Tasha Leverette was in the mood for her favorite drink from Starbucks, an ice-fresh green tea lemonade.
When she went through the regular Starbucks in Atlanta three weeks ago, she was told they could not make the drink because they did not have peach-flavored juice. She shrugged and drove to another store. And one more. And one more.
Every stop led to disappointment. None of the places had the integrated ingredient.
“I said to them, ‘This is the peach state, right?'” Said Mrs Leverette, 33, who owns a public relations firm. “It̵
Across the country, customers and baristas are taking to social media to lament not only the lack of key ingredients for popular Starbucks drinks, such as peach and guava juices, but also the lack of ice and cold brewed coffee, breakfast and cake pops, even cups lids and straws.
A video on TikTok this week featured what appeared to be a group of employees screaming in frustration over a list of ingredients the store had run out of – including sweet cream, white mocha, mango-dragon fruit and “all foods.” The caption also said they had little cold brew and “the will to live.”
Starbucks is hardly the only company struggling with supply issues. Earlier this spring, ketchup packages became hotter than the GameStop stock. Car manufacturers have slowed down production because there are not enough computer chips for their vehicles. And homeowners are waiting for weeks, if not months, for large kitchen appliances.
But Starbucks is running out of ingredients for Very Berry Hibiscus Refreshers and Almond Croissants after being one of the clear winners of the pandemic. During the lock-in, the coffee chain quickly changed from its position as a “third place”, where people could linger at work or meet for long conversations, to a focus on friction-free transactions with customers who order via mobile apps and transit. Business executives said this year that Starbucks had seen a “full improvement” in U.S. sales, back to pre-pandemic levels.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Starbucks said the company was experiencing a “temporary shortage of supplies” of some of the products. She said the shortage varied by location, and some stores experienced “outages of different items at the same time.” She added that the company worked with its suppliers to fill in the goods as soon as possible, and that the supply chain problems had not affected the prices.
Although most people are familiar with the problems in the global supply chain to some degree, some Starbucks customers are still shocked – even upset – by their inability to get their coffee just the way they want it. Others laugh at it.
“I was told they could not give me an extra shot of caramel because it was a national shortage,” said Nicole Brashear, a 24-year-old pharmacy student at the University of Louisiana in Monroe, about ordering an ice caramel macchiato with extra caramel rain in late May. . “I just liked and was like, ‘Isn’t caramel just burnt sugar?'”
The problem for Starbucks is that it was never just selling a single cup of coffee. For many, the experience of visiting the chain is a self-satisfying treat.
Customers learn the language regarding sizes and special drinks, and then share their custom drink orders with 12 ingredients on social media. Many people look forward to seasonal specialties, such as this summer’s Unicorn Cake Pop and Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino, which are available for a limited time.
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Orders are not barked out by number, as they are in other fast food chains, but are announced by name, indicating that customers are friends or part of the Starbucks Club, said Bryant Simon, history professor at Temple University and author of “Everything but The Coffee: Learning About America From Starbucks. ”
“Starbucks did something remarkable: take a very common product, coffee and make it again as an identifier for class, culture, judgment and knowledge,” said Simon. “Starbucks is a way to communicate something about yourself to other people. Although it has become more complicated over time, that drink still says: ‘I deserve a break in my life. I can afford to waste money on coffee. ‘”
There were earlier hints that supply problems could arise for Starbucks. In a recent conversation with Wall Street analysts, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson expressed some concerns about companies in the supply chain struggling to hire the employees they needed.
“I expect that we will do a little more to invest and help our supply chain partners, whether it be staff they need in production or staffing that they need for distribution and transportation,” Johnson said.
In late May, customers and baristas reported a shortage of key ingredients or foods in stores across the country.
Fred Rogers knew something was wrong just before Memorial Day weekend when he opened his Starbucks app, and a warning flashed that the company was short of certain items. He was unable to order his 3-year-old daughter her favorite sandwich – sausage, cheddar and eggs – from his nearby Starbucks in Burlington, NJ. His drink, a Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino, was also not available.
“I know if you go after a certain hour that they’re going to be out of something,” said Mr. Rogers, a 33-year-old manufacturing expert. “But this was 6:45 in the morning.”
Customers may be dissatisfied, but Simon said the lack of drinks or food would probably only increase demand. One of Starbucks’ biggest challenges in recent years has been overexpansion, which means it has thrown away some of the uniqueness that once made it special.
“I’m sure there are a lot of heated conversations in Seattle right now about supply chain issues, but some on the brand side are going to tweet because the shortage may not be a bad thing,” Simon said. .
Maybe, but the problems can also be a risk if customers become too frustrated at not being able to get what they want, as they have always done. When his daughter could not get her favorite breakfast sandwich at Starbucks, Rogers took her to a nearby Chick-fil-A for breakfast.
And after driving to four different Starbucks and not getting their favorite drink at the end of May, Leverette is no longer a regular customer.
“It’s disappointing,” she said. “You go, and you wait in the driveway, and you just go for one thing, and they do not have what they need to do it.
“I just stopped caring.”