This is based on a reply on a Barista facebook group complaining of baristi from Starbucks joining in…
Apologies for the slightly disjointed nature of this blessay it wasn’t originally meant to be as large as it is, but I had to vent my spleen as it were when i got started
Going back to the Starbuck’s Baristi though I agree to a point, I think Starbucks have done good in their time, in bringing espresso coffee into the main stream, and until about 5 years ago they still made drinks in group machines rather than bean to cup. And if you ask nicely you can get a true macchiato from them. I’m really hoping their new direction will get them back to leading the public to expect better coffee because at the end of the day thats better for all of us.
Their baristi are a product of their company, I would imagine its a lot easier to get a job in Starbucks when you leave school than it is to get a job in an independent coffee shop, where a member of staff’s training cost is a lot higher in relation to income, as is often the trust that must be placed in the individual. They tell their staff “this is a macchiato” and they try and set themselves up as the all knowing font for coffee expertise, and if their baristi are browsing groups like this and are seeing there are different ways of doing things and their passion for coffee could be directed better (Its hopeful but I’m sure there must be some passionate and potentially brilliant baristi within their ranks) then they might say to themselves “Well if I can’t do better coffee here then i might try somewhere else and see what I can do”.
But they need to change a few things in my view, to really make the best of their position, instead of having the “Espresso Blend” they could improve their quality and educate by having a rotating blend, seasonal espresso dependant on which regions are shipping out coffee at that time and dropping their “100% Arabica”. This is going to be a bit contentious, but in my view in a 21oz latte you need robusta. Rather than a 10% Fairtrade mix which they currently have, paying a fair price for good quality robusta would help farmers a hell of a lot more.
Also they need to stop acting like independents are the enemy and be embracing of them, they alienate the coffee community by doing this and I would be more willing to part with money.
I would also love for them to go back to using grouped machines and having trained and talented baristi rather than having stores that could be staffed by 2 monkeys.
The last thing which they can do to improve it is to close some stores. I know it sounds backwards, but if there is a starbucks for every McDonalds then they get associated in the same way and when you can get a coffee from McDs for 1/2 the price then its a no brainer.
At the end of the day, the huge majority of the general public will associate lattes and cappuccinos with Starbucks and to ignore this is bad for the industry as a whole, they’re the face of coffee and changing that is nigh-on impossible.
Though I would love it if with every person on the street mentioning a cappuccino brought memories of 6floz thick walled cups of silky coffee, at the moment its a 16floz paper cup with a latte topped with froth/foam and then drenched in chocolate powder and filled with as much sugar as can saturate the milk and changing that is a slow burn, but it is slowly happening.
If Starbucks and their contempories were to go bust tomorrow, 3rd wave coffee shops would not get any bigger, the crowds would just move to McDonalds, and Krisy Kreme and any number of other food service outlets that have capitolised on “Premium Coffee”. Or maybe I don’t have enough faith in the general public…
Thats just my two cents of course