I think maybe the company is aiming at the wrong target here:
Inside the 20,000-square-foot space called the Tryer Center, baristas working in a mock-up of a Starbucks cafe walked back and forth between refrigerators, blenders and syrups to make a single blended coffee topped with cold foam and caramel drizzle. They asked if the company could build kitchens that bring the equipment closer together and make syrup pumps, milk dispensers and ice bins that work better.
At the Tryer Center recently, barista Lisa Koss demonstrated the steps required to create one popular drink, an Iced Caramel Macchiato. Ms. Koss first dispensed shots from the espresso machine at the hot-bar section of the cafe, then crossed the floor to whip cold foam in a blender. She walked back to the hot bar to collect the espresso shots and grab milk from a refrigerator. She headed back to the cold bar for the foam, bent down to scoop ice, then poured the drink together. It took about three minutes to make. Other popular drinks require even more steps.
Yeah all of that sounds very strategy-intensive and corporately important and also not at all what Starbucks should be worried about.
They should be worried that their brewed coffee tastes like the beans were roasted in a 12,000-degree oven.
That's just the way it is; their drip coffee is burnt, bitter, and lame.
Now you might argue that Starbucks is not in the "coffee" business per se, they're in the "beverage" business – one in which drinks like lattes, Frappuccinos and other dairy-forward orders make the big bucks.
To be honest, Starbucks's milk-based drinks are not very good. They're either too sweet or too milk-heavy (or both). Their one virtue is that they taste the same wherever you get them. But they don't taste very good, so that's not much of a payoff.
A coffee shop can only be as good as the coffee it serves, and Starbucks doesn't serve good coffee.
What they need to do is go back to the drawing board and start getting some beans into their shops that aren't roasted to death. Pick a nice light-bodied Pluma, a medium-bodied Colombian, maybe a Yirgacheffe or something like that.
I mean, anything but the flavorless, crispy burnt stuff.
Go on, Starbucks, get the ball rolling in your "Tryer Center" and start brewing stuff that doesn't look and taste like jet fuel!
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