Stacks of the white paper to-go bags, all branded with the Starbucks logo and soon to be filled with food, sit next to the cashier. Beside the espresso machine, empty cups wait to be filled with warm, frothy coffee or refreshing iced tea.
A sign that reads, “Hearty, savory deliciousness,” advertises the reduced fat turkey bacon, egg white and cheddar sandwich — a crowd favorite.
Ashley Ryan stands in line waiting to order the usual — a grande dirty chai latte, iced, with two extra shots of espresso. Some days she’ll get a breakfast sandwich, but not today — she’s in a hurry for her 10 o’clock class and the line is wrapped around the store.
Finally, she reaches the front.
“Hi, what can I get for you?” the barista asks.
“Can I get venti dirty chai latte, iced, with two extra shots of espresso?” says Ryan. She has an exam later and needs that extra size up for the day ahead.
“Anything else for you?”
“No that’s all.”
“And the name?”
“You can go ahead and tap,” referencing the gray CBORD block used to take meal plan.
She taps her Miami ID and scoots off to the side to wait for her coffee.
Over on the pick-up counter, baristas shout out names as customers crowd the counter, waiting.
“Abbey! Vanilla iced coffee with milk.”
Since the opening of the Maple Street Starbucks in the spring of 2016, there’s never been a dull day. Its proximity to central and south quads, along with its meal plan-accepting capability, makes it most convenient for students who need a caffeine fix or a grab-and-go meal.
But convenience comes with a cost: The wait — especially on the weekends.
This past fall students received an email stating the new dining hour changes, effective September 24, 2016:
“To ensure staffing levels, there will be a reduction of hours at a few locations… Starbucks at Maplestreet Station will remain open with all other venues at Maplestreet Station closed on the weekends.”
Since this change, the Maple Street Starbucks has transformed from simply a coffee shop to a dining destination. Students living in this area eat at Starbucks for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“I eat at Starbucks every Saturday and Sunday because it’s the only good food you can get on meal plan during the weekends,” said sophomore Caitlin Schiattareggia who lives on South Quad near Maple Street.
Before the change, Schiattareggia would buy coffee here, but rarely food.
“I definitely go there a lot more this year because it is the only option available sometimes,” says Schiattareggia.
The food, which was only recently introduced to Starbucks stores in 2012 after acquiring the San Francisco bakery, La Boulange, has options ranging from salted caramel cake pops to turkey pesto sandwiches.
Each shipment comes in boxes, frozen from Starbucks headquarters. Baristas open and sort through the individually wrapped contents. Sandwiches must thaw for 48 hours in the refrigerator before serving, and pastries at room temperature for eight hours.
Miami University student and Starbucks student manager, Al Oliver, attributes the demand for food to the weekend hours.
“We get really busy, especially at lunch time on the weekends because that area of campus is really the only place to get food,” says Oliver. “We have to pull a lot of extra food for the weekends, just cause we sell so much.
And with the oven constantly blazing next to the register, it’s essential that baristas rotate their positions.
“It can be really draining if you’re doing one thing for your whole shift, especially if you’re on food because it gets really hot,” says Oliver. “Working by the ovens when we’re making so much food is stressful.”
But even today, on a Wednesday, the buzzer of the oven and swoosh of the milk frother is non-stop.
“It’s like a fucking zoo in here,” one guy says to his friend as he grabs his drink and heads for the door.
And a zoo is a perfect term to describe the Maple Street Starbucks. According to a Trefis analysis, in 2016, the average number of customers a Starbucks store would serve in a given day that year was just under 500. The Maple Street Starbucks averages about three times that amount at 1,500 transactions per day, says Oliver.
Back in Oliver’s hometown of Stow, Ohio, he also works as a Starbucks barista, but the two jobs are very different. At the Stow location, quite often he is the only person working, and the average amount of daily transactions is only around 100.
“On Saturday, I was working [at Maple Street] and we had nine people on a shift. When I’m at home, there are days where it’s just me working by myself.”
But for Oliver, he loves the energy of Maple Street — even when he’s squished behind the small counter with nine other baristas.
“I really like making drinks, and I love coffee,” says Oliver. “I think we have a good atmosphere here too. Everyone is just working together and being helpful to each other. It’s a very positive work environment.”
And as for Ryan and Schiattareggia, the craziness doesn’t seem to bother them either.
“Yeah the lines long, but they’ve never spelled my name wrong like they do at home!” says Ryan, laughing. “Seriously, how do you spell ‘Ashley’ wrong?”