Starbucks’ evolution from Seattle coffee house to corporate giant has caused hand-wringing in recent years as it has tried to retain its neighborhood coffee-shop feel while simultaneously covering the globe. When Howard Schultz resumed his role as CEO in January 2008, he initiated changes that were meant to bring the company back to its roots—grinding coffee beans in stores, menu revamps, and even unbranded “local” stores.
Starbucks latest change was announced last week when baristas were asked to focus on making no more than two drinks at a time. Such edicts, while admirable in theory, may ignore the reality of a modern-day Starbucks. Baristas are already complaining that the new requirements will limit their ability to deal with long lines. Debates between quality and quantity are not new nor are they limited to Starbucks. Different chains have landed on different sides of the debate – who is right? What do customers actually prefer?