Starbucks baristas vs. TikTok

TikTok influencers are spreading Starbucks drink recipes that are a pain to make.

June 1, 2021

Barista by day and TikTok influencer… also by day (Source: TikTok / BuzzFeed)

It wasn’t too long ago — circa fall 2020 — that TikTok was facing a permanent ban from the United States.

Having survived that corporate scare, the video-sharing platform is facing a new antagonist: Starbucks baristas say TikTok is driving them “insane.”

Why? The rise of the ‘Appuccino’

A TikTok trend is to share off-menu recipes — AKA “Appuccinos” — and how to order them. For example, get a strawberry frap with vanilla bean powder and white mocha and cinnamon dolce syrups for a “Strawberry Cheesecake Frappuccino.”

Recipes go viral, thanks to influencers and even experimental Starbucks employees with their own fan bases.

However, some of these drinks are pretty elaborate, take a long time to make, disrupt the shop’s usual rhythm, and use up ingredients.

But for all the baristas’ complaints…

… Starbucks’ business is increasingly going digital. According to BuzzFeed:

  • From January to March 2021, 26% of orders were mobile (up from 18% in the previous year)
  • The # of stores where mobile orders accounted for 20%+ of orders at the peak grew from 4.6k to 7.2k

It’s not just the volume of orders, either. The Starbucks app lets you add sauces, syrups, and toppings galore. The coffee chain has also added “secret menu” drinks before (e.g., Pink Drink, Medicine Ball).

Starbucks says it’s fine with these orders and — terrifyingly for baristas — estimates there are 170k+ ways to customize a drink.

Join 1.5m+ professionals getting The Hustle daily news brief

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less

100% free, no ads or spam, unsubscribe anytime


How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?

Join us, it's free.

Look, you came to this site because you saw something cool. But here’s the deal. This site is actually a daily email that covers the important news in business, tech, and culture.

So, if you like what you’re reading, give the email a try.

If you don’t like it, unsubscribe any time. Privacy policy.