I am a Starbucks fan. I have my favorite drinks. I help new customers in line understand their options. I get to know my baristas. I have been a gold card member since the gold card was black.

I suppose like relationships, sometimes things in the Starbucks world are not always perfect, and we will have disagreements. For the most part, I have been a fan of most of their decisions. And some I haven't agreed with turned out pretty well for them even without my support. In my last visit, I encountered another disagreement.

Since some changes at Starbucks take awhile to permeate the nation, I'm not sure if what I encountered was a "test" incident or the norm, but I didn't like it.

It was a warm Sunday afternoon, and I had some time to kill before meeting my husband. So, I visited the first Starbucks in which I could find a parking space and went to order something refreshing--but not caffeinated for once. I have all my caffeine options memorized. I even have a graduated program that I introduce new Starbucks customers to in order to have the optimal Starbucks growth experience.

Every regular Starbuckie knows that frappaccinos are low on the list. They're reserved for Starbucks newbies. But in this instance, I wanted to go backwards and have something cool with "creme" in it. So, I look at the menu in order to not be the customer who takes too long--and the menu was missing!! There was the "La Boulange" menu (also, something of which I was never a fan) and the drink menu. It has maybe 10 different drinks listed with the frappaccino options being something like flan and caramel something-or-other. None of the other options were listed that I know my brain has seen for years, but I never picked. I guess it was just comforting to know they were there, for days like this particularly warm caffeine-free Sunday afternoon. But they weren't there.

I thought maybe there was a mistake, so I asked the barista. She was very kind, and said, "Yeah...I think it's supposed to encourage conversation between us..."

Okay, okay, Starbucks. I get that you want to know customers. I have been one of those customers that has been known and had my drink started upon the ding from the door before my heel could hit the store floor. But the issue is, people also like Starbucks because it is fast. Most of those people who want fast service stand behind me, and aren't always happy at the budding friendships my baristas and I share.

When I lived in another area of town, I had a special friendship with my gangsta barista. He had tattoos on his face that I had to google later to understand the meaning. Although what I found out scared me a bit, I really liked my barista. He was always kind and smiling and seemed to generally care about his job, co-workers, and customers. Hey--anybody can get a bad tattoo on their face.

Way back when moons ago, I was solo at the counter ordering, so our conversation picked up, and I learned a few more tidbits about my faithful, local Starbucks crew. I didn't realize there were about five customers that had suddenly lined up behind me. They were anxious for their morning cups of joe to change their frowns from upside down, and they were not amused with my conversation.

If Starbucks wants to be a conversation place, bring back the soft chairs! Bring back actual mugs! Or just accept the business you have been blessed with. And know that many conversations happen at Starbucks and they don't have to be initiated by baristas. The baristas definitely have an important role, but their job is intense enough trying to please people. Those customer/barista relationships happen best naturally and can't be manipulated through missing menus.

My conversation with the barista I met yesterday would have been far better if it didn't consist of me trying to figure out what drinks were still available. We could have talked about something real.

Starbucks, bring back the menus. Or at least pictures.

thank you. 

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