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Should Starbucks slow down?
In response to quality complaints, the company is ordering baristas to brew each cup less hastily. Will the result be tastier lattes or just longer lines?
Starbucks baristas have been ordered to focus on quality over quantity.
Starbucks baristas have been ordered to focus on quality over quantity.
Corbis
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acing complaints that its coffee crafting has become an assembly-line production, Starbucks is ordering its baristas to slow down. Starting next month, they will make no more than two drinks at a time, and steam milk for each individual drink rather than by the pitcher — all to ensure "the quality of the beverage in taste, temperature and appearance." One employee tells The Wall Street Journal that the new policy has "doubled the amount of time it takes to make drinks in some cases," but the company insists the plan will ultimately lead to quicker, hotter, fresher fare. Really? (Watch a local report about slowing down at Starbucks)

What a bad idea: While the company claims that the new mocha mandates will eventually speed up the caffeine-procuring process, we're doubtful, says Paula Forbes at Eater. It's quite "probable" that the new policy will "lead to longer lines, crankier customers, and invariably, you being late for something." This all "seems like backwards logic to us...."
"Starbucks baristas too fast, told to slow down"

Yes, slower could be better: "If it means a better quality drink more consistently delivered," says April Taylor at The Motley Fool, this may be just what the company needs. In 2003, McDonald's resuscitated its brand by stepping back and focusing on food quality, and Starbucks could do the same. "It seems to be on the right track."
"3 reasons a slower Starbucks is better"

But what do people really want from the Starbucks brand: Slowing down the process "isn't such a bad idea in theory," says Kim Conte at The Stir. The traditional Italian espresso-bar experience can be "exciting and theatrical" but the reality is that "people go to Starbucks out of habit and because they want their coffee in a hurry — not because they want to see a good show...."
"Starbucks baristas told to be as inefficient as possible"

And local, independent coffee shops will always be superior: My local Starbucks feels like a "glorified McDonald's" says Steve Knox in The Janesville Gazette. The coffee company got too big, too fast, and it's too late to reverse the damage. "Sorry Starbucks... Even with your time studies and your strong stock price, the local coffee shops have maintained a nice, quiet niche. A niche that might get a bit larger once impatient Starbucks customers walk out and give another place a shot."
"Starbucks is too slow at slowing the pace"

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