Why Starbucks Baristas Hate Mobile Orders So Much

Of all the innovations Starbucks has introduced over the years, nothing has transformed the coffee experience quite like mobile ordering. First introduced in 2014, the coffee chain's in-app feature allows customers to place their order in advance without having to interact with a cashier at all. The advantage of being able to run in and grab your drinks without waiting in line has made the contactless payment incredibly popular among Starbucks customers. In 2021, Business Insider reported that over one quarter of all Starbucks transactions were mobile orders.

But while mobile ordering is undeniably convenient for customers, for many employees, it's the bane of their existence. This week, one Starbucks worker who goes by the TikTok name @katetopia revealed why.

Shot from the perspective of the barista, the viral TikTok shows one customer in the drive-thru waiting for their drink. Though at first it's unclear what the problem is, the overlay text explains it all: "When customers place their mobile order as they pull up to the drive-thru." Frustrated at how the car is holding up the line, the barista then reaches for a swizzle stick and points it at the car like a magic wand, pretending to "curse" the customer for their mistake.

In just two days, the video has received over 815,000 views, with 43,000 people seeming to agree with the barista's complaint through their use of the "like" button.

Customers don't understand mobile order etiquette

In the TikTok video's comments, fellow Starbucks baristas chimed in to vent their frustration over how often customers misuse the mobile order feature. Several affirmed that the biggest issue is people misunderstanding when they're supposed to place the order on the app. "Literally irks me so bad," wrote one user. "They place it right when they're abt to be at the speaker and we haven't even gotten it yet and then they get mad." 

To make matters worse, it turns out some customers who order in line aren't paying attention to where the order goes, either. "Half the time they come to the wrong store," the TikTok's caption reads. Others complained that people who mobile order while in line delay the flow of drinks, which in turn has a domino effect on everyone else's order. "...you have to pull like 10 stickers to find [their] mobile and then lobby starts complaining and asking if their drinks are done."

However, despite their annoyance with this system, several Starbucks employees assured viewers that mobile orders are totally fine as long as people understand that it doesn't guarantee their drinks will be made faster. For those who are still unsure if they're using the feature correctly, one commenter offered some helpful advice. "Mobile order when you're about to leave your house so it's ready/almost ready when you get there, not when you're already in line PLEASE."