Seattle Starbucks has lost its soul and does not know where to find it.
Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz lamented as much in a recent internal memo to his executives. He wrote that as the world's largest specialty coffee company has expanded from fewer than 1,000 locations to about 13,000, its stores no longer even smell like coffee because of "flavor locked packaging."
His memo grieved, too, over the loss of "the romance and theatre" of traditional Italian espresso makers, which have been replaced by automatic machines. Schultz wrote that the new machines, while more efficient, block customers from watching as coffee drinks are made and sharing what he called an "intimate experience with the barista."
"One of the results has been stores that no longer have the soul of the past," he wrote. "Some people even call our stores sterile, cookie-cutter, no longer reflecting the passion our partners feel about our coffee."