Thursday, June 11, 2009

Am I The Pretentious One?

Today multiple customers pushed my buttons, (although that is typical on any nine hour shift). Most of them had to do with acting like I was ripping them off because of our prices.

Do customers honestly think I randomly generate those prices on the menu? I can see wanting to talk about the economy and lightly joking that all your money goes to starbucks but that was not the case today.

Today it was as if I was begging people to spend their hard earned money on what they deemed was not even worth it.


"I cant believe you charge seven dollars for two cups of coffee that are not even that good"

well actually its seven dollars for sugary espresso concoctions. Which anyone can tell you milk costs a lot, thus milk + espresso is more expensive than a cup of coffee which will cost you 2.04 in DC.

And while I have not been to McDonalds lately, I am guessing ours is not much more than theirs.

"I just want a small cup of coffee, small... whatever YOU call it. small coffee and im not paying fivebucks for it... haha get it fivebucks starbucks?"

Im not stupid. I know tall means small. And really I love feeling patronized with the heightened emphasis on "whatever YOU call it." Please make me feel inferior before I help you, oh deserving customer.


Most of my interactions with the pretentious customers who made it seem like I am pretentious fell into one of the above two categories.

I wish I could say one of these things to them. But instead I bite my tongue and smile, why? my manager was watching, otherwise I was in a mood where I would have said "well you didnt get a cup of coffee you got a cup of sugar and milk" to the first customer. and "wow ive never heard that one before" to the second customer.

I swear my eye was twitching the entire shift.


Helpful pieces of advice....

  1. retail employees do not make the prices. its just stupid to think so.
  2. complaining about prices to retail employees does not solve anything. if you are pressed to have a meanful conversation, talk about the weather.
  3. if you cant afford starbucks coffee then DONT buy it! or better yet MAKE IT AT HOME!!!

A lot of people may disagree with my opinions because well if we all had that attitude we probably would halve our customer base. But it is true! If you are trying to be frugal why would you spend 15$ a day getting the same venti white mocha three times a day? I cant feel sympathy for you when you do that!!!!

(mostly because when my mother told me she would not give me money for my starbucks addiction when I was fifteen I got a job at starbucks to pay for it. and now four years later, after monthly payments of college tuition, the cabel bill, and rent I still have enough money to set aside for my addiction).


p.s. readers, my grandmother may be reading this site very soon when she figures out how to "download" it onto her computer, so I am going to make an effort to curse less, as it offends her eyes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Guest Post: Java Jane's Encounter with Crazy Mocha Lady

First Guest Post!!! So excited, although not about Java Jane's encounter with a crazy customer. Although it is pretty safe to say anyone who has worked a day in retail has a crazy story to tell.

Java Jane writes...


This took place about 6 years ago when I first started with the company and it still haunts me today.

At the time I was working drive thru and a $45,000/wk store. It was a cold busy december morning. I was the DTR person. Customer pulls up to the window.

We should call her C for crazy mocha Lady.
I will be J for Java Jane

J-Good morning, how are you today?

C does not respond which is typical

J-Alrighty I see that you ordered a venti extra hot mocha, that is $3.75

C-Make sure it's extra hot

J-No problem ( I then holler over to the bar partner to make sure it's extra hot)
I hand her her drink, here ya go, one venti extra hot mocha, do you need any napkins or anything?

C-No this is fine. Thanks

J-No problem. You have a great day and I will see you tomorrow

C then pulls forward just enough for the car behind her to pull to the window. I am able to greet the customer and then all of a sudden something comes flying at me and hits the wall next to me. I look and it's C standing at the window leaning on the ledge outside the window


J-I'm sorry it wasn't hot enough for you. But could you please tone your voice down or I will have to go get my manager


I dutifully go get her and she deals with her, remakes her drink and asks her to never come back again.

~Java Jane


I can totally relate Java Jane, extra-hot customers can be so picky some want their drink to be heated to specifically 215 degrees! Personally after suffering many burns I will not heat milk past 180, which on our lovely mastrena machine is automatic when you press extra hot.

I have had PLENTY of customers argue with me over this and I either do one of two things.

1. lie and say it is whatever degree they want their burnt milk to be (I know this is the easy way out but some people dont understand it is not safe for milk to be over 180)

2. lie and say I dont know how to do that on this machine (again another easy way out!!!)

This is one thing I stick to my guns on, and it is one thing I tell every barista I train, dont bother putting your safety on the line, the scars and blisters are not worth it! I would rather deal with twenty angry customers then fill out an incident report and have someone in pain.


Monday, June 8, 2009

a reason people quit

Well I am a certified learning coach... I have been for three years and I have lost count of how many partners I have trained since last year my store was the trainee mecca. Every new partner in the district came to my store to be trained by me.

Since the economy has put us in "a time of uncertainty" as Howard Shultz likes to say there have been no new hires really since well last summer. But today I oiled those rusty training gears and got back into coach mode to train a girl who goes to my school, majors in one of my minors and is the same age as me... only a few months older.

I am the youngest person in my store, as a side note. And yet I feel like I am the mother bear when it comes to certain things because well i'm the shift and ill be damned if i let anyone talk disrespectfully to my coworkers.

Today was N's first say on the bar. Lets call her N, for newbie (lame abbreviations, I know ill work on being clever). So after she finished the book work we started touring the bar. I showed her where we pour the beans, how to adjust the grind, how to taste the shots, how to calibrate the thermometers, how to empty the drawer with used espresso pucks, etc etc.

Just as the grand tour of where everything is... I was about to show her how to steam milk when a customer walked in and ordered a latte. perfect. so the milk wouldn't be wasted at least.

And this is what went down.

I = impatient bitch
N = newbie barista girl
V = val, in learning coach mode


So she has already placed her order at the register. mind you she did not wait in a line. so by starbucks standards i have 3 minutes to give her a drink. this drink will take one minute to make.

5 seconds to grab cup and mark
20 seconds to pull shot
20-30 seconds to steam milk
5 seconds to put on a lid and hand it off

now most of the time when the shot is pouring (we call it pulling), and steaming is done at the same time. so I can make this drink in 30-45 seconds actually. But it will take an extra 15, and you will see why.

V = ok N what is our first step?

N = I take the cup and mark it.

V = right and what is the marking

N = (5 second pause) L right?

V = yes but put that iced cup back and get a hot cup, if they dont say iced its automatically our default for hot. although in hot weather sometimes they forget. and sometimes we forget. *smiles*

(my style is to coach as someone who has been there, which all coaching styles should be, some coaches act like know it alls, like the girl who was supposed to coach me but didnt because she said i should know everything already since it was all covered in the book, those coaches should not be coaches since being behind the bar is a totally different experience than looking at a book with the answers in it)

N = ok and now I pull the shot

V = well first lets start steaming the milk.


V = ok we pour the milk up to here because that is 16oz for the grande cup. And this is how we steam, pull the lever down and this is how we aerate the mik (makes foam) ok now you hold the pitcher and aerate it a bit.

N = (goes around me to do that)

V = and now when we notice the thermometer is around 100 degrees i would press the button to pull the shot. and we press the double shot button because grandes get two.

N = Ok.. and...

I = (interrupting) how long is this going to take?

V = no longer than it usually does. Im just training her.

I = great so I am the guinnea pig

V = I assure you this will be one of the best lattes you have ever had ma'am N your barista here is doing an excellent job making some nice velvety foam to top your latte off with.

I = yes but she is taking a long time to steam the milk.

V = uh maam it takes the same amount of time to steam milk, it does not matter on the person.

I = whatever.

V = (turning to V) ok well now you are going to hold the foam back with this spoon and pour. and then put just a scoopful of foam on top.

N = (does that)

V = ok now call it out as a grande latte, thank the customer and say have a nice day.

N = (does that)

I = (rolls her eyes and takes her drink)

As she leaves the store explain to N

V = keep your expectations low with customers. assume they will never say have a nice day back to you, or smile, or anything actually. even if you try talking to them to strike up conversation. This way when you assume the worst, its actually uplifting to you when you have a genuine person come in here ask about our days as well after we ask about theirs. we do have customers like that.


I hope that lady noticed the sarcasm in my voice when I told N to thank her and tell her to have a nice day. because yes we are supposed to do that but if you are being bitchy you dont deserve that. Its not like I was gossiping with the new girl telling her about all the store drama. I was showing her how to make a latte as WE made the latte together.

And the audacity of that woman to say she is a guinnea pig? and make N feel inferior by suggesting she takes longer to steam milk or she is holding me back from making a better latte.

This is why some people quit after they have completed the book work, because they see how shitty customers can be. How they can make us feel inferior.

And I dont blame them, I would quit too, but the paycheck is nice as a shift supervisor, with the perks of free coffee.

xoxo val