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At Starbucks, there has always been a trade-off between fast and good. The best drinks at Starbucks require a fresh grinding of the beans, filling the espresso brewing cup (for lack of a better term,) the clunk-cluck of the cup to level the coffee, the twist of the heavy device into place as it is readied for the aromatic brew. This process, this aroma made Starbucks famous. But it took time. To do the work twice as fast, as crowds grew, they needed twice an many baristas and machines, so the made the business decision to automate. Now espresso “shots” come out of a “two in one” machine that grinds and brews.
Howard D. Schultz complains that the breakfast sandwiches cover up the smell of the coffee. He is right, so say goodbye to breakfast sandwiches. But it’s also these new machines. The 3-hour training session last night was a brilliant stroke. It told the public “we care.” But saying as he did in his training video “This is about the love and compassion and commitment that we all need to have for the customer,” is 21st century marko-babble. What he should have said was “passion and commitment” to the product. Make a great product and customers will line up.
Were Mr. Schultz to toss out all of the new automated brewing machines — putting them at the curb – he might no have to close 100 stores. And he might even be able to keep a breakfast sandwich or two.