The Shocking Number Of Times Starbucks Employees Must Shake Drinks

Over the past several decades, Starbucks has moved from a local Seattle coffee shop to become the dominant national coffee chain (via Statista and HistoryLink). Its ubiquitous presence has its detractors, but that hasn't kept it from expanding to what seems like every corner, drive-thru, and college campus (per The Motley Fool). Starbucks helped teach Americans to take coffee seriously. But from that simple start, the company developed an elaborate culture of creation and personalization: taking that coffee, reinventing and customizing it for every customer and their misspelled name. 

In its efforts to turn coffee into a serious beverage, Starbucks has also focused heavily on educating its baristas (the very familiarity of the term barista owes a lot to Starbucks' expansion). It's challenging to maintain an extensive and flexible drink menu like Starbucks' and also keep the beverages consistent, and it's difficult to communicate the value proposition of a great coffee drink without having your employees on board. As a result, Starbucks rigorously trains its baristas and requires them to learn its drinks frontwards and back; they must be mindful of their timing as well as their mixing — espresso shots are considered dead after 10 seconds and must be pulled again (via Reddit and Coffee Affection).

Reshaken, not stirred

This java schooling isn't for the light-hearted: there are even quizlets (electronic flashcards) to help new hires learn the ropes. One of the more surprising requirements for Starbucks employees involves shaking drinks. Specifically, the insane number of times Starbucks baristas must shake certain beverages. 

But which — and why? The recent unique "shaken espresso" line-up obviously goes in this category, but so do iced teas and infusions. The reason for the shaking is pretty straightforward. It serves three main purposes, as it does for mixed drinks in general, per Serious Eats: Shaking integrates the ice more completely with the rest of the ingredients (a big plus when you're dealing with warm ingredients like an espresso shot); it melds the ingredients together (so your vanilla syrup doesn't all stay stuck at the bottom of your cup); and it aerates the drink, providing the froth that many people relish in a coffee beverage. But just like with cocktails, not everything needs to be shaken. This issue comes up a lot more in the summer: Hot drinks' ingredients incorporate more naturally, and shaking your regular espresso would destroy the perfect crema (via Bean Ground) on top. 

In case you're still wondering, the magic number is 10 (per Reddit). That's 10 whole times your barista is supposed to shake your drink up. So the next time you're sitting in that forever drive-thru line at Starbucks, you'll know why (and maybe cut your barista some slack).