Sunday, June 9, 2013

Listen Up Starbucks- US vs UK!

I have always been a huge advocator of Starbucks and the most loyal customer imaginable.  At the age of 24, I have been drinking Starbucks since I was 14 years old- a whole decade! It was always more than just a fabulous coffee to me, it was the experience that came with it.  I have made countless great memories at Starbucks.  For instance, while I lived in Kentucky my mom and I would drive 2 hours after she got home from a long day of work to enjoy quality time together and we chose to have it over a white chocolate mocha.  My friends and I would meet at Starbucks for a morning coffee or venture there just because we were craving a cinnamon dolce latte. I can't even begin to tell you how many hours I spent there studying whilst I was in college either. 


Not only did I become a regular, I got to know the staff who were always incredible.  In Hawaii (Oahu-Hawaii Kai Towne Center) I would stop by every single morning on my way to school. The staff would absolutely make my day before it ever even began. They would always make my iced coconut latte or iced cinnamon dolce to absolute perfection and also did it with an amazing attitude and smile.  Starbucks became a place of comfort for me and I even loved it so much that  Starbucks and their staff were even incorporated into my partner's marriage proposal!

During my time in Hawaii where I attended college, I approximately spent at least a grand total of   $11,000 on coffee alone in only 5 years!! I am purely flabbergasted at that high number. Instead, I could have bought with that money-  5 Louis Vuitton Bags and 10 pairs of Louboutin heels or even a car or a Rolex for that matter!  I hope this shows how much a Starbucks experience means to me and the impact it has had on my life. It was the only way it could start my day.  I chose Starbucks and having had the best experiences, particularly in Hawaii, it truly disheartens me that the UK standard is the antithesis of that.

I have come to the conclusion that the standard of coffee and service that is provided in the U.S. simply does not exist here in the UK where I currently reside.  I have indulged in many locations across the globe from Hawaii to Paris, London and so on. It's fair to say that I've had more than my fair share of tasting Starbucks. The standard should be 100% the same across the globe.  Of course, they will have drinks catered to each market, however, Starbucks UK needs to be up to par in terms of quality that the U.S. offers. 

At least 80% of the time when I order a Starbucks in the UK, being very hopeful it will be a taste of home, I am simply let down and feel very upset that as a paying customer, we are offered differing standards depending on the country you're in. To say that I am upset is even an understatement- I feel personally offended. There has been a few occasions where I have literally thrown my drink in the bin before leaving the Starbucks store. I may as well have flushed my money down the toilet. Therefore this is why that since living in the UK, I have chosen the competitors over Starbucks (e.g. Costa and Cafe Nero) any day as they provide a better choice of flavours, a much stronger brew and an overall better experience.  

Drinking the competitor- Costa!

Listen up Starbucks UK, from the standpoint of an avid coffee drinker and Starbucks lover, I personally think that these changes below need to be implemented:

  • More flavours- Please bring in Cinnamon dolce, and  coconut all year around. Caramel, hazelnut and vanilla are getting so old and very unpalatable.  During Christmas time, the drinks are great but as soon as the holidays go, so do the good drinks.  Are we supposed to only enjoy a variety in flavor for a few months out of the year?

  • More friendly staff, I know culturally Americans are known to be more enthusiastic and friendly, however this is an American company. The staff often just try and get you in and out as soon as possible, and when they ask my name for my drink order, it is wrong the majority of the time. For example, my name is not Willy!!

  • For iced drinks, simply more ice! A mere 2 ice-cubes does not get it, especially in the summer time.

  • The coffee brew needs to be stronger. Everytime I order a flavored latte, it tastes of flavoured milk. I can rarely taste coffee without having to order an extra shot and most of the time that extra shot is burnt. 

I know that I may come across as a typical American demanding princess, but in my defence, my partner is British and after having the American Starbucks experience, she completely agrees with me. I think that it is a shame that I have to go elsewhere in the UK, and long for the days I can get a great coffee at a UK Starbucks location. 

Step it up Starbucks UK! 

Meet the great standards that all paying customers should receive, otherwise it won't only be me that is looking elsewhere!

Whitney K. Bacon
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  1. Great write up. And you don't come off as a demanding princess. You were and always will be one of my favorite customers that I remember from my Starbucks days. You were kind, polite and very patient.

    So if you're bothered by the service at another location, it's probably saying something.

    With that being said it's disappointing to read that the standard is not globally universal for Starbucks. Especially considering all the training modules I remember having to go through that always stressed the importance of consistency both in beverage quality and in customer service.

    Thanks for the shout out, Whitney. The Hawaii Kai Starbucks crew will never ever forget you.

  2. Awwww thank you so much! This means a lot to me as every one of you were some of the kindest and best people I knew. My day always started off great thanks to you guys!!

    I miss Hawaii so much goodness me! Hopefully back next year back for just a visit and would love to see you all! :)

  3. i used to work for Starbucks in the US, and now that i am in the UK- it's so sad. I could go back there and do it my damn self if i could.

  4. I know this is an old post, but as a British person I just want to say:

    1) Poor service in general in the UK is not limited to Starbucks but is everywhere (hotels, restaurants etc.). It's a cultural difference as you said. Mostly British people go to Starbucks in Britain so that's the service we expect, poor as it is :(

    2) Iced drinks are not popular because of the cold/wet climate, so people don't care to buy them and so there isn't much expectation to begin with.

    3) Brits generally prefer weak/milky coffee, since it's a nation that traditionally drinks tea which is not as strong as coffee. Cultural difference :)


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