Starbucks' New Bakery Has Had A Demoralizing Effect On Baristas

Starbucks baristaStefan Wermuth/ReutersA barista prepares a drink at Starbucks’ Vigo Street branch in Mayfair, central London.

Starbucks’ newly
expanded Boulange bakery is stressing out workers.
We spoke to several Starbucks employees about the transition to the new model, which requires every pastry be served hot.

Since the Boulange pastries were added this summer, Starbucks stores have started implementing a “playbook” method where employees are assigned one specific task they repeat over and over during the course of their shift.

One Boston-area barista who recently left her job says the new method ruined her favourite part about working there: interacting with customers.

“The relationships with customers has sort of disappeared,” said the former barista, who wished to remain anonymous. “It has become more important that we do things the ‘right way’ while also being really fast.”

The system has also made communication between employees more difficult, said a New York barista who also asked to remain anonymous.

“A lot of orders are going wrong because the person preparing the pastries isn’t communicating with the person serving the coffee,” the barista said. “Sometimes, the order just gets lost.”

We’ve experienced this at two different New York City Starbucks stores recently, once receiving an incorrect order, and another time receiving nothing at all.

The new system goes against Starbucks’ roots as a place with great customer service, the Boston-area barista told us.

“Starbucks is losing every ounce of what makes it human,” the barista told us. “Instead of simply being a coffee shop, it’s trying to be everything for everyone.”

A Starbucks spokesman told us that the new system is meant to improve customer service.

“We want to create the best experience for our customers — and that includes things like improving the quality of the food,” the spokesman told us in a phone interview. “All food is served warm now and previously was not.”

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