Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz: "Over the past ten years, in order to achieve the growth, development, and scale necessary to go from less than 1,000 stores to 13,000 stores and beyond, we have had to make a series of decisions that, in retrospect, have lead to the watering down of the Starbucks experience, and, what some might call the commoditization of our brand. Many of these decisions were probably right at the time....For example, when we went to automatic espresso machines, we solved a major problem in terms of speed of service and efficiency. At the same time, we overlooked the fact that we would remove much of the romance and theatre that was in play with the use of the La Marzocca machines. This specific decision became even more damaging when the height of the machines, which are now in thousands of stores, blocked the visual sight line the customer previously had to watch the drink being made, and for the intimate experience with the barista."
And while Schultz admirably accepts full responsibility for all this, you know who's really to blame? Those money-grubbing middle-managers: "'A lot of people they've brought into the company think they know what the Starbucks experience is, but what they're bringing are the tactics and types of business that they came from,' said a five-year store manager who asked not to be named....The manager said he thinks that having many layers of middle management distorts messages from Schultz, Chief Executive Jim Donald and other top executives."
That'll happen. But let's get back to the "intimate experiece with the barista." Where does the line form for that?