Starbucks Slowdown

Proof that inefficiency is not only for government: Starbucks ordered baristas to slow down this month, capping coffee production at 2 drinks at a time.

The coffee giant seems wary of losing its “Italian cafe” vibe to the all-American fast-food mentality. Customers complain that Starbucks’s coffee is “average” tasting and “inconsistent” across stores.

“While I’m blending a frappuccino, it doesn’t make sense to stand there and wait for the blender to finish running, because I could be making an iced tea at the same time,” Tyler Swain, a barista in Omaha, Neb., told The Wall Street Journal.

Though earnings are up 37 percent in the quarter ending June 27, Starbucks has implemented a number of earnings-boosting measures throughout the recession like loyalty card perks and added varieties of instant coffee.

The WSJ reports:

Starbucks insists the new procedures will eventually hasten the way drinks are made and lead to fresher, hotter drinks. Steaming milk for individual drinks, for example, “ensures the quality of the beverage in taste, temperature and appearance,” the company documents state, while focusing on just two drinks at a time “reduces possibility for errors.”

Quality tends to trump quantity, especially for a corporation built on the concept of indulging in small daily luxury. Yet longer lines will deter the very customers — willing to drink “average,” “inconsistent” coffee — responsible for Starbucks’s profitable last quarter.

Corporations are driven by profit longevity alone — godspeed to Starbucks for tweaking a winning model. We’ll look forward to longer lines and hopefully more delicious coffee to follow!