Like Apple and the Green Bay Packers, Starbucks is a beloved brand with a fanatical cult like following – but its appeal is hardly about the coffee.
Earlier this summer, I arranged to meet a colleague at our local Starbucks in Del Mar, CA. Like always, the place was bustling but luckily we were able to find a table near the front door across from a young mom with her newborn. Although my friend John and I were there to discuss a promising real estate partnership that he was pursuing in China, we couldn’t help but notice the attention that the mom was receiving from the baristas. Every 15 minutes or so, the baristas would walk from behind the counter and offer to lend a hand. During our 90 minute visit, we noticed her refilling her coffee, refreshing her water, securing her seat while she went to change her baby, and even rocking the stroller as she took a phone call – all with a genuine smile.
Towards the end of our visit, I felt compelled to recognize the efforts of these baristas, but before I could say a word, she excused herself to help the mom gather her belongings and walked her to her car. As she got back behind the counter, I asked if she knew the family, and after a brief pause, she said, “No, I’ve actually never met them before…I just knew that she was working on an important presentation and I was happy that she got her deal.”
In that instant I learned why Starbucks doesn’t sell coffee; they create ‘inspired moments in each customer’s day’. Joseph Michelli has been covering the mystique of Starbucks for almost a decade and in his new book, Leading the Starbucks Way, he unveils the five core principles that turn this commoditized beverage into a romanticized experience. It starts with Love, he explains.