My Starbucks Idea? Bring Back Decaf-ternoons

Corporate cost cutting measures are all around us. One that just doesn’t make any sense to me is Starbucks’ new policy to stop brewing decaf coffee after noon.

I’ll say this upfront so anyone who wants to trash me for being a corporate sellout can: Starbucks is important to me and not because I can’t live without a $4 no-whip Frappucino. Starbucks has become our standard spot for lunch when our 144 square foot home office starts closing in on us and we need to get out for some air and perspective. Lunch at Starbucks is relatively inexpensive, predictable, and the atmosphere is better than In-N-Out Burger.

Steve always gets their Protein Plate and a non-fat cappuccino. However, in this economy I definitely don’t need any chemicals that are going to make me more anxious, so I always get a tall decaf. But now I can’t.

Starbucks has a policy that baristas are not to serve any coffee that has been sitting longer than 30 minutes and apparently low demand for decaf in the afternoon meant that they were pouring a lot of coffee”¦and money”¦down the drain so they’ve done away with the decaf.

But if a place is going to serve coffee, shouldn’t offering decaf ““ especially in the afternoon when people are more likely to be concerned about the caffeine keeping them awake ““ be a standard option? When our church puts out the coffee cart, there is a choice of regular or decaf. It seems odd that I can get the coffee drink I want at my church but not at the Starbucks up the road.

Didn’t Chairman Howard Schultz demand that Starbucks refocus on its coffee culture? However, Starbucks coffee culture doesn’t include the 15-20% of coffee drinkers like me who prefer decaf. Howard, I feel so betrayed! How about being less of a bakery and reducing the pastry options as a way to eliminate waste while staying true to the brand?

Starbucks says they have alternatives now that they are no longer continuously brewing decaf. They suggest a decaf Caffe Americano which is decaf espresso and hot water and it costs more than drip coffee. I’ve given it a shot but it’s just not the same as a cup of decaf. The Americano tastes watery because it is watery.

They will reluctantly brew a small amount of decaf which they tell you takes at least four minutes. On a good day, by the time I’ve had this discussion with the barista, Steve has already gotten his non-fat capp and in another four minutes will probably have eaten most of his petit déjeuner so getting decaf doesn’t seem worth the wait.

Maybe doing away with decaf is just a ploy to get customers who would normally get decaf in the afternoon to trade up to the more expensive Tazo Tea Lattes which Starbucks is heavily promoting as “Tea Time” in their stores.

But I’m not buying into it. Since I don’t want the calories, cost, or caffeine of any of the drinks on Starbucks’ menu board, I’ve been getting water. So instead of buying a $1.55 tall decaf, I’m not spending any money but I am costing Starbucks the cost of the plastic cup. I wonder if I’m the only one doing this. If so, Starbucks might find that their cost cutting measure has unintended consequences.


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