Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Starbucks Training Recap

I realize this is a crafting blog, primarily, but I said I'd share what I learned last night at the partner training that I participated in. It was very thorough, and some of it I shared yesterday when I educated you about espresso shots. Here's what else I learned:

1) Steamed milk must stay between 150 and 170 degrees in order to be used in beverages, and may NEVER be resteamed. This is new, because just 5 months ago when I was trained, I was taught that the milk in the pitchers could be resteamed ONCE, if it fell below 150 and not at all if it fell below 140. The same standard for steaming milk no higher than 180 degrees remains, because after that point, milk scalds. Yuck.

2) I also learned that I'd been steaming milk not quite correctly. The steaming standard creates the kind of dense, tiny bubbled foam that is used to make cappuccinos. My bubbles were too big. Not a tragedy, but once I did it correctly, the difference was noticeable, not only visually but in the taste of the drink. Milk that is properly steamed has a subtly sweet taste, and the mouth feel is satisfying, as it coats your palate. As part of our training, we did have to taste milk that had been steamed but not aerated at all. It tasted very flat and had no mouth feel, no creaminess. Yuck.

3) After practicing milk steaming, we made cappuccinos. The proper weight for a cappuccino is between .47 and .67 on our food scale, and mine weighed .58. The variance is there to accommodate those who like dry cappuccinos and those who prefer theirs wet.

4) We discussed how we could improve our customer connections. I think my store does well in this category. One of the activities we did was to take a cup and write the order on it of a customer we know. For me it was a venti, 7 pump, whole milk, with whip cream white mocha for Christy. It was enlightening to go around the room and share that drink order and what we know about the person who orders it. This is the reason I'm at Starbucks. Starbucks is the "third place" for many people because of the connections that we partners work to establish with each customer, and I'm proud to help facilitate that culture.

For some, the connection is limited to what their drink is and that's it. Those customers like that they don't have to talk, and still be confident they're going to get their beverage just the way they like it. For others, the reason they choose to pay the price for their drink is because they feel "known" when they stop by. I know their name, their drink, and most likely, something about them, and that's important. We all long for community, and that's what Starbucks is for many. I don't know of any other food service establishment that has made it its key principle to intentionally establish connections with customers. It's what sets Starbucks apart.

Besides all the training we received last night, the time was a re-establishing of commitment to the bottom line at Starbucks. We're in the people business selling coffee. Valuing our customers by doing whatever it takes to make sure they have the perfect beverage isn't about the coffee. It's about communicating something intangible through the simple act of serving.

I hope you'll experience a difference in your drink and your encounters with the partners when you next frequent your local Starbucks. I'll return to crafting tomorrow.


sandra said... looks like working for Starbucks is very rewarding at least from the human point of view, unfortunately not everyone can say that about their workplace!!!

Lydia said...

Thank you so much!! I love all this sbux knowledge, and it warms my heart to hear you say "third place". It really is that for me, and some wonderful people have come into my life there. I even go there to stamp! I would love to meet Christy - a 7 pump whole milk gal is my kind of woman!! :)