A Cup Holder in the Bathroom, and Other Brilliant Ideas

About a month ago, as part of it's ohmygodwe'relosingourchokeholdonthecoffeeindustry panic campaign, Starbucks launched MyStarbucksIdea.com. Customers log on and suggest improvements for Starbucks stores, like a shelf in the bathroom for your cup, coffee ice cubes for cold drinks, or this clever idea:

One idea that has gained traction is to embed a customer's regular order on her Starbucks card so when she enters the store she could swipe the card, her order would be put in and paid for, and she'd avoid (and shorten) the line. Other suggestions call for the ability to send in orders by phone or Web. These customers are telling Starbucks that long lines irritate them. But note well that they didn't come online to complain. Instead they offered solutions. This is the gift economy of online.

An excellent article on the project in BusinessWeek emphasized the positive, open-sourceishness of the whole endeavor. So quit yer bitchin' and go fix Starbucks.

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  • New World Dan||

    I upgraded from Starbucks to Carribou. My morning barrista knows what I drink and if they aren't too busy she's got it up for me before I finish paying.

  • ||

    My suggestion would be to have a magazine rack well stocked with new issues of Reason Magazine.

  • ||

    Nobody likes to wait, but if you overwhelm the staff with orders, it doesn't matter how you order it, you'll still have to wait or Starbucks will have to go to the McDonalds burger style continuous heat application style of delivery.

    The problem is people's unreasoanble expectation of service. They want something fast, but they only go to the popualr places where the bottlenecks occur.

  • ||

    Coffee ice cubes is quite possibly the greatest idea of our generation.

  • ||

    Coffee ice cubes is quite possibly the greatest idea of our generation.

    I once thought that I could become fabulously wealthy by marketing beer cubes.

    In my carefully controlled tests (pouring beer into ice trays and placing them in the freezer), I was never able to make it work. They always turned into a mushy mess. Kind of like a beer snow cone, I guess.

  • ||

    They always turned into a mushy mess. Kind of like a beer snow cone, I guess.

    I believe alcohol has a lower freezing point. That's why you can keep some things like vodka in the freezer without it freezing. Coffee would probably work.

    Dell did this type of online-suggestion box thing too. That's how they ended up putting Linux on some of their models.

  • ||

    Calling Dr. Thoreau--

    What if the ice cube tray was quickly frozen in something like liquid Nitrogen? Could we get beer cubes that way?

  • ||

    I vote for more chocolate in everything :)

  • ||

    What if the ice cube tray was quickly frozen in something like liquid Nitrogen? Could we get beer cubes that way?

    You might be on to something there. But it would be difficult to sell them someplace where there would be a demand, like a baseball game during the summer. The beer vendor is not going to want to walk around pulling a dewar along with his beer tray. He's not a mule.

    It would work well in a bar where the dewar would not have to move around too much. But if it's so hot in there that you need beer cubes, I'd suggest getting air conditioning rather than deal with the hazmat requirements of having LN2 in your building.

  • ||

    Beers - especially the beers you drink cold - don't last long enough for the beer cubes to melt.

    At least, mine don't.

  • ||

    "its"

  • ||

    What if the ice cube tray was quickly frozen in something like liquid Nitrogen? Could we get beer cubes that way?

    Actually, you can do it, or something like it. In fact there was an H'n'R post a while back about beer popsicles. I don't know how those geniuses pulled it off.

    As for me, I've long since abandoned by dreams of beer cubes. I adopted the work-around of drinking much faster.

  • ||

    what about those beer popsicles that are illegal in Virginia... how do they stay solid? Or aren't they?

  • ||

    beat at the buzzer
    *snaps fingers*

  • ||

    How about www.myideasforfixingthefederalgovernment.com?

  • ||

    Maybe they're not "beer", Rein.

  • lunchstealer||

    One wonders how many of the 'suggestions' were along the lines of FOAD.

  • lunchstealer||

    How about www.myideasforfixingthefederalgovernment.com?

    See my above comment for my suggestion to the federal government.

  • MattXIV||

    TheDumbFish,

    It's been done before, but it requires freezing the beer quickly - liquid N2 would probably work. It doesn't need to be maintained at liquid N2 temperatures after being frozen since the high-ethanol phase can remain liquid as long as long as there's enough ice around it to keep it trapped, but a quick freeze is necessary to keep the high-ethanol liquid phase that remains uniformly dispersed. A solid ethanol-containing phase doesn't form until around -78 C, so in a slow freezing process with a relatively high ambient temperature like you'd get in a typical freezer, you're just going to be concentrating the ethanol in the liquid phase.

    There's a phase diagram for the system here if you're interested.

  • ||

    Reinmoose:

    Hopsicles (from Rustico) are boiled before freezing, thereby eliminating the alcohol in them.

  • NoStar||

    My suggestion to Starbucks: Quit over roasting your beans. Your coffee is much too bitter.

    I doubt they'd listen to me. So I go elsewhere.

  • ||

    if they aren't too busy she's got it up for me before I finish paying.

    That is impressive.

  • ||

    Biercafé. Die Deutscher Alternative Zu Kaffee.

  • ||

    The idea of a card pre-loaded with your drink order and the price is just freaking brilliant. Seriously.

    NoStar-If they're getting bitterness, it's not the roasting, it's the beans. Quality beans can be roasted longer and brewed more strongly without turning bitter.

  • ||

    Drink preferences? Ya know, with technology's advances, you'd think by now my bank could hard code my language preference onto my bank card and the ATM could stop asking me what language I speak every. single. freaking. time.

  • Seitz||

    How about more locations. Like this one, perhaps:

    New Starbucks Opens In Rest Room Of Existing Starbucks

  • JD||

    NoStar: Try the Pike Place roast. I find it a little better, although it's still not stellar. No. 6: What you say is true, but I think that Starbucks has a bunch of problems: insufficiently high-quality coffee, roasted too dark, let sit too long. None of those is going to make for great quality coffee.

  • ||

    They always turned into a mushy mess. Kind of like a beer snow cone, I guess.

    Like you couldn't make a billion dollars selling beer snow cones.

    Starbucks has a bunch of problems: insufficiently high-quality coffee, roasted too dark, let sit too long.

    No kidding. Their just-plain-coffee is borderline undrinkable. I've heard that they roast the shit out of their beans because the beans they buy are of low quality, but they won't even offer a medium roast of their (alleged) estate coffees.

    Black roasted beans pretty much all taste the same to me. I'm a medium roast guy, because that way different beans actually taste, you know, different.

  • ||

    Bring back the malted milk-flavored frap.

  • ||

    I would like to see fast-food establishments print a bar code with your "usual order" information, which could be scanned at any of their outlets to eliminate the problems that people have with drive-through intercoms, limited-English speakers (on either side of the counter!), and general misunderstandings about special preferences (hold the pickle, extra cheese, etc.). If the establishments themselves are too cheap to do the printing on-site, at least they ought to make it possible for you to build your order at their websites online and print out the machine-readable version at home, for later presentation and quick, accurate fulfillment at the counter or via the drive-through window.

    I've been saying this for years. I note that at least some Carls Jr. restaurants now have a self-serve computerized order and payment kiosk, but as far as I can tell, you have to input your order anew, every time you use it. It would be nice to take away a machine-readable card or receipt to use in the future.

  • ||

    Starbucks sucks. For a real coffee fix, go to Tim Horton's, baby. Also a great investment for you American types. Money rolling in . . .

  • ||

    Does anyone remember the Dunkin Dark Roast they had at DD back in the 90s?

    That was a nice cuppa.

  • lunchstealer||

    Of course, cupholders in the bathroom is hardly a new idea. They've been doing that in bars for a long time.

  • ||

    Joshua Corning, I assume you mean to read, correct?

  • ||

    Most of these ideas are stupid gimmicks which would not help Starbuck's bottom line. What people say they would like and what they would actually pay for are two different things - look at New Coke.

  • Frank Marshall||

    I've got an idea: if Starbucks is tanking, let it drop out of the universe completely. It certainly won't matter to me either way.

    That's the Libertarian philosophy, right?

  • ||

    I've read half a dozen articles about Starbucks and their new problems and nobody mentions the most obvious problem. THEY DON'T OFFER FREE WIRELESS. I love Starbucks but I don't go anymore because I am not a T-mobile customer. I'm sure I'm not the only one who left for this reason

  • Timmy Mac||

    DUNKIN DONUTS COFFEE, MY LIFE FOR YOU!!!

  • ||

    I just checked out the suggestions and realized that they must be retarded at Starbucks. They are going to offer free wi-fi but it will be only for people who register for a starbucks card and only up to two hours. People don't want bureaucracy, they want to get in, turn on their notebooks, and be online. What morons.

  • LarryA||

    www.myideasforfixingthefederalgovernment.com

    Instand constant server overload.

  • ||

    Dan,
    I'm pretty sure the lack of free wireless is to keep a certain element out, so your suggestion would fall on deaf ears. Starbucks already has enough jobless hipsters camping out in their stores. Free Wireless would no doubt make the situation intolerable.

    I don't drink coffee, but I occasionally stop in now and then to buy a bottle of Naked Juice Green Machine. I've sampled a few of the pastries, and with the exception of the Banana Chocolate Chip Pound Cake and the Marble/Chocolate Loafs, they are completely disgusting. So there is that. Also something I've notice, the coffee boy also asks me if I want my receipt. This happens at every single store, so it must be something they force their workers to do. One of the most annoying practices I've ever encountered.

  • ||

    The two-hour limit on wireless is a good idea--lots of campers at some Starbucks who take up all the seating for long periods of time.

    I think Starbucks' popularity is its own biggest problem. It creates an identity crisis--is it the "McDonald's of coffee" or a real coffeehouse. It can't successfully be both, unfortunately. Many of the suggestions posted in the Business Week article are tied to getting people in and out of the store faster, which is more the McDonald's model. Ultimately, though, much of the 'upscale ambience' goes away because of that.

  • ||

    For a real coffee fix, go to Tim Horton's, baby.

    And don't forget the TimBits!

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