Monday, March 17, 2008

Starbucks Watch

Starbucks' quality is on the rise! I again was at the Lincoln Mall location and ordered what I frequently do, a triple-venti, whole milk, latte. I like it because it's fuckin' 'uge and stays hot for a solid two hours.

I was initially disheartened by the “New” Starbucks, especially after I had the worst latte Starbucks has ever given me right after the training that was supposed to eliminate quality problems. I guess they just needed some burn-in time.

First off, the new protocol to always pull doubles, even if only one of the shots gets used, has resulted in undeniably better espresso. It's still the same roast, i.e. a bit sour, astringent, with muted flavors, but that extra grind blunts the sour notes, and makes it generally more mellow and enjoyable.

And the training seems to be finally paying dividends in the quality of the steamed milk. My thermometer registered 162 degrees for my latte, which is a bit too high, but still in the ballpark. This is opposed to the drinks, before, being all over the map. Sometimes too cold, sometimes too hot. What a mess.

So, right. Today's latte was very good. The milk was thick and rich, the espresso was still a bit sour, but generally dark and flavorful. My dining partner ordered an eggs Florentine sandwich (which they are eliminating from the menu), but they were out, so we got a coupon for a free drink of whatever we want on the next visit.

We waited for the food to heat up, which was then brought to our table and the young woman asked us how things were. Having never gotten these nice touches before, I wonder if it's all part of the re-training.

My partner got a white chocolate mocha which was, shocker, potable! For me, that's pretty amazing. I've always found Starbucks' mochas to be disgustingly sweet. This one was much more mild and rich. It tasted like something worth paying for, as opposed to another excuse for a cup fulla' sugar.

So kudos to Starbucks. I hope they don't just call it done and aggressively work towards even more quality increases. And sorry for the blurry image. Blasted cell phone camera.

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