‘When we enter our local Starbucks, it’s like getting together with family’

Starbucks baristas all over the world form genuine relationships with their customers.

Often, customers write to us about the ways Starbucks partners (employees) made them feel special. A recent example is a story reported in a Lancaster, Pennsylvania newspaper – Aaron and Anisa: Young man with autism forms special bond with Starbucks barista.

What follows is a letter behind the story. Here is what Aaron’s mom wrote about her experience with Starbucks partners:

I had always loved the drinks at Starbucks but got them infrequently due to length of travel required to get to the closest store. Needless to say I was so very excited when news broke of a store opening in Ephrata, PA. Little did I know just how great this would be and the impact a certain barista would have on my family.

My son, Aaron, has autism and for the most part uses pictures to support his choice of menu items at a variety of restaurants, stores, etc. One evening while Aaron and I were out and about I stopped by Starbucks and ordered an iced chai latte. I asked Aaron if he wanted to taste it. Initially he said no but he continued to look at the cup. I handed the cup to him and he tasted it but was unsure if he liked it at first. He put the cup back into the car's cup holder and after a minute or so, looked at me as if asking my permission to take another sip. I told him that it was ok. I was in shock and awe that he enjoyed it so much that he consumed the entire drink leaving me with none. Of course, this was fine with me and began what would be a delightful journey, continuing to remind me that there are people in our community who want Aaron to have the same experience as his typically developing peers.

For our next visit I had Googled an image of the iced chai latte for Aaron and added appropriate text to the image so that he could place an order upon his arrival. This worked well, but the personal interaction shared by barista and consumer was missing. Enter Anisa. She happened to be on the floor one day Aaron and I went into the store. I've become accustom to asking if businesses have picture menus for guests with disabilities or people that need language/communication support. I totally expected to hear the same answer. No, we don't. Or, what's that? To my surprise, Anisa said, yes we do and knew exactly where it was located.

She presented it to me and together we looked at it to see how it may best work for Aaron. I was so excited I sent a text to my circle of friends and they, too, were unaware that this type of accommodation was available at Starbucks.

During another visit to Starbucks, Anisa was working and she saw my son, Aaron, standing in line. She grabbed the picture menu and asked if we wanted to practice. She pointed to each item and directed Aaron to do the same. She even gave him a high-five at the end. Then she came from behind the counter and said, "C'mon Aaron let’s get you a straw." I told her she was wonderful and she said that she was an educator and always enjoyed subbing in an ABA (applied behavior analysis) class. It shows! From here on out they will greet Aaron by name and ask him what he wants and assist him with his use of the picture menu.

Anisa is indeed an asset to Starbucks and an exemplary ambassador of the Starbucks brand, enriching the daily lives of their customers and communities. Now when we enter our local Starbucks, it's like getting together with family. Please acknowledge her for her outstanding customer and community service.

Janiece Seldomridge

Navron, Pennslyvannia

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