« Starbucks has processed 42 million mobile payments in 15 months | Main | She prefers decaf in the afternoon »

April 12, 2012


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


I love this. Who cares how it's spelled if it's just so you can identify what drink belongs to what name? I have a tough name that people always assume is spelled the way it's not, but I just smile and nod because really, who cares? Just give me my coffee!

Bitter Ben

So... I'll assume this is someone from Europe? The whole name on drinks, it's a new thing for them, so I can understand the confusion or frustration.

If this is someone from America - the whole name thing isn't new. I was actually surprised to learn they don't ask for names overseas. I assumed it was just a company standard all around. (I know it doesn't happen everywhere, but it does happen often enough at the stores I visit)

So the whole name thing. Honestly? Make up a name. I'll help you. Your name is Bob. Easy enough, isn't it? You're right, the people behind the counter don't REALLY care what name you give. It just makes it easier for us to call out "BOB your drinks ready!" compared to "Grande soy latte 3 shots no foam yadda yadda yadda"

as an aside, whats with soy drinkers? I know its awful to make broad assumptions on people based on the drinks they get but I swear soy people are always... different, and Soy no Foam? Good lord I make damn sure soy no foam drinks have *NO FOAM WHATSOEVER*.


I was at a Starbucks at the Vegas airport last week and the woman behind me in line ordered one of those "venti-triple-shot-no-foam-soy-peppermint-cowhide-extra-dry-more-words-here" kind of beverages and when the barista didn't repeat it back to her exactly (which, given how complicated it was, I couldn't blame here), the woman shot back this snide look of, "Why do I have to deal with amateurs?"

So the complicated thing works two ways. I'd much rather they take my name for my beverage because "grande latte" typically describes half the drinks ahead and behind me in line, and more than once my hand and someone else's hand have reached for the exact same drink when it comes up at the window.


Mike: Funny that she said that, because she actually called it incorrectly according to Starbucks standards.


I agree, the names on cups is so annoying. That the woman has been going there for two years, and they don't know her name--sad.

Also, if a person's name is the most beautiful word in the english language, hearing your own name mangled/misspelled must be one of the ugliest.

Starbucks needs to stop with the faux community thing, there was a time when it was real.

Fed up barista

I work for starbucks and I have to say it really irritates me that the customers get so mad at US for things that are either policy or standards set by our managers. Try having strict standards AND a "just say yes" policy at the same time. It's not easy... and yes some of us DO get in trouble if we don't put names on cups.


Well, that was rude. If you have a problem with Starbucks policy, take it up with Starbucks. Being a jerk to the barista that has no control over it doesn't help.

I'm not a fan of the name thing either, but I also give my really easy middle name (that is always subsequently spelled wrong). How hard is an initial?

The baristas of every store I've visited on a frequent basis have attempted to learn my drink preference. I change it up a lot, so I feel bad that they're trying and then I want something different, but I applaud the effort. It seems odd to me that this woman complains about them trying to foster of a sense of community with the names on the cups (which I'm guessing she's never been in a super busy store and has had someone who ordered after her take her drink because it's the same – it sucks, let me tell you), but then complains that no one has learned her drink preference. After reading this, that's a real shocker.


@mbfs if the author is always irritated, in a hurry, and fiddling with her BlackBerry, I can see why baristas aren't going overboard to engage her in conversation. Community works both ways - and I agree with her that I'd rather be conversing with people who are genuinely pleasant and conversational, not wrapped up in their self-importance and superiority.


@Bitter Ben - based on the drink pricing, dollar signs, and mobile phone reference, my bet's on the Canadian capital as our heroine's home. The downtown district has only recently enforced names-on-cups here.

Honestly, the author might be a perfectly civil human being, but based on her taking offense to a minimum-wage employee misspelling her name in a ten-second interaction, I suspect anger management issues. They're common in this area now that gov't jobs are being cut and the masses are one step away from making their own lattes... and everyone else's.


or you could consider a coffee shop that has better beverages and lacks the annoying self important arrogance of Starbucks. just sayin', is all....


I don't understand why the barista didn't just put no name on her cup and move on. I'm a shift supervisor and I've always been of the opinion that if putting a name on a cup takes away from the experience it shouldn't be enforced. It's about reading your customer, and if a customer seems busy and irritated, like this one, than it's not worth the hassle. I'd hope other managers would agree.

As a side note, I'm not surprised the customer got the wrong drink. That's actually part of the reason Starbucks wants names on cups in the first place. But I'm guessing this hurried customer grabbed a cup assuming it was hers without listening to the barista setting it on the bar. Baristas in general don't hand drinks directly to customers, as this is dangerous. If the customer listened to the barista, she probably wouldn't have the wrong drink or the wrong idea about baristas just trying to do their jobs.


@ Anonymous Author - Wow, overreact much? Are the British this sensitive when it comes to their name? Chill out Brits! We take names to ensure the right customer gets the right drink- you would be surprised at how many people just grab whatever is set down without listening to the name, regardless of the fact that they ordered a hot drink and the one I just set down is iced. The baristas don't like having to remake drinks because customers ran off with the wrong one-it messes up their flow & slows everything down. Most customers are on auto-pilot during our rush. We need the names to keep you from snatching someone else's drink. That is pretty sad that you've been going there for two years and they don't know your name, that's just a bad way to treat your customers if you value their business.


@ Bob
"or you could consider a coffee shop that has better beverages and lacks the annoying self important arrogance of Starbucks."
In my experience every indie cafe that has a higher quality product has exponentially HIGHER levels of self important arrogance than any Starbucks I've been in, and usually a speed of service that is frustratingly inept compared to Starbucks

just saying

well this is one way to ensure everyone will now know her name and beverage!

but really baristas need to be better trained to read their customers. if you can see they don't want to give a name - give them one and let them know what will be written on their cup "you'll know its yours when you hear Cindy lauper ". ...there's no better way to crack them than with 80's pop idols! :).


get a life! no one is that busy that you don't have 2 minutes in the morning to offer your name. it is a nice touch. get over yourself-or go somewhere else. Starbucks is amazing and doesn't need complainers like you.


All the baristas at my starbucks know me, and I them. I know what band they are in, what their major is in college, if they have kids, various likes/dislikes and visa versa.

I am surprised that Anonymous has had such a different experience with baristas then i? Is she maybe unfriendly? Or am I just super friendly?

One of the things I love about going to my regular starbucks is the rapport I have with the staff.


I don't even work at Starbucks (though I am in the service industry) and this person's self-centered rant made me instantly clench my teeth at him/her. Kudos to the person who pointed out that taking it out on the barista isn't very fair. Trust me, someone's told that barista to do it a certain way, and in this economy, that barista is probably more interested in toeing the line than making your solipsistic Blackberry-focused morning.


Honey, my store pulls over $1m annually and serves hundreds of people every day in my busy tourist district location. If I don't have your name, you aren't going to get your drink.

You can call yourself 'Godzilla' or 'Lady Gaga' if it makes you happier, but my side of the counter NEEDS a way to find you if you plan on getting that $4 Frappuccino. Either your drink will either be stolen by someone too impatient to wait for their actual purchase, or it will sit on our handoff plane and deteriorate in quality until we dump it out.

This much drama over a first name. Really.


I can see both sides of the argument, I guess. Starbucks needs to take the name to make things a bit easier at the handoff plane, but some customers aren't comfortable with the option. Fake/celebrity names are a good way to get around this, and berating a barista for following the rules is a pretty easy way to have a bad rep with the people in charge of juicing you up for the day.

I work at a store that does not have the names on cups policy (we've tried to implment it during really busy times and let me tell you, our regulars DO NOT like it), but we aren't busy enough or have enough problems with people taking the wrong drink to warrant it. Instead, I know people by name (those who want to be known anyway) and develop a rapport with them, because I genuinely enjoy seeing these people come into the store and the conversations I have with them.

Yes, the barista should've just moved on or made an executive decision "I'll just put Cleopatra on the cup, so when we call that, that's you," and the customer should have dropped it as well-- or used a better means of getting her point across, such as contacting corporate. As a barista I'll do what I can to make you happy, but not if it has the potential to cost me hours or my job.


I suspect this is in the UK where Starbucks has just introduced the name thing.

I actually prefer the name system in America, you can always make up a fake one and you're more likely to get the right drink.

Here though, the introduction has been pretty chaotic at times.

I went up, ordered a panini and a cappuccino, got asked my name, so far so good. Then the coffee arrived before I'd actually paid, so I had to shoulder through the crowd to pick it up, then barge back into the queue which got me dirty looks from people who thought I was just busting in. Then the panini doesn't have my name, after I'd paid and waited that just got shouted out as "steak and cheese panini", and you have to pick it up from a different place than you pick up the coffee.

I also have a very common first name, and it's happened that there were two same-sized cups with the same name and I didn't know which was mine.

So, the process here feels pretty inconsistent sometimes. You don't know what order things are going to happen in, you don't know where to go to pick up your things, you don't know what's going to be by name and what's going to be by product.


Until this recent backlash for names on cups, it never occurred to me that it was for a sense of community. To me, it was for the barista's sanity. Over my almost decade-long tenure at Starbucks I cannot tell you how often the following scenario played out:

It's a busy Saturday morning. Possibly a holiday weekend. The store is filled with customers - most of them are not regulars, most likely a few of them are overwhelmed by their first Starbucks experience. (I know what you're thinking, it's 2012, how could they be new, but they're out there.) Someone orders an iced grande latte and heads to the bathroom. Someone else orders a large mocha coolatta, (which we kindly translate to frappuccino) and walks over to the hand off plane. The person on bar is cranking through the drinks when someone returns an iced coffee which was not supposed to be sweetened. As the wait time lengthens, customers start getting distracted by people watching, playing with their phones, or suddenly noticing the film of dust on the nearly always neglected vents above the bar. Our coolatta customer loses track of who was in front of and behind him in line but thinks his drink is probably coming up soon. Not entirely sure of what his drink should look like, and not wanting to ask the harried barista, he grabs the next large-ish looking iced drink that comes out. No one else tries to claim it, so he assumes its his and leaves. When he takes a sip in his car, he notices it is not sweet and has no mocha. He then either a) thinks Starbucks is crap and swears it off for DD's forever or b) goes back in and asks why it doesn't taste like chocolate.

Meanwhile, our iced latte person has returned from the bathroom and asks where his drink is. The bar person says, "I just put that iced latte out there, someone must have taken it, I'll make another one." ...and the drink queue backs up some more... Also, by the time the mocha frappuccino person gets back (if he comes back), his drink has probably separated, so you "just say yes" and make another.

I know this seems really specific, but I saw scenarios like this take place at least 4-5 times over a weekend, and during busier parts of the weekdays. And I know a lot of things went wrong in this scenario, but when the store is crowded, and people step away to make a phone call or use the bathroom, and some people are unfamiliar with the menu - (I've had a person who ordered a venti frappuccino take a small (hot) cappuccino. People will grab anything when they are overwhelmed and tired of waiting) - the wrong drinks are going to be taken, and the result is longer wait times, wasted drinks, and unhappy customers.

It is easier for people to listen for names than 20-syllable drinks. If you just give you initials (or a fake name) it will help prevent frustrating, time consuming and expensive scenarios like the one above.

On a final note, I will say that my old store used to only ask for names when we had more than 5 or so people in line. If there are two people in the store, we trusted they could probably figure out who's drink was who's.

Long Timer

I've been with Starbucks for over a decade, so I'll try to clear things up.
We have always known our customers. What they drink, what they do, who their kids are.
The whole "names on cups" is a tool to ensure the right customer gets the right drink, which has been sold to partners as part of "World class customer service". Unfortunately when it's employed, it doesn't create a connection. Sure, I know their name- but do they know mine?
The balance point between great service and speed is a very fine line that has to be found with grace and purpose.
It's very hard to teach.


Asking for names is indeed stupid.

It's an attempt to harken back to the days of customers and shopkeepers knowing each other.

But if you don't know me, don't pretend to know me:

-- Don't guess what my drink order is today based on what you think you might remember about what I ordered yesterday.

-- Don't try to establish a relationship. We're not having a relationship. I'm just buying coffee from you.

-- And when we're done, how about a "thank you." Or even a "you're welcome." (The "thank you" is traditional. After all, I'm the one doing business at your store. But if instead you prefer to think of it as you serving me coffee, then "you're welcome.")

-- Please don't just say, "You're all set." What the hell does that mean, other than, we're done.


Abe, complaining again because you don't like personalized service. But then you complain because employees don't give a personal enough indication of how the business transaction is concluded. How adorable.


I'm super confused about Abe as well. From the beginning of his comment it sounds like he want a "you're all set" to signal the end his business only transaction with the person at the counter, but then he berates them for not thanking him or offering a 'your welcome' for providing him a service.

Assume positive intent, smile and be happy people. If you don't understand something, ask questions. If you spent less time being out to get everyone else, maybe you'd feel less like everyone was out to get you.

Confused as always

Um, I read this exact same letter somewhere online 2-3 months ago -- possibly on one of the ''other'' two famous sbux hangout websites. So, I don't think it was addressed to THIS website? Jim, right? And, oh, what's with no more weekend open threads? I thought you were retiring from your other site, not this one.


All I'm seeing here is a sense of entitlement. Complaining about no sense of "community" when you're one of those annoying people on their phone who can't be bothered to respond to a simple request that's designed to get your order right and ensure no one takes the wrong cup? Laughable.


I don't understand why it's such a disturbing policy to some people. We have regulars who we know by name (small town, small store) and others we don't. We get names if there's more than one person in line. All we say is "Can we have a name so we can call it out when it's ready?" They don't seem to care. I just don't get all of these complaints about something so miniscule...


If you go to a restaurant and are put on a wait list, you give your name...right? Same principle.


Although on the other side of the counter, back in my Store days, I had one customer (of about a million) say the same thing to me. "No, you don't need my name. Why do you need my name?"

2003-2006 Ohio Market, where names on cups were not only a way of connecting in a courteous midwestern way, but a way of ensuring that Ms.Anonymous didn't wind up with Bill's drink, and vice versa, when guests are 5 deep at the hand-off counter.

I had to think fast... "you know, you're absolutely right... I don't really need your name - we personalize the cups to help keep drinks straight at the hand-off counter when we're busy. Double Tall Soy Latte coming right up! It'll be the one with the smiley face on it."

He didn't like that answer either... but he got the right drink.

I could have labelled "no" or "lady with blue flower in her hair" or whatever... but that doesn't help (if your goal is like mine... customer satisfaction and shareholder value - @$61/share WOOOOOT!)

The customer questioning the practice is either just genuinely curious ('Hey, that's new... or just 'Why?') and probably in a hurry ('ugh... just make the drink already, willya'...) So I recommend quickly addressing their sensitivity and moving on. The next customer will be delighted you asked and likely ask your name too.

I'd also stay away from calling it 'policy'... if it is represented as Policy by Operations, please know it's way more than that... it's a polite courtesy and a way of supporting speed of accurate delivery to ensure customer satisfaction.

(And, a way to NOT have to say... hey Lady Cranky-Pants, your drinks ready over here!)

In a nutshell... there's one in every crowd. The good news: our stores are drawing crowds!!!
Onward my dear Green Apron Partners!


If a customer wants the correct drink, giving a name makes sense. I have no idea what the problem is with giving the barista your name, unless you are in the witness protection program! These baristas have a tough job when its busy and only want the customer to receive the correct drink. And stop leaving to go to the bathroom or talk on your phone. It is not the barista s job to send out a search party to find you when your order is ready!

Common Courtesy

Wow, the Starbucks employee should have just written "BITCH" on your cup. Or maybe you could offer that as your name in the future so they get a head's up on who they're dealing with.


Or give a fake name... for fun... I marked cups with Mickey Mouse, Flo or Florida (cuz that's where she was from), and Jetta (cuz that's what he drove).
Before I was a barista (back in my days as a customer) I gave the name Mickey, becuase the back/forth on correct spelling of my "M" related name, was more than either the Barista or I had time for.
Anyway... name, no name... whatever.
Have a Grande Day!
Thanks a Latte!
See you toMocha!


I've been going to the same Starbucks for over 8 years. Yes, they know my name and how to spell it. But when a new barista comes on board, I'm happy to give my name to them when they ask. I ask their name in return and always say, "Thank you, <> .

I admit when traveling, I'm sometimes not in the mood to give my name out, but I do. I'd rather they say, "Aimee, your drinks ready at the bar" rather than fighting with five others trying to grab my grande latte.

When in London recently, they asked, "May I have your name for the cup?" The person in front of me declined to give their name. My turn, I give my name and ordered the same drink. Both were up within seconds of each other, along with two other drinks without names. Guess who got their beverage first? Yep, me! I saw my name, grabbed and went.

Get real, people. It's a paper cup with coffee in it. If you want to claim it, make sure your names on it.


They're still not asking for names in metro Detroit. Maybe during rush hour? I don't commute, so I'm not there during the worst of it.

They didn't ask for my name in Toronto this past weekend, either, though they did manage to mishear my order of an iced venti skinny caramel macchiato into first a venti iced Americano, then (after being corrected) a venti nonfat iced Americano misto. I was reading my drink right off the board, for heaven's sake! I know my MI accent is not that exotic!


If stores want to ask for customers' names in order to ensure that the right person gets the right drink, fine. But please don't act as if this somehow creates a wonderful sense of "community" within the store. The fact of the matter is that Starbucks is a fast food chain and offers no more community than any other out there. And most customers don't want it to! That want a well made, good tasting beverage at a reasonable price and quickly. Nothing more. Get that part right and stop with all the silly nonsense about making "connections"!

Carmen Rose-Locke

As a Barista, I can't begin to tell you how annoying it is when customers make a fuss about the name. We have a very busy and tiny store, so when it gets busy, it's cramped, hot, loud and customers get irritated. We also have lots of tourists. Wrong drinks get taken A LOT. And then it backs up the queue when we have to make a new one. We have a beverage routine to follow. While you're dealing with a customer whose taken a grande latte when she ordered a chai latte, shots are going bitter, milk is seperating, people are waiting.

For the love of coffee, just stop moaning about the names, give a fake one if you're paranoid about your safety. Give me a letter. Hell, be like my customer the other day who requested I put MY name on the cup. I don't care! Just don't be an arse about it.

Until you're a Barista, you'll never understand how hard we work to give you some bloody coffee. So don't make our work harder.

And, yes, we are required to put the names on the cups by our managers.


B:Your name please
B:So we know it is your coffee
C:My naame is really hard to spell and pronounce
B:Did your parents give you a nickname?
B:Good, we use it. What is it?


We don't use names on the cups in any of the stores in my area. We just call it... The last step in the beverage sequence is "finish and connect"... I think a lot of people forget about the connect part.

Our cafe bar is set up so that the customer is right there at the handoff plane and can see you and talk to you while you're making their drink. As long as I don't have a headset on and am not DTO-ing for drive thru while I bar, I always make it a point to make conversation with the customers at the handoff plane while they are waiting.

Point being, if you are connecting like you are supposed to, customers won't usually end up with the wrong drink. Make eye contact with the customers at the plane and call the drink. If it's not their drink, they will let you know, or, there will be another customer waiting in the wing, eager to scoop up their drink and get on with their morning.

This is in a high-volume store, mind you. So don't give me the argument that you're busy and it can't be done.


I think all the comments in this section are quite interesting. After suffering through many statistics classes, I have come to learn the term "voluntary response bias", i.e. those that respond to a radio show call in are those most passionate/involved in the topic and don't accurately represent the entire population (as they normally represent one extreme or the other). This comment section seems like a prime example.

Many of you are barista's and see it from that perspective, which is interesting and enlightening. As a customer though, I am more inclined to agree with this woman. I understand your frustration, but I certainly don't think she is an "asshole" as some have mentioned. She's in a rush (aren't we all some mornings?), and she's probably shy and/or reserved. Nothing wrong with that- I too feel uncomfortable when strangers want my name. I understand that for some people Starbucks is community, but it isn't for all of us. I don't bond with baristas anymore than I bond with a grocery store cashier or a clothing store associate. I feel very uncomfortable when barista's use and begin to recognize my name- we're not friends, we don't know each other, we don't talk at ALL, other than simple "thank you's" and "enjoy your day"... "you too". If the customer is clearly uncomfortable with the name policy, I think all parties have a responsibility to accept that and move on. Simple as that.


JASC, both parties can also accept that this is merely another way to expedite the process of the customer getting their right drink and getting it in a nice manner. The customer has the option of going to another coffee location which doesn't ask for your personal information, and accept the impersonal and often rude service there within.

Barista Man Again

I like to ask for a name. When I mark a drink, I always ask, and I say it exactly the same way each time, " can I have your name please so we can call it out to you"
I've had 100% success with this and no one has ever refused or been snobby about it.

I'll personalize it too,
"can I have your name please so we can call it out to you?
"Sure. My name's "Adam."
"Hi Adam, are you having a good day/weekend/evening/etc.?"

Gets me a name for the cup, connects with a customer. Kill 2 birds with one stone.


Agreed with the above. If you quickly and politely explain that the name's only going on the cup so their drink comes back to them, there usually is no problem.

I find that *not* explaining why the name is necessary is where the confusion and anger sets in.

It's just coffee, y'all.


It definitely is about reading the customer. If people would rather be checking their phone, talking to their friend, talking on the phone or just have that "I'm in a hurry don't F with me" vibe... just pass the drink on and move to the next customer. Do you like it when people interrupt your conversations? I don't. I look at it from their perspective. Forcing a "connection" when someone isn't in the mood is worse than no "connection" at all.


We only ask for names at my store when the manager is on the floor. Our manager really only pretends to enforce it so she can claim to our DM that she is following policy in order to keep herself out of trouble. Our customers hate it and it takes way too much time when someone orders multiple beverages. I don't know of any store that has time to write "Christina" on 4 lattes during the morning rush.


My sister doesn't like her name on the cup either. She also has a difficult name to spell so she always says, "Ann" and mixes up her answers if they ask if there is an "E" on the end. No stress for her and now when she walks in, they say, "hi Ann"

livin' la VIA loca

It's not complicated- it's easy.
(And a sad comment on the state of customer service at sbux)

If your SM/DM or store traffic situations demand that you write names on cups...

If you are a customer who prefers not to have your name on cup (or you are a barista encountering one insisting this)...

Then at the end of the $$ transaction at the register PRINT THE RECEIPT. At the top of each is a unique CHK#. It is no longer in characters than many names. WRITE THE CHK# ON THE CUP. And then put it in cue. Give the customer the receipt and let them know they can connect w/their drink that matches the CHK# on their receipt.

(for customers pls just politely ask that your chk# from your receipt be added to your cup instead of your name)

Smile. Thank you. Carry on. It's just coffee...

just saying

OMG that us so much more annoying than just making up a name....or even just a random number. no one else will have a number on their cup..


Must be a slow month if Sbux Gossip is wasting their time on something as insignificant as a name in a cup. Really?! My ultimate goal is to something creative on it so it ends up as a pic on Facebook.



If you don't have the time or common courtesy to pay attention during the transaction, go somewhere else. The name thing is so you don't get the wrong drink. You bitch if we ask your name, you bitch when you take the wrong drink. And don't stand there while I'm making drinks and freak out when I'm putting whip on something that's not even your drink to begin with.

We have created a culture of SPOILED coffee snobs who think they're the only ones that matter. I had a guy walk up to my drive through window and told me to make his Americano because he didn't have time to wait and since he comes in every day, I needed to go ahead and make his drink.

Trust me. I have NO desire to connect with people like you.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Search Site

Ads (2)