Starbucks can get super expensive super fast. So it’s only fair to want a high quality drink for what you’re willing to spend!
I worked for Starbucks over ten years, and I can tell you some very specific ways to notice you may be about to get a bad drink, as well as some ways to avoid it!
Ordering Drop Coffee After 11am
Starbucks designed a Coffee Cadence to ensure that the drip coffee is constantly rotated and fresh. But after 11am, stores go down to just their medium roast, leaving room for the rotation to be stopped.
There are countless times I have seen the timer reset or ignored and the coffee can sit there for hours. Yuck. To avoid that, ask for a pour-over, causing them to make you a fresh coffee on the spot!
Visiting Starbucks During Their Peak Time
From 7am-11am, Starbucks considers it their ‘peak’ time. Meaning they are required to get drinks out FAST. I just to be the main peak barista and would 30 seconds from when the car reached the window to get the drink out. So things can get sloppy.
If you don’t want a rushed, messy drink, but need to go during their peak time, I highly suggest going inside the store to order. The drive-thru is the only timed area during peak, allowing your drink to get a little extra loving this way.
If You Hear A Screeching Noise While Your Barista Is Steaming Milk
This means that they have not properly aerated your milk properly, which will make your milk taste bland and yeast-y. (The only exception to that is heavy cream. It screeches no matter what). Try your drink before leaving to ensure it tastes ok or get it remade.
If You See Shots Of Espresso Sitting Around
Shots of espresso are very ‘fragile’. They need to be added to another form of liquid within 10 seconds to keep the shots from going ‘bad’. If they sit out for awhile, they taste GROSS. Like dirt. If you see this happen with your drink, please get it remade.
Mobile Ordering Frappuccinos And Cold Foam Drinks
Baristas are instructed to make mobile order drinks as soon as they come through. So unless you are there ready to pick it up, your drinks sitting there will cause Frappuccinos to separate and melt, and cold foam to dissolve.
Listen, times are hard right now. Everyone is overworked and probably dealing with a lot of Karens. Not that it gives them a right to mess up your drink, but when your barista is not fully focused, they can get sloppy.
And I hate to say this, but if you personally frustrated the barista, depending on their pettiness, you may be getting decaf coffee. Which, yes, is unacceptable. But I haven’t worked at a single store where I haven’t seen it happen.
Bottom line, you deserve a quality cup of coffee. But you are dealing with real people and mistakes happen. Be kind, tip well when deserved, and respect them even if they make a mistake!