I went down to the closest Starbucks to see if the much-ballyhooed training session did anything. Well, from my experience, it made things worse. As I've said before, I've never gotten anything but good to very good espresso drinks from Starbucks. Maybe I've just been lucky since the Starbucks 'round these here parts aren't as busy as some other, more metro locations.
I had been to the location I tested two days previously, so I guess that's as close to experimental conditions as we're going to get. I got the same thing today as I got then, a triple-shot venti latte. It is, without a doubt in my mind, the worst latte I've ever had at a Starbucks location. Did they re-set the espresso machine? Did they recalibrate the whole store? I have no idea. The espresso was weak, and, as you can see from the picture, the milk was not steamed well at all.
It's not the worst latte I've ever had. It was acceptable, and I'm wondering if this is the quality that other people have been getting from their Starbucks. If that's the case, then the panic about re-booting the whole chain is very well-founded. I guess what makes this all so funny is that the latte before the training was much better than the latte after the training.
I went to another Starbucks, this one inside a Stop & Shop, a few hours later. Locations such as this were apparently spared from the training sessions, and the young woman working the counter had little knowledge of the event. She made me a latte using Starbucks' old methods and, lo and behold, it was a good latte. It's all very strange.