When I started at Il Giornale, and later Starbucks, the drink menu was very simple. When we were trained on the bar, a cup with logo facing you was a latte, turned to the right was a cappuccino, turned to the left was a mocha, upside down cup was a double shot, etc. As we added more drinks, 2% milk and custom options to the menu only the most skilled baristas could keep track of the cups on the top of the La Marzocco. I often found myself behind the bar asking the customer, "And you are waiting for?" Or calling out what I had in queue and asking if anyone was missing a beverage. Ops Services was asked to solve the problem so new baristas could be more easily trained. So CUP ID was born. Those are the little boxes on the side of your cup that have become a signature of the Starbucks brand and the basis of the drink calling methodology. While we all appreciate it now, when rolling it out in 1994, using the boxes was considered an affront to skilled baristas and we were told we were ruining the hand crafted culture of Starbucks. Now it is hard to imagine a Starbucks Cup without the boxes.
I would like to give a shout out to Kathie Lindemann, Erika Brooks, Dan Moore, Margie Giuntini - the brave souls who helped create the system and lead its roll out as the early Ops Services pioneers.
I still have ingrained in my mind the coffee and syrup skus. 221 - 2 lbs of Kenya, a "5" was half-pound, a "6", 1-pound. Creating guides for coffee skus by the register which then turned into someone creating a plexi, tabbed holder for all kinds of skus. Running X and Z tapes every night and always saying a prayer that there was enough tape in the Datachecker. Developing the ability to take that small bread pan scoop and pull a 1/2 pound of coffee in one shot on the scale. Rolling the bag the right way... applying the stamp (not sticker) exactly a 1/2 inch above the logo. Being a test store for ALS... Filling in for store managers in Canada because of the 13 stores trying to unionize and needing to be ready if they decide to strike. Using the Hummel Cup weekly. Adjusting the bypass. Experiencing first hand a La Marzocca pressure relief valve failure, which would fail in the open position and turn the store into the Amazon Rain Forest. Having Sharon (Christine Day's sister) run all of my initial training classes. Having Behar on day 2, teach me "Just say yes" directly and in his kindly way. Still being able to identify Sulawesi by eye, Sanani by taste, Espresso, Italian and French by color, and the ratio of House and French for Viennese Blend when you ran out. Still remember customers drinks from long past. Feeling the unease of someone at the merch wall needing to be greeted within 30 seconds... which manifests itself as ADD whenever I feel the presence of someone walking past a conference room I'm in. Remembering the growth of Manager Conferences... from hundreds to thousands. Much like a coffee bean and its surroundings, these influences have shaped my current and much matured personality and philosophy about Loving what you do and sharing it with others.
I worked in Chicago from 1990-1994 so recall the cup system. If you could get behind a 4-group La Mazarco on Saturday morning and get through it without boxes, it was hard not to feel superior to those who needed them🙄. However, I do admit to marking the cups with a dry erase or pen or simply asking "What are you waiting on? when the need arose. I also remember the butterflies in my stomach before I found my comfort level on the bar!
Remember 'upgrading' the labor system from DOS based scheduling to ALS (windows based). It was a HUGE change for store managers and one that wasn't welcomed with open arms. We all had to go to day long trainings in other stores and learn how to use the system , which essentially went from us handwriting a schedule to us inputting data into the system and it 'building' us a schedule and then us just editing the entire thing back to the schedule we would have created because we knew far more than the black box ALS system. Eventually I went from SM to Barista (after having my first kiddo) to the Corp office to fix ALS problems for stores. While some things we found were technical problems (incorrect data about the store in the system) most of my day was spent problem solving and coaching SM's how to use the system to help them manage productivity and ease their work load. Much to my surprise - that experience led me to my future in Lean/Continuous Improvement, leadership and problem solving coaching. So...I am thankful for ALS - most people aren't likely to say that!
Love this... HB is still doing this work!
in 1987-88, we only had our own trucks to deliver to our stores. We did use UPS to deliver to accounts and a small e-commerce business. During the Christmas season, the order volume would go up dramatically and it was hard for the packaging line to keep up. The 10 days before Christmas were the busiest. During this period, Dave Seymore would stand by the exit door of the warehouse/offices. He had piles of boxes in stacks marked North, South, East and West. He knew were everyone in the office lived. As you exited the door, Dave would figure out which store or restaurant you lived near and he would assign you several boxes from the pile that you were to deliver on your way home. I lived South, so I got all the boxes for the Federal Way store, Salty's and Anthony's Home Port restaurants.
It was also stressful to get all the packages ready for UPS pickup at 4:00. The team would deploy all kinds of creative tactics to give the packaging line more time. Dave would park a delivery truck in the driveway so the UPS driver would skip us and circle back after his next stop. It was the last shipping day to make Christmas, and it did not look like all the orders were going to make it onto the UPS truck. Howard Behar was passing through the production area and heard the team talking about it in a resigned way. HB refused to let that happen. So he came upstairs and rallied everyone upstairs to join the packaging line. About 20 of us hit the floor (there were about 45 people in the office then) and jumped in to help. We only had about an hour to get the packages done, but we made it. Everyone was hooting and hollering when the last package cleared the line. We ordered pizza for everyone to celebrate. HB, as always, was teaching us that the power of leading often comes down to the act of serving. Being close to your front lines and listening for what is needed. in 1989, we moved to the new SRP on Airport Way and the infrastructure had grown to accommodate the peak deliveries and we had signed a new contract with UPS and Service Paper to deliver to the stores (thanks to FlavourLock - which is another story).
Ditto the shout out on how drink ID came !
I had no idea! Hugs to you both for that effort and work. Opening that store felt like it was the end of the freeway. With a great bakery next door which was excellent! But we thought it was mmmiiiilllleeeessss from seattle. Yes, 8 whole miles :) omg. Where we started...
When Bearcreek, Redmond, store 308, was scheduled to open, the process for ordering items that were needed for a new store depended on each department ordering and bringing the items to four pallets set up in the warehouse across the street from the roasting plant on Airport Way. There were no lists, and no one person in charge or accountable to make sure everything was bought or ready. This organic system worked when one store opening was the focus of the whole company, but we really had no idea how many items there were or what they cost. So Dave Seymour , the warehouse supervisor, and I had to take apart the pallets and inventory every item, find out who had put it there, and how much it cost. It took us 4 days to inventory all the equipment, tools, accessories, fixtures, and supplies. It took another month to figure out where everything came from and how much it cost so we had a master list of everything needed. After Bear Creek opened, I still had to go to the store to catch the remaining items that just showed up there. Then we had to find and negotiate supply contracts for all the specialty items and equipment. We finally had a master list and process to order equipment for new stores. Dave Seymour developed the staging process for items that came in to be shipped out for new stores. We had everything figured out except for what became known as the Costco Run. Because we were on such a tight budget, office supplies, trash cans, office mats, and more had to be bought at Costco. Dave would get the truck after the store deliveries were done, and he and I would drive to the Costco on 4th Avenue in Seattle and go around with 4 carts to buy the items and bring them back to the warehouse. This was how we did it for the first 4 years before we had the infrastructure in place to order everything from suppliers.
When Starbucks only had 7 stores and the offices were on 2010 Airport Way South - the roasters were right under the offices. When an emergency order came in from the stores or from a restaurant account, the receptionist or the one person we had in customer service, would write the order on a piece of paper, open a sliding window, lower the order down on a string and a clip, and then blow a whistle. The roasters would pick up the order and roast a batch of whatever was needed. Coffee was shipped to the stores and accounts in 2 lb or 5lb white tins with a plastic bag liner and delivered on company trucks. The white tins were brought back to the roasters to be refilled. The roasters either called the stores every morning to get their order, or the manager would call them, but the orders were not kept, the scraps of paper just went into the bin. Everything was roasted to order and only the full batch was recorded and relieved from inventory.
One of my favourite memories is of Tom Walters. The roasters roasted the coffee by sight, smell and sound. They knew the coffee was done by hearing the sound of the second "pop", which signified that the coffee oil had reached the surface and the sugars had caramalized. Tom manned the roasters in a pony tail, bandana and Grateful Dead T-Shirt. Dave Olsen and I had the tasks of starting to forecast coffee demand so we could buy enough green coffee to meet the growth plans. So this required the roasters to keep track of the orders and enter them into a spreadsheet on a newly installed computer next to the roasters. From this, Dave and I created a forecasting tool that printed out on bluebar paper. No more calling the stores for their daily order. Some of the Roasters were up in arms about the corporate bureaucracy that was invading their craft.
Fast forward 15 years, and I saw a company video about the new roasting plant in Nevada. There was Tom Walters, in a white zip up suit, helmet, and goggles, pushing buttons while in a view tower above the roasting floor. A few weeks later, I ran into Tom in the 8th floor tasting room. I reminded Tom of the early days and distress over the bluebar paper and forecasting tool and asked him how he had made peace with all the changes. He replied, "it is like mowning the lawn." I asked him to explain his answer. He replied, "When I was 12, my Dad taught me to mow the lawn. I pushed a lawn mower and hand trimmed the edges with clippers. At 40, I have a riding lawn mower and headphones listening to my favourite music enjoying the hell out of mowing my lawn. All the bells and whistles make it more enjoyable. No matter what equipment I use, my standards for a well mowed lawn remain the same. My standards for roasting coffee will never change regardless of the equipment."
Then he unzipped his white jumpsuit and showed me his Grateful Dead T-Shirt.
So now matter how our tools and technology change to adapt to and ever growing market, our purpose and standards never need to.