New Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan, who took the reins from controversial Starbucks founder and multi-time CEO Howard Schultz in March 2023, gained a lot of internal company and external media attention for training for six months as a barista in the leadup to the company’s executive leadership change. As it turns out, Narasimhan’s training as a barista and observation of multiple stores was the basis for new changes that he will be rolling out to make store-level operations easier and more efficient.
In an exclusive interview with The Wall Street Journal, Narasimhan spoke about his journey toward learning how to make the proper latte, how he often made mistakes during his training period, and how there seemed to always be an undercurrent of tension and anxiety in many high-traffic stores, especially when it comes to keeping up with orders. In one store, Narasimhan said that he had to repeatedly apologize to customers after a store ran out of breakfast sandwiches, and noted the pressure of a café manager calling out the average time it was taking to process orders in another store. Narasimhan even burnt his hand on too-hot melted cheese while trying to rush an order.