For those who read this blog all the time,  you know that overwhelmingly, I plan what I write.  I might plan an article about a Starbucks card, or plan a giveaway for a Starbucks logo iPhone case, or I will write about a coffee tasting, or whatever.  Today, I’m just writing about how my day went.

Stop reading now if you don’t want to read this kind of thing.

It’s Sunday, September 2, 2012, and Labor Day Weekend.  About once or twice a year, I get in my car and I drive on a hunt to find a nearby Starbucks store with a test item.  I’d probably do this a lot more if I didn’t work full time, but I really only have a chance to do this a couple times a year.  My last such excursion was in December of 2011, and I found the Starbucks store with the “Auto brewer.”  In May of this year, a partner sent me a better photo of the “Auto brewer.”  From what I understand, I visited the store shortly after the test began, and shortly after May 2012, the test – having run for about 5 months – ended.

Today, I decided I would find that Snohomish County Starbucks again.  I got up early and headed out to the find the store that previously had the “Auto brewer” test.  The problem was that I didn’t really remember where it was.  This was quite a problem!  Somehow, I got it stuck in my head that the test store was off of Highway 2 in Snohomish County.  This, in fact, is totally wrong.  I got lost.

I ended up at a Starbucks in Monroe, Washington, (“Monroe Plaza” Starbucks) and stopped for coffee, and to get directions.  I knew I was lost.  I started asking a bunch of questions of the bar barista about “Where is the test store with auto brewers?” and mostly she just looked at me like I had two heads.  She tried very hard to help, but genuinely didn’t know the answer.  And, I could see she thought it was curious that I was asking about stores with test items.  The store manager then came over to speak with me.  I could see that at first he was a little bit suspicious as to what I was asking about, but after a short conversation, he really warmed up.  We had a great conversation just talking about Starbucks in general, and I was indeed I was glad that I’d stopped at this little store.  As an aside, I started with a grande lime Refresher, and left with a tall iced coffee.  I was impressed that I was not charged for the tall iced coffee, and indeed it is a “refill” as Starbucks enumerates what a “refill” is.  Mostly, I read through my email on my Kindle in this store because I knew that somewhere I had the address of the “auto brewer” store in an email.

Well, I was indeed lost and way off track.

Back on the road I went.  Having found the address in my email, after lots more driving, I ended up at the same store that I’d been to last December.  When I walked in, I instantly recognized it.  This was the right store.  There was not a single test in this store.  No auto-brewers at all.  I ordered coffee and got a bistro box.  The register barista was friendly, and so far, all was going well.  I went back up to the register when it was slow, and I asked the question, “Do you miss your auto brewer?”  She replied that her store has NEVER had an auto-brewer.  Given that I’ve posted two photos of it on my blog, and I knew I was in the right store, I thought this was super odd.  I asked her if she was new to this store, and the answer indeed was “yes.”  The floater behind the register barista also had never heard of an “auto brewer.”  But she too was new to the store.  I asked, “Is there anyone here right now who is not new to this store?”  To my side, another partner stepped a few steps towards me.  She was holding a tasting cup, and it was obvious that she was tasting coffee.  She was in dress code, absent a green apron.  Previously, she’d been standing right at the entrance to the store’s backroom.  I heard her say something like, “I remember it.”  But then, another partner barked at her for approaching the area I was at without wearing an apron, and so the conversation was cut very short, and she retreated back to the backroom.  I completely understand WHY because I know the dress code rules, but it did inadvertently shut down the conversation.

On the passenger seat in my car, I had a bag of the new Colombia coffee.  I decided immediately to give it to the partner tasting coffee – it’s a great coffee and I want to spread the Colombia love!  As my drink was being made (a tall hot chai, no modifiers), I ran to my car and grabbed the Colombia coffee.  Sadly, by the time I returned to that store, the partner who had been tasting coffee was gone.  Her shift was over, and she was gone.  I learned that her name is “Shelly” and I left the coffee there for her.  I hope she likes it.

I was on my way again. Well, after my chai was remade.  The first one was very milky, and I asked about it and the bar barista hadn’t put in any water.  She was extremely pleasant about remaking it, so all is well that ends well.

Again, I got lost. I was simply trying to get back to Seattle at this point.  Home sweet home.  I’d had enough of just driving around.  I reminded myself why I don’t normally spend my days aimlessly driving from Starbucks to Starbucks.  I love Starbucks, but I just don’t want to spend my time driving from store to store to store.  (On the other hand, if I didn’t have to work, I’d gladly take a road trip and do just that kind of thing!)

As I mentioned, I got lost again.  I left one city in Snohomish County, and somehow, I missed a turn off the highway, and I found myself lost in downtown Woodinville, Washington.  I really liked the exterior of the Woodinville store – I like the older-style Siren holding a logo:

By the way, the Starbucks at Monroe Plaza, and the Woodinville Starbucks were both brand new to me.  I had never visited either store before.

At the Woodinville store, the register partner commented on my Evolution Fresh card, and I explained that the Evolution Fresh card is a Starbucks card.

I ordered a tall Verona in a for-here mug, and asked for a morning bun heated up.  The register barista asked if I wanted the morning bun on a plate.  I always do think that is a nice touch to get your pastry on a plate too.  I said “yes.”  I got my coffee, and my morning bun was on a plate, and I was given a real fork as well.  Definitely a nice little detail.  I was hungry, and still somewhat lost, so I browsed maps on my Kindle and ate.  I did go back up to the register, needing help with directions.  I am not naturally good with directions.  “Jenna” was super friendly, and gave me directions home to Seattle.

By the way, I noticed that none of the Snohomish County Starbucks I visited had the Evolution Fresh juices in them yet.  I had mistakenly thought that they were more widely available than they are.

Shortly before 12:30, I was home.  I wrote out this blog article hurriedly so please excuse poor grammar and typos.

I hope everyone is having a great Labor Day weekend!  (For all my readers in the U.S.)