Make us your home page
Instagram

Savoring the buzz at Starbucks

Cliff Burrows, Starbucks’ president of the Americas, introduces Starbucks Blonde Roast at an unveiling in New York last October. Starbucks has long faced criticism from people who think its coffee is too dark or bitter. The company said it developed the new roast for the U.S. consumers who prefer a light-tasting coffee.

Associated Press (2011)

Cliff Burrows, Starbucks’ president of the Americas, introduces Starbucks Blonde Roast at an unveiling in New York last October. Starbucks has long faced criticism from people who think its coffee is too dark or bitter. The company said it developed the new roast for the U.S. consumers who prefer a light-tasting coffee.

Most mornings, Cliff Burrows orders a Starbucks double tall nonfat extra-dry cappuccino before heading to his office at the ubiquitous coffee chain's Seattle headquarters. As president of the Americas, he is responsible for all stores in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Latin America. Burrows joined the company in 2001 as managing director of the United Kingdom, after 19 years with a home-furnishings chain there. He would later oversee U.S. operations for Starbucks during the recession, when the company shuttered 800 stores. Now, the company is on the upswing, expanding in the United States and internationally. A recent Seattle Times profile noted that Burrows brought in an efficiency expert to figure out how baristas could better juggle their multistep drink orders. Starbucks also began steaming milk in separate, smaller mugs to improve taste and freshness while cutting the time it takes to make them. Burrows was in Houston for the Starbucks Global Leadership Conference at the George R. Brown Convention Center and Toyota Center. He took a few minutes to talk shop. Edited excerpts follow.

How would you say Starbucks is doing?

The last time we held a conference was in New Orleans in 2008 and it was a low point in the economy. We made tough decisions about closing stores and we really strengthened our relationship with our customers. We've really gotten back to the core of our business around our coffee, our espresso and our people. This year through June we've opened 200 new stores in the United States and we're also opening stores in Canada, Mexico and South America. We only have about 50 stores in Brazil, but that country has a tremendous future. We plan to continue to open stores. But it has to be the right store, and it's one at a time.

You recently began selling online the single-serve coffee and espresso maker Verismo. How is it doing?

We're very encouraged by online sales. It has exceeded expectations. We'll be launching it in more than 4,300 U.S. stores. The drinks it makes are absolutely tremendous. The breakthrough with the machine is with the milk, the way it foams and the mouth-feel of the milk. Part of our reason for being in Houston is to launch it with our managers and let them try out the machines.

Will we see more retail products like Verismo in the future?

Innovation is so important to us. In 2009, we introduced ready-brew instant coffee. This summer we introduced Refreshers, energy drinks made from green coffee extract. We make them hand-crafted, sell them in cans and as instant beverages. Our innovation is ongoing.

How is your partnership with the Square payment system going?

Square is extremely exciting for us. Eighteen months ago, we launched our internal payment Starbucks Card for iPhones and Androids and it was very well received. Square payment is an opportunity to extend that opportunity further. In coming years, digital payment will just continue to increase. We see a huge movement.

.fast facts

Cliff Burrows, 53, Starbucks' president of Americas

Salary: $4.3 million in fiscal 2011

Raised: Zambia, then Wales

School: Left college after one term of accounting

Family: Wife, Anna, and two daughters, 7 and 8

Career: Worked at Woolworth's at age 15, then became a management trainee at a chain called Littlewoods; spent 19 years at home-furnishings retailer Habitat

Drives: Hybrid

Listens to: Arctic Monkeys, Avett Brothers

Volunteers: Trustee, Seattle Art Museum; chair, Corporate Service Council program at Points of Light Corporate Institute (part of Hands On Network)

Source: Starbucks

Savoring the buzz at Starbucks 10/21/12 [Last modified: Friday, October 26, 2012 4:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Controversial landfill site could be rechristened as industrial recruiting land in Pasco

    Economic Development

    The east Pasco property of Angelo's Aggregate Materials, which failed to obtain a state environmental permit to be developed as a garbage landfill, is being studied as a potential 1,000-acre mega site for industrial recruitment.

  2. Marriott opening new hotel on Clearwater Beach

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER BEACH — A dual-branded Marriott hotel with a tongue-twister name is opening on Clearwater Beach in August. The Residence Inn Tampa Clearwater Beach and SpringHill Suites Tampa Clearwater Beach will have 255 suites total, connected by a lobby.

    A dual-branded Marriott hotel called the Residence Inn Tampa Clearwater Beach and SpringHill Suites Tampa Clearwater Beach will open in August in Clearwater Beach. Pictured is a rendering.
[Courtesy of Hayworth PR]
  3. Irish 31 brings flair, flavor to Wiregrass

    Business

    WESLEY CHAPEL — Irish 31 Pub House & Eatery opened its fifth location at The Shops at Wiregrass earlier this month.

    hillsevbiz072117: Irish 31 has opened at the Shops at Wiregrass with a warm, wood decor. Photo courtesy of Irish 31.
  4. Family fun featured at Lutz-area ice cream shop

    Business

    LUTZ — For Joe Schembri, ice cream reminds him of fun times he spent with his family as a child.

    hillsevbiz072117: Joe Schembri has opened the Ice Dreamery in Lutz. Photo courtesy of Joe Schembri.
  5. Clean Eatz offers low-cal options in South Tampa

    Business

    Inside Clean Eatz, almost everything is under 500 calories.

    Clean Eatz will offer healthy dining options in South Tampa. Photo courtesy of Clean Eatz.