In a recent turn of events at Starbucks, customers are finding themselves in a frustrating situation where they have to endure up to 40-minute waits for their beloved brew. Baristas are pointing fingers at the company’s decision to reduce staff, leaving them swamped with orders pouring in through mobile apps, in-store, and the drive-thru.

An analysis by Technomic, as reported by Bloomberg News, reveals that Starbucks patrons are facing longer wait times compared to competitors like Dunkin’ and Caribou. Recent data from the past quarter shows that a significant 8% of customers had to wait between 15 and 30 minutes for their coffee orders, a stark difference from the swift service that was provided before the pandemic.

During the period from October 2022 to the same month this year, Starbucks downsized its in-store workforce by 29,000 while simultaneously expanding its US presence by opening 380 new stores, according to SEC records.

Adding to the chaos, a new company policy requiring baristas to commit to working 12 hours weekly has resulted in a scarcity of employees at certain locations, putting immense pressure on the remaining staff and leading to prolonged wait times for customers.

Christopher Mills, speaking to Bloomberg News after witnessing the chaos at a Starbucks store in Shelton, Conn., described his shocking 40-minute wait for a latte on Mother’s Day, with six baristas struggling to keep up with orders. The mood at the store was dismal, as everyone, including customers and staff, appeared dissatisfied with the situation.

Starbucks, however, maintains that their stores are adequately staffed. Frank Britt, the company’s chief reinvention officer, informed Bloomberg News that a new algorithm has been implemented to manage labor distribution efficiently. This algorithm considers factors like order forecasts and product availability to determine the required staffing levels at each location.

But baristas assert that the algorithm overlooks the additional work needed to accommodate special requests in orders, such as extra espresso shots or cold foam. Moreover, promotional activities are not factored into the algorithm’s calculations, leading to understaffing during peak times.

Britt acknowledges the shortcomings of the current system, admitting that the long wait times are unacceptable and that Starbucks must do better. The company has revamped its algorithm over the last 18 months to ensure sufficient capacity to meet customer demand.

In response to criticisms, Starbucks also highlighted its commitment to partner-centric scheduling and staffing precision on a blog post. Former CEO Howard Schultz has been vocal about the need for a thorough overhaul of the company’s operations to prioritize an unparalleled customer experience.

The recent underwhelming quarterly earnings report, coupled with a 15% decline in net income and a 2% drop in revenue, has only added to the challenges faced by the current leadership at Starbucks. The pressure is mounting on CEO Laxman Narasimhan, especially after facing scrutiny from CNBC’s Jim Cramer over the company’s disappointing financial performance.

As Starbucks grapples with economic headwinds in China and high inflation in the US, the urgency to address these operational issues is more pressing than ever. It remains to be seen how Starbucks will navigate these turbulent times and restore its reputation for efficiency and service excellence.