Starbucks: Rules of Engagement

  1. If you are in the drive-thru lane and ordering more drinks than there are people in your vehicle, then you should be inside the store. The drive-thru lane is not for people like you. It is for people who are both in a hurry and able to be served quickly. Practical considerations regarding the interior upholstery of your car and the liquid and often sugary nature of beverages from Starbucks should further dissuade you from abusing the drive-thru lane in this manner.
  2. If you are in the drive-thru lane and ordering drinks for only the people in your vehicle, but there are more than four people in your vehicle, then you should be inside the store. The drive-thru lane is not for people like you. See above. It may also be helpful to note that if there are more than four people in your vehicle, it is likely that at least one of them needs to use the restrooms inside. Why not take the opportunity?
  3. If you are inside the store and ordering more drinks than can fit in one of those stiff paper drink carriers (i.e., more than four) and it is clearly a Starbucks “rush hour” (e.g., any weekday morning between 7:00 and 9:00), then, while you think you are being nice by bringing coffee to everyone in your office, you are clearly oblivious to the presence, needs, and emotions of the people behind you in line. You need to cut back on your generosity or change your timing, or your co-workers need to be getting their own drinks at this or another Starbucks or similar coffeehouse.
  4. No matter the circumstance, you should never be ordering drinks for other people at Starbucks unless you are intimately familiar with both all of the usual options regarding the particular drinks you are ordering and all of the preferences of your absent companions regarding those options.
  5. If you find yourself at Starbucks purchasing drinks for a party not present at the point of purchase or on site, do not, under any circumstances, contact the absent party via mobile telecommunications device. Recognize that if the absent party is so picky about his or her drink that whatever you bring back will be rejected unless absolutely perfect, then that party is either so insufferable that he or she does not deserve to have a drink brought back to him or her, or that party failed in his or her duty to correctly instruct you on how to order his or her drink. The risk of an improperly constructed beverage falls to the party who failed to properly instruct his or her point-of-purchase proxy.
  6. Finally, if you are not going to Starbucks yourself, but are instead sending someone to Starbucks for your drink, so that person will soon find him- or herself in one of the scenarios described above, then your duty as a polite member of civil society is either to be intimately familiar with all of the usual options regarding your drink and to properly instruct your point-of-purchase proxy beforehand, or to recognize that you have assumed the risk of an improperly constructed beverage, or to go get your drink yourself.

Thank you. That is all.

4 thoughts on “Starbucks: Rules of Engagement

  1. Tom Smith

    The best option of all is to patronize your local independently-owned coffee shop. Then, while passing the Starbuck’s branch which will INEVITABLY be directly across the street, extend at least one middle finger.

    I’m just sayin’… that’s the best option.

  2. Peter

    I would also note that the “rules of engagement” delineated above were drafted based on the misbehavior of Starbucks customers rather than on dislike of the Starbucks corporation.

    Personally, I have no problem with the Starbucks company. I have not found a local, independently-owned coffeehouse that is as consistent, as professional, as clean, or as responsive as the Starbucks stores I frequent. (And, interestingly, probably the least impressive Starbucks I have recently encountered is the on on Cannery Row in Monterey, CA, where the atmosphere is more like that of an independently-owned place. The employees were not as friendly, more absent-minded, and slower than what I am accustomed to, and the physical premises were markedly more dingy than probably every other Starbucks I have visited.)

    Starbucks employees (er, “partners”) are typically far better trained than the people I have usually encountered in local, independently owned places, and they usually have a sharper, more upwardly-mobile attitude. That could just be my region, though.

    While I certainly recognize how fashionable it is to criticize any company that has a worldwide presence and tends to put local entrepreneurs out of business, I am much more interested in the quality of service I receive and the quality of product I purchase. Starbucks has never done me grievous wrong in either respect. If local coffeehouses tend to fold when Starbucks shows up in the neighborhood, I believe firmly that it is because Starbucks provides, as I mentioned above, a more consistent product, more professional service, and more impressive premises than local shops tend to provide. If the local shops can out-do Starbucks, then more power to them. But if they cant, I see no reason to cast any aspersions on Starbucks for doing something very, very well.

    Wal-Mart on the other hand…

  3. Emily

    “Except that option will only be available for the short time it takes for the Starbucks to put the local, independently-owned place out of business.”

    Actually, I thought there was a study in the past few months that found that (on average), Starbucks’ rise has been good for independently owned coffee shops. The apparent result is that Starbucks has brought (relatively) good coffee to the masses, who become more discerning customers of coffee, become addicted to coffee, and are more likely to seek out a coffeeshop experience than they were previously. In essence, now that you’re addicted to fancy coffee drinks, you’re more likely to go to any coffeeshop, including the independent ones. (If someone else read this study please help me out here…)

    Incidentally, the little independent coffeehouse right next door to me has a sign out front that says “Crawfish Etouffee $6.95.” Why is a coffeehouse serving crawfish etouffee? I don’t know. I wonder if they have crawfish coffee, too… 😉

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