Giveaway: Fun Key Chains and More from the Starbucks Coffee Gear Store.

It’s time for a giveaway! The prize is a number of items that come from the Starbucks Coffee Gear Store. If you win, here’s what you’ll get! (Plus, you’ll get a copy of Tales of the Siren: A StarbucksMelody too!)

IMAG2523 copyTo enter this giveaway, please follow all of the instructions carefully! I will hand write out every entry, and pull a winner from a hat (or a Starbucks paper bag :))

  • Your comment below must be posted and appear below before September 26, 2014, at 6:00 PM PST.
  • You must be over eighteen.
  • You must have a valid mailing address in either Canada or the United States. (If you’re in Canada, please be extra patient with the length of time for mailing items).
  • Please subscribe to this website. (Enter your email in the box in the left side column to enter; Or on the mobile version of this site, the subscribe box appears at the bottom of this site).
  • Please say whether you use a registered Starbucks card to make your purchases at Starbucks. (If so, you’re part of MyStarbucksRewards).
  • If you could change just one thing, please say what it is you’d like to change about MyStarbucksRewards. That’s the only topic we’re discussing: MyStarbucksRewards.
  • Your comment below may not contain more than 25 words. That’s 25 words total for everything.
  • Only one entry per person.
  • Please enter with a valid email address so it will be easier for me to reach you, if you’re the winner.
  • Off topic comments will be deleted.
  • You must leave your comment as one of the first 200 comments. I’ll close the giveaway at 200 comments, even if the deadline of September 26th has not yet arrived.
  • Winner will be drawn at random. Your odds of winning are one in 200, or better, depending on the number of entries.
  • There are no substitution prizes.

Over the years of doing giveaways, I always, always have people who don’t follow the instructions. The common mistakes seem to be as follows – people who leave a Facebook comment in an attempt enter rather than a comment below; people who attempt to email me their entry; and people who don’t follow all of the steps – such as missing a piece of information that I asked for.

Last but not least, this blog may be going through a site hosting change the evening and/or night of Saturday the 20th. It’s actually possible that some data may be lost if you happen to comment during the hosting migration. I’m not responsible for lost comments that get eaten up by the internet. Saturday nights are typically this blog’s slowest night, so I’m hoping that will be the least disruptive night for the hosting changes.

If your comment doesn’t appear below it could be for anyone of the following reasons: (1) It’s awaiting moderation. I really do try to get to every comment fast, but it’s possible to hang up in moderation for a couple of hours, at most. (2) You didn’t follow the instructions above or (3) it got lost in the migration transfer if you posted the evening or night of the 20th.

I don’t mean for any of this to sound so blunt, but having done many giveaways on this site, I have kind of learned that I really have to spell things out. Have fun with your 25 words or less comments below!

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A Close Up Look at the 1912 Pike Place Starbucks.

PhotoGrid_1410880025494 copyOn my way into work today (September 16, 2014), I decided to drop by the Starbucks at 1912 Pike Place in Seattle, Washington. I’ve been many times. Today, I happened to be looking for gifts and dropped by in search of Starbucks gift ideas.

This Starbucks is known as the “First Starbucks.” It offers completely one-of-a-kind merchandise and a unique experience!

There are unique tumblers, mugs, and a Pike Place 16-ounce cold cup too. There’s even a unique Pike Place Starbucks card too (not shown here). Not all the unique merchandise is shown but this gives you an idea of what I mean:

IMAG2481 Cold cups at 1912 Pike Place 16 Sept 2014IMAG2482 Pike Place Mugs - American made - 16 Sept 2014IMAG2483 You Are Here mugs and Pike Place Special Reserve - 16 Sept 2014You can even get an exclusive coffee, which is the Pike Place Special Reserve.

Speaking of coffee, the 1912 Pike Place Starbucks is one of the few in the corporation that offers Starbucks Reserve coffees but does not have a Clover brewer. You can get a wonderful handcrafted slow pour over of a Reserve coffee.

IMAG2493 Reserve Pour Over at 1912 Pike Place - 16 Sept 2014If you stand watching for a few minutes, you’ll notice that the register baristas toss the paper cups (yes, cups go flying through the air) to the bar barista, for he or she to catch. This has to be the only store with this system! This is the universal sign that ‘I’m ready for cups to be tossed at me‘. ;)

IMAG2504 Kazon catching cups 16 Sept 2014The bar baristas have special multi-tasking talents! I’m always listening to what’s happening in the store, and Kazon (shown above) as she made drinks, would ask customers where they were from and welcome them to Seattle. I heard her talking to tourists from Japan and New York who’d come to Seattle and had made this store a top priority to visit. Kazon is amazing. I’ve heard other partners do the same at the bar.

Don’t forget to admire how beautiful the front of the store is!

IMAG2499 Front of 1912 Pike Place Starbucks - 16 Sept 2014One of the most common questions I get asked (whether by email, Facebook, Twitter or other means) is “What Starbucks things should I do when I visit Seattle?” I’ve compiled a list of such things here. If you’ve ever thought about a vacation to Seattle and you’re a Starbucks fan, please click on that link.

Thanks for enjoying this trip with me to 1912 Pike Place. And yes, I did pick out some gifts. Mission accomplished.

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Does Starbucks need to recalibrate their customer service?

Customer service has taken a hit lately. It’s like as if it currently trendy to not care about your work and/or how it affects the customer. I wanted to explore this a little more: I hope I’ve got it wrong and the customer service at Starbucks is alive and well.

The prompting for this article started with this Cosmopolitan article: There’s a Starbucks partner who will gladly  decaf you when you ask for regular coffee.

I’ve seen plenty of internet memes which essentially say, “the customer is just a**hole.” I’ve seen discussions of intentionally messing with names on cups. I’ve had discussions with partners who witnessed their co-workers steam milk extra hot to get back at rude customers, and/ or give the wrong milk or syrup.

Again, I hope I’ve got it wrong and that these are the rare occurrences within Starbucks. The best kind of comment might be that these are just a tiny fraction of the experiences happening inside Starbucks.

But if we need to open up an intelligent dialogue about it, let’s do that.

I asked those who follow my Facebook page for some feedback, and I asked if it was even worthwhile to talk about this kind of thing?

Does Starbucks need to re-calibrate their customer service?

I heard lots of wisdom:

  1. I was a barista for over three years and I saw stuff like this frequently. It is sad that we can’t treat other human beings with basic kindness. I also think that this a two way street. There is no excuse for being blatantly rude to someone, and I will not excuse the barista behaviors you listed above. So, I think it is a worthwhile topic and yes Starbucks should fix this internally.
  2. Back when I was a partner in 2012 there was 1 time I saw a partner decaf someone because he was being extremely rude to his girlfriend/wife… But ever since then I have seen so many examples of a lack of professionalism inside Starbucks it was hard to go anymore. I’ve watched baristas let drinks pile up and be on their phone, I’ve had them make drinks wrong and when I explain the error they very visibly don’t want to fix it and have been just plain rude in general.
  3. This is not a wide spread issue. As a Store manager I would never tolerate this type of behaviors in my store. And for partners that do these dreadful thing I must ask 1. Where did the mission statement get lost in your stores? 2. When did we stop treating the fellow man with respect?
  4. As an SM I have never seen it to the extent being talked about here. We all have rough days or days when a customer gets under our skin, unfortunately. But it is our job and our HONOR as partners of this wonderful company to always keep the mission statement alive in our stores
  5. I think a big piece of this comes from changes in training. There is no pride anymore. None. There is no mention of the third place in training.  Half the store managers don’t understand the training process. It’s a hot mess.
  6. I think the poor treatment of customers is pretty rare. That being said, if you want a saint to make your latte pay them a living wage
  7. From an old retail manager, #1 thing it takes to be a good manager…………THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT, PERIOD!
  8. Starbucks should have this conversation. But it needs to happen at the store/individual level to have any effect.

    I just wish there was more of discussion about how customers should behave. Some of them have been simply awful. While a barista should never stoop to such tricks, I know that the human capacity for patience and forgiveness can easily be tested.
  9. The baristas in my town are always kind, prompt and smiling. Rarely ever make mistakes and bend over backwards if they do. Rah Cedar Rapids, Iowa Starbucks employees!
  10. Yes I think it I something that needs to be addressed. But as mentioned above it has to happen at a store level. As a manager I look to hire baristas with high integrity, character and leadership.
  11. think the fact of the matter is that just like how there are different types of customers, all with their different expectations of what perfect service is, we too, as partners, have different expectations of what we would like our customers to do, or how we would like them to treat us.  People have to remember that we aren’t in starbucks for 3 or 4 minutes. We’re there 40 hours a week, and we see it all. Sometimes cabin fever gets the better of us, and because we are that third place, we have so much at our disposal to either make or break the experience of the customer that is beyond what we expect or hope from them (either way). Is it something that Seattle can change? Nope. Is it a worthwhile conversation? Hell yeah!
  12. I don’t share what store I’m at now because I’m embarrassed. When friends ask what store, I don’t tell them. It may not be as widespread – but it’s happening more and more. This needs to get nipped now before it honestly DOES become widespread.
  13. There will always be partners that shouldn’t work for the company and provide less than bad customer service. It is really up to the amazing partners within any store to work through these types of issues and use the correct means and resources to weed these types of partners out. It’s so important for any store to have good communication and support – not only from the store manager but also from the district managers and HR. I still believe that we overwhelmingly have amazing partners in this company

I deleted my Facebook post because I don’t want to identify current partners.

My own two cents is that any of these things might help the situation:

  • Better pay for partners so they feel like they’re rewarded for delivering gold-standard customer service.
  • Improve means for feedback: Nobody seems to care about those “Share Your Thoughts” pamphlets. Even here in the core of downtown Seattle, I’ve seen stores where I’ve walked in, picked one up and looked at the DM’s name on it and thought, “That DM hasn’t been in Seattle for years…” And in so many Starbucks, those pamphlets are completely absent and/or the contact information on the backside is not filled out.
  • Have the store manager’s business card at the beverage pick up area or somewhere inside the store to welcome feedback.
  • Offer better training for partners: I know a ten-year partner who told me that his barista training meant him going off-site for a week to a barista training center. And reinforce all the green apron behaviors during training.
  • Hire great people (as Starbucks so often does).

I want to make it absolutely clear that by me posting this article I’m not for a minute saying that this is a wide-spread problem – but maybe it does need to be nipped in the bud. And I acknowledge that there are plenty of difficult customers too. But I think everything cuts both ways. There are difficult customers. There are difficult partners. People are people.

I will strictly enforce the comment policy: please do not devolve into attacks, foul language, and such.



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The Adorable “Mini” (10 ounce) Frappuccino.

1 - 1  - untitled Kurt's mini pictureStarbucks is testing a “mini” size Frappuccino. This is actually the second round of testing, as there was a very small San Diego test of the mini Frappuccino this past summer. Select Starbucks locations in Houston and Denver offer this new size.

Unlike other Frappuccinos, it appears, as far as I can see, a little less customizable than others. At least the booklet, which introduces customers to this new item, seems to suggest that you have a limited list of flavors/ recipes to choose from. I’d like to hear from others what their experiences have been with this new tiny Frappuccino.

It’s so cute! Yes, I want this test to succeed! There have been many times when I feel like a “tall” size (12 ounces) is too much Frappuccino for me.

I asked readers (via Facebook) to send me their photos of the mini Frappuccino test, and much to my surprise, I received multiple emails.

So what do you think? Would you order a mini Frappuccino?

By the way, this is not the first time that Starbucks has experimented with cold cups that are smaller than 12 ounces. I’ve heard it said that Starbucks Japan has such a demand for small sizes that that market routinely offers a short cold drink cup. Many years ago, the failed Sorbetto test item was served in a 10 ounce Starbucks.

Edit: I’ve seen people ask “why” would Starbucks do this. I think the “why” is fascinating. Let me throw this out there: 1) A 10-ounce Frappuccino responds to customer demand for a smaller size 2) Additional resources are hardly needed – you’re not adding new ingredients, just a size. 3) Creates a beverage at a slightly lower price point. 4) The lower price point potentially creates ‘trial’ – customers order something they wouldn’t normally, and then later think, “Next time I have to order the larger size”! Creates new Frappuccinos customers. 5) Potentially, from a marketing standpoint, this is competitive price point with value menus and similar drinks available at other large chains. 6) Potentially trains customers to order from the menu – since these are less customizable, customers who are introduced to these drinks are lured in by standard recipes. This in turn is a little easier for partners – fewer drink remakes due to customization. 7) Potentially appeals to customers who want a smaller size for children. No more splitting a Venti in two.

It’s pretty brilliant marketing.

image menu1 - 1 - untitled Kurt's frappuccino1 - 1- photo 1 Kelsey's mini Frappuccino1 - 1 - IMAG2229 front of mini booklet1 - 1- IMAG2231 Mini booklet Inside of booklet

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Starbucks to reconsider its dress code & tattoo policy. #SbuxTattoos

IMAG2364 Jason at Pine Street 11 Sept 2014It’s been all over the news that Starbucks is re-evaluating its dress code. This includes Starbucks taking another look at their policy that partners (Starbucks calls their employees ‘partners’) may not have visible tattoos. The current policy requires that tattoos must be covered.

First off, I don’t think this is a straight-forward or easy topic. Anyone who says “everyone should think this way or that way” is simply not able to see that we are not at a place of consensus in this country.

For some people, tattoos do have a negative associations, such a strong association with non-law-abiding behavior. I’m not saying that’s right, but to say that all negative associations with tattoos are gone is just silly.  (The tattoos that show up on ugly tattoos blogs don’t help this perception.)

Another common thing I see is that many partners assume that because nobody confronts them about their tattoos, there’s general acceptance. This too is silly. One cannot assume that silence means approval. In fact, we live in a society highly trained NOT to confront others. I don’t walk up to strangers and say, “wow that blouse is cut too low; or your jeans are too tight; or your blonde highlights look horrible…” We just don’t do this to each other. Likewise, nobody is going to walk up to a barista and say, “your arm looks really weird as a complete green and blue arm.”

We are not at some national place of consensus. I would have to guess that it some more conservative cities, a sleeve of tattoos is more frowned upon than in some more liberal regions of the country.

And above all, there’s the age-old debate, “who can possibly decide what’s offensive?” Probably there’s something to be said about where the tattoo appears. It’s likely that neck and face tattoos are less accepted (generally speaking) than arm tattoos.

I would also say that when Starbucks originally envisioned that tattoos policy, likely they assumed that partners would cover tattoos with clothing: this is the only professional means to do so. It’s true that a band-aid looks horrendous. If Starbucks wanted to revisit the tattoo policy, they could make it stricter: They could say clothing must be used to cover tattoos.

I think there’s still some question whether all the stores would necessarily have the same dress code. Perhaps an Evenings Starbucks should have a different policy than a regular Starbucks?

Having said all of the above, my own personal views on tattoos has really evolved and changed over time. I’ve met plenty of kind-hearted, generous, and wonderful partners who are heavily tattooed. I will be the first to say it: If you give me a choice between picking between (1) a kind, sincere, warm, friendly barista with tattoos or (2) an easily-angered, just-in-it-for-the-paycheck barista with NO tattoos, every single time, I’m going to want the kind and gentle person with tattoos.

It is, without a doubt, meeting the sweet partners with great hearts that has led me to believe that the tattoo policy should strongly be revisited. I’m not bold enough to even think that I know the right answer for a sixteen-billion dollar Fortune 500 company. This would be one of those situations where the more I know, the less I know. Speaking only for myself, I do strongly think there’s a lot of room to relax that tattoo policy and allow for visible arm tattoos – but again, figuring out how to do it is super tricky. I don’t have the answers!

Thank you partner Jason for volunteering your arm for this article!

It’s your turn to weigh in. Comments written to be nasty or attacking others will be deleted. It’s okay to have strong opinions, but always remember reasonable minds may differ. Please civil in the comments. I know this is a hot topic.

IMAG2363 Jason at Pine Street 11 Sept 2014



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A look at Starbucks Reserve coffees from Panama.

PhotoGrid_1410323123826 copyTonight (September 9, 2014)  I attended a coffee seminar presented by Starbucks coffee headquarters partner Leslie Wolford.

We compared and contrasted three coffees from Panama, all sourced from different farms. All three coffees come from the Volcán growing region of Panama.

IMAG2351 All 3 Panama Coffees



Leslie Wolford is 24-year Starbucks partner who is part of a small team of people at the Starbucks headquarters who selects new coffees as Reserves and develops blend recipes as well.  The now-famous “Starbucks Micro Blend 11” was Leslie’s creation. (Scroll down for a picture of that Reserve coffee bag – I didn’t know until this tasting that it’s called number 11 because it was her eleventh iteration of beans to get the perfect blend that she wanted).

This was an incredible opportunity to hear Leslie speak. I wish you could have been there. She is incredibly knowledgeable and radiates her passion for coffee. And as a 24-year partner, she can talk about anything Starbucks.  It was inspiring to have this opportunity. At one point, we chatted about what Starbucks was like 24 years ago, and she commented that when she began in the stores, there were only three syrups: Almond, Vanilla, and Hazelnut and essentially customers could only buy coffee, lattes, or espresso.

All three Panamas are roasted to the lighter end of a Starbucks roast profile (think anywhere from a blonde roast to, at the darkest, Breakfast Blend), and all are washed-processed coffees. We tried all the coffees made by a French press.

Panama Los Cantares Screen CapWe began the coffee seminar with the Panama Los Cantares Reserve Coffee. This coffee is sourced from the a farm owned by Jackie Mercer Vallarino, who as a grower as won numerous awards for the Geisha  category coffees. This farmer has interesting practices when it comes to coffee cherry picking. The Nobe –Bugle are an indigenous people (native to this remove area of Panama) who live in the mountains and come down to harvest coffee. Jackie has created a system to house and look after the tribal families that pick coffee – including looking after the education and healthcare of the tribal member’s children.  And of course, they’re paid for their work.

The Panama Los Cantares Reserve had a lot of aroma – you could get the citrus notes even in the aroma. The acidity of the orange flavor notes hit upfront and then left you with a clean cup of coffee. It has a chocolatey mouth feel and soft flavors. What a great cup of coffee.

The coffees grown on this farm are influences by the microclimates created by a river that runs through this farm. It’s grown at about 4,500 feet to 5,000 feet. What a great example of how coffee is a farm product and the magic of the land influences the flavors.

Untitled-2 Starbucks Panama Carmen EstateNext we tried the Panama Carmen Estate coffee, grown at 6,000 feet. This coffee farmed is named after the woman who founded it in the 1960s, who was the grandmother of the current family farming this land.

This is the same varietals as the Panama Los Cantares coffee yet produces a completely different cup of coffee. Another perfect example of how the magic of the microclimates of a farm and the processing method will affect the coffee.

Our group noticed that this coffee has a lot less aroma than the Panama Los Cantares but was full of flavor. It has a praline sweetness to it and a lemony acidity.

The farm uses a high pressure washing method instead of the full fermentation step to wash his coffees.  (In a washed processed coffee, most go through a full immersion soaking, instead these coffee cherries are subject to high pressure water). The high pressure water is reclaimed and can be used for irrigation and the farmers find that they use less water in the washing of the coffee,  a sustainable practice.

This farmer sells his coffee beans lot by lot, with heavy competition to buy their coffee. Many independent coffee businesses are known to buy a lot here and there of this farmer’s green beans. Carlos Aguliera produces some of the world’s most renowned specialty coffees on his award-winning, family estate.

By the way, I loved this coffee tasting. It was amazing to taste the distinct and clear flavor differences in this small batch coffees, all of which retain their origin flavors.

IMAG2355 Panama Geisha coffeeThird we tried the Panama Geisha Auromar coffee, which is not available in stores and sold out online at This was a floral and complex coffee. Starbucks sourced about 1,000 pounds of this harvest of it, and sent some to Reserve stores in Japan, and sold the remainder on, until gone.  This coffee had lots of tropical flavors and floral flavors. It explodes as a sweet and juicy cup of coffee. The farm offering this produces coffee on about 17 hectares of land, but owns in total about 30 hectares the remainder of which is native forest creating shade and micro growing climates. This farmer is known to pick the coffee cherries just slightly later than many farmers do – in other words, the coffee cherries are slightly over ripened. This creates risk of spoilage but the farmer has been able to create great coffee with wonderful berry notes.

This kind of coffee tasting is sometimes called a “vertical” coffee tastings – tasting and comparing across one growing region.

This was superb for my coffee education. I could have written more. I learned more about the farms, micro climates, and truly was able to appreciate how three coffees all from Panama can all taste totally different from each other.

Thank you Leslie for volunteering your time to walk us through an inspiring and education coffee seminar!

We had a pretty good turn out too:

IMAG2348 Group in attendence - Coffee Seminar 9 Sep 2014


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Thank You for Five Years of StarbucksMelody

Every September 9th, I publish a blog post that’s totally different than everything else throughout the year. It was September 9, 2009, that I launched this blog, so every September 9th I do some kind of year-in-review / roundup article. It’s only once a year that I write this kind of article.

The big thing I did this year was that I published a book! It’s intended as a light hearted, fun look at what separates Starbucks from other major corporations. Tales of the Siren: A StarbucksMelody is my true stories and experiences demonstrating Starbucks’ unique way of doing business: Starbucks is in the  “people business serving coffee.” A special thank you to anyone and everyone who has bought a copy of the book.

I’d like to thank the 1,036,965 absolute unique visitors who visited this site between September 9, 2013 and today. That number sounds more impressive than it really is. This year, unlike year’s past, I had wild (and unexpected) spikes in blog traffic surrounding the phrase “Frappuccino Happy Hour” and related to Starbucks and their holiday drinks and offerings. I have no idea why Google suddenly poured people my way in droves during Frappuccino Happy Hour, nor do I really think about it all that much. My  impression was that I had a spike of people who touched the blog to read about Frappuccino Happy Hour but didn’t really read much here or click through much. I say this because my time-on-site analytic dropped and my bounce rate increased during those wild spikes.

I started this blog with the hope that I would have a core, engaged, fun group of regular readers. So if one month’s blog traffic spikes up and then falls again, it’s no reason for worry wrinkles or gray hair. I’m not doing this blog to attain a certain number of “hits” or “clicks.” I don’t sell advertising space.

If it has been a while since you’ve said “hello” to me in the comments – just to let me know you’re reading – please do! Actually, I strongly suggest you subscribe too. There’s a box in the left rail of the blog to do so. That box was missing for a long, long, time making it really difficult to subscribe! You can finally easily do so! Please subscribe!

My blog is finally a little more mobile device responsive, and at about 47% of you browse this site from your phones.

Outside of the wild spike of visitors due to Frappuccino Happy Hour, the most common way that people find this website (meaning via organic search term driven traffic) is by searching on terms that relate to the Starbucks Refill Policy. The fact that that’s one of the most common search terms that bring people to this site tells me one thing: The refill policy causes confusion on both sides of the counter.

I find it amazing that one in five visitors to this site comes from the great state of California. The top three states visiting this site are California, Washington, and Texas. I have readers from all over the world, but most are in the United States or Canada. 77% of my readers are in the U.S. And 8% of my readers are in Canada. I have a trickle of readers in countries spanning from Austria to India to Mexico to Thailand … truly all over the world.

I know that at times, there are tense or difficult conversations on this blog. But on the whole, I try to bring to you Starbucks stories that let my readers see a perspective on it that they might not normally otherwise see, and that demonstrates what the “Starbucks Experience” means. One can’t ignore the need at times to take an unpopular view or bring up a tough subject that should be discussed, but as I mentioned, I try to keep this site uplifting.

Having said that, two blog articles this year jump out at me. What a privilege to be able to share partner experiences here.  One was an email sent to me called “What Customers Mean to Me,” and the other came from a Twitter conversation (and sharing a personal Facebook status update) called “This is What #ToBeAPartner Means to Me.”

One article that was surprisingly popular this year was something I threw together quickly, and mostly tongue-in-cheek: “26 Signs You’re Hopelessly Addicted to Starbucks.”

Every September 9th, I always re-evaluate whether I want to even continue producing this website. The funny thing is, I haven’t come close to running out of things to write about.

Feel free to say what you like below (assuming it relates to Starbucks or this site).

And thank you for FIVE years of reading StarbucksMelody. That is amazing to me!


PS: I sometimes get asked about the effect of Facebook on this blog (or blogs in general). Because Facebook organic reach is tiny (often at 3% of likers), it plays a diminishing role in bringing visitors to this site. Unless you have “notifications” turned on for my blog’s Facebook page, you’ll miss most everything that I post. Facebook is a pay-to-play system now. On the other hand, there are still a lot of conversations that happen on the Facebook side of this blog. By no means has Facebook lost its relevance.

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“This is what #tobeapartner means to me”

I always say, the magic of the Starbucks experience is in the stores. Tonight, I had a Twitter conversation with partner Nicholas as he wanted to share with me:  “This is what is means to be a partner to me.”

Without any more delay, here’s Nicholas Hladuniw’s story, in his own words from his partner experience tonight, September 8, 2014:

Today at the bux was a special day. A customer brought me to tears. Well not balling but welled up for sure.

It was the end of the night and there was a lot of pastries to be gotten rid of. So I asked her if she has any kids at home who would like a cake pop, no charge since I was going to toss em. Which she said sure and I gave her three, one for each kid. She thanked me and proceed to leave.

However, she stops and turns around and comes back and she said the following: I just really want to thank you for doing that. I just came from the hospital visiting my mom who is dying from terminal cancer. I haven’t really seen my children much these days and this will just make their day. So thank you for making today a little bit better it means a lot.

I once again said it was my pleasure and glad that a seemingly small thing could mean so much.

After she left I had to take a moment in the back to collect myself.

It’s things like this that make me love working at Starbucks.

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The Gorgeous & New Bainbridge Island Starbucks

PhotoGrid_1410025496914 Bainbridge Island StarbucksBainbridge Island now has its first company-operated Starbucks. The grand opening was Friday, September 5, 2014. This is truly an incredible store. There are large community tables made with wood reclaimed from Bainbridge Island. There’s a fireplace with comfy seating. The store offers one-of-a-kind for-here ware designed just for this store. You can get a latte with a shot of “Bainbridge Island Blend” coffee.

Look at the fabulous for-here mugs with an image of Commodore William Bainbridge on it:

IMAG2218 Bainbridge Island Mugs 6 Sept 2014Right now, these mugs are just used as for-here ware, but my understanding is that eventually they’ll be for sale.

You can order Clover-brewed Reserve coffee and Starbucks barista Jocelyn will give it to you while making adorable faces at the same time!

IMAG2241 Barista Jocelyn Will Gladly Give You Your Drink in a Bainbridge Island Mug 6Sep14Bainbridge Island Blend, exclusive to this store, is available in half-pound bags or as a shot of espresso for your latte:

IMAG2203 Bainbridge Island Blend Coffee - 6 September 2014Take a look at how beautiful this store is!

IMAG2208 You can get Bainbridge Island blend in your latte 6 Sept 2014IMAG2206 Clover - Reserve area - Bainbridge Island Starbucks 6 Sept 2014IMAG2221 Bainbridge Island Starbucks facing the chill wall 6 Sep 14IMAG2201 Bainbridge Island Starbucks near the fireplace seatingIMAG2197 Bainbridge Island StarbucksIMAG2196 Lights at Bainbridge Island Starbucks 6 Sept 2014IMAG2195 Interior Bainbridge 6Sept2014IMAG2212 Starbucks on Bainbridge Island 6 Sept 2014






The Bainbridge Island Starbucks is located at 323 High School Road NE, on Bainbridge Island, Washington. The phone number is 206 – 842 – 5463.

The official grand opening celebration day is Saturday the 13th from 8:00 AM to about 2:00 PM. I’m not totally sure what the festivities will include, but I’ll be there in the morning. Hope to see you there!

Hope you enjoy your visit to this store!

In the past, I’ve mentioned things you must do when visiting Seattle. This is one of them. A list of Starbucks in Seattle vacation ideas is here.

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An Exclusive Reserve: Starbucks Costa Rica La Ines Geisha Coffee available 9/8/2014. (Roasted at the Starbucks Pilot Plant) will offer the most exclusive and small-batch Reserve Geisha coffee yet, beginning Monday, September 8, 2014.

This is a really exciting coffee to talk about. I went to its roasting, and literally watched Starbucks Master Roaster Brian Hayes roast the coffee that will be offered beginning on the 8th.  What an incredible opportunity!

I got a special invitation from a Starbucks corporate partner inviting me to the SSC.  So on a beautiful day in August, I headed to the Starbucks headquarters:

Starbucks headquarters - SSCThe Starbucks corporate partner whom I was with escorted me to the “Pilot Plant” inside the SSC. This is a small area of roasting operations inside the headquarters.

You might wonder what gets roasted at the Pilot Plant? I asked the same question! Green coffee comes to the SSC and they work to calibrate the best roast profile for that coffee – they calibrate the recipes for their blends, explore new possible coffee offerings, and develop all potential blend recipes, including deciding on the coffee recipes for all seasonal favorites such as Anniversary Blend and Christmas Blend.  Currently, some of the Reserve coffee offerings are roasted at the Pilot Plant, though rumor has it that the Reserve roasting operations will eventually happen at the future Starbucks Roastery at the corner of Pike and Minor, near downtown Seattle.  (If you scroll down to the bottom of this article, I talk about the Roastery a little more.)

We made our way to the Pilot Plant (which felt as if it was in the basement level of the SSC, though I’m not positive which floor I was on) and I saw a small coffee roaster:

IMAG1613 Pilot Plant Roasting operations

Coffee Roasting Master Brian Hayes explained that this Probat roaster can roast up to about 100 pounds of green coffee at one time, though that may only produce about 80 pounds of roasted coffee beans.

The  special Starbucks Reserve Coffee which I had the opportunity to see being roasted is the rare heirloom varietal “Geisha”. Starbucks was only able to secure about 150 pounds of this coffee from the La Ines farm in Costa Rica. Starbucks agronomist Carlos Mario Rodriguez worked with the farm to develop and secure this Geisha. It’s a washed-processed coffee, for those who are curious.Because there’s so little of this coffee, I imagine it will sell out fast on Monday!

The first thing that Coffee Roaster Brian Hayes did was do a roasting of a test batch to ensure that everything was calibrated correctly. Then he roasted the coffee that you will be able to purchase on September 8th.

The coffee sack from the test batch was very beautiful!

1 - Burlap Coffee Sack

As Brian roasted the Geisha, I could watch the beans progress from lighter to darker, via a small window on the front of the roaster:

2  - 1  Coffee Roasting Event 11 August 2014

IMAG1636 geisha roastingAnd Brian Hayes periodically checked the progress of the roasting of the beans too:

IMAG1646 Brian checks the coffeeBrian H - 11Aug2014 - 2The Costa Rica Geisha came to Starbucks in these burlap sacks:

IMAG1680 Geisha sack

Here’s the coffee before it was roasted. This is all they had of the unroasted beans!

Geisha before it was roasted2

We listened to the second “pop” of the coffee beans, and then the coffee was poured out of the roaster into a cooling tray just beneath it:

IMAG1654 Coffee roastingI know that I’ll go online on the 8th and order a bag of this Costa Rica Geisha. This coffee is so precious that no bags of it were passed out to those who were lucky enough to attend this roasting.

There you have it. Hope you get a chance to enjoy this coffee and also enjoyed the inside view of one small aspect of Starbucks coffee roasting operations.

EDIT on September 8, 2014:

This coffee is now available online (for a limited time, until supplies are gone). It’s being offered in numbered bags!,default,pd.html?&srule=Featured&start=0&sz=16&cgid=starbucks-reserve-coffee

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