‘What’d you say?’: Starbucks attempts to tamp down the noise

Apr 19, 2024, 9:30 AM | Updated: 10:22 am

Starbucks noise...

A sign for a Starbucks Coffee shop. (Photo: Charles Krupa, AP File)

(Photo: Charles Krupa, AP File)

In a bid to create a more pleasant and inclusive experience for its patrons, Starbucks is rolling out a series of technological renovations across its U.S. locations, including Western Washington. The coffee giant aims to reduce noise levels and enhance accessibility through strategic changes.

Starbucks North America President Sara Trilling said noise reduction would also improve order accuracy and the overall customer experience, Bloomberg reported. She said employees can struggle to hear orders correctly because of a noisy environment.

“Imagine you got all that background noise happening, and then you’ve got a window open in front of you and you’re trying to communicate with a customer,” Trilling told Bloomberg.

Related news: Starbucks accused of violating Disabilities Act by charging extra for non-dairy

Acoustic Dampening Baffles and Foams

Starbucks plans to install acoustic dampening baffles or foams in the ceilings. The company said this will help minimize noise and reverberations, resulting in a quieter environment.

Starbucks said the move should benefit customers seeking a peaceful coffee shop experience

Improved Lighting and Visual Comfort

In addition to noise reduction, Starbucks is introducing adjustable lighting features. Dimmers and power screens on exterior windows will reduce daytime glare and shadows, creating a more visually comfortable space. These enhancements attempt to cater to customers with varying visual needs.

“New acoustics and lighting features help create a more enjoyable and inclusive auditory and visual experience for customers and partners,” the chain said in a statement to USA Today.

Enhanced Accessibility for Wheelchair Users and Those with Low Vision

The new Starbucks models incorporate several features designed to assist customers with specific needs:

  1. Overhanging Shelf: Providing extra room, this feature accommodates customers using wheelchairs, power chairs, strollers, or service dogs.
  2. Transcription System: A point-of-sale system that transcribes customer orders, making communication easier for those with hearing impairments.
  3. Power-Operated Doors: Longer vertical buttons on doors facilitate smooth entry and exit for wheelchair users.
  4. Aira: Starbucks is also exploring the use of Aira, an assistive technology that connects blind or low-vision customers with trained agents who provide real-time visual assistance via smartphone or smart glasses.

Related news: Starbucks accused of violating Disabilities Act by charging extra for non-dairy

A spokesperson said Starbucks aims “to create an environment where everyone feels welcome and can enjoy their coffee without barriers.”

The company also said the upgrades demonstrate the company’s commitment to accessibility and inclusivity.

“Moving forward, all newly built and renovated Starbucks stores in the U.S. will incorporate the framework,” according to a spokesperson.

Bill Kaczaraba is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here. Follow Bill on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email him here

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‘What’d you say?’: Starbucks attempts to tamp down the noise