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  • Writer's pictureRina Singh

Coffee & Crisis

Updated: May 3, 2019


An insight into Starbucks Crisis Management

Whilst treating myself to a post afternoon caffeine fix, (according to my partner, buying coffee everyday isn’t a treat. I guess he is right, but I digress), this famous white Starbucks cup and green siren got me thinking about a webinar I attended on Starbucks and Crisis Management. Two of my favourite topics, Coffee & Crisis, got me inspired to share with you all that I had learnt.

Starbucks is not just a drink product we see on the cups. I was surprised to learn that they have their own café bakery ‘La Boylange’, Seattle’s best coffee, Evolution Fresh Juicery , Teavana and of course, Tazo tea. But wait, before it starts getting off onto a sales pitch (which this is not) , nor do I particularly have an undying love for Starbucks, it’s just fascinating that I had never stopped to think about the wider remit of this company.

Starbucks is not just a retail outlet, but also owners of multiple manufacturing facilities like bakeries, juice etc. across the world. They sell products in grocery stores from coffee beans, to Tazo teas, to natural energy drinks and also have an Austria and Switzerland based train car and cruise ships.

In terms of Risks , what are they?


(After all, we are RISKercizing) With presence in over 66 Countries ,naturally the green siren becomes a target for any incident; Multiple manufacturing facilities (bakeries, juice, food etc.) poses risk of food compliance associated across the world; Starbucks is not just a product, service, retail, manufacturing but it’s also known as the ‘third place’. This means besides home and work, it is noted to be the third place to relax in various social settings. (It is also the best place for online first dates). Because of this, the safety risk is paramount. This is why critical communication is essential. (e.g. In incidents such as a fire/bomb) Interesting fact: During Hurricane Sandy, Starbucks closed doors for safety, people congregated outside and took advantage of their Wi-Fi to stay connected and find out what was going on.

Starbucks and Crisis Management

Crisis management/disaster recovery – and enterprise Business Continuity means they respond, recover, and restore operations, manufacturing, supply chain and support functions across brands and across the globe. (wow!) Having a resilient and robust tool and Crisis Management, especially a mass communication tool would help the blur the lines between key operational stakeholders. For example: This would be to ensure teams falling in between financial, info security incidents , info system incident, media social events, retail incidents , QA food safety, physical security , food and defence, global supply chain disruptions, geological, metrological events, and criminal incidents are aware each other exist.

There is no single path that we find out about incidents/crisis event. The question is how this information is validated and quickly assessed as assets should be in different countries. The webinar went on to speak about Starbucks’s emergency mass communication tool which inspired me to blog about it. I had never realised the true extent of how systems really help manage great communication risks across global products and supply chain. It is absolutely better than trying to do all this manually. To put this into context, such a system would enable monitoring of: Regional emergency alerts such as weather, civil unrest, earthquake or wind fire incidentsFacility emergency alert- directs evacuation or shelter place orders. Running ovens to roast coffee beans have risks and the need for alerts to help manage this is essential.Quality assurance alerts, directs emergency recalls or process change which enables to recall faulty goodsPartner accountability to gain validation that someone received the notification. All this would help manage and control risks!

A challenge : Hourly based employees like baristas do not have Starbucks emails and have to go onto the intranet, log on and set it up to find out if there is any incident.


How did Starbucks resolve this?


Communication would be on both internal system and customer public ones so reliance on logging into the system is not the only method; and also All stores have individual IP addresses that tie it into notification system so quicker communications can be received. E.g. partners know a storm is coming and put in the necessary controls in place to manage that incident. This means all relevant parties are notified.


What is your order please?

Next time you are ordering, think back to this post, have a look at the retail store you are in, observe the communication methods, machinery etc. and think about what if something failed. Coffee & Crisis will certainly never look the same!


For now, I’ll have an Grande Extra Hot Skinny Cappuccino Please.


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