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Starbucks workers say customers are treating them like 'coffee-making robots,' with increasingly complicated orders inspired by viral TikTok trends

A Starbucks employee wears a face shield and mask as she makes a coffee in Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on May 12, 2020.
Starbucks workers told The Guardian that customers ordering TikTok-inspired drinks were wearing them out.
  • Starbucks workers told The Guardian that customers were ordering increasingly complicated drinks.
  • Inspired by TikTok trends, these drinks take longer to make and slow down drive-thrus.
  • One worker said customers would get "very mad" when drinks aren't made perfectly.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Josie Morales, a Starbucks barista in Los Angeles, was fired earlier this month after tweeting a picture of a complicated drink order with 13 modifications. He captioned the image "On today's episode of why I want to quit my job."

He's not the only one feeling the strain. Starbucks staffers are being worn out by increasingly demanding customers who order complicated drinks that slow down drive-thrus, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

Some staff members blamed the complex orders on viral TikTok videos sharing "secret menu" drinks.

"These orders are driving us insane because they're so long, so specific, and it requires you to do much more work than you should be doing for one single drink," a Starbucks shift supervisor in New York told The Guardian.

Read more: These 6 restaurant chains' growth skyrocketed during the pandemic, and now they're courting new franchisees. Here's what it takes to open and run an El Pollo Loco, a Jack in the Box, a Noodles and Company, and others.

The Guardian's report echoed reporting from Insider's Mary Meisenzahl earlier in May. "Custom drinks from social media like TikTok are also increasing the need for labor," a supervisor in Pennsylvania told Meisenzahl. "These drinks are getting more and more complicated while the company is pushing for drive-thru times under 40-50 seconds."

In the second quarter, the number of Starbucks transactions fell, but larger and more complicated orders that cost more drove an increase in same-store sales.

Starbucks doesn't limit the modifications a customer can make to a drink for mobile and delivery orders. A barista in Maryland told The Guardian that it could be difficult to understand exactly what customers want.

"People will get very mad over sort of little stuff when you've made the drink almost perfectly, and it's frustrating to feel like you can't say we can't really make it that way, so people treat us like coffee-making robots," the barista said.

Erika, a Starbucks shift supervisor in Ohio, told Meisenzahl that the chain had strict limits on wait times in the drive-thru and that customers expected Starbucks to act as a quick-service restaurant. She said that simplifying Starbucks' menu and restricting modifications would improve its speed.

Do you work at Starbucks? Got a story to share? Email this reporter at Always use a nonwork email.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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