Pretty soon, Starbucks baristas won’t have to bend down under the counter to scoop out fresh coffee grounds. Those will now be kept on the counter, making the coffee-making process just a little bit quicker. It’s just one of the tiny changes the company has been pushing in an effort to make its stores more efficient, like a true fast-food joint. Starbucks calls them “lean” techniques, following the example of a production method first used by Toyota. They were first rolled out at a test store in Oregon last year, which already had the fastest Starbucks drive-through window: average order time, 25 seconds. With the new lean methods, that’s down to 23 seconds. With the weak economy and increasing competition from restaurants like McDonald’s, every little bit helps.
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