Quoted from Starbucks website …
“It happens millions of times each week—a customer receives a drink from a Starbucks barista – but each interaction is unique.
It’s just a moment in time – just one hand reaching over the counter to present a cup to another outstretched hand.
But it’s a connection.
We make sure everything we do honors that connection—from our commitment to the highest quality coffee in the world, to the way we engage with our customers and communities to do business responsibly.
From our beginnings as a single store nearly forty years ago, in every place that we’ve been, and every place that we touch, we’ve tried to make it a little better than we found it.”
This Saturday(18/2/2012), we had our usual gathering of the Pipe Fellowship at Orchard Road. We usually order coffee or drinks from the nearby Starbucks either at Orchard Point or Centre Point.
Usually we get ourselves a drink from Starbucks and just join the gathering at our own time. Members start sauntering in from 9.30am onwards and we disperse around noon. We just chit chat, catch up on the latest happenings, enjoy our pipe and company.
When our veteran photographer Alec Ee appeared with his takeaway Starbucks coffee with milk, he looked flustered. He came to me and asked me what was he holding? Coffee or milk? I said it looked like milk to me. Exactly! But he said he actually ordered coffee with milk.
Alec Ee obviously wasn’t happy with his $4.20 coffee. It looked like milk with no coffee taste at all. We then advised him to go back to enquire.
After some time, Alec Ee came back with a replacement. He bought it from the Starbucks outlet at Centre Point. It looked only slightly better than the previous mug.
Alec said they had a clear jug filled with black coffee in the fridge but it looked diluted more like tea than black coffee. They use this to pour contents into customer’s cup which has an indicated line portion. If it is already diluted then it will definitely be diluted further when she follows the line. Alec told her that and she offered to make another fresh coffee jug which would take 3 minutes according to her. Before the three minutes was up she quickly poured it into the jug anyway. And viola! Another coffee jug which looks like tea.
With the milk added to the already bland coffee, it became worst! You can imagine how pissed off he is.
We then started to discuss about Starbucks. They have lost their standards in terms of quality control. Their staff are not properly trained etc
Another of our member Ignatius showed us his cup of iced Raspberry Blackcurrant Blended Juice from Starbucks. He distinctly told the staff “takeaway”, yet he was given a normal cup. What’s wrong with their staff. We felt that Starbucks fell short of our expectation. They are not giving us our money’s worth!
They suggested that I blog this incident and feedback to Starbucks for necessary action. Let’s hope that they will show some improvements the next time round.
PS: Starbucks does not provide email address. I submitted this feedback on their website.
It’s Starbucks Orchard Point and I’m there NOT for the coffee, but to smoke my pipe with kindred spirits like you and other ladies and gentlemen. “Membership” is by invitation only.
It’s always a pleasure to soak in your magnanimous generosity and enjoy our members’ reciprocal spontaneous warmth and camaraderie. It is an honor and privilege I value. It’s been more than 3 yrs since I first stepped onto Orchard Rd at your invitation after years of boycotting it.
I would prefer to go Bugis, Geylang Serai, Sungei Rd etc other than Orchard Rd. I never felt at home there due to extraordinary numbers of foreigners! I felt like a stranger in a foreign land. Sadly, it’s happening all over tiny Sg. Orchard Rd is no different with other parts of Sg now due to the ever wider opening of the floodgates for foreigners. Still I must reiterate here that I’m not anti foreigners per se.
Thanks Dr Mike and the others for your/their valuable company all these years.
As a barista I’ve seen many customers ordering ice coffee; then request for a larger cup as well as extra ice. No wonder the coffee gets diluted. In any case coffee should never be drank cold. Ice tea for sunny Asia yes, but unless one appreciates the coffee culture one will only be qualified to condemn. Do not be too hasty to criticize because it only shows your ignorance. It is like casting pearls before swine.
Look at Alec Ee’s comments. This is the first and only complt in 4 yrs he’s been buying his coffee from the same place. We are not that cheap skates as to ask for bigger portion of coffee on the flimsiest excuse. If its a genuine complt, then there is a need to look into for better quality service and overall improvements. It does not bode well to just dismiss it and brush aside.
Not all swines are ignorant of good precious pearls. Some are better than you imagine.
Thks for your comments.
Consider the facts: there are 17,000 Starbucks worldwide so are they doing something right or you have friends who know nothing about coffee. If you prefer the kind of dish water served at local kopi tiams that is the only coffee many locals know, then drink that coffee!
First I thank you for visiting my blog and your comment. If some party can control a country for 50 yrs does not mean it is perfect and has got the birthright to do so forever. There is always room for improvement given the fact that we live in an imperfect world with many imperfections.
I drank Starbucks coffee couple of times in my life. I never like it. It’s my personal preference and taste. It’s got nothing to do with Starbucks. I’m not against them. I also don’t condemn them. Just like the countless heartlanders living in HDB estates and my parents and grandparents, I still prefer the “dishwater” coffee in our kopitiam. I beg you to forgive my ignorance and stupidity in drinking this type of coffee which you find nauseating.
To each his own. Thks again for enlightening me on my ignorance. I have learnt much from you.
I think what Alec ordered was the Coffee of the Day, which will naturally become diluted when mixed with milk. As a former barista, I used to have customers asking for Coffee of the Day, mixed with additional hot water. If you want stronger black coffee with milk, best to order an Americano with milk.
That said, all former baristas used to have to go for intensive, six-week training at the Starbucks HQ before they could even serve a customer. I heard that today’s baristas no longer need to endure the same training process so yes, quality of service as well as the products produced have fallen sharply. Truly a shame!
Thank you for your fair and objective comment. It shows clearly your maturity and upbringing. We have learnt much from you in this coffee business. Cheers.
This is very unfortunate. I understand the reasons for your frustration Gintai. But the question is why did you and your friends CONSISTENTLY get lousy coffee. To understand this requires a basic knowledge of how a commercial coffee machine works – barrista.
This is what I suspect may have transpired, as I too have experience lousy coffee many times requiring me to undertake my own research on this subject. Allow me to share with you some of my findings based on numerous cases where I have even gone behind the counter to reset the machine which is called the barrista much to the consternation of the manager.
Now understand this – to make excellent coffee it is nothing short of rocket science. First at least 9.25 BAR of pressure is required, the typical accepted pressure for brewing espresso is 8.67 atmospheres of pressure or 128.4 pounds per square inch. If the pressure falls by even 2.5 percentile points, the coffee is no good.
Usually in commercial outlets, the operator is either a kid, someone who has limited engineering knowledge or hasnt been properly trained. Hence what they frequently fail to do is check whether the rotary pump in the barrista is 100%, hence pressure is usually inconsistent along with affecting temperature consistency – to determine the pressure is consistent, all that is required is to refer to a guage usually located underneath the machine and reset it – I suspect the operator may failed in this critical step, as 9 out of 10 this has been my personal experience. Result: instead of the required 206F temp (at sea level) in order to obtain optimal extraction from coffee powder what you will get is black water. Hence a lousy cup of coffee.
Do not get angry Gintai. Once you understand how things work from the inside out. Everything will fall naturally into it’s correct place.
I hope this helps.
One simple yet reliable method that I usually use to ensure a quality brew is to specify my order in the following terms that I can only refer to as psychological warfare. When you log in your order instruct the operator, NEVER the cashier.
“I will appreciate it, if you can please make sure the demitasse (the cup that holds a shot of coffee powder) is cleaned by rinsing it under a running tap before packing it with coffee powder?”
This Gintai is code in the coffee industry for, “I think a quality control inspector has been sent here incognito to audit my outlet! I think, he’s out to sack someone today! ” This ensures everyone from the manager to the counter staff will be on their toes. And the best part is even if the machine is on the blink on that particular day, you will at least get a passable cuppa. Remember in life – no one ever just gives you their best, if they know you are never the type who will say NO!- behave like any walk in customer and they will give you the run of the mill treatment – behave like a professional who knows precisely how to get what he wants and you can only get the very best out of those around you.
I hope this helps Gintai. I do apologize for my wind bag post. Do forgive me.
I am impressed!
I never fail to be amazed by your mastery of facts and mental discipline in getting your ideas across to your audience. I have learnt a valuable lesson on the art of coffee by a true connoisseur who knows it inside out. It will serve me well in my future conversation with like minded coffee addicts.
I ever said before that I’m an ardent fan of your masterpieces. My daily ritual of checking your pearls of wisdom has paid handsome dividends as I see it. http://dotseng.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/will-singapore-be-destroyed-by-the-looming-culture-clash/ and http://intelligentsingaporean.wordpress.com/2007/08/21/deconstructing-the-singapore-dream/
Your thesis on whatever topic or subject is never too long for me to digest and regurgitate. It’s always an invaluable learning experience I humbly appreciate cuz there is much to glean and reap and to quench.
Thank you so much for your dropping by and sharing with us your pearls of wisdom. It serves us well for all those reading your comments.
Nice to know there are so many coffee lovers. I have to add that I patronize Starbucks Centerpoint outlet on Saturdays for more then 4 years and either order hot or ice coffee without any problem. The coffee taste good except for the one made yesterday. That’s why this complaint was up.
It is good that you defended yourself here. U shld know that I hardly drink Starbucks coffee. Usually I just order the mineral water or others. I also don’t normally visit Starbucks at all except on the Sat congregation.
There are blind loyal followers of Starbucks who do not take criticism or feedback kindly. Looks like we have just stirred the hornets’ nest!
Anyway like I said I have submitted your feedback to Starbucks. We’ll just wait and see. Langgar!
I don’t really patronize Starbucks or other such outlets much, except when I go out with friends, the only ‘good’ Starbucks outlet I know is the one located at Millenia Walk.
Just sui bian order 1 cup of milk/coffee with caramel flavor topping, that outlet serves the best Starbucks coffee. Not sure about the rest, but at least I do know more about their Centrepoint outlet after reading your blog.
Overall, I still think plain water is the best! LOL.
Thks Gabriel for dropping by. We will take note of your recommendation. Have a nice day.
A country bumpkin like me does not know much about the art of drinking coffee.I only know that I should be grateful that I can afford to drink it .
Kopi is only tasteful to me if I can drink it at a place where I can enjoy seeing beauties around.
The more beauties I saw,the more cups I may continue to order and sometimes spent my whole morning there.Whether kopitiam or shopping area,whatever fancy names.so long as there are beauties around,I will say
that the kopi is perfect.I do not know whether that is the cause or side effect of drinking too much kopi.
I can’t drink more than 2 cups of black coffee straight. But I can drink a dozen of beer. If u go online there are much more beauties to enjoy. Cheers.
I read with interest your comments and the others in our pipe smoking group about the quality and standard of drinks at Starbucks.
I think you all have it all wrong.
First of all, you have to remember that Starbucks has never marketed itself as a”Gourmet” or “Drinks Specialist”. If you ask around, read social studies and research, you will find that people love hanging out at Starbucks because:
> It’s a great place to hang out and meet up with people
> It’s a great experience to be at Starbucks
> The staff are nice and friendly, and service is good
All those points, you cannot fault them. When Alec Ee was dis-satisfied with his drink, he went to ask for another drink and he got a replacement without quarrel, nor did they ask him to fill in a long form to explain by he needed a replacement.
You have to remember, we, the Singapore Pipe Smoking “Group” hang out here because the place offers us a large smoking area, the location is central. We never said that we were meeting at Starbucks for the drinks.
Besides, whether or not the drinks are “good” is very subjective. I personally don’t have an issue with the standard of the drinks. They are what you pay for. If I paid $10 for a cup of coffee at a place who claims to be the coffee connoisseur, then yes, I would expect top quality coffee drinks.
But not at Starbucks.
Starbucks is called “The 3rd place”, after home and office, this is where people hang out together. If you look at the people who sit at Starbucks, they are socializing, hanging out with friends, spending time alone. No one is there carefully savouring their drinks or expecting it to be some soul-lifting experience with their Starbucks drinks.
If you check Starbucks website, you will see that they focus on coffee – so if you order anything else, well let’s say that is not their core competence.
Besides, you probably heard about Starbuck’s training for their staff – they are all taught how to make coffee the Starbucks way so that it is all consistent where ever you go – which is how chains such as MacDonalds, KFC etc operate. You can ask Michael’s daughter, Jemima, about her experience working at Starbucks.
If it vexes you all about the quality of the drinks, then I would suggest you guys order one of the bottled juices or plain hot tea. Those would be quite safe. I don’t touch any of their fancy concoctions myself as I think the drinks too sweet – ice lemonade is as far as I go outside of their latte. Or order a couple of shots of espresso and then add milk and ice to your heart’s content.
So, please, don’t complain about the drinks. This is not the reason why we come to Starbucks.
First I must sincerely thank you for your long detailed response. It’s good of you to tell us how you feel so that we know how you feel!
Below is my reply to Alec Eee. ONLY he is the complainant. We didn’t complt. Certainly I didn’t cuz I dont drink their coffee at all. What there is to complt if I don’t buy their coffee at all? It’s a non issue for me actually.
“It is good that you defended yourself here. U shld know that I hardly drink Starbucks coffee. Usually I just order the mineral water or others. I also don’t normally visit Starbucks at all except on the Sat congregation.
There are blind loyal followers of Starbucks who do not take criticism or feedback kindly. Looks like we have just stirred the hornets’ nest!”
If you look at all the comments again. Jem commented that the std of training and service has dropped. That answers your question.
We will leave it as it is. The others are not relevant to the thrust of the main issue here. Nevertheless, I do agree with your good self that the place is great and the staff are friendly. No issues about those. No negative remarks on that.
Like I said – we hang out at Starbucks every week not for the drinks.
For the record espresso is best when made by forcing hot water at 91-95 °C under a pressure of between eight and fifteen bars (800–1500 kPa, 116-220 psi).
Interesting facts which I never knew. It shows how little I know about this coffee business. Thks.
It is interesting to note the points and interest and defense shown by the baristas and coffee aficionados here. May I remind the Quill that I have been patronising Centerpoint Starbucks for more then 4 years during Saturdays because I really like the quality they serve there? My only complaint was last Saturday after Gintai urge me to do so. ( see why from the photos Gintai took).
And no, Gintai, I am not the only complainant, Ignatius was also not happy with the Raspberry Black Currant iced blend he ordered. Isn’t it a fact that Companies treasure good feedback by consumers to improve their service standards? Or do they want to be like Ostriches and hide their heads in the sand?
Alamak! It seems that I was the instigator? Anyway, what we said is quite true. The pictures tell all. You told me to take before and after that replacement. Good idea or else no one will want to listen or believe what we claim here. Yes Ignatius was not pleased with his “takeaway” cup. Sometimes, the issue just gone awry with arrows flying all over the place missing the real target or point (bone) of contention? But it was fun to see sparks flying about. That’s life – full of contradictions and paradox.
Wait, wait, wait, wait, this is getting really out of hand. I hope this ends the mindless exchange. A lot of people are missing the point here. You wrote “When our veteran photographer Alec Ee appeared with his takeaway Starbucks coffee with milk, he looked flustered. He came to me and asked me what was he holding? Coffee or milk? I said it looked like milk to me. Exactly! But he said he actually ordered coffee with milk…They [Alec and Ignatius] suggested that I blog this incident and feedback to Starbucks for necessary action.”
Then Alec wrote “My only complaint was last Saturday after Gintai urge me to do so.”
May I humbly suggest we support http://www.minds.org.sg/
The minds we save could be our own. Have a less wuliao week all.
It’s become a mini forum of sort. As the owner of this blog, I can always shut off all comments just like your blog and many others. I can also block some comments while allowing some to go thru. But then I do not hold this view. Positive or negative comments are allowed thru. I allow free play of ideas here. So long it’s not insulting, inflammatory or racists I welcome comments – not necessarily must be in line with my views. I accept opposing views even though I do not subscribe to those views.
I do enjoy reading opposing views here. You are welcome to comment and sell your ideas here.
Yakun coffee is my favourite.
Me has my daily fix at a coffee stall operates
by a Hainanese couple at Tampines St 11
Round Market. The coffee, tea and Milo
are the lowest in price and the tastes are
amongst the best anywhere.
Check out ‘Quanfang’ Coffee Stall, however
do not visit on Sunday(closed) or after 1.30 pm.
Reason for not operating on Sunday was cited
as ‘too difficult to cope up’ with orders.
Understandable as they are into twilight years
and the morning crowd on normal day is aredi
they are wise not to overwork themselves.
It seems that you are staying nearby that coffee shop? I will drop by one day and try the coffee with you. I prefer this sort of coffee than the “Mat Salleh” coffee. I’m a humble simpleton who only knows local coffee. Thks.
Yes Mike….this is really getting out of hand and your suggestion about supporting MINDS seems out of place here. Gintai definitely urged me to complain for that I am certain and we continued to discuss this after you left the group.
Hey guys, I am getting a bit flustered here with all the controversy on a Starbucks coffee served different from what I expected. Being an ardent lover of Starbucks coffee I am not the kiasu type and usually let it be if something goes wrong giving the benefit of the doubt to the barister. With all the sarcasm here I am glad I don’t blog.
I did warn you from the onset that we are stirring a “hornets’ nest”? Well this is the world we live in. Everyone is free to express based on his or her perception. We just can’t ignore there are such ppl in our midst with self righteous views. My style is that I don’t impose my views on others. I just do what I’m happy and believe in doing. If there is a case we bring it up. It got to be fair with facts n evidence. That’s why those pics were taken. Yet there are ppl chose to ignore facts and evidence. They simply shut off. Like I say they got their own self righteous views – holy than thou self-conceited world view. We will just have to live and let live so to speak. Do not get “flustered.” All things will fall in place sooner or later.
Yes, the market is about 5 minutes away by bicycle, my mode of transport within 20 kilometres to and fro from home.
Other than the coffee, the few noodle stalls are also popular.
I look forward one day to taste the kind of Hainanese coffee we plebeians appreciate. Thks for your recommendation. Cheers.