Siren Craft System – elevating the Starbucks experience for our partners and customers

The power of pivoting and small routine changes are in effect at a Starbucks in Plano, Texas, where partners (employees) have helped to pilot new ways of working, resulting in easier in-store operations and higher customer satisfaction. 

On a typical day for that cafe, customers hardly ever amassed at the mobile order and pick-up counter, even during busy hours. The drive thru operation was smooth, and partners managed their tasks with ease, between catching up with their regular customers and joking with each other.  

As demand across the country for the Starbucks Experience continues to rise, our stores are proving it’s possible to meet and even exceed expectations through surprisingly simple changes.  

Meet Siren Craft System, a partner-driven evolution of how we operate our stores, designed to elevate the partner experience and deliver best-in-class customer wait times.  

“Prior to Siren Craft System, we were hearing from some of our partners at certain stores that they felt overburdened during some of our busiest times. They didn't have many ways to anticipate that demand or respond,” said Kionte’ Sheffield, the district manager who oversaw the pilot project before it even had a name. “With Siren Craft System being a solution by partners and for partners, we have an ease of operations – we’re more efficient without it feeling difficult.” 

This new way of working complements and builds upon the Siren System – a series of equipment and technology improvements unveiled in 2022 to make crafting beverages and food more straightforward for partners.  

“We started this project in 2023, testing some of these improvements and getting feedback from our partners on what would be most impactful for them,” explained Sara Trilling, executive vice president and president of Starbucks North America. “We then really started to look at how we can tackle this latent demand and be more efficient in our stores. We looked at beverage sequencing, beverage routines, and also new positions to respond to the demand in our stores and work through it more effectively while partners are feeling supported.” 

Reducing complexity 

With the help of Siren Craft System, partners can anticipate increased confidence in all the work they do behind the bar. The system includes new routines for popular beverages – including streamlined steps for creating orders, as well as new positions and digital tools to anticipate and meet demand.  

One of the key modifications partners helped to develop was a change in what we call “beverage sequencing” – wherein milk is steamed before espresso shots are pulled. Through in-store trials, partners realized they could save time without sacrificing quality or taste by reversing the process and pulling the espresso before steaming milk.  

A partner in store could be overheard saying that she works in other Starbucks stores and has taken this new sequencing method with her because “it really works better.”  

Enabling craft and connection 

 “The role of Siren Craft System is really about helping to capture the demand that we have by shortening customer wait time while elevating connection, elevating the quality of our coffee, and celebrating the craft of our baristas each and every day,” said Trilling. “It's got to be all those things. It cannot just be about speed.” 

For Plano-based partners like Thomas, who joined Starbucks as a barista more than two years ago, Siren Craft System is a game-changer that makes his day-to-day responsibilities much easier – and more fun. It took about a week of practice to get all the changes down, but he would never go back to the old way of doing things. 

“It's been able to provide a lot more time for our crafting – for our customers and ourselves,” he shared. “With all of the small changes that we've made in our store, I have the time to practice my own drinks and latte art. I am able to provide a happy experience, not only for myself but for the customer. Especially when they ask me, “Will you just make me something?” I'm like, “Absolutely. Here is this creation of art.”” 

Anticipating demand 

During our busiest times, partners will be supported by Peak Play Callers – an updated role that offers greater flexibility to support baristas, supported by digital tools. 

“The Peak Play Caller is kind of like a guardian angel. They float around and go to support where the baristas need it,” shared Emerson, a 3-year partner and college student. 

Garrett, a shift supervisor and Peak Play Caller, is excited by the greater flexibility and support from digital tools to anticipate the rush before it happens. “It is a role specifically for me as a supervisor where I can assess bottlenecks that occur before they even happen utilizing our Digital Production Manager tool.” 

Enhancing the customer experience 

“Customers can expect to feel prioritized,” said Sheffield. “They are going to see theater when they walk into our stores. They're going to see an ease of operations like they've never seen before.” 

In stores where we've launched Siren Craft System to optimize operations, we have already seen an increase in throughput during busy moments, significantly reducing customer wait time, and a tangible improvement in out-of-window times.  

“It's been amazing. We've noticed increases in just sequencing time and getting drinks out to customers in record time,” shared Garrett. 

As of the end of May 2024, 1,160 U.S. stores were already live with Siren Craft System, and we are on track to scale nationally in the U.S. and in Canada by the end of July.  

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