Secrets of the Starbucks Coffee Nazi

How Hard Could It Be?: Good System, Bad System - Starbucks - company culture

One morning last week, I walked into a Starbucks on 58th Street at precisely the peak of the morning rush, to discover that this particular Starbucks had deployed a new type of employee. This employee wore a radio headset. Her main job was to go down the line of people waiting to order and ask them what they wanted in advance of their arriving at the cash register. There, they would be asked to repeat their order before paying and finally joining the line of customers waiting for their drinks to appear.

This premature order taking did not appear to improve the store's productivity. The cashiers still had to take the same number of orders, wait for the customers to fiddle with their purses for the correct change, and so forth. The coffee producers -- known theatrically in the trade as baristas -- still had to make the same number of drinks. The biggest benefit of the procedure, I thought, was that the barista got started on a drink a few seconds earlier, so people got their orders filled a little bit faster, even though the overall rate of output for the store was the same.

A network engineer would say this was a situation of "same bandwidth, lower latency" and then probably launch into a story about how the post office, mailing millions of DVDs (and a few letters) around the world every day, has the highest bandwidth of any network on earth, with far greater capacity than the biggest fiber-optic backbone, but with high latency -- so you wouldn't want to use it for, say, telephony. And this would be extremely hilarious to the network engineer. That's the kind of joke they tell.

I recommend the entire article. It goes into some detail about what the Coffee Nazi's job is and why such an annoying person would exist in your friendly neighborhood Starbucks.

I recommend you just tell her you prefer to make your decision when you reach the register. You will probably have to repeat this statement a number of times - in fact, possibly until you reach the register - by which time you will have totally fubar'd her system.

Oh, and Starbucks posts its first quarterly loss.
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