"Amid customer complaints that the Seattle-based coffee chain has reduced the fine art of coffee making to a mechanized process with all the romance of an assembly line, Starbucks baristas are being told to stop making multiple drinks at the same time and focus instead on no more than two drinks at a time." Wall Street Journal article (Oct. 13, 2010)
This conversation of balancing speed of service with soul of service isn't a new one for Starbucks.
Just a few years ago, Starbucks closed all its North American stores to retrain its Baristas on the "Art of Espresso" in hopes of finding a better speed/soul service balance. And today, the Wall Street Journal reports Starbucks is rolling out revised drink-making procedures designed to "make stores operate more efficiently."
Seems to me the issue here is less about being efficient and more about being effective in serving better tasting drinks to customers.
Former Starbucks President Jim Alling once said, "As much as we want to meet people's desire to produce beverages quickly, we also realize that people want a smile with their drink, that they don't want to feel rushed."
If there is one lesson Starbucks has learned in its nearly 40-years of being in business, it's taste will always trump speed. Starbucks customers are paying a higher-price for a higher-quality coffee experience than can be found at a quick service restaurant (McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts, etc.) People will wait for a better-tasting cup of coffee.