I worked at the Starbucks EMEA centre in Amsterdam for a year just before joining Greenpeace. I loved working there. The company has great values; I still remember their mission; and we were in growth mode in Europe. New employees are assigned to work in a store for a week to better understand store operations, the products, and the customers.
Starbucks didn’t have any stores in the Netherlands when it was my turn for initiation. Instead, I was assigned to work at one of the stores in Edinburgh. It was my first visit to Scotland.
I can’t remember exactly where the store was, but I was told it was close to JK Rowling’s and Ian Rankin’s homes and that they came to the store pretty often. I didn’t know who Ian Rankin was and googled his name. The mystery novelist came to the store almost every day I was there. But, the Harry Potter author was a no show.
My boss for the week was a guy in his early 20’s. He was really good at his job. I was surprised how many times we ran out of important things – like milk and whipped cream. Fortunately, there was a small store nearby where he could buy things for immediate needs. I remember him buying whipping cream and us all taking turns whipping it. Ironically, part of my Amsterdam team’s job was to make sure that they didn’t run out of products. I now knew first hand how important it is to have products available just in time.
I thought that I would take advantage of Ian Rankin’s visits and get his autograph. I went to his table to ask and he handed me his empty plate and coffee cup. Guess that he didn’t want to be disturbed. He was writing – maybe it was his next mystery novel. I didn’t dare attempt it again.
I preferred bussing tables and washing dishes over serving customers. Making drinks is more difficult than you would think and I was afraid that I would be too slow and tick off the customers. I did serve a couple of brewed coffees; that was easy enough.
The store has little clip-on timers to remind you of things. You clip the timer onto your Starbucks apron and set it to remind yourself of important things like when to take something out of the oven. The trick is to remember why you set it. A couple of times it went off and I would wonder what that weird sound was.
We finally got whipping cream mid way through the week. They are kept in reusable pressurised dispensers. They were almost empty by Friday. My boss asked if I would wash the containers to be refilled on Saturday. I didn’t think about letting out the pressure into the sink first. Instead, I unscrewed the very tight cap. The rest of the whipping cream basically exploded in my face. I looked like Santa Claus. Of course, things like that happen when everyone can see you, so everyone had a great laugh.
Wish that I remembered where that store was. It would be fun to visit again.