Starbucks, Independent cafe, and Passion: and an interesting observation

I was in a Starbucks this afternoon to say hello to a Store Manager (a friend, great manager and passionate about coffee). A customer made his order and we visited a little bit inline. When I asked him what line of business he was in, he replied he's in the coffee business. He owns the rights to a chain of drive-thru coffee shops in Colorado. I've been to one of his stores and their espresso was only marginal (OK, honestly, it was really flat and tasteless) so I decided to share an observation with him.

"Last time I was in there, the espresso had no creama on it. It really has little flavor without it and I imagine the machines are adjustable to correct for that?" His reply, "Yes, we have had challenges with that. We have to adjust the machine once a month." ONCE A MONTH??? When I worked at Starbucks, my Startucks, we tried to adjust ours once an hour! Once a month adjustment would be like setting your grinder and leaving it for the next week or so? YIKES!

Moments later, I met a Starbucks barista sporting a newish looking black apron, the apron of a coffee master. We talked while waiting for our drinks as he was ending his shift and leaving. I asked him about his favorite coffee (Kenyan). We started talking about coffee and he confided he wants to learn more about coffee, loves it, felt the coffee master program gave him a good background and is really keen to learn more. His eyes sparkled with enthusiasm as he related this. This was not a normal Starbucks Barista, one reduced to a button pusher with little knowledge of a quality shot or great milk!

He hadn't heard about the specialty coffee industry, coffeegeek, barista exchange or any number of other places available for information. So I helped and, hopefully, set him on a path that will feed his passion while furthering his coffee knowledge.

I remember a time when people were getting into the drive-thru business because there was so much money to be made. I met a lot of people interested in the potential profits but with little knowledge or passion for coffee.

And then I stumble into this young passionate barista working for Starbucks eager to learn more and become a better barista. There really is no combination better than passion, enthusiasm, ability to connect with people and the knowledge necessary to be a great barista. I find it so rarely in any of my local coffee shops!

Just felt a desire to share. Cheers!

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Thanks for the post Larry. I, too, have experienced some eager baristas at *bucks. I never know what happens to them when they suddenly disappear. Part of me hopes that they are being promoted to managing other stores. I hope to have my store fully staffed with those baristas when I open.
that last statement is sooo true...when you find someone to connect with, in just a few short minutes you can create a relationship for life. Thanks for sharing that.

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