Starbucks locations close for better joe

By Cielestia Calbay & Greg Toumassian

Starbucks junkies were out of luck Tuesday when 7,100 Starbucks
nationwide temporarily shut down from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to
train 135,000 baristas to perfect the “art of espresso.”

This is Starbucks’ first time attempting a comprehensive
training session.

Designed to promote enthusiasm, the program trained employees to
effectively use the company’s automatic espresso machines and to
focus more on quality and customer service rather than sales and
figures.

According to a Starbucks corporate memo, the in-store training
session aimed to provide “a renewed focus on espresso
standards.”

“The purpose of the training session is to move Starbucks away
from its fast-food place stereotype,” said Erik Farmer, a Starbucks
barista and second-year mechanical engineering student. “We want to
emphasize quality [service] by creating hand-crafted items and
establishing personal relationships with customers.”

According to Farmer, the program was a chance for employees to
move away from the profit perspective by reflecting on the way they
create their drinks, as well as focusing on promoting genuine
customer satisfaction.

“As the company grew, the mindset aimed toward making lines
quicker and raising sales,” said Farmer.

“Art of Espresso” focused on perfecting beverage techniques such
as how to properly steam milk and pull shots at the correct
temperature. In addition, baristas were trained to increase
communication and recognition with their customers through various
role-playing activities.

The “Art of Espresso” touched on much more than just the
technical aspect. Employees acquired skills that can be contributed
outside the Starbucks world, according to Yvette Luna, a Starbucks
shift supervisor.

“The training taught employees how to be part of a team by
working closer together,” said Luna. “They were able to coach and
reassure one another during the process.”

The “Art of Espresso” seems to be providing positive outcomes
for Starbucks, which may be well worth the three-hour duration.

Employees at the Starbucks on Rio Rancho Road have received
compliments from customers who have noticed differences in taste.
This has resulted in an estimated 30 percent increase in tips,
according to Farmer.

“This program has definitely made a much stronger impact than
previous trainings,” said Luna.

The extra training is among the changes made by Howard Schultz,
Starbucks’ CEO, in response to the 42 percent drop in Starbucks
shares.

Naturally, competing coffee joints saw the Starbucks shut-down
as an opportunity to draw in the number of people in need of their
afternoon dose of caffeine.

Dunkin’ Donuts, for example, offered small lattes, cappuccinos
and espresso drinks for a promotional price of 99 cents Tuesday
from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Coffee Klatch, a local competitor in Rancho Cucamonga and San
Dimas, decided to take its Starbucks celebration plan to a higher
level by giving away free coffee at its two locations during the
three-hour closure.

Its Web site encouraged customers to “taste expertly crafted
espresso beverages and exclusive coffees from exotic locales.”

Starbucks locations close for better joe

Allen Chen/The Poly Post

Starbucks locations close for better joe

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