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. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park

    Business

    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers

    Business

    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Banking

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]