I almost feel like I should apologize for this blog post right off the bat because it probably won't be interesting to many readers. Nonetheless, one day this past week I was in one of my regular Starbucks, and the bar barista exclaimed to me how much he liked using the new milk steaming pitchers. Of course, I was like, "huh" because I hadn't realized that Starbucks had sent all their stores new milk steaming pitchers. I know this partner well, and I'll call him "John." John said that the pitchers were largely a product of the testing of the Ristretto Bianco beverage in Portland. These smaller pitchers were implemented and first launched in the testing of that beverage. By way of background, I know that John moved from a Starbucks in Portland to this downtown Seattle location, and we've had previous conversations about the Ristretto Bianco. John had, at one time, been at a store with that test beverage, though I didn't know him back then. It was interesting to me that one year after that test, something did come out of it that did launch nationally. However, there's a little more to the story. Apparently, long after the Ristretto Bianco test was discontinued, a number of stores still continued using these smaller pitchers for steaming milk. You wouldn't think that steaming pitchers would require such rigorous testing, but I guess it makes sense that before you make/ship thousands and thousands of pitchers, you test it to make sure it is perfect.
John told me (and now this is totally like a third-hand story!) that the pitchers went through handle modifications before the final design was chosen for the stores. So I heard, a friend of his who had also been part of the test run for the pitchers, had given Starbucks the feedback that the handles were too small. In other words, in an earlier version of the pitchers, if a barista had a very large hand, the space to grab the pitcher was too small and there was a burn risk to the top of the hand. (Not the palm of the hands, but the outside of the hand.) In the end, Starbucks made some modifications to the handle design, and now here you have it: new milk steaming pitchers.
My understanding is that sometime within the past week or so, all Starbucks switched to these new (and smaller) pitchers. One great advantage of the new pitchers is the ability to steam exactly the amount of milk that you need - even if someone orders a "short" (8 ounce) beverage.
Partners, how do you like your new pitchers? :-)
I realize that this blog post may get close to zero comments because probably few are interested in pitchers, but I was fascinated to see what came out of the Ristretto Bianco testing.
(Edit: When I wrote this blog article I was under the assumption that all Starbucks had already received these pitchers. In looking at the comments, I realize now that some Starbucks are still waiting to receive these. Hopefully it will be soon! :))