DEAR HOWARD SCHULTZ: Fix This Appalling Starbucks Design Flaw Now

starbucks barista

Photo: ASurroca on Flickr

Dear Howard Schultz,I can be silent no longer.

Your new Tazo tea bags are appalling — they rip and drip and make a mess of everything, because they are badly designed.

As CEO, you need to order Starbucks to go back to the paper Tazo teabags you were using prior to 2009.

In that year, roughly, Starbucks switched from using paper Tazo tea bags with finely ground tea leaves to silk tea bags and full-leaf tea. The logic of that decision was that the new tea bags brewed tea better than the old ones.

But what you gained in brewing you’re now losing in customer goodwill. And it’s hurting your brand, which is supposed to be about expertise in tea and coffee.

The new teabags have two design flaws:

  1. The string wicks the tea quickly up and out of the cup, leaving it dripping down off the tag and onto your hand or table top.
  2. The hot water almost immediately weakens the bag itself, and the string frequently rips a hole in the bag when you try to lift the bag out of the cup.

Here’s the evidence:


Photo: Jim Edwards / BI

Look at the mess this is making on my desk. For $2.67, the price of a grande Earl Grey in Manhattan, I expect the drink to stay in the cup. Instead, I keep a stack of napkins at my desk just to mop up your product every morning.

Here’s problem No. 2, the disintegrating tea bag:


Photo: Jim Edwards / BI

It’s difficult to make out but there’s a string-shaped hole where the string meets the bag. Often, the string rips from the bag completely and falls back into the cup from a height, causing boiling water to splash all over the place.

Here’s the result of the two flaws after both have occurred in the same cup:


Photo: Jim Edwards / BI


I’m not the only person who’s noticed this. In the comments section of your online store, your own customers have complained that the bags are faulty. Cortez B warns:

The product itself is great – a wonderful blend of flavours, and one of my
favourite Earl Greys to date. However, the string on the sachet is another matter. Just as
a warning to all the avid tea drinkers out there that hate having a few pieces of tea leaf
floating around: be careful how you pick the tea bag out of the tea. The string will
easily rip out of the bag, and tear a hole up the side. Once again, it’s a great
product, but be careful how you hold it.

This sounds trivial but it’s not. Starbucks has but one job in the universe: to supply me with caffeine in a cup every morning. It’s not brain surgery. Yet, you’ve taken the simplest drink possible — flavored boiling water — and managed to turn it into an engineering fiasco.

So, Mr. Schultz, I call on you to end our nation’s long national teabag nightmare and return to the old teabag design. You know, the one that actually worked.

Yours sincerely,

Etc., etc.

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