On February 26, 2008, Starbucks closed all company-operated Starbucks for a massive “hard reset” of baristas by retraining them on the perfect espresso beverage.  For about three and a half hours, all Starbucks closed, perhaps causing the largest corporate-induced caffeine withdrawals in America’s history. 😉  Soon, brewed coffee will go through the same zenith level transformation, and it is only a shame that they wait until March 9, 2010 to officially have all stores up-to-speed with the Pour Over brew method.  If they had launched the Pour Over nationally on February 26, 2010, they could have drawn the parallel that now brewed coffee gets its revitalization finally: Bold coffee offered as a single-crafted cup of coffee for each customer.

Starbucks provided the stores with training materials, including one item with this following message (below) from Howard Schultz to Starbucks employees (employees are called “partners”).  I’ve transcribed the Howard Schultz message, almost in its entirety below.  Keep mind, that the excerpted message below was spoken, so all the punctuation and emphasis is my interpretation of what I listened to.


Message from Howard Schultz

Hello Partners:

You know over the years I’ve made countless videos to share with you one message after another and when I think about all the things that I’ve talked to you in the past about,  I can’t think of a more important message than the one I’m about to share with you.  And that is that you are in the midst of going through the transformation of the company in terms of our passion and commitment to ensure the fact that you have all the tools and the resources to not only make the perfect shot of espresso in every espresso-based beverage but to really understand what’s behind this and why it is so vitally important.


And if I’m really honest with myself, I think that over the years we have not as consistent and as committed to ensuring the fact that the quality of the beverage was compatible and matched the quality of the coffee that we sourced and roasted.  And what I want to make sure you understand is that this is not just about training; this is about the love and the passion and the commitment that we all need to have to the customer.

Our customers are coming into Starbucks because they have a level of trust and confidence that we are sourcing and roasting the highest quality coffee in the world and they are going to get a perfect beverage.  I think over the years we’ve kind of lost our way a little bit and talked about speed of service, USDs,  and all the things that are important for the business but I think they’re out of whack.  What’s really important – the most important – is that we exceed the expectations of our customers.  And I’ve always believed the only way we can exceed the expectations of our customers is that if we could exceed your expectations and that is why we are investing in you, investing in this transformation so that we really get back to the core, to our roots, to the heritage, and to the tradition, and the romance of coffee: The love of coffee.

And what I’d like you to do when you go through this is really not just go through the motions: Really embrace this moment and realize that that it is not about 100,000 partners. It is about one partner, one customer, one cup of fantastic coffee at a time.  The business that we are in, and always have been, is that we are the leading roaster of coffee in the world in terms of quality, the precision, excellence, and that all comes to life when you hand that cup of coffee to the customer.


So it’s been two years. Who remembers this, and what is their take on this now? Did it work?  I think if nothing else, I think it re-connected baristas to the notion that “if your drink isn’t perfect, we will remake it for you.”  I think that Starbucks had started to fall asleep at the wheel with respect to this message, and that this training session was the cornerstone to a larger piece of barista education: Yes, the drink IS important.  It is each baristas’ individual responsibility to make the shot great, steam beautiful foam, and hand it to the customer with a smile.

Discussion is welcome… This is an open thread. Feel free to comment on ANY Starbucks topic or this topic.  On February 25, 2010, Starbucks.Com went through a complete site redesign – Store hours are now on the store locator, and the look and feel of the site is very different than before.  That’s one more possible conversation topic!

This is also a good chance to look back at some prior threads here at StarbucksMelody. Here are a few of my favorites: