Starbucks to Downsize Drink Menu In Attempt To Speed Up Ordering Process

Starbucks is going to downsize their drink menu in order to speed up the endless Starbucks waiting experience, in which grouchy decaffeinated customers stare uncomfortably at bottles of “ethos” water while they plan how best to murder the customer ordering a coffee that takes 14 words to describe. According to the Associated Press.

“Starbucks also said it plans to cut the number of different drinks on its menu, a move it hopes will help baristas get customers through the line more quickly.”

Don’t get your Juicy Raspberry in a twist over it, Seattlest reminds us of the Starbucks “secret menu” (you can order whatever you want and they have to make it for you) and the infinite possibilities it contains.

Will fewer choices speed up the line? We remain unconvinced. We are willing to bet that some of those 750 calorie monsters will slowly slide off the menu. Thanks, Menugate!

Simplify, Simplify: Which Drinks Will Be Axed From Starbucks’ Menu? [Seattlest]
Starbucks 3Q Profit Climbs 9 Percent [Yahoo!]


Edit Your Comment

  1. timmus says:

    Interesting — the only time I was in a Starbucks this year, I walked out without buying anything. I was looking for something specific, but my eyes glazed over in a futile attempt to find it on the sprawling menu.

  2. B says:

    @timmus: The same thing happens to me whenever I go to Starbucks. I’ve since learned that if you’re looking for something specific, it’s best to just ask for it, instead of trying to find it on the menu.

  3. gibsonic says:

    i assure you their menu complexity isn’t the problem.

    my wife can blurt out a 14 word drink description in no time flat, a fact proven by the $60 /week she spends there.

  4. bbbici says:

    at your mcdonalds and DQs in the US do they have an abbreviated menu on display? Up here in Canuckland they don’t show prices and sizes for fries, coffee, etc. They only show pictures of sandwiches as part of meals, with prices for meals and ‘sanwich only’. I’m not sure if this is at all locations or something they are trying out.

    if you go to a cafe in italy, there isn’t a menu to be seen. you just order what you want and the expert barista makes it.

  5. TCameron says:

    Starbucks understands that those 750 calorie monsters are responsible for a significant chunk of their profits, as no actual coffee goes into it. It’s all milk solids, reconstituted, etc. However, I can see lines being moved more quickly if there is less time to dilly-dally behind the counter for those who aren’t regular customers. We’ll see in the long run.

  6. B says:

    @bbbici: That kind of thing is illegal in many states in the US. Business have to disclose the prices on the menus, or on the shelves in the case of retail stores.

  7. jaredgood1 says:

    I’m happy getting my Starbucks in bean form from the grocery store. I can froth my own milk at home.

  8. MeiratWalyou says:

    I don’t think these changes are going to affect the waiting times. What they will change, I hope, is the taste and quality of the Starbucks coffee.
    If their employees could spend less time trying to understand those crazy mixes and focus on improving their coffee-making skills I believe this change is for the good

  9. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    my secret ordering technique at Starbucks
    “Large coffee, hot”

    done and done

  10. bambino says:

    @MeiratWalyou: yay the 1st ‘starbux coffee iz BRNT!’ comment. Took ya a while to show up :rolleyes:

  11. sleze69 says:

    @Cassifras: You mean they don’t snear at you for ordering in english? (large)

  12. revmatty says:


    I’ve seen that cropping up here in the midwest. I suspect the reasoning is similar to that of Starbucks: that too much choice leads to overload and confusion, a situation best summed up in Joe Jackson’s “Obvious Song” from the underrated Laughter and Lust album.

  13. capstinence says:

    @MeiratWalyou: Um, the coffee is pre-measured and all we do is put the coffee/filter into the brewer and hit “Brew.” There’s really not much we can do to improve that as baristas. If you don’t like the coffee, that’s fine, go somewhere else.

    If you were referring to the espresso drinks… most, if not all, SBux are using an automatic espresso machine (no more manual tamping, yay!). The only control we have over that is defining the time it takes to pull a shot (13-16 seconds is ideal, if I recall correctly). But the calibration is time consuming and if the shots get off in either direction during a morning rush, I can’t open up the machine and take the next ten to fifteen minutes to calibrate it.

    Lastly, if you were referring to the baristas actually getting the drink recipes correct… well, there’s not a lot I can say. There are insanely incompetent baristas/supervisors who couldn’t make a drink if their lives depended on it (and still remain employed somehow). But then there are the very competent baristas who are both efficient and accurate in their drink-making. It’s really the luck of the draw. If you do come across a barista that makes your drink perfectly, ask them to make your drink the next time they’re there when you come in.

    …. all of that because you weren’t specific about what you were bitching about.

  14. Framling says:

    My wife always gets flustered at the counter and just gets a Jones Soda or something else already in a bottle.

  15. Fuzz says:

    I love how Starbucks staff are called “Baristas”. Thats like calling the guy behind the counter at McDonalds a waiter.

  16. JayXJ says:


    Or the guy throwing my sub together at Subway an ‘artist’?

  17. bambino says:

    @Framling: It’s called choice. Most people over the age of 14 can handle it.

  18. Fuzz says:



    Or the employees at Wal-Marts “associates”. Like its a law firm and they all share in the profits and good fortunes of the company. Total double-speak.

  19. Peeved Guy says:

    @Cassifras: Coffee, you say? Is that like a latte?

  20. Bye says:

    Fuzz, et al.:

    Since Starbucks changed their machines to the fully automated ones, I have to agree with you.

    However, barista is a perfectly sensible attribute for somebody who can work magic with an espresso machine. Watching a person who knows what they’re doing create a latte is somewhat akin to watching Michelangelo working that ceiling…or at least watching Banksy do something.

    If you need further proof, visit Cafe Vivace in Seattle. I still have dreams about that place and haven’t lived there in over 10 years.

  21. beyond says:

    Attach electrical shock diodes to the employees to get them to work faster. Retail shops can’t treat their employees any worse.

  22. Jasmo says:

    Instead of streamlining the menu, perhaps they could just have a dedicated drip coffee only line.

  23. beyond says:

    @Fuzz: Target makes its employees sit through a meeting every day where they talk about the stock of the company and how well the particular store is doing profits/losses. I think its supposed to make you proud of your work, but all it did was remind me that my hard work was fattening the pockets of some investor while my salary was still seven bucks an hour.

  24. MeiratWalyou says:

    I wasn’t bitching about anything, merely giving my opinion. And like you say; “There are insanely incompetent baristas/supervisors who couldn’t make a drink if their lives depended on it”.
    Couldn’t these guys profit from a less diversified offering and thus a chance to focus on improving their coffee-making skills?
    Nevertheless, I will pass by and taste one of yours, maybe I will have changed my mind.

  25. bohemian says:

    The reason their menus are overwhelming is because they are hard to read. They are all one unified color and there is nothing other than the text heading that states the different categories. They should use different colors, fonts or graphics to identify the tea menu, the espresso drink menu and the frap/frozen drinks menu.
    Their menus are a visual nightmare even for someone like me who can order on autopilot at Sbux.
    I tried to find the name of a non-coffee drink last week and I had to spend about 30 seconds trying to find it on the brown on brown menu. It should have taken 10 seconds to scan and find it.
    It is a total confusing situation for a coffee newbie to figure their menu out since there are no visual keys to go by. I saw a woman walk up to a menu a Sbux a few weeks ago. She looked like she was hit with a 2×4.

    Instead of cutting the posted menu they need to redesign their signage. This kind of thing really irritates me in retail.
    /End my graphic designer rant.

  26. yellojkt says:

    Obviously the proliferation of Fourbucks across the country has thinned the talent pool of people that can remember a half dozen drink “recipes”. It’s not the customers they are looking out for.

  27. Fuzz says:


    And rename their drinks small/medium/large

  28. krom says:

    I really really doubt this is going to have an effect on the people who order e.g. half-decaf double tall no-foam half breve not-too-hot lattes with room.

    But I live in Seattle, so I probably see an awful lot more of that sort of thing.

  29. capstinence says:

    @MeiratWalyou: The problem is, that the menu may LOOK diversified. But the actual espresso drink-making is basically knowing the following things:

    Espresso Shots: Tall: 1, Grande: 1, Venti: 2, Iced Venti: 3

    Syrup Pumps: Tall: 3, Grande: 4, Venti: 5, Iced Venti: 6

    There are two or three drinks that deviate from this formula (the Caramel Macchiato gets one less pump than normal, for instance), but if you can get the main idea, the rest is not daunting at all. The only reason baristas at TheBux screw up is because either:

    1) They’re in a rush without the experience to handle it.
    2) They’re lazy or they just don’t care (I’ve attempted to train these kinds of employees and it’s infuriating).
    3) They are just an inept individual that should never have been hired (also common).

    Honestly, the formula for drink-making is so simple that when we roll out new beverages, a halfway-decent barista will know how to make the drink without needing to look at the new drink card in the Beverage Resource Manual (yes, that exists).

    It’s not rocket science.

  30. overbysara says:

    today this jackass in front me made them REDO his fucking drink because it had more than FIVE ice cubes in it. He wanted EXACTLY five ice cubes. The line was really long too. SUCH a jackass.

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  32. night_sky says:

    If anyone wants their coffee drink in less than an hour and without the pickiest customers in the world who take five hours to order, why in the hell is anyone going to Starbucks for?

    I got to Starbucks every now and then but I think I will start using my Keurig and my own syrups more. I can get great tasting, quick coffee without the above mentioned and without milk that gives me a stomach ache.

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

    I don’t think it’s the number of choices, I think it’s people getting in line before they know what they want. Hey folks, if you’re the type of person can’t figure out what you want within the 5-minutes that you’re in line, kindly step aside and figure it out before you get to the counter. There’s nothing more frustrating than being second in line and spending 20 minutes behind somebody that’s mentally considering each and every choice on the menu.

  34. royal72 says:

    yes hi, i’d like a grande-i-don’t-give-fuck with extra sprinkles :)

  35. formergr says:

    God, Starbucks really is starting to become the McDonald’s of the coffee world. It’s like they no longer care about delivering a quality product in a relaxing and inviting atmosphere, but now are only concerned with how much they can streamline every step of every process in every franchise. It’s reminding me of all the things I read that McDonald’s did to innovate and get ahead and cut costs in Fast Food Nation…

  36. dantsea says:

    And their coffee tastes BURNED! And BITTER!

    Now that I’ve written those words, we’ve officially gone over every anti-bux argument made in every Starbucks post ever made on every high-traffic blog ever produced.

    You’re welcome.

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

    @dantc: Oh, but you missed “Dunkin’ Donuts’ coffee is sooooo much better and half the price..blah, blah, blah.” Now the arguments are complete.

  38. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    I thought coffee was SUPPOSED to be bitter……that’s why I only order mochas or iced teas with extra syrup.

  39. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Peet’s! I make my coffee at home, it costs less, tastes better (I know that I wash my coffee pot between batches), etc. etc.
    Certainly better than Fourbucks or Seattle’s Worst.

  40. Bill Brasky says:

    Few exceptions to the rule: The longer the drink order, the bigger the jackass.

    “I’ll have a double tall half caff, caramel soy latte, extra foam, room for splenda.”= major jackass.

  41. bbbici says:

    this bloated and ridiculous menu is exactly what the Starbucks founder is worried about. He originally wanted something more akin to a traditional italian cafe. Somewhere along the line it became less about great coffee and more about slurpees.

    in italy they have espresso/macchiato, latte, cappucino, and mocha. the syrups are for sodas. too much choice leads to poor quality.

  42. royal72 says:

    @bill51773: “room for splenda”


  43. StevieD says:

    Thank goodness there is NO Starbucks in my town.


    Now, I am not so stupid to mention the town because next week they would open a store up the road from me and I can’t stand the smell of burnt dog hair (aka Starbucks coffeee).

  44. KillingMyBrainCells says:

    plus being able to sit in your underwear, makes it taste so much better!!

  45. SrtaMaestra says:

    I just wish I could say “with skim milk” instead of “nonfat” without getting corrected. Makes it sound like I’m ordering a “diet” or health conscious drink, and we all know better! And I wish they wouldn’t forever ask me if I still want the whip. I just don’t like whole milk–makes me want to hurl. A nice little dollop of sweet whip is another story, though. Particularly on a dulce de leche latte. Yum.

    I have to say, though, that the barista who listened to my two and a half year old who told her she wanted something “purple” was awesome though. She made her this great pomegranite juice thing (I’m sorry, I don’t even know what it was called), and she came out and talked to her while we sat and sipped our drinks. I have to stay away from Starbucks when my kids are with me. Now that they know they can get “smoothies” (that’s what the kiddos call them), I end up spending even more!

  46. CoffeeAddict says:

    As long as they don’t cut my drink from the menu I will be happy. I am an avid and devoted starbucks addict and if they want to keep people like they will not cut menu items at least not the ones that contain many shots of espresso. My drink of choice: ***Quad venti caramel macchiatto Xtra Hot***

  47. mrsajjj says:

    I,m also an avid addict. Don,t cut items. CEO’S? Don’t you know that Starbuck customers don’t really mind waiting even though they may seem to mind. There’s no competition, not really. It’s ok that I can’t pronouce “MACCHIATTO” it’s even ok that webster does not list it and I don’t even know what it means.