June when he visited Rwanda - at least we know the jet is getting some use!
You still will not get a bold coffee in the afternoon, but you might pick up a nice new tote bag! Check it out at


seriously - You are so allowed on the portal. There is even a specific password for baristas, and if there is anything you're "not supposed to see" I'm sure they would hide it from the barista login.

As a barista I checked the portal almost every time I was at work...just as I do as a shift now.

klbarista - 401(K) is a US only ordeal.


I am thankful to get a 401K match for FY2009. It's free money, even if I don't get the full 100% allocation due to my # of years of service.



As just an observer to your conversation with seriously, I think you missed the point.

Your comments seem just a bit defensive.

I believe seriously was just expressing frustration and irony that they aren't allowed on the Portal by their manager (which is crazy) but "just a customer" has amazing access to mission critical info.


It is a violation of the company's Partner Resources communications policies to withhold access to the Partner Portal. They are required to give you the Barista password when it is issued. If you still don't have it - ask your manager for it. If they retaliate - call Partner Resources.


@ NEWB "i know this is what some will say are apples and oranges but in the last year and a half how many things Howard stated have recanted? just saying it's a long time till the end of the year."

Technically it's not a long time till the end of the year, the fiscal year now has less than 2 months left.


If only I could actually afford to contribute to a 401(k) in the first place!


Yep sneaky they probably do sound that way. It gets exasperating to feel like I have to re-explain over and over again that I'm a customer with *perhaps* a unique Starbucks relationship. It wears me out! Starbucks Gossip wears me out!

Starbucks Watcher

That's great about the 401K's.

On the other hand I recently heard a lay-off related rumor, that all the contact centers employees who are left in the SSC are being laid off in October.

Maybe that's how they're paying for the 401 matches?

chicago alicat

any new laptops comming


Hahaha Re Laptops.

That'll ***never*** happen.

Get over it!


"@Sneaky, I believe seriously was just expressing frustration and irony that they aren't allowed on the Portal by their manager (which is crazy) but "just a customer" has amazing access to mission critical info."

Thank you :) Yes this is exactly what I intended to communicate.

Is it legal to burn a training CD? Just asking...lol

Thanks to all for the clarification regarding the portal. I am a black apron and when I was training, there was a ton of coffee related news on there.

Melody, some of us are new and it's frustrating to learn that a customer, such as yourself can have more coffee knowledge than a barista, such as myself. I learn new things on this site about coffee all the time, which is why I visit. I for one appreciate the coffee knowledge and coaching from other baristas on this site, especially when it means giving legendary service! But not everyone knows who you are so lighten up. :)

Anyone know what happened to Darleen?

concerned consumer

Maybe they should look into putting more money into workers' comp considering many people are slipping and sliding behind the counter due to a "NO MATS" policy. Who in their right mind would take away mats that are there for safety and health concerns for those standing for long periods of time. Those poor baristas. I saw a few almost fall today. Is this happening at all stores? I would hate to see my favorite baristas get injured because of this.


The no mats isn't in all stores. I recently moved to a store that doesn't have them and no one can tell me why. I think it's crazy.

Aaron Kocher

"The way the economy still is and will probably stay for a while, instead of bitching about it you should be happy you're getting anything."

Starbucks posted $256 million in profits last quarter, and in the last few quarters, after adjusting for "restructuring costs", i.e. closing hundreds of stores and slashing thousands of jobs, which costs money in the short run, they were still making plenty of money. They have matched 401k for years, so that they are continuing the status quo for one more year is nothing to praise, especially when their profits far exceeded anyone's expectations. And still, despite a very healthy outlook, they are cutting away at our health benefits.

The cost of the cheapest plan will nearly double, and all plans will see increases in out of pocket expenses. All this in the midst of massive profits, and while Howie is raking in 10 mil a year in compensation. Not to mention corporate jets (which Howie used for his personal vacation to Hawaii), Expensive trips to New Orleans for all managers, and other executive extravagancies.

No, Starbucks deserves no praise this year. Actually, a lower percentage of Starbucks partners are covered by health benefits than at Wal-Mart. Is Starbucks really so different? No.


@AaronKocher - Of course I absolutely agree that Starbucks matching 401(k) contributions is the right thing to do. Let's hope they maintain that. However, I am not convinced in your list of criticisms above, that the use of the jet is a fair criticism - Howard Schultz states that he reimburses the corporation back for personal use of the jet.


A sbux black apron depends on SG as a source for coffee knowledge? Seriously?

Wowie, that is downright scary. :-O

Or was it meant to be a joke? :-?

And how does a newbie barista, who lacks coffee knowledge, become a black apron anyway?

And BTW, from the customer perspective, if I have more coffee knowledge than the barista serving me, that's also pretty scary.


@StLouieDrip More often than not information is leaked here before it gets to the baristas. Where did I type that I "depend on SG as a source for coffee knowledge" solely? I stated I appreciate coffee knowledge here and I am frustrated that at our store we are not allowed on the portal. I have to research other avenues. In other words, I care about my job and am grateful for information! A customer who has participated in a cupping, when many baristas have not is a customer who may have more knowledge than a barista who has not had that opportunity. A newbie to SG does not mean newbie to Starbucks.


@seriously, now you sound defensive. And where did I type that you "solely" relied on SG for coffee knowledge? It's my opinion that a black apron that depends on SG for any type of coffee knowledge, even minimally, is a very strange idea indeed.

And what you wrote above about being "new" didn't clarify that you meant you're new to SG, so I read it as if you're new to sbux, especially since you went on to say you come here to gather coffee knowledge from others, i.e. coffee knowledge that you admit you lack. When it comes to coffee knowledge I imagine the black aprons as the coffee LEADERS, sharing their expert coffee knowledge with their "partners," not seeking it here, of all places.

Also, customers who know more about coffee gain that knowledge because of their own deep passion for coffee, (for which they shouldn't be taken to task). Some who work at sbux clearly don't have that passion, which is a disappointment to a passionate customer (just ask me how I know). But it's clear that other employees are passionate but simply aren't getting the support from sbux they need to do their jobs well. So I do agree with you on that point.

Aaron Kocher

Melody, the jet is just one piece of the bigger picture, i.e. that Starbucks is again doing well, but will not show appreciation for those who brought it back: the rank and file workers. It was not executives who saved the company. Anyone with half a brain can cut thousands of jobs as a way to save money. Rather than compensating executives with million and multi million dollar salaries, much of that money should be going to providing quality health insurance coverage, which Starbucks claims to value. Yet, as the Wal-Mart statistic shows, it's really little more than part of their marketing and brand image.


StLouieDrip...I guess I am a bit defensive. Some of the coffee knowledge that I have gained from the partners here at SG includes information on things such as Clover, (and yes, I admit I lack knowledge in this area, a lot of baristas do, who have never seen a Clover) information on the cold-pressed method, iced Kenya etc. And, if I remember correctly, there was a very interesting conversation regarding the iced methods that I think you were apart of.? So, yes, coming here has been helpful with gaining knowledge of coffee. You stated that I "SEEK out coffee knowledge from here." And just as you have tried to read between the lines in my posts, your post implies that I solely look to this sight, and yes I typed solely. I am saying I am excited about the ideas from other partners here. I am the only black apron in my store and CANT get to the portal. It is hard to stay excited in an environment that only cares about the bottom line. To me the bottom line is our customers. I have a passion for coffee and am for one furious that legendary service has been pushed aside to give way to cadence and up selling. So, yes I am defensive.

I did not take a customer to task either for her deep passion of coffee. I simply had questions about where she was getting her information. Can we please end this now? I hope I have made every comment clear. I am tired of trying to explain myself. If I have not made myself any clearer, maybe you need to stop taking this conversation out of context. I may be asking dumb questions, but at least I am asking! Give me a break!

coffee beans

This will only help encourage employees to stay on attract quality management. Isn't coffee brilliant?!

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