Why work fo a Licensed Starbucks?

Starbucks has a lot of controversy, especially within the professional coffee world, and I understand that fully. I'm often looked down upon by both professionals and by Starbucks baristas alike because I worked for a licensed (almost like a franchise but not quite) Starbucks store. So I'm writing this blog to clear up what my purpose is for working at such a place, and my plans for the future.

First off, my paychecks are signed by the Kroger owned company Fred Meyer, a Northwestern grocery store. Starbucks monitors my kiosk to ensure that we meet the Starbucks standard, under the agreement that Fred Meyer may sell Starbucks Coffee with their name. So anything Starbucks decides to do with their company does not necessarily affect me, but often does. I realize a lot of you are professional baristas, competing and working for the niftiest coffee shops around, but you must understand this: Starbucks baristas hate licensed store baristas. It's the silliest thing; the misconception that licensed stores do not receive the same training. Oh contrare, we receive the exact same training, but just like any other store, it gets heavily diluted and information gets lost as it's passed over time. All in all, I'm generally looked down upon by everyone, but honestly, for no real reason.

I love coffee, I love tea. This is my first coffee job and it has really made me see that. I decided a while back that I wanted to spend my life working with coffee. I also wrote a life plan of sorts a few months ago with career, family, and educational objectives and it revolves around coffee and family. I've been crawling the internet for information, joining websites like this, subscribing to trade magazines and saving for classes and events. It all works up to my ultimate coffee goals, competing and owning a shop, which I agree, is far off from where I'm standing. So, why don't I find a job that will take me farther?

I work part time, 20 hours a week, and go to school to get my bachelors in business full time. On top of that and my family, I don't have a lot of free time. Working where I do allows me to be around coffee (and people I love, like my crew and regulars), without worrying about not putting enough time into my craft, it's low maintenance. Which is good for now, so I can focus and finish school. Not to mention my benefits; full health, dental and vision, frequent raises, and full union coverage. I also get discounts up to 20% on home, electronics, apparel and even 10% on groceries. This is perfect on a $750/mo budget.

So please, and I'm not assuming you are, do not treat me like a mindless idiot who thinks that pushing a button is what a barista is and does. I grasp the concept, and I try to learn more every day. I even purchased my own home set up (which turned out to be a peice of crap, but hey) to try to venture out. I know I have a lot to learn, but I think I deserve a little respect.

Everyone I've met on here has turned out to be wonderful, and I thank you all. I just wanted to share a few of my thoughts, and I thought this would be a good place for it. I'm positive I'm not the only person in the world that is in this position. I want to thank anyone who took the time to read this.

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Comment by Dale Harris on March 31, 2008 at 2:55pm
Hi Shanna,

Great post! - I began working in coffee with the goal of setting up my own shop, a dream I'm still pursuing with all my heart. My first role was as a p/t Barista in a franchise outlet on a motorway services for Costa, the UK's biggest chain (dependant on how many stores SB opened today!!!) and was also assumed to be less proficient than those in company operated stores. I had a good knowledge/love of coffee and thought this would be a good place to start, (esp as the nearest independant store with great coffee was an hours drive away and had little career prospects)- I was right and wrong in equal measure. Right in that you learn whether or not you love the role and the problems you face in it. Wrong because you have a great awareness of what else you can do with coffee and how you'd choose to do it if you had full control.
After a couple of years I was managing a chain owned store, quite successfully, winning internal barista events, but felt a long way from doing what I wanted to do - I loved my staff, my cusomers etc. but couldn't stand the fact that I'd never learn anything more about being a Barista there.

I now work as a trainer for a company that supplies mostly super-automatic mc to big contracts in the UK but we also distribute and support some beautiful traditional machines (Victoria Arduino) which I hope to have increasing involvement with and the company are supporting me through my first UKBC competition.

I'm still a fair way from my own cafe but feel i'm moving in the right direction and my passion, my skills and my knowledge are a hundred times greater than when I began and I am excited by how much more I have to learn!

Bit Field of Dream's'y but I believe that if you want it, and you put in the effort you'll get there and every Barista I've met so far reminds me how much I love making coffee with you all! enjoy your job and embrace what you can learn and be aware of what else is happening outside that one organisation- that's more than the majority of chain employed staff will ever do.
Comment by Matt Milletto on March 31, 2008 at 12:43pm
Hi Shanna,

You'd be surprised at how many people on this site, and in the industry in general, worked for the big green as their first job in coffee. (including a world barista champion and other industry professionals). Keep up the passion!

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