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Memo to Starbucks Baristas: Just Stick to Pouring the Coffee, Bro

Starbucks I'm seeing a trend in some of the "Starbucks barista" stories I come across. In short, Mr. or Ms. Barista, you are not the police, or a school marm, or a superhero, and Starbucks doesn't want you acting like one -- no matter how much sense it might make to you.

Exhibit A: As I wrote here, in December 2009 Starbucks barista Laura Palawski saw a man stuff his hand into the shop's tip jar, pull out all the bills and run from the shop. She followed the culprit out of the shop, pursued him through the streets of Austin, Texas, and finally flagged down a police officer who responded to her call and arrested the thief. Palawski's reward? She says she was promptly "written up and reprimanded for her actions" by Starbucks.

Exhibit B: According to a letter sent in to (via Consumerist), on Aug. 27, 2010 a barista observed a number of men using Starbucks' free Wi-Fi to watch pornography in front of other customers, including children, who could both "see and hear" the porn. The barista ultimately decided to shut down the shop's Wi-Fi connection altogether. The barista claims he pursued this nuclear option only after a number of complaints from customers and after trying to confirm that he had the "power as a Starbucks employee to pull the plug," including "asking supervisors, calling managers, and even looking through the employee handbook (which not only said nothing about this act being against policy but actually explained how to do it) before cutting the public Wi-Fi."

Fired The now-former barista says that within 48 hours, he was fired for turning off the Wi-Fi. 

The bottom line? As far as I can tell, the barista's job is to just keep pouring the coffee and correcting people when they don't use proper lingo. The reward for you free-thinkers out there who want to be heroes, do-gooders or anything else is probably going to be a reprimand or a "You're Fired."

Posted by Bruce Carton on October 4, 2010 at 12:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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