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I'm a reporter, dammit, so after reading about today's all-hands training sessions at all Starbucks stores I walked over to the store at 333 Market in San Francisco's Financial District and asked my barista to explain, step by step, exactly what's new.

  • 1. Richer espresso mix. Starbucks espresso machines have been recalibrated to mix a stronger dose. It's not as powerful as Peet's, but it's more in that direction. My daily triple-shot tastes a lot thicker.
  • 2. Shot glasses. Instead of pouring directly into your cup, all shots are now dispensed into clear glass shot glasses. The barista must visually approve the shot before pouring it into a cup. This not only checks the mix, it prevents stale, crema-free shots from being served after lying around too long.
  • 3. Smaller steamer pitchers. No more giant tub-o-foam, but rather smaller batches of steamed milk and foam more tailored and fresh to each order.

Could I taste the difference? Instantly. (Photo by AP/Ted S. Warren)