The Bad Barista Index

A few years ago some genius at NPR came up with the Bad Barista Index (BBI). Basically, it suggested that during good economic times, highly-educated capable people would be employed in jobs that required high qualifications. But during bad economic times, they were likely to find interim work with nice benefits at places like Starbucks. So when you get that motivated, friendly, outgoing barista who is on the ball and can fire off a drink order with fifteen customizations in thirty seconds flat without blinking an eye…you know they are overqualified for their job. I can vouch for this…I’ve met many a barista with a masters degree in biology or some such field.

So: Low BBI = bad economic times = lots of overqualified baristas
       High BBI = good economic times = lots of…underperforming baristas.

But here’s my problem: The Economy is in The Toilet!! So WHAT happened to me tonight??

*Warning: Rant Ahead*

S and I bicycled down to our favorite neighborhood Starbucks. (Denver has a gluttony of Starbucks, but that’s for another post. I’ve always loved the company – sorry Anti-bucks people). I ran inside to grab a couple cold drinks on our way to relaxation on two wheels…but I got a cup chock full o’ suck instead!!

Two guys in front of me with unidentifiable accents ordered two tall espresso macchiatos. The lone guy behind the counter (we’ll call him Igor the Incompetent) looked uncomfortable, went in the back room and got a woman supervisor and said, “She can help you, she knows what she’s doing.”
So Supervisor Lady takes the order, but has to ASK the men how to make the drinks. Does it have foam on it? Is there any milk? Finally, she told Igor the Incompetent to make the drinks and told the two guys to SHOW him how much milk they wanted. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
S wanted a decaf sweetened iced Misto (half coffee/half steamed milk over ice). Supervisor Lady looks at me funny and says, “I’m just going to put in iced coffee. That’s just coffee and milk, right? We’ll just give the coffee to you and we have whole milk and half/half over there at the bar and you can put whatever you want in it.
Me: *speechless*
She asks what else I want, I mumble something about a tea-lemonade and she asks me three times if I want it sweetened and three times I say NO. (no one else is in the store at this point)
So I pay for…whatever we’re getting, and then she goes to the fridge and frets to me that it doesn’t look like they’re going to have enough iced coffee for the first drink. (Um…) She holds up a tall-sized cup (I ordered grande) 3/4 full of coffee with no ice. So my eyes go up to the board above her head to check how to make a Misto, and I’m like, “Well, isn’t it half coffee and half milk? So wouldn’t that fill a grande size halfway up?” (AND AREN’T YOU FORGETTING ABOUT DISPLACEMENT OF FLUID WHEN ICE IS ADDED, OR DID YOU NOT FINISH HIGH SCHOOL?). 
Anyway, she hands it over to Igor the Incompetent, who is also in charge of my tea-whatever-I’m-getting, and he gives me a cup of cold coffee with ice in it — and “room for cream”. And Supervisor lady makes him announce it – like a good barista. So at this point I need to leave or I might go behind the counter and steam the milk and make my own damn Misto, so I go dump half/half and two packets of splenda in S’s drink, and carry it to him in the parking lot and tell him I don’t even know what the hell just happened, but here’s a drink.

THE END. Starbucks — I know you’re going through some rough times, but PLEASE don’t die. We’ve had such a good thing going…I only cheat on you at the local places once in a while. Sniff.

BBI = Inconclusive.

9 thoughts on “The Bad Barista Index

  1. Accck!

    ^ you might be able to find solace in that.

    or not.



  2. BBI worked prior to 2004.

    I can tell from my experience of working at Starbucks that the BBI was indicative of a good or bad economy prior to 2004. What happened to Starbucks after 2004? That was when Starbucks decided to be like McDonalds and decided to over-expand throughout the world. I can assure you that after 2004 Starbucks hired anyone who had a warm body or shall I say Igor the “Incompetent.” The quality sank below an acceptable level and worse yet some of the “Igor the Incompetents” were promoted to become shift leads. I am actually glad Starbucks is having some problems because they will realize what they have done with the expansion. But like yourself, I am still a Starbucks fan and don’t want to go bust.

    1. Re: BBI worked prior to 2004.

      I definitely noticed the McDonalds modeling! And for the first time this year, I saw a Starbucks close. *sniff* But yeah, the BBI has kind of been blown out of the er…coffee. But I can deal with idiocy until they figure it out…just don’t screw up my drink, and no one gets hurt. 🙂

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