Starbucks is staffing entire cafes with senior citizens as part of a pilot project.
When you go into a Starbucks location, most of us know exactly what to expect: some new age music coming in through the speakers, some college students with headphones manically typing away on their laptops, and a collection of young people behind the counter busily preparing drinks for everyone inside.
However, there is one location in Mexico where the scene is slightly different. It’s still the same collection of college students working on their essays, and still the same new age music piped in from above. The difference is behind the counter, where most of the teenagers serving drinks have been replaced by senior citizens.
The location is part of a program that Starbucks is running to increase labor inclusivity at their locations. It’s being run in conjunction with the National Institute for the Elderly (INAPAM), a Mexican government organization that’s tasked with caring for the elderly.
Employees at the Mexico City Starbucks location range from 55 to 66. There have been some modifications to the store to accommodate the more aged baristas, such as shelves being slightly lower than normal to prevent accidents. Each worker is limited to a shift no longer than 6.5 hours, and everyone is guaranteed medical insurance and at least 2 days off per week.
It’s a little weird to be trained by staff that are sometimes less than half as old as they are, but one 66-year-old retiree said that the younger trainers are very courteous and he’s very satisfied with his new job.
Mexico has about 12 million senior citizens which account for 10% of the country’s total population. Starbucks plans to expand the program to employ 120 geriatric baristas by the end of 2018.
The whole thing sort of smacks of stepping on Walmart’s trend of hiring senior citizens to be door greeters, but the difference here is that these baristas are actually preparing drinks and not just there to look pretty.
There’s no word on whether or not the same program will come to America, but who knows? Maybe your next grande iced sugar-free vanilla latte with soy milk will be served by someone who could be your grandmother.