Need a coffee in a hurry. Starbucks’ freshly brewed express store has opened at Canary Wharf’s DLR station following a refit of its existing premises.
As it’s the first of its kind in Europe (trials have been done in New York, Toronto and Chicago), I felt duty bound to pop along and order a white Americano (£2.10).
The classic system has been split, presumably delivering efficiencies through the division of labour.
Caffeine-starved Canary Wharf workers queue to a forward ordering point, indicate their preference and are then guided to a separate pay point before milling about in similar fashion to the brand’s standard stores.
This separation appears effective.
From taking my order to coffee delivery was just under one minute, 35 seconds, including payment but excluding queuing.
Pretty sharp, even by the estimation of the chronically time-poor office grunt.
However the regime comes with a side of slight irritation.
Starbucks knows making you speak to two of its highly-trained employees means double the opportunity to up-sell.
“Would you like anything else at all?” said the lady at the order point, seemingly aghast I’d only ordered a coffee. “Nothing at all?” her voice rising to improbable heights of pitch as she sought to express her deep concern for my welfare.
Having said no, seconds later at the till, the first thing garbled at me by the chap preparing to take my money was: “Can I interest you in a pastry, perhaps?”
Maybe I appear a man of fickle appetites, ripe for exploitation.
Sure, I didn’t want anything 10 seconds ago, but the metre or so of floor between order point and till is a desert savaged by the winds of indecision. Is it not reasonable to double-check?
The knife of uncertainty wiggled into my work-addled brain at the order point hadn’t done it’s job; I still didn’t want anything.
But the question did leave me wryly musing how much profit Starbucks makes in such stores simply by asking twice.
That’s a quibble though, I can’t fault the speed and that’s the selling point. In and out, coffee delivered more quickly than pretty much anywhere else in Canary Wharf .
And that’s worth a lot to us commuters, even if it won’t impress those seeking cups artfully drizzled by expert baristas with interesting facial hair.
Customer can even order and pay on their mobiles if the store’s streamlining isn’t enough.
The changes do exert other costs too, however. The unit’s seats have been stripped out.
Those wishing to recline while supping and tapping out a chapter of their latest novel now have to do so perched on a wooden bench or a backless leatherette pouffe at one of several tiny circular tables outside the doors.
The message seems clear enough – get your coffee to go, unless you have the tiniest of netbooks.
Quite what fills the store, which opened on Thursday, July 21, is anybody’s guess.
But the plumes of steam behind a dark green glass window hint at some kind of experimental coffee engine, presumably part of the apparatus necessary to generate refreshment so rapidly.
So long as it keeps pumping out the brown stuff at breakneck speed of a morning, who really cares?
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