Thursday, June 19, 2008

Weird Trends

Since everybody's talking about The Economy, I feel that I should get on the bandwagon (though I don't like bandwagons) and tell you how The Economy is affecting my Starbucks.

Actually, I don't know. I'm only kidding. This is a barista's-eye perspective. All I can do is tell you about The Line these days.

Last week was hot--like the time I went to India--at least, as far as I remember. Only it didn't last as long. I don't think I have ever brewed as much iced coffee consistently in my entire life. The ice machine could scarcely keep up with the need for ice. There were lots of Frappuccinos . . . but not as many as there were iced coffees. Which makes me think that either people are a lot more refined in their tastes than I thought, or they are going crazy for an iced drink to make them feel better, but they can't quite find it in their wallets to fork out for a whole Frappuccino.

Apart from the hour-long iced-coffee-extravaganza each of the hot days, no one came in at all. It could have been that everyone was at the beach or something . . . but most schools didn't get out here until this week, so I find it a little unlikely.

This week, on the other hand? Yesterday, it was as if everybody had just found an extra $20 in their jeans pocket that morning, and all decided that the most fulfilling way they could spend it was to visit Starbucks--all at the same time--and buy three drinks a piece. Today was much of the same, but they were obviously all spending the change of the day before, because we didn't sell a whole lot of lattes, but we went through more hot brewed coffee than I've ever seen.

I'm sure none of this actually interests you, but when you spend six hours of your eight-hour shift "spoodling" coffee, you'd feel the need to comment, too. (I might be exaggerating a little bit about that hourly ratio, but not too much.)

Also, this just in: although most Starbucks stores are still only brewing a "bold" option until noon, our store--yes, ours--is now being permitted, yea verily commanded, to brew it until 5 p.m., along with the usual Pike Place Roast. People will love us even more now . . .

8 comments:

Annelise said...

Actually, I was wondering how business was at your store, after reading about Starbucks loss in profits in the last quarter (along with eateries in general). Glad to know you have generally loyal customers! :-)

Barry Pike said...

"Bold" is an option with a time limit? If I ran things, the variations would be "Bold", "Bolder", and "Boldissimo". 24/7.

Wimpy coffee is worse than no coffee. Most of the time I have to skip the coffee at church for just this reason. It's bad coffee to start with, then weakly brewed by the gallon. I bring my own from home.

Jenn said...

Mom--yes--it's actually been a little tight; we're having to shorten hours again (don't worry; I'm still okay), but I think we're doing surprisingly well, considering. People still tip, even. (I mean, the ones who always tipped anyway.)

Barry--it's about roasting time, not strength of brew. Starbucks has various blends and roasts, and since the world-stopping revamp a few months ago, we've been brewing the Pike Place Roast (which is approximately a "medium") all day, and a "bold" option until noon. Our high-volume brewed-coffee store therefore had many many dissatisfied customers, who like a darker roast. I think Starbucks is trying to deal with the bad economy and the coffee shortage it is itself creating, frankly. Anyway. It does mean less waste. I think. But yeah, it's stellar to have the bold option again for longer in the day. But we brew both at exactly the same strength.

Jenn said...

I should say, though, that I'm totally with you on "wimpy coffee is worse than no coffee." I avoid church coffee, too.

Christianne said...

i love hearing your updates from starbucks land. kirk and i have been wondering how it's going for all of you in there. we certainly haven't been patronizing as often, but that could also have something to do with just pure busyness.

by the way, something i wonder every single time i stand at the counter or sit in the drive thru at starbucks is how you guys fare (and feel about ) tips these days when it seems everyone pays for everything via debit or credit card. slide and glide is so much easier than carrying cash. i haven't carried cash in years. is this a bummer for you guys? (my codespeak here is, do the baristas inwardly groan and roll their eyes and hate me every time they see i'm pulling out my card to pay instead of cash?)

Jenn said...

Christianne--good (and thoughtful) question!

Frankly, if I didn't get tips, I couldn't afford to support myself. But I don't think that's what I automatically think of when a customer pulls out a credit card (although if I'm particularly broke or the customer is particularly high-maintenance I might). Fortunately, a lot of our customers are actually regulars enough and have a genuinely vested enough interest in us to carry a small amount of cash on purpose to tip us. (This is not true across the board, though, and usually they're the customers buying the cheapest or easiest-to-make drinks, oddly enough.) We also have some amazing people who give us a $20-50 Christmas tip.

Christianne said...

wow! those are great stories. i love learning that regular customers are invested in you guys, that they carry a small amount of cash just for that purpose, and that they give you christmas bonuses! that is awesome. thanks for sharing.

Jenn said...

This is an interesting post, because I just commented to my husband the other day that the economy must not be THAT bad because the drive-up line at one of our many, many area Starbucks still snaked all the way around the building, and is doing so every time I drive by. But maybe that's misleading. . .

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