How Starbucks Baristas Prioritize Mobile And In-Person Orders

Whether you're a Starbucks regular or just occasionally enjoy the chain's handcrafted beverages, the company's mobile app can sure come in handy. Launched in 2015, the convenient mobile tool allows you to save time by ordering and paying for your favorite Starbucks goodies ahead of time with just a few taps of the button. As if your coffee runs could get any sweeter, perhaps the biggest perk of all is that, by using it, you may get your order even faster than those who choose to order in person at the register.

As it turns out, some employees say they are trained to prioritize mobile orders over ones made in-store. As Monica MacDonald, a former Starbucks barista and shift supervisor, noted in an article for Business Insider, churning out the mobile orders first is all but mandatory, at least at the two locations where she worked. "You can actually get in trouble if you prioritize in-person orders over the mobile ones," she shared. 

According to MacDonald, if two orders happen to come in simultaneously — one from the app and one made by a person in-store — the former is supposed to always take precedence. This seems perfectly reasonable considering people who order ahead probably expect their items to be ready when they arrive at the store. Skipping the line, so to speak, certainly has its upsides, namely that it makes getting your coffee fix a breeze during the hectic morning rush hour. However, that's not to say that it's without its downsides, too.

Mobile orders can have their drawbacks

Before you go pulling out your phone in the hopes of placing a speedy Starbucks order, it's important to note that it doesn't appear that all baristas adhere to the "mobile orders first" rule. In a Reddit thread, a gaggle of some former Starbucks employees shared conflicting statements about whether or not this actually rings true. 

"At my café, it was chronological and you'd get in trouble if you did anything different," an alleged barista shared on the platform, while another one said they liked to stagger in mobile orders so they didn't have customers "staring at [them] for too long" inside the store. Similarly, one supposed employee noted that if they were really busy and got, say, 10 mobile orders in and one made in person, they would quickly whip up the latter so the customer wouldn't have to wait.

Another drawback of the app is that a new feature allows Starbucks managers and shift supervisors to pause mobile orders during busier times or when there are too many employee callouts so it may not even be available when you want a drink. Moreover, the app isn't always the best when it comes to ordering cold foam or shaken espresso drinks. Apparently, these are two Starbucks drinks you really shouldn't mobile order because their temperature and texture could be impacted.

Other ways to get your Starbucks order faster

Fortunately for prolific Starbucks lovers — or those who simply detest all things technology — there is a simple way to streamline the whole ordering process without having to rely on the company's app. First up: Always know what you want before getting to the register or the menu board of the drive-thru. And, whether you choose to go through the drive-thru or into the store, another trick involves ordering your Starbucks food first and then your drink since the former can take longer to prepare.

The drink ordering code Starbucks baristas love to hear may also help speed things up. Essentially, state your drink in the order the barista writes it on the cup. In other words: Say whether you want your drink hot or iced, decaf or regular, what cup size, syrup options, which milk, and then the name of your drink. Afterward, you tack on whatever add-ons you'd like, such as whipped cream or other saucy toppings. Having your drink order at the ready like this can speed the process along — and ensure less mistakes.