Mug Half Empty – My Starbucks Drive-Thru Experience

Between dropping off my February rent and heading out to my 12pm meeting I decided to cave into my craving for some amazing Starbucks sweet iced tea. Instead of going to my normal brick and mortar store where the baristas know me and my order is always right, I thought I would try out the newest drive through Starbucks location down the street from my college. “Oh this will be great – much quicker than standing in line and waiting for my drink and I get to enjoy the radio while making it to my meeting on time!” – I thought as I was driving there. Boy did I make a mistake.


Upon getting to the Starbucks drive thru, I was SHOCKED at how full the line was at 11:50am! This is surely not peak hour for coffee connoisseur’s! How could there be this many people wanting coffee right now!

Still, I was being an optimist and expecting to breeze through the drive-through line in 10 minutes or less, allowing me to make it to my meeting A-OK. Alas, I was unfortunately blessed with the misfortune of being stuck behind a truck full of people who ordered four complex drinks that took them over 2 minutes just to order at the drive through menu! I mumbled to myself – This can’t be good, how unlucky can I be! Still, I was trying to convince myself that as with most drive through restaurants, Starbucks will be able to make the orders on the fly and made-to-order with as much success as they do in their traditional stores.

Finally, I was one car away from getting my thirst-quenching iced tea to get me through my meeting and afternoon off! I was anticipating that first refreshing sip of ice cold tea and the sweetness to follow. However, the truck in front of me sat at the pick up window for over five minutes! FIVE MINUTES. This was perplexing at first but I soon realized that they were passing all of their drinks back to the quick serve staff barista and their orders were ALL WRONG. Then, after another five minutes, they finally accepted the drinks they were expecting and left the drive through.

As I pulled up to the pick up window, I reassured myself that I ordered such a simple order (Venti Iced Black Tea, Sweetened) that it was virtually foolproof and unable to be misheard. However, I was not given my total immediately after ordering and wasn’t really paying much attention with the barista let me know that my total was $4.45 for a simple venti black tea. It seemed like a bit much, but I hadn’t been to Starbucks in a while so I might just have forgotten how much it was.


However, to my surprise, the Venti drink I was given after paying was a Venti Hot Skinny Syrup Latte. Immediately I knew it was wrong, and switched it out with a Venti Iced Tea that the baristas made on the fly. I was confused as to how ordering a Venti Iced Black Tea with Sweetener sounded anything like a hot skinny syrup latte and figured it must have been the drink belonging to the woman behind me in line. How can a Starbucks store, which I have always known to be great at order satisfaction and correctness, get five orders wrong in a row?! This has made me vow never to go to that store again, and I was so excited to have that option near my school if I was ever in a hurry for class or meetings. Especially since I wasn’t offered any type of refund or perk to come back again even though I paid an amount I wasn’t charged for unknowingly and for the incorrect product!

My apologies to Starbucks aficionados, because even though this experience was subpar, I am in LOVE with Starbucks products! This may actually prove useful to Starbucks addicts so they know where to go to make sure their addition is fed correctly and in a timely manner. I think that after this I am going to stick to the traditional coffee environment, because let’s be honest, Starbucks is such a fine product that it shouldn’t need to be served in a drive-through, no matter how immediate your need for its caffeinated goodness is! Thankfully this annoyance only deterred me from one location, my addiction is still wildly active.


For more Starbucks news, check out Starbucks Melody, a great source for all things Starbucks and I love all of the posts on the site!