starbucks-barista

Confessions Of A Starbucks Barista

Jesse, who has worked at Starbucks for almost a year, has written a mythbusting “Buyer’s Guide” that will help you in your quest to save money when ordering your favorite Starbucks beverage. Our favorite tips? Frappucinos are a rip off, there’s no free ride at the drive-thru, and ordering a latte with chai syrup is cheaper than a chai with espresso

I've been working for Starbucks for almost a year, and my love for coffee and free coffee beverages are what keep me there. As much as some people may complain, Starbucks does offer a high quality coffee, even if it comes at a premium price. Here's my take on some tips for ordering at Starbucks in order to keep prices low and tastebuds happy. I'll also try to bust down some myths and educate about basic coffee principles.

Starbucks Myth #1


Starbucks coffee tastes burnt.


While it’s true that Starbucks does tend to roast their beans a bit darker than most other coffee places, what you’re tasting isn’t actually “burnt.” The Specialty Coffee Association of America says that standard brewing should have two full tablespoons of coffee for every six ounces of water. Most other coffee shops and restaurants will barely even use half that much coffee. The coffee then ends up tasting much stronger than what most casual coffee drinkers are used to. Choosing the mild coffee of the day isn’t really going to help if you think Starbucks coffee is stronger. The mild coffees tend to have what’s known as a stronger acidity. Acidity refers to the sharp taste on the tongue and how long the flavor of the coffee lasts – not the actual PH balance. If you don’t like the taste of burnt coffee, you’ll probably shy away from Latin American and African coffees which have a higher acidity.

What you probably should order is an Starbucks Americano. An Americano is espresso and hot water to dilute it to the flavor strength of brewed coffee. It’s milder in body and won’t seem as “burnt.”

As far as price goes, standard coffee is the cheapest that you’re going to get at Starbucks. It does seem to be a bit more expensive that other coffee shops, but remember – they’re using more actual coffee. An Americano runs more expensive because making the drink takes more man hours. We’ll break down the cost of espresso later.

Myth #2


Instead of paying higher amounts for iced coffee, I can just buy regular coffee, ask for a cup of ice, and pour the coffee over that.


Iced coffee is brewed double strength before it’s poured over ice in order to give it the regular strength of coffee. If you just buy a regular cup of coffee and pour it over ice, you’re getting extremely week coffee that’s half as strong as it should be.

Myth #3


Going for the Venti espresso drink is a better value.


A Venti drink is twenty ounces. It has two shots of espresso in it. The Specialty Coffee Association of America says that there should be one ounce of espresso for every eight ounces of beverage. This means that there are eighteen ounces of milk for two ounces of espresso – that’s a lot of milk! The only drink sizes that meet the SCAA regulations are the eight once Short that has one shot and the sixteen ounce Grande that has two shots. The tall is twelve ounces and also only has one shot. Because Starbucks follows SCAA guidelines strictly, they won’t put two shots into a tall or three shots into a Venti because that technically would be too much espresso.

What people don’t realize is that Starbucks even offers the Short. Back in the day, there were only two sizes – short and tall. As our American appetites grew, so did the size of our drinks. But the short is actually a lot closer to the size of what a traditional latte would be. It’s also a couple dollars cheaper than going for the Venti.

Now my personal preference is one ounce of espresso to every four ounces of beverage – but I like my drinks strong and I get them for free.

The Truth About Espresso and the Great Frappucino Swindle:

A few years ago, Starbucks made the jump to automatic espresso machines. Standard procedure for pulling a shot of espresso requires grinding into the portafilter, tamping it down, locking it into the espresso machine, and pressing the button to start the water. The Starbucks machine does all of this with the touch of one button – it also stores the coffee grounds as compressed pucks in a drawer that needs to be emptied only twice a day. This saves a lot of time for baristas, especially when there’s a long line. The shots themselves are very good for an automatic machine. But these machines cost about ten thousand dollars apiece compared to about three thousand for a quality manual commercial grade espresso machine. That’s a lot of money to recoup at about two dollars for a double shot. Not to mention that Starbucks also pays its employees a higher wage than most coffee shops because they don’t make as much tips working at Starbucks. The cost of operating a Starbucks is astronomical. But the quality is there.

Even with the cost of these machines, Starbucks doesn’t charge much more than your local coffeeshop. In fact, sometimes it’s cheaper. And the way they recoup these costs? Frappucinos. A Frappucino is a blended coffee beverage that most people find quite tasty. But what the hell is actually inside it? Standard Frappucino recipe relies on using a Frappucino Base and ice, along with a pump of the flavor syrup of your choice. And the Frappucino Base? First you add instant coffee to water. Then you pour in a box of Frappucino Mix, which lists its first ingredients as “Milk Ingerdients.” The amount of high fructose corn syrup and strange processed food materials in these things is scary. And the best part? They will run you about four bucks a piece. It doesn’t cost barely anything to make one, but you better believe that they’re going to overcharge you for it. And because the Frappucino base is already extremely sweetened, the recipe only calls for one pump of syrup even though you’ll be charged the full thirty cents. A Tall drink usually gets three, a Grande four, and a Venti gets five pumps.

If you like cold drinks, try an iced latte or a mocha. It won’t taste as sweet, but here’s the best part – if you pay for syrup, you can ask for as much as you want as long as it’s only one type! Standard Starbucks practice is to charge for each type of syrup used not how much of each. You can avoid this by asking for half and half – if you like the taste of Vanilla and Hazelnut, ask for half Vanilla and half Hazelnut – this will help from being overcharged.

Other tips for money saving:

Soy milk costs more. Organic milk costs more. They’re tastier, but also cost more.

If you like the taste of espresso with a chai latte, ask them to ring it up as a latte with chai syrup added instead of a chai latte with espresso added. Espresso costs about fifty cents to add a shot while syrup is only thirty cents. If you get a Grande latte, you already get two shots and only add thirty cents for the chai syrup. If you get a Grande chai latte and add two shots, you’re adding about a dollar to the drink.

Try to do the math – sometimes it’s cheaper to ask to be rung up as a larger size instead of a small size with an added shot. It never hurts to ask – Starbucks employees are people too and probably don’t want to overcharge you.

Don’t use the drive-thru. If you use the drive thru, every single modifier gets added on the computer, otherwise your drink won’t be made right. Usually asking for soy milk as a creamer is free, and you can ask them to put whipped cream on anything for free as well, but if you go through the drive-thru you bet your sweet bippy you’ll get charged for it.

And finally – try it without a flavoring! Milk is inherently sweet because of lactose and only gets sweeter once steamed. You don’t always need a vanilla latte and after ten drinks it’s like you’re getting a free Tall latte! Once you get used to the flavor of espresso and milk, then you’re one step closer to order regular brewed coffee which is as cheap as you go.

However, if you’re a tea drinker you’re in luck. Hot and iced tea are just about the same price as coffee.

Study: Coffee Helps Women, But Not Men, Better Deal With Stress

While many of us tend to use caffeine, and specifically coffee, to help get going in the morning and to power us through stressful circumstances at work, a study suggests that caffeine may have more positive effects on women than on men, at least in situations where collaboration is required. The research published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology indicates that when women consume caffeinated coffee, they perform better under pressure in a stressful situation than men do.

Dr. Lindsay St. Claire, a lecturer at the University of Bristol, led the study with the goal of testing “whether increased caffeine consumption exacerbates stress and disrupts team performance.”

Her research team tested 64 male and female participants with an average age of 22, asking them to complete various puzzles, collaborative memory tasks and negotiation in same-sex pairs after drinking both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. The caffeinated version contained caffeine levels equivalent to three standard cups of coffee.

Researchers found that men’s memory perfomance under stress, after consuming caffeine, was substantially lower than that of women and that women, under the influence of caffeine, could solve puzzles 100 seconds faster than their caffeinated male counterparts. Researchers theorize that when under stress, men tend to behave more aggressively in a group situation; whereas, women are more likely to collaborate.

Dr. Eric Braverman, director of PATH Medical in New York. and author of “Younger (Sexier) You,” says he isn’t convinced this small study holds weight. “Caffeine raises dopamine and can help you meet the needs of stressful situations,” he told AOL Health, but whether or not it can help women handle stress better than men, he says, is entirely dependent on the group of people being studied.

Braverman says women typically do not handle stress as well as men, particularly women who are middle-aged or older. He says, at this age, women lose bone and muscle mass, which help power coping skills in the brain.

While Braverman admits caffeine can provide a boost to anyone’s ability to cope with stress if not consumed in excessive amounts, he adds, “studies on resilience support the fact that women cannot sustain high levels of caffeine without negative effects.”

Nevertheless, Braverman thinks studies on the links between stress and caffeine are important. “Our society uses caffeine all day long,” he says. “It’s all over the place. It’s important for us to understand its effects.”

Source: AOL Health

Mobile-Payment-Starbucks

Starbucks now with Mobile Payments

Starbucks has now made it even easier to pay for your coffee; by using your phone. The mobile payment service will be available to all Blackberry, iPhone, and iPod Touch owners by downloading an application that will allow them to load a bar-code directly into their device. The service is based on the company’s existing mobile application, which allows customers to manage their Starbucks card balances with their phone.

The service has been launched in 6,800 stores today (1000 here in the US). Look for people paying for coffee with their phones, and hopefully the line moving just a bit quicker.

Starbucks-Trenta-Size

31-ounce “Trenta” Size Coming to Starbucks

Starbucks Corp will roll out its biggest drink size yet — the 31-ounce “Trenta” — in all of its U.S. coffee shops by May 3, the company said on Sunday

The new size will be available only for iced coffee, iced tea and iced tea lemonade drinks in the United States. The Trenta is 7 ounces larger than Starbucks’ “Venti” cup for iced drinks, which currently is its largest size on offer.

Starbucks is going for quality: Baristas Told No More Than Two Drinks

Starbucks Corp. is telling its harried baristas to slow down—which may result in longer lines.

Amid customer complaints that the Seattle-based coffee chain has reduced the fine art of coffee making to a mechanized process with all the romance of an assembly line, Starbucks baristas are being told to stop making multiple drinks at the same time and focus instead on no more than two drinks at a time—starting a second one while finishing the first, according to company documents reviewed recently by The Wall Street Journal.

Baristas are also supposed to steam milk for each drink rather than steaming an entire pitcher to be used for several beverages. Other instructions include rinsing pitchers after each use; staying at the espresso bar instead of moving around; and using only one espresso machine instead of two, according to the documents.

Starbucks says the changes—which it expects to roll out nationwide and across Canada by next month—are part of its ongoing effort to make stores operate more efficiently. But some baristas worry it will create longer lines.

The new methods have “doubled the amount of time it takes to make drinks in some cases,” according to Erik Forman, a Starbucks barista in Bloomington, Minn., who says his store began making drinks under the new guidelines last week. Longer lines have resulted, says Mr. Forman, who is a member of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union.

Tyler Swain, a barista in Omaha, Neb., who is also a member of the union, worries how he will keep up with volume if he can only complete one drink at a time. “While I’m blending a frappuccino, it doesn’t make sense to stand there and wait for the blender to finish running, because I could be making an iced tea at the same time,” he says. His store has yet to adopt the changes.

“As with any new behavior, it will take time for baristas to become comfortable with the new method,” said Starbucks spokeswoman Trina Smith.

Starbucks insists the new procedures will eventually hasten the way drinks are made and lead to fresher, hotter drinks. Steaming milk for individual drinks, for example, “ensures the quality of the beverage in taste, temperature and appearance,” the company documents state, while focusing on just two drinks at a time “reduces possibility for errors.”

When asked whether changes have created longer lines in the test markets, Starbucks spokeswoman Ms. Smith said she didn’t have “that level of detail.”

The documents acknowledge that customers ordering no-foam lattes may have to wait longer for their drinks, and instructs employees to “let the customer know their beverage will take a little longer and may be out of order due to the time it takes the milk to settle and the foam to rise to the top (approximately 60 seconds).”

Customers have indicated that the quality of espresso drinks at Starbucks is “average” and that the beverages are inconsistently prepared from barista to barista and from store to store, the documents say.

Over the last few years, Starbucks has been applying to the coffee counter the kind of “lean” manufacturing techniques car makers have long used as a way to streamline production, eliminate wasteful activity and speed up service. The company has deployed a “lean team” to study every move its baristas make in order to shave seconds off each order.

That team discovered that many stores kept beans below the counter, leading baristas to waste time bending over to scoop beans, so those stores ended up storing the beans in bins on the top of the counter. To boost the freshness of the coffee and to bring back some of the “theater” that had been lost, the baristas also started grinding beans for each batch of coffee, instead of grinding the day’s beans in the morning.

Baristas say it can take anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute to make an espresso-based drink, depending on the complexity of the drink and the barista’s skill. In the documents, Starbucks says one of the goals of the new drink-making method is to produce beverages “at a more consistent pace.”

The company has made numerous changes to its business amid the economic downturn, including closing underperforming stores, trimming its number of bakery suppliers, boosting the perks of its loyalty-card program and introducing new varieties of its Via instant coffee. The cost-cutting and customer-improvement paid off in the company’s last quarter.

Earnings at Starbucks rose 37% while revenue for the quarter ended June 27 increased to $2.61 billion from $2.4 billion in the year-earlier period. Sales at U.S. stores open at least a year rose 9% in the quarter thanks to more customer visits and higher average spending.

At the same time that Starbucks has been on the upswing, it has been grappling with rising costs for raw coffee beans. The company recently said it would raise prices on more complex drinks in response.

source:wsj.com

Starbucks Customers Actually Cares About Calories

A new study indicates that calorie counts in restaurants are often incorrect: “Restaurant meals average 18 percent more calories than are listed on menus. However, some individual restaurant items had up to 200 percent more calories than their stated caloric values.” Still, that’s not stopping Bloomberg from touting the results of another new study, which found that Starbucks customers are ordering 6 percent fewer calories since calorie posting went into effect.

Longtime customers have lowered their calorie intake by 26 percent. Meanwhile, the changes haven’t made a difference in Starbucks profits (in fact, an item in the Orange County Register indicates that Starbucks will introduce a line of lower-calorie items next week). Given that a previous study of fast-food joints in poor neighborhoods showed that the calorie postings didn’t do squat, this may indicate that calorie consciousness is more prevalent on the higher end of the fast-food spectrum.

Read more: Starbucks Customers Actually Give a Damn About Calorie Postings — Grub Street New York