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Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Barista Re-Education...
...In case those of you who are Starbucks junkies who read my blog haven't noticed, all Starbucks locations are going to be closed for three hours today. Every single one. I know most of you won't care about this, but you might find something interesting, so give it a shot. Pun intended.

It's for Barista Re-Education. No, they're not going to teach them better customer service skills. They're going to get them to be more familiar with the product. DH joked this morning that it's going to mean they'll all be wired when it's all over. I figure it's just their way to teach each one how to upsell customers.

They must have some products that aren't doing as well as they could be. I joked with my barista about the up-sell thing and she laughed. We both wondered how we're going to try and upsell someone like me who has tea and a single petite vanilla scone daily. Yes, single and not the triple pack that they have. Because all I need is that little bit of sugar and carb with my tea and I'm good for the day.

I could get the same from a granola bar, but I prefer the scone. But I digress.

According to the Starbucks gossip blog employees are going to learn how to better operate the espresso machines and the importance of pulling a perfect shot. And how to steam milk properly and how to wipe the steamers and equipment clean before switching to soy milk from regular milk. And believe me, there's great discussion in the comments on that particular blog about what's right and what's wrong according to the beverage manuals for the company.

Now, don't panic. They're closing in the early evening hours, so if you're a morning caffeine junkie you really don't have to worry. But if you're a late afternoon, on the way home Starbucks freak then you might want to make sure that you scoot in there before 5:30pm tonight. Yes, 5:30 - 8:30pm they will be closed - all across the country.

I know some of you could care less about this as I said at the top, but think about it. Starbucks is closing nationwide for 3 hours in every market in order to facilitate training of their employees. When is every other chain or independent coffee house going to have a chance like this to show what they've got? Think about the revenue blip that Peet's Coffee might get as a result for those who have to have their coffee and don't care if it's in a brown cup with red printing or a white cup with green printing? What about that little corner coffee shop that people are always meaning to try but never get around to because Starbucks is more convenient for them?

We could see a shift in the atmosphere for a few days. Doubtful, but we can wish for it right? The Starbucks brand is so strong and people are mesmerized by it (or can't escape from it) that they're not going to suffer except for one day's worth of receipts. And even so, there might not even be that effect as people go in before 5 to get what they want, and come in after 8 as well.

Even I hit Starbucks every day, but I wouldn't if my company actually had better water and tea on hand for me to use. I don't have anywhere to keep tea bags except straight out on my desk, and I wouldn't want one of my prized thermal mugs from the last place I worked getting snatched. I don't *think* that that would happen, but you never know. But that aside - if you know someone who is a Starbucks addict or are one yourself, be forewarned...

...and go get your fix early tonight.