20 Days of Chill 2020 - Snapshot

Welcome back to 20 Days of Chill. Today's prompt is 


A regular person may think of a snapshot as a picture that was taken on an impulse as opposed to a staged photograph that required some thought and preparation.

Having worked for Starbucks for several years, to me, snapshot is the name of the quality on-the-spot checks that were carried out monthly by a mystery shopping company. 

Average looking people would enter the store,  just like any other customer, coming for their caffeine fix, order a latte or a cappuccino, have a friendly conversation with the barista and leave.

Or so you thought.

They don't leave completely. If there's a bathroom out of sight for the team, that's where they'll go. Otherwise they'll leave the store, walk around the corner and pull out their investigative equipment: a scale. 

Why on earth would they be carrying around a balance?

You see, one important part of their visit is to make sure the beverages are being prepared to standard. 

A grande sized cup won't weigh the equivalent of 16oz of water. Why? Lattes and cappuccinos contain a specific amount of milk and milk foam. Foam will be lighter than regular milk. If the foam / milk (and espresso shot) ratio is off, it'll show upon weighing the cup. 

And the inspector will mention it in their report. They'll also mention if the barista made eye contact within five seconds after you entered the store. "Hello", "how's it going", "thank you", "have a great day" - simple words that make a difference in your customer experience. 

Depending on the management currently in charge, the barista who takes your order is supposed to ask for the customer's  name and note it on the cup label, and the barista who actually makes your beverage is supposed to call out the order "grande cappuccino (insert potential customized orders like "soy milk" or "extra shot"),  for (insert name), thank you!"

The "snapshotter" will also ask a question about a product. The shelf life of whole beans, whether the muffins contain any nuts, is it OK to put a a merchandise item in the dishwasher, just to see how competent - or happy to find out the answer - the barista is. 

They will also count how many customers were in line before them, and how long it took until it was their term, they'll make a note of the general cleanliness in the store, are there scraps of straw paper lying around, are tables being cleared from cups and plates and wiped down, etc.

Back in the days when dress codes were enforced, there would be a note about that, too. 

Store managers would dread snapshot visits, especially if they happened on their day off. It is hard enough to train and enforce quality standards when they are present - and as a manager part of your job happens in the backroom, ordering products, doing work schedules, monitoring cash handling procedures, etc, meaning you can't be on the floor making sure your team is doing a consistently great job. 

It's hard, it really is. 

So next time you grab your coffe, you'll know the hooops your barista has to jump through in order to provide your customer experience.

Have you worked in the sytem gastronomy at some point?
Are you a Starbucks customer?

What's your experience either way?

Let me know in the comments below. Hope you'll be back on Monday for 8 more days of chill! In the meantime why don't you visit my fellow bloggers' posts over here.

I'm also participating in the monthly Use your Words Challenge that posts today. Check out my post called don't push my buttons.

Thursday, January 2: A new decade
Friday, January 3: Beautiful places
Monday, January 6: Is that chicken?
Tuesday, January 7: Show me the way
Wednesday, January 8: Naps
Thursday, January 9: Snow
Friday, January 10: Fri-Yay
Monday, January 13: Social Media
Tuesday, January 14: Cheddar
Wednesday, January 15: Dream on
Thursday, January 16: Popcorn
Friday, January 17: Snapshot
Monday, January 20: Last Meal
Tuesday, January 21: Battle of the Phones
Wednesday, January 22: Sign it in ink
Thursday, January 23: Spam
Friday, January 24: May I take your order?
Monday, January 27: A cocktail, if you will
Tuesday, January 28: Bring me to you
Wednesday, January 29: Oh, thank goodness!


  1. I always thought it would be interesting to be a secret shopper. And I figured there would be a lot they go through.

    On the flip side... being I'm not a coffee drinker, Startbucks is not at the top of my list of places to go. I've gone once for hot chocolate, but wasn't impressed with theirs.

  2. Oh my what is wrong with PJ, not a coffee drinker??? I am. I love DD coffee and have worked for them. Several years ago I went to work at 0230 and worked until 11 a.m. , doing what? Baking, icing, filling donuts, loading the racks, making iced coffee, hot coffee and prepping dough for the next day. It was hard work, little to no customer interaction and I enjoyed the heck out of it. Except the pay, that was peanuts.
    Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade


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