April 10, 2007

Now, A Good Starbucks Experience

I have told you of our Starbucks breakup and Starbucks "ok, but not special" experiences. Now, I will tell you about today. It is unseasonably cold and grey here. I sat in my office shivering this morning wishing for coffee. I had taken my mug home to wash ( a post-*$ break up thing, I got instant coffee for work and make it there some days)

When a voice from above said "Well, why don't you walk over and get some coffee?". (Ok so, it was the other side of my IM.) Hmm...not a bad idea. I can chew over some things I am working on, get some coffee and warm up. I dug around in my pockets-aha! I had allowance left. (My lovely partner throws some cash at me every few weeks in case I get hungry or need cash for something-some office collection, etc. She gets the cash out of the machine/bank and we half-jokingly call it my allowance)

Rumor was a new Starbucks was going in at "The Hub." There have been several opened at remote locations (for me) on campus but none close. I had been to the "Proudly brews Starbucks coffee" location at the Union...where they do have a machine but were not at all seemingly familiar with it...it was part of a larger Beef and Brew kind of place. Rumor had it that "Spring of 2007" the Starbucks would open. I started seeing increased numbers of people carrying Starbucks cups and more trash of Starbucks nature in the cans. But, the dining options on campus page still said coming soon.

I set off toward The Hub thinking-maybe it would be open. Maybe not. In that case, I would go to Einstein's Bagel (also there) and get a regular cup of coffee. My cup of coffee this morning would be far from regular!

I get there not a moment too soon-I was shivery and tired. I walk in. Hmmm...it isn't where I thought it would be. There was a convenience stand kind of place once upon a time in the spot where I thought this would go. (a convenience place I miss actually-cheese cubes make a great emergency lunch) I walked closer to investigate-WAIT! There it is. Hmm...all this was behind the convenience stand? This is an older building that had more than half shut off for the entire time I have worked there, I knew the bookstore at one time had been there but the way it was shut off made it seem like that part was a separate building.

A line! A long line! 15-20 people! 4 people on the floor. Oh good grief, I have to get back to work. It's warm in here. It looks nice. The line does seem to be moving. Oh I will stay. I get in line. Nice music is playing. Some sort of instrumental, not deadly, muzak sort of thing-not Starbucks music I don't think. (multi-use area with computer center adjacent) Nice music level. People plugged in all over, studying, working. One merchandise stand that is actually interesting! (New merchandise this week? They just show the best stuff and you can actually see it? I don't know)

Long line. No one grumbling. Odd. Everyone is ordering PITA drinks too. "Double Nonfat, white mocha with a pump of , half caf, with extra whip." kinds of people. (My favorite one "Triple, Venti, upside-down caramel macchiatto, no foam") And they all ordered pastries. By the way, the pastries were stocked beautifully-not over crammed in there or dwindling and/or sickly looking. Truly Starbucks pastry case porn.

They were also having a bit of a crisis. They were out of Whole Milk. Someone was getting it. So, they had to check with people to make sure nonfat was ok. They were apologetic, yet serene about the whole thing.

None of the crew seemed put out by this madness. At all. In fact, through all of this they all acted like they wanted to be each customer's best friend. How are you? Name? Do you really mean? Did you know? Would you like? All of them smiling. Really. All of them. Every single customer in this very long line was treated well. AND FAST. Before I knew it, I was next up.

First was young college aged, really soft spoken girl. She has a huge backpack and is kicking another bag along. I pondered how she was going to carry her drink. "Venti hot chocolate, but ummm I don't like vanilla very much, would it umm be ok if I had a different syrup? I mean uh if it isn't a problem. (smiling expediter person says SURE! We would love to do that! Girl looks blankly at menu. Umm what kind of syrups, oh can you put that points at Dulce de Leche picture kind in my hot chocolate-the cinnamon dolce de leche? (Starbucks worker! Sure do you mean....) And umm can I have umm whipped cream on it (punctuated by adorable smile)" Cute girl, sweet, but just the sort you see baristas growl at a lot these days. By the time she finished, I was growling. She ordered coffeecake. She got the coffee cake, pulled it out of her little bag, realized it was not what she wanted. (though it was what she ordered) They exchanged it happily.

By this time, the expediter person had taken my order, smiled, etc. The cashier was ringing me up. Asked me how I was, repeated himself when I said "what?" then looked me in the eye and waited for an answer. Touched me as he handed back change (didn't do the chance of dumping coins all over the counter drop or slide thing that everywhere on campus seems to do-I am a 37 year old mom with a bad hair cut and definitely had on "staff" clothes today-no one was hitting on me.)

In the midst of my order, the whole milk came in. The crew acted as if a returning hero had come! They cheered. They jumped in the air! They encouraged customers to cheer for the milk! Like people having a religious experience-we did. They helped unload the milk! They didn't slow up ANYTHING while doing all of this. Everyone, infected by smiling.
No tip jar either...probably a good thing. I would have probably given them every cent of my allowance.

I get to the end of the bar. Hmm, no one around but here comes girl with lots of bags, umms and her coffeecake. Maybe the college students hang back a bit. One seems to be waiting besides "cinnamon dolce hot chocolate" girl. Hmm, ok, how can that be. One girl pouring shots on one machine, steaming milk on the other. She greets me! Pitcher is a bit too full of milk. Bar is a bit messy. (but surprisingly the condiments area sparkling clean)

There have to be more people waiting. Hanging back boy gets his drink-drink called, then a thanks boy name, another extra bright smile. Hot chocolate, quiet girl, playing with her backpack and water bottle, opens it, oh no. Quarter way full of water. Her drink is called. Would you um fill my water bottle? Sure! Barista grabs the bottle, fills it, hands it back. Smile. Thanks hot chocolate girl! Have a wonderful day. Cups seem out of order. I am next. I know I am but hmm...that isn't my cup. Wait! She has my drink. She poured the shots right. Not too much foam! Not aggressive slopping of coffee. Not overflowing, oops, watch me spoon your shot into the sink. Not letting the shots sit while she works on the other drink in front of her. Calls my drink. Smiles! Thanks me!

No. Thank you. Thank every single one of you at a super busy Starbucks, where you don't know my name, don't know my drink order, deal with troubling orders, minor crisis; and still smile and manage to make me feel like an important customer. The drink was perfect. I was in, out and back to work fast. I was even smiling and energetic myself after that.

I hear the Siren's call again.

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