Coffee, Starbucks and Lean

A few months ago I wrote a blog about buying a Starbucks Latte using Lean and improving the speed of getting a latte.  But with Lean, there is always room for improvement as we seek perfection.  Thus I was looking at my new streamlined Starbucks experience and began to think of ways to improve.  And I think I have one that impacts just the coffee drinkers….but improves the overall customer experience.

So, let’s setup the scenario.  If you recall from the Latte blog, you could open an app (the NoLine app) and order ahead to get your drink.  But let’s add another scenario/player in this process:  the coffee drinker.  One problem I have had in the past is that when I just want a cup of coffee, I need to wait for the barista to make serve all those annoying (zing) latte drinkers which, of course, is a waste of my time.  Or, even in using my NoLine app, my order might be impacted by how many fancy latte drink orders are before me (I am really giving it to the latte drinkers today eh?).  Or, by examining customers, I have not taken the time to look at the impulse drinkers.  You know, the ones that walk by a Starbucks and think, yes, I could go for a coffee before I go to my meeting.  But alas, I need to get in line as I did not order ahead.  Blah, that NoLine app does not help.

But maybe with a few tweaks, we can improve this process.
So, let’s base line the time it is going to take me when I want an impulse coffee:

  1. Waiting in line to get to the cash register (3:30)
    2. Telling someone what I want (0:10)
    3. Paying and waiting to get change and/or a receipt (0:10)
    4. Standing in line again waiting for my drink to be made (0:10) ** this task is less time than the latte so I have removed 25 seconds

The total is 4 minutes (4:00) though if the latte drinkers were ordering online maybe the line would be shorter…but let’s keep the original time. So, I still have my phone.  I still have my Starbucks app.  So, this is all I need with a small tweak to what currently exists I can cut down on the wasted time of waiting in line for a single cup of coffee.

Currently, within the Starbucks app there is a prepaid card with a barcode:


Here is my idea.  How about we automate the coffee carafes and build in bar code readers?  So, when I go into Starbucks, I no longer line-up.  Rather, I walk over to the self-serve coffee section.   I grab an empty Grande cup, place it under a coffee carafe, take out my Starbucks app/pre-paid card and, this here is the new technology, scan my card on the coffee carafe bar code reader (the reader is built right into the coffee carafe).  Boom, my drink gets poured immediately, Starbucks gets paid immediately, and the line-up for those buying food or paying (gasp) cash get shorter/faster.

And, let’s revisit my time to get a coffee now:

  1. Getting a cup and filling it up with coffee (0:15)

Total = 0.15 seconds vs the original 4:00.  Thus, I have saved myself 3:45 per visit.   And remember, if my break is only 15 minutes long, I have just saved myself almost 25% of my break time.
So, in theory, we have now removed both Latte(Cappuccino) and coffee drinkers from our Starbucks line-up and freed up staff to deal with customers who want face to face interaction or other items such as food or bags of coffee.
Anyway, as I mentioned before, I am still pretty new to learning Lean but that is my second idea.


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