Starbucks "Juicy Raspberry" Controversy Continues

Boy, Andy really unleashed the inner demons of the Starbucks faithful with his “Juicy Raspberry” letter. There is the most hilarious thread going on at the Starbucks Gossip blog about whether is its, in fact, ok to serve “Juicy Raspberry” to customers before June 26th, and whether Andy is, in fact, too long-winded. It seems that Starbucks people are pretty long-winded themselves.

Highlights inside.

You know I think it’s extremely shitty of that lady from corporate to send that customer that letter, when we got a memo SPECIFICALLY telling us NOT to use the Juicy Raspberry until promo launch! That makes all the store partners look bad when they were just doing what they were told to do.

Everyone keeps saying it’s about “uplifting people” and “who cares, just say yes!” You guys, we are a corporation…ok? I think that internal audits, people losing jobs, and mess-ups in inventory are a lot more important than giving someone their raspberry. If someone told you that either you can lose your job and sell them raspberry, or tell them to wait, what would you choose?

Companies set up regulations to be followed. I know how some rules are “meant to be broken”, but I don’t see anything wrong with this. Overall, waiting till the 25th is the best decision, and if the heads of a corporation had hundreds of people think of this beforehand, then I will trust their judgment.

If a customer asked me to sell them juicy raspberry, I would probably say no. I would explain the launch date, offer alternatives, even offer a comparable drink for free, and try to connect.

Why can’t I walk into Best Buy and DEMAND a new Xbox, two days before the release date? After all, I know they have it in stock. Disclaimer…I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about any Xbox, but is it not a fair analogy?

we ran out of raspberry a month or so ago. so did all the stores around us. one of our daily regulars loves the raspberry so much and our store so much, when he was in a store that did have the raspberry, he bought himself 2 bottles of the stuff(that’s all they would sell him). it sits in the cupboard under the bar with his name on it and we only serve it to him.
we also had him try the juicy raspberry and he hates it.
we know he’s a freak, he knows he’s a freak. but he’s our freak and we love him. plus, he’s all proactive about it and not whiny.

Let me be sure I hear this right. There are folks here that are willing to ignore a release date?

Please reconsider. I enjoy making my customers’ day as much as anyone, but not by preselling something. Sure, it’s “just syrup”, but if you will say yes to that, I can’t see why you would say no to anything else.

Thank you Herman! It’s not about saying no about a syrup….but if saying yes then where is the stopping point the next time a customer asks for something early… there has to be a stopping point or promo launches don’t become special anymore. But I still think the writer is a cry baby!

This should be a non-issue. If it is between losing a customer and doing things in a rigid fashion, just make the customer happy. How much money do you think this guy spent at Starbucks everyday over the years? Let’s see – Iced Venti Mocha plus soy and another syrup? That’s almost $5 there, more in some areas. Now, how many times a day did he visit? 2 to 3 times? Now multiply that over the years. This guy is the customer we want to keep, the customer who is invested in our culture and the partners in his home store.

Starbucks, you’re so funny! We thought we posted something nice about Starbucks sending one of their loyal customers a gift card. Let’s all hug!—MEGHANN MARCO

I can hear the people at Starbucks saying: “Just send them a gift card and pray they never contact us again”
[Starbucks Gossip]
(Photo: swruler9284)

PREVIOUSLY: Epic Battle For Raspberry Syrup Ends With Starbucks Apology And Gift Card


Edit Your Comment

  1. B says:

    Am I the only one who thinks “Juicy Raspberry” sounds kind of dirty? Depending on the barista, I might really want to get one.

  2. Recury says:

    Starbucks, get your shit together! People in the Pacific Northwest take their coffee (or whatever it’s called once you put 4 adjectives in front of it and add some kind of syrup) seriously! A gift card isn’t going to fix this kind of basic customer service failure; a new Volkswagen Jetta with an iPod maybe, but NOT a gift card.

  3. LowerHouseMember says:

    I’m no fan of street date policies, but if they are in place… thems the rules.

  4. MandM813 says:

    If someone fires you for giving a customer Juicy Raspberry, I suggest you find a better place to work. Come on dude, seriously. The big picture is that Starbucks shouldn’t instill that kind of fear in their employees, that if they try to make a customer happy by giving them juicy raspberry *GASP* BEFORE the release date, they won’t have to worry about getting in major trouble.

    The employees on that post should be mad at their employer for those rigid policies, not at the customer who’s money pays their bills.

  5. Uriel says:


    they also told him in the letter that they will now be allowing the use of the syrup, along with giving him the gift-card. Personally, I’d just give him the fuckin syrup, rather than lose him as a customer, as I’d be acting like a shit head.

  6. ChrisC1234 says:

    I think these people need to get a life. I read the whole post about how important Starbucks was in those people’s lives, and how they NEEDED to have the raspberry syrup. Products get discontinued all the time. DEAL WITH IT!

  7. Youthier says:

    I am so bored at work that when I saw this headline, I nearly jumped out of my seat.

    *sits back to watch the insanity*

  8. mikyrok says:

    @MandM813: I’d expect to be fired, if two days before nintendo wii came out I went into the back of a Best Buy and started selling them to customers. Customers shouldn’t bitch about not being able to have something that isn’t supposed to be available to them.. What is expected of startbucks? For them to:

    A) Ship all the syrup on the day of the new product launch?
    B) Surprise consumers with a new product without announcing it?

    I don’t get why people feel the firing was unjustified the employee broke the rules, that is something you should get fired for.

  9. mopar_man says:


    I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  10. scoobydoo says:

    I don’t know what troubles me most:

    That this “epic drama” is still continuing.

    Or that there actually is a Starbucks gossip blog.

    The world as we know it is fucked.

  11. Peeved Guy says:

    @MandM813: Clearly you weren’t paying attention. The quote above describes a logistics nightmare of hellish proportions for the entire Starbucks franchise if one customer is served Juicy Raspberry before the release date.

    With that said… Is it really that important to get raspberry syrup in your drink?

    Finally, knowing that there is a “Starbucks Gossip” website makes my head hurt.

  12. backspinner says:

    And not once in the comments thread are the “picky gays” bashed or the drink called the “gayest” anyone’s ever heard of.

    For the amount of shit corporate customer service employees get on this site, at least these ones sure are more enlightened than a lot of us.

  13. pestie says:

    @LowerHouseMember: Yes, of course – don’t bother thinking about customer service, or the long-term business benefits thereof! No, it’s far more important to follow the rules, as written, to the letter, without exception, all the time. Anything else would involve independent thought, which is strictly forbidden. Remember those “zero tolerance” rules you had in high school? They were put there to prepare you for your job here at Starbucks! So remember, keep your mouth shut and don’t think. All your thinking’s been done for you by corporate headquarters.

    What the hell do I care – I hate Starbucks coffee anyway. The stuff tastes like burnt ass.

  14. Seacub says:

    Oh my god. Please make the lambs stop crying.

  15. Hoss says:

    @backspinner: If “Juicy Raspberry” becomes known as a”Queer Shooter” I’ll know that this nation is approaching a level of maturity. Enlighten up

  16. ladycrumpet says:

    This issue is pretty silly, given all the truly heinous consumer issues that get covered here. I don’t frequent Starbucks that often, so it’s thanks to Consumerist that I first heard about “Juicy Raspberry.” I think I can manage to hold out until the official release.

    As a consumer I expect good customer service, but as a customer I don’t expect or demand that a company bend the rules for me. This is of course, assuming there aren’t ridiculous rules existing in the first place.

    As to the Starbucks Gossip Blog, it’s run by Jim Romanesko of That must be one of his side interests – I don’t read it, but I’m a fan of Obscure Store for its collection of obscure or unusual news items – it’s worth checking out.

  17. cindel says:

    You know Starbucks could hav

  18. cindel says:

    grr… as I was saying

    Starbucks could have avoided all this shit IF they still has their regular raspberry in stock up until the launch date. Sell both regular and juicy until the regular raspberry is gone.

    As for those people on the gossip blog..seriously get a damn life.

  19. sassenach says:

    People that drink coffee with raspberry anything are idiots and who cares about them?

  20. embean says:

    I work for Starbucks. Usually, we get promotional “ingredients” for well, promotions. Take the orange syrup for example, is being used for the orange mocha promotion. The problem with the raspberry syrup is that they are switching the old raspberry to “juicy” raspberry. Store have run out of the old syrup, yet cannot start using the new syrup until the promotion starts. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but raspberry syrup is already pretty popular, and a lot of people already know about raspberry mochas and stuff. The orange mocha, for example, was introduced for the promotion, which is usually the case. Since this is so common, I don’t know why stores cannot just switch to the new syrup when they run out of the old. Stores definitely already have the new syrup, so why not use it? Part of the raspberry promotion is the switchover to the new syrup, but promotions don’t usually interfere with normal ingredients like this. I don’t think its acceptable to not have a substitution for this time. And by the way, I work in Canada, and we’re using the juicy raspberry. :

  21. SactoKev says:

    A: The original writer is a jackass. I’m not concerned with whther he is straight, gay, white, black, purple or even a martian. To be that disturbed by the lack of a coffee flavoring signals some much more serious issues.
    B: Video game analogy is spot-on.
    C: Please. As if there is another coffee option besides Starbucks for people like this? Peets, independent, whatever, people who require this level of uniformity can’t go anywhere BUT Starbucks. Think you’re going to find the same brew your local indie spot has when you go, oh, ANYWHERE else? Nope.

  22. acambras says:

    …gay, white, black, purple or even a martian.

    I knew it — eventually Starbucks was bound to open a location on Mars.

  23. agahnim says:

    Whatever. OP was epic fail. “Iced Venti Raspberry Soy Mocha”; are you kidding me?

  24. exkon says:

    LOL hilarious.

    Seriously though street dates are NOT to be broken.

    That xbox analogy was cake though. You break street date for one person, you gotta do it for everyone.

  25. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I said it once, and I’ll say it again..this whole hullaballo over raspberry syrup is a tempest in a coffee pot, IMHO. I mean, come on people, don’t you have better things to do than spend half your life posting to blogs in the Internet?



  26. tubedogg says:

    The Xbox analogy is nowhere close.

    This is a better analogy: The Xbox is being completely replaced by a newer model. (In other words, the original model is being discontinued, effective immediately; the only stock that remains is already in stores. This is NOT what happened with Xbox -> Xbox 360 or any similar video game system transition.) Stores run out of the original model and therefore have nothing to sell to customers. The new model is street-dated for two weeks later. Does that make any sense?

    “Sorry, we can’t sell you an Xbox because the old one is out of stock and we aren’t allowed to sell the new one yet.” A good chunk of people are going to either walk away or buy a competing sytem. It would be commercial suicide to do this.

    If Juicy Raspberry was a promotional flavor being introduced separately, and the original Raspberry was simply being discontinued, I could understand not selling Juicy until the official start date. But Juicy is REPLACING the original Raspberry…so you create many, many customer service issues by having a raspberry flavor not available in the lag time between running out of old and June 25th.

    You want to do an ad blitz and say that the flavor will be available in all stores “by” that date (as opposed to “on” that date), fine. But don’t piss people off in the meantime. That’s just stupid business.

  27. agahnim says:

    @tubedogg: The Xbox analogy doesn’t fit because an Xbox costs 100 times more than a (sort of) coffee drink.

  28. smallestmills says:

    If you serve Juicy Raspberry early to one customer, we’re talking about a disaster of biblical proportions…human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria.

    Please, won’t someone think of the children?

  29. Employees Must Wash Hands says:

    From that blog:

    It is our JOB to create uplifting experiences that enrich people’s daily lives.

    Gee. I thought this was just a place to get a $4 cup of coffee, not a church.

    I’ve never had an “uplifting” experience at a Starbucks, just someone correcting me when I order a “medium” frappucino as opposed to a “grande.”

  30. MercuryPDX says:

    @agahnim: It completely fits…. behold… search and replace:

    This is a better analogy: The Raspberry Syrup is being completely replaced by a newer model. (In other words, the original model is being discontinued, effective immediately; the only stock that remains is already in stores. This is NOT what happened with Raspberry Syrup -> Sugare Free Raspberry Syrup or any similar syrup transition.) Stores run out of the original Syrup and therefore have nothing to sell to customers. The new Syrup is street-dated for two weeks later. Does that make any sense?

    “Sorry, we can’t sell you an Raspberry Syrup because the old one is out of stock and we aren’t allowed to sell the new one yet.” A good chunk of people are going to either walk away or buy a competing Syrup. It would be commercial suicide to do this.

  31. acambras says:

    I’ve never had an “uplifting” experience at a Starbucks, just someone correcting me when I order a “medium” frappucino as opposed to a “grande.”

    I know this is perverse, but on the rare occasions I go to Starbucks, I always make a point of ordering a small, medium, or large.

  32. tubedogg says:

    The Xbox may cost significantly more, but then again I don’t think Microsoft typically receives missives the length that the OP sent to Starbucks in this case. For some reason Starbucks engenders a rabid sense of loyalty, for better or worse, and they know this and exploit it, which is why this situation is so much more puzzling from a consumer standpoint.

  33. TWinter says:

    @ben1040: I’ve never had an “uplifting” experience at a Starbucks, just someone correcting me when I order a “medium” frappucino as opposed to a “grande.”

    I don’t go there very often and I refuse to learn their stupid sizes, but I did finally discover a way to order and not get “barista” attitude for not using their stupid name. Just order it in ounces; “Hi, I’d like a 16 oz. house roast please.” That’s worked for me every time and gotten me no strange looks from the “barista”.

    Is it just me or does barista sound like some sort of South American drug gang?

  34. swalve says:

    This is silly. Starbucks has the right to sell their products when they want. Want to do it different? Start your own coffee chain and let me knows how it works out.

  35. Ola says:

    I haven’t really followed the whole “Juicy Raspberry” thing. Really, it’s a syrup. But I *did* see a Starbucks the other day (well before June 26…) with “Juicy Raspberry” mentioned on their chalkboard. I didn’t look at it too closely, so I don’t *know* whether it was a “coming soon!” thing or not, but it was where they normally write the day’s special. :)

  36. CapitalC says:

    I want an iPhone and I want it now. Screw the 29th. Apple can send me a nasty letter if they want, at least I’ll have my juicy iPhone. :D

  37. Uriel says:


  38. Uriel says:

    GROW A BRAIN!!!!!

  39. kc-guy says:

    @ MandM813
    If someone fires you for giving a customer Juicy Raspberry, I suggest you find a better place to work. Come on dude, seriously.

    Yes, find a better place to work part-time as a college student than #29 on Fortune’s 100 Best companies to work for in 2006.


  40. r81984 says:

    That xbox anology does not work here, because that is a game system and the raspberry syrup is part of a caffinated drink that people are addicted to and need to function in the morning.

    Caffine is very addictive and if you drank it every day for a year and then one day they tell you they cannot make your drink for 2 weeks because they ran out of syrup you would freak out.

    They got people addicted to coffee with raspberry and need to accomodate them, if they have raspberry syrup in stock and people know it then use it, never argue with an addicted customer over something they need and they know you have. Take their money and give them the syrup in their drinks, then everyone wins.

    If you do not want to do what it takes to make the customer happy then do not be in retail.

    Also next time you have secret syrup in stock do not tell customers about it and they will not argue since they will think it is actually out of stock and there is nothing you can do to get it for them.

  41. transiit says:

    So here’s the thing that I don’t get: Starbucks, good or evil, is a business. They profit as long as they can sell people a product. Which means they supply, we demand, yeah? Things like “Product release dates” and that ilk are designed with a single purpose: Convince the buyer that there is a scarcity and that we should be clawing over each other finding a rogue franchise that’s violating the release date, or that we at least get so wrapped up in the enchantment of it all that we forget that raspberry plus chocolate plus espresso might not even taste that good in the first place.

    So make your metaphors to video game consoles or cars or widget A vs. widget B. It’s all the same. They publicize something (overt or not) and provide the idea that raspberry syrup in our morning coffee is the thing we’ve really been missing out on. And here we are, frothing over it.

  42. Rusted says:

    I’m not addicted! Honest! So what if I need to go to Betty Ford Clinic for coffee drinkers?

    Coffee, gotta be black and nasty and strong. Syrup in coffee….ugh. That ain’t coffee. Same for that decaffeinated nonsense.

  43. Jon Parker says:

    I am a complete idiot. I read the previous thread, including Andy’s letter and all the comments. I read this thread and all the comments. I went to the Starbucks gossip site and read all the comments. This took me like an hour and a half.

    I have nothing to add, but I did want this accomplishment noted. Oh yeah, and no more gay comments, please.

  44. Michael says:

    Forget Iraq; this is our generation’s Vietnam.

  45. hurmpees says:

    Having inventory on your shelf that is not moving is a waste. If your release date is June 26th, do not have your product in the store until 1-2 days prior. This is Starbucks fault for having a product and not letting anyone use it 10-14 days later. Don’t you think that some employee somewhere would be tempted to use it and possibly get in trouble or let customers know they have it but aren’t allowed to use it until such and such date thus causing problems. Not a smart move by Starbucks I think.

  46. Hollywood590 says:

    An additional flavor for coffee is nothing like the xbox. At all. If you think it is you are a moron, plain and simple. In fact there are very few street dates you can compare this to. Why? Because its a Starbucks flavor.

    If Hollywood Video breaks a street date with a movie, that studio can refuse to stock them on future releases. If a local mom and pop shop sells an Xbox early, MS can refuse to ever send them any ever again.

    If a Starbucks sells a Starbucks flavor (that is the replacement for one they no longer carry), Starbucks will still continue to stock Starbucks. Any comparison of this to those above is idiotic.

  47. Slytherin says:


  48. DeeJayQueue says:

    the Xbox analogy doesn’t work. Here’s why:

    It’s not the same as the difference between the xbox and the xbox 360. they’re completely different systems and one isn’t meant to replace the other. You can still go into a store and buy an xbox off the shelf, they haven’t been discontinued.

    It would be more like the PS2 when they went from the original design to the slimmer model. If a store ran out of the original model but was forbidden to sell the new slim model that would be bullshit. It’s the same thing, plays the same games, it’s just in a different shell, so it’s New and Improved. That’s why they didn’t have a street date for the release of the new design of the PS2, and that’s why they just mixed inventories instead of halting production on one before the others got into stores.

    Also, if something is on the menu, I’m pretty sure they have to have it for sale, or if they don’t they can make a reasonable substitution. If the menu board says Raspberry on it, they should be able to sell me something with raspberry, or say that they don’t have any and offer me orange or strawberry or hazlenut or something instead. To say that they have it but can’t sell it paints a very thin excuse and it’s not something that anyone with half a brain would settle for.

    The point is that this whole thing was never about coffee, it was about the principle of pointing out bad customer service. The phrase “I’m sorry but we can’t sell that to you” has always seemed just patently ridiculous from a business perspective. Aren’t you in business to make money? Aren’t you trying to sell things to make money? Why are you limiting what you can and can’t sell to make money? If you wanted to wait until a certain date to start promoting something that’s great, or if you wanted to start a discount of something on a certain date then fine, but don’t just refuse to sell something just because of a street date. What’s going to happen, people will drink it and decide they don’t like it? What’s the difference between finding out now and finding out on the date it gets released? If they do like it, they’re gonna buy more, especially if it goes on sale, so the only thing that would happen is you get more customers interested in the drink and sell more of it in the long run. Duh. If you believe in your products this should be a no-brainer.

    Really who street dates appease is the marketing department, because they came up with this idea an they want concrete numbers to show an increase in sales “Look we intruduced juicy raspberry on the 18th and sales skyrocketed for 3 months, it must be a successful flavor”. That kind of crap never works. They should listen to their customers and find out from the baristas what they want and what would sell instead of looking at abstract sales figures which lead to pissed off customers because of artificial street dates


  49. Recury says:

    @acambras: Damn, I love that. If it ever comes up, try to refer to the “barristas” as “servers” too.

  50. Schminteresting says:

    @Jon Parker: lol. You win.

  51. acambras says:


    Yeah, I think the “barista” thing is so damn pretentious. I’m told that “barista” is Italian for bartender. The fact that we’re not in Italy or in a bar is apparently immaterial.

  52. slapstick says:

    Am I the only person who worked at a cool, non-pretentious Starbucks? Granted, it was in a mall, but all my co-workers were cool, they didn’t drug test, and we had a great ‘coffee barter’ system that was probably not corporate approved, but got us free Italian food and pretzels from the other employees.

    When someone would ask for a medium, we’d never say ‘You mean a grande?’ If anything, we’d get asked, ‘What’s a grande?’ and then reply, ‘Oh, that’s a medium.’ If you ask for a medium, and the barista/server/coffee wench says, ‘Grande Non-Fat Mocha No Whip’ back to you, it’s probably just rote, and they’re repeating it to make sure they got your order right.

    If they say, ‘We call it a medium’, ‘accidentally’ spill your coffee everywhere and then demand a new one.

  53. Uriel says:



    No one cares about game consoles, their affiliations with caffeine and Starbucks, or any analogy thereof. Please stop posting long-winded nonsense about absolutely nothing. Grow a brain.

    Love Nero

  54. lamorevincera says:

    Kee-RIST. It’s a f@#$ing SYRUP, people. Give the man his damned syrup, and let it go! You don’t, you use “the customer [Starbucks] wants to keep”, as the last (and only intelligent) Gossip Blog poster put it.

    I think these people need to get out more.

  55. MandM813 says:


    I said “IF”, so what’re your point?? I mean IF what they are saying is true, and they think they will get fired over making a customer happy, THEN find another job. I dont care what Fortune 500 says, I wouldnt work for a place with those crappy policies.

  56. MandM813 says:

    “If you do not want to do what it takes to make the customer happy then do not be in retail.”


  57. picturesofme says:

    what a bunch of jobsworths.

    seriously…it’s syrup. SYRUP. release dates over syrup? what are you people? you’re like the union worker in our shared office complex who panics when someone takes one of their office’s three empty spots – more concerned with rules than function. if someone really, really wants the goddamn syrup, then give them the goddamn syrup.

    besides, if anyone was smart they wouldn’t be drinking low-quality starbucks pisswater anyway. :)

  58. BII says:

    This whole thing wouldn’t have been a big deal if starbucks didn’t have such asinine policies in place.

    Look, I can understand where the starbucks clerks are coming from (having been one, and no, they are no longer “baristas,” since they no longer use real espresso machines). What do you do, risk your job (however pathetic it may be, it is still a job, and no one likes, you know, being involuntarily unemployed) to satisfy a customer, or follow the rules, however stupid you think they may be?

    After having a series of these kind of scenarios, I did finally say “**** it” and left the ‘bucks. They lost their soul years ago.

    And I’m sure a lot of retail employees get these kind of mixed signals. One the one hand you’re told to do whatever it takes to make a customer happy, but on the other hand, you’re penalized for doing so.

  59. BII says:


    In Italy, coffee baristas tend to also serve alcohol. But, yes the term has gotten out of hand, and in any case, starbucks no longer hires or trains “baristas” anyways, not since they’ve replaced the La Marzocco machines with super automatics (Verissmos).

    The employees at starbucks now simply push buttons to make drinks, the machine grinds, tamps, pulls, and pours into the cup. There isn’t even control over the foam. There’s no craftsmanship involved anymore. And thus the coffee tastes like crap.

  60. says:

    Dear freaking lord, it is a SYRUP FLAVOUR, why does it need a RELEASE DATE?!? This is not a blockbuster movie, it is not an X-Box, it is a SYRUP FLAVOUR…

  61. graphikartistry says:

    IF you any of you are thinking that Starbucks gives a shit about you, your family, or any other living thing-you are kidding yourselves.

    I visit SB once sometimes twice every day, and two things keep me coming back.

    One, the organic milk… Until another caffeine source, other than my kitchen, figures out that mystery I am going to SB.

    Two, the BARISTAS… Typically, in fact I can’t think of a single instance in my experiences this isn’t true, these men and woman are saints. They wake up at the crack of dawn, and stand there putting up with all the whinny, ill-tempered, and otherwise ridiculous behavior people throw their way. I sure as hell couldn’t do it.

    Part of their responsibility obviously is the protection and utilization of SB procedure. Even at the cost of customer satisfaction. This is a losing proposition for the worker-if they give in to the customer’s “demands,” then they risk termination. If they refuse they risk pissing off the wrong person, the one who calls management. That situation could in some cases also lead to termination.

    “juicy” anything is adspeak for cheaper, more sugar and usually fake…
    (disclaimer, i haven’t read the ingredients, just going by experience with other products)

    Be pleasant with people. They are working hard, and deserve to be treated as such-even if they can’t accommodate your every whim… Don’t be the asshole, even if you are right…

    Rant over.