Overworked Starbucks Baristas Not Fans of "Secret Menu"

It's been a tough year, and TikTok's made it harder. 

If you keep up with the latest trends on social media, you're no doubt aware of Starbucks' varied and very unofficial "secret menu." In essence, Instagrammers and TIkTokkers basically scheme up some truly insaner beverages using the coffee' chain's mobile and delivery order customization options, either designed to mimic the taste of something you wouldn't normally find at a coffee shop, or else look as aesthetically pleasing as possible.

While that might be great fun for clout-chasing zoomers trying to mimic what they're seeing on their For You Page, it's decidedly less of a good time for the Starbucks baristas on the other side of the counter.

That info comes via reporting from The Guardian, and suggests that Starbucks' employee morale has taken a nosedive during the pandemic. As Starbucks has increasingly emphasized quickly moving customers through drive-thrus since the pandemic began, employees who spoke to The Guardian say they're being asked to do more (and more complicated) work while often understaffed and under-compensated.

In addition to the company "[taking] this turn to becoming just another fast-food drive, thru" as one Starbucks shift supervisor put it, those highfalutin' secret menu items certainly play a role in creating more work at a time when baristas are expected to take less time to do it. With a long and exacting list of ingredients that can require multiple times as many steps as even your average Frappuccino, it's a recipe for throwing down one's green apron in frustration and walking off the job.

strawberry funnel cake frappucino from starbucks

"These orders are driving us insane because they're so long, so specific, and it requires you to do much more work than you should be doing for one single drink and they're not being adequately translated into our labor hours," a (separate) shift supervisor working in New York said.

It's taking a tangible toll, too. Recently, one barista lost their job after complaining on social media about how much making a viral drink called "The Edward," a Frappuccino modified with 13(!) extra ingredients, made him want to quit. Complaints about annoying secret menu orders go even further back to the "Unicorn Frappuccino" inspired similar frustration back in 2018.

So if you insist on ordering whatever long, complicated Starbucks beverage the teens of TikTok are telling you to try, the least you can do is exercise a little patience. Or you can just order off the normal menu like an adult. The choice is yours.

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