What $150.69 will get you at Starbucks

It seemed like an unsuspecting morning at the Starbucks at my office. I was greeted in the early morning by our regular barista, Val. We exchanged a little bit if chit chat and then I asked her the question. No, not “the” question, just a question if she was willing to help me out with an experiment; a view into human reaction and interaction. Thankfully, she said yes.

History

So that brings me to this experiment I’m dubbing “Starbucks Pay It Forward” or SPIF (not to be confused with a sales promotion incentive fund). Let me begin with a little history. About three years ago I was going through the drive through at a Kelowna Starbucks location. When it was my turn to pay, the barista smiled and said it had already been taken care of. I was beside myself. Who would do such a thing? And then, almost like it smacked me in the head, I turned back to her and said I would pay for the person behind me in line. I have no clue if the person behind me paid for the next person or not and honestly I don’t care. Every now and then it’s simply nice to get something for nothing. And today, on February 2, 2011 just happened to be one of those days.

Around 8:00 I walked up to the counter and handed over a pre-paid Starbucks Card – registered of course to ensure I get the extra benefits – and took a seat nearby to watch the reactions and activity unfold. The entire staff already knew what was going on. Apparently Val had explained it in advance to ensure it was as smooth a process as possible.

Reactions

“people were shocked so much they didn’t even say thank you”

In the first few minutes I managed to catch a few reactions. Most people, had none, but some appeared to be shocked. I couldn’t sit around forever, so headed back up to my desk to get to work. About 45 minutes later I logged in to my Starbucks account to view the balance of the card – and it was $0.

I headed back downstairs to claim the empty card and some reactions. Apparently it didn’t even take 20 minutes to use up the entire card balance. Speaking with Adrian, the guy who essentially manages the location, he said it went quick and that most people were surprised. “A lot of people were shocked so much they didn’t even say thank you,” he told me. “But everyone seemed grateful.”

Insight

The interesting thing is that I can easily estimate the crazy amount of revenue this Starbucks location does. As the amount on the card was $150.69 – the $0.69 was left over from previous transactions. Based on the fact it took 20 minutes to rip through the funds and the location is open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm I would conservatively estimate they do $4000 in revenue a day ($1M based on 250 days a year). I had to reduce it a little because it was clearly a peak time for coffee goers.

Conclusions

Most people are grateful when they get something for nothing, but overall just don’t know how to show it. Remember sometimes that a “thank you” can go a long way to the person on the other side of the counter. These people are serving us, the consumer and more often than not, help to add a certain level of pleasure to your day. Be nice to them.

I did this experiment without the need or hope of recognition, I honestly did. If you happened to receive one of these free drinks, there’s no need to thank me or anyone else – I simply hope you enjoyed it. The SPIF was an experiment in social behaviors that I felt like doing funded by my Calgary Web Design & Marketing company. If you feel like thanking me, check out my stuff and like the Facebook Group for it.

With or without money you can have a positive effect on others around you. Even as simple as holding open a door. Be sure to recognize those who help you or give you a hand, even with a simple thank you. Now I’m curious to know, how will you pay it forward today?

Thanks to Carla from Carla’s Funky Art for the awesome Starbucks picture.

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Forget @Starbucks – 4 steps to a Toblerone Americano

What can I say? I’m a huge lover of Toblerone. You know the triangles of Swiss chocolate and yummy nugget. Add to that my love for coffee and it’s easy to see how I arrived at the idea for my Toblerone Americano.

Below you’ll see my pictorial guide and how to duplicate the awesomeness.

Step 1: Time to shave. I happened to have a nice big 750g Toblerone bar available for use. I grabbed my Henkel cleaver to start shaving away at one of the pyramids of the Gods chocolate. The photo shows about 1/3 of a shaved pyramid. It’s all I used the first time I made a Toblerone Americano…it wasn’t enough. The second time was better. Use at least 50% of a Toblerone pyramid.

Step 2: Pull those shots of fresh ground bean. In this case I’m using 100% pure Kona coffee whole bean that I grind myself. Water is purified from the tap and all done using the Breville we have on the counter. Make it a double of course. You want to ensure that your efforts maximize the caffeine result.

Step 3: Mix it all together. Now you need to pay careful attention to the order in which the components are mixed as it has been known to impact the flavor. First take your shaved Toblerone and place it into a mug of your choosing. In this case I chose a thermal travel mug from a Starbucks in Hawaii (you can probably make the Kona coffee connection now). Add the two hot espresso shots to the mug. At this point either agitate the mug in a circular motion, or mix the chocolate and espresso with a spoon. Then add in almost boiling hot water to the top of the mug and stir with a spoon. If you don’t stir it, you’re likely to enjoy a burning hot moutful of hot water on your first sip…speaking from experience.

Step 4: Enjoy it. Sit back and relax while you enjoy your custom created Toblerone Americano. You did after all take a lot of manual work to get it done. As a bonus tip, be sure to agitate the beverage before taking sips every so often. This ensures that the chocolate and nugget are mixed into the espresso.

Myself I normally take my coffee with milk and sweetener. In the Tim Horton’s world of coffee (if you can call it that) it would be a double-double for sure. The only downside, if you can call it that, to Toblerone Americano is that on occasion the nugget doesn’t get a chance to completely dissolve when you take the last sip. This really, is about the only time your coffee should ever crunch.

I hope that you enjoy making your own and let me know how it turns out. If you’ve got something else you think I should mix in my coffee, let me know. I’m game for eating a lot of strange things but I will only try things that will make coffee tastier.

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Toxic Waste consumption can be enjoyable!

toxic-wasted
The conversation yesterday in the office surround some retro things. Everything from Jury Duty with Pauly Shore to sour soother (some times called sour key) candy. Gail decided to mention that the cool thing in her twelve year old’s school was Toxic Waste. I immediately thought they must be like Warheads but according to her description, they were to be the most sour candies in the world. After reading “Steve, Don’t Eat It” the other day I figured, why not?

So today she brought in the Toxic Waste. Upon opening the packaging the candies looked very similar to Warheads. I knew this would be easy so popped in the first lemon one. Often the most sour of sour, lemon ranks the highest. Well, no issue so I decided to add another without concern. Her face was agape in awe as I didn’t break a sweat. So with me being the guinea pig, a few got passed around the office with similar reaction. Tt was time to put one in her mouth. She lasted not even 15 seconds so according to the Toxic Waste canister, she’s a “Total Wuss!

That’s when it struck me. I’d finish the container. Unfortunately there were only seven left to munch on. Some quick un-packaging and I slammed them back like a shooter. I’ll admit, I feel a little warm, but the sour, no way. The packaging says if you can keep one in your mouth for 60 seconds, then you rate as a “Full Toxie Head!” I’m wondering what the rank of seven for that long would be? My guess is “stupid idiot” or something like that. Well it would seem that after pounding nine Toxic Waste candies in a matter of minutes I’m still alive…though honestly not feeling present! Additionally I found out the twelve year old kids think they’re cool keeping two in their mouth for sixty seconds. Gail confirmed this with a text to her daughter informing her that I managed to put seven Toxic Waste candies in my mouth at once. The text that came back simply was “oh wow, crazy” (though probably missing punctuation and spelled wrong).

Tomorrow’s challenge will be the whole container, brand new. My only concern is actually fitting them all in my mouth. On the canister in fine print is indicates “WARNING! CHOKING HAZARD”…I guess so with that many in there!

Oh and the reward for this? A Starbucks tomorrow. The reward for tomorrow’s entire canister of Toxic Waste is still TBD. Stay tuned if you have nothing better to do.

As a last thought, tell me what it would take for you to consume 1.7 oz. (48g) of pure, Toxic Waste.

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Mystère impresses while Sirens sink

Wow that was a great sleep except for the fact that the sun was shining in the window already and it was only 8:00. We didn’t get back until about 3:00 after all so only 5 hours was a little tough…but we were somewhat used to it thanks to a four month old at home (it’s OK, she was left with her grandparents). It wasn’t until about 11:00 we decided to head out for the day having eaten some granola bars to settle the urge to kill. McDonald’s breakfast and Starbuck’s coffee is a great way to start the morning. Today was the day to shop, and shop we did!

We figured we’d walk the strip a little more as we needed to hit the internet café just up the road to take care of a couple of emails. We kept on walking, a good thing since we had two McDonald’s meals in a row to walk off! We hit Sephora and Urban Outfitters on the walk down the strip. It was at Paris we decided it was in deed time to shop. We hopped in a cab that the staff hailed for us (yeah, he really just blew his whistle) and we were off to the Premium Outlets. First stop was some real food. Well I’m not sure if you can consider it real food, but it was certainly more then a Kashi granola bar. From the food court, off to Carter’s for some shopping. Remember that four-month old I mentioned, well did she ever clean up. We spent more there then we expected. In fact we even found a cute Lady Bug costume for her to wear this Halloween…she’s going to be so cute!

After Carter’s, it was off to Coach to find some amazing deals. Deals were found, but I wasn’t paying attention. We had picked up a book at Urban Outfitters that I decided to start paging through. I have no clue how long we were in there but I know in the end we were all happy. We also hit Banana Republic, The Gap, Adidas, Starbucks, Puma and a few other shops without much success. It was pretty much a bust but the deals that were scored, scored big!

We had to get back for the show at TI and still needed to change. We had heard you could do it by bus so inquired at the information booth only to find out that it would be two buses plus the monorail and take almost two hours to do. Sorry, but the $40 cab ride seemed to be well worth it considering I bill out time between $30-80 per hour. In the cab, to the hotel, quick change and drinks (of course we had duty free left) then off to the monorail to head to TI for the Cirque du Soleil show Mystère. We snagged a 24-hour pass on the monorail since we new we were headed to Paris for dinner at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant the following evening and didn’t want to walk all that way or pay for another cab.

The humour on the monorail was awful. Stating that the speed of the monorail is faster then David Copperfield’s hands and the entire Jubilee Showgirl line combined. It was even bad by WestJet standards and those jokes are typically groaners. Just before arriving at TI we ran into a promoter, Ronnie. He was going to hook us up with VIP access and guest list to JET that night but we didn’t have the time. He was promoting out of a backpack on the corner which raised a couple of red flags for us but thought it might be interesting. Anyways, back in to the hotel, through the maze of slot machines and into the queue for Mystère tickets. We had purchased them on the shows website a few weeks earlier as it was the best price we could find.

We were starving after the walking and standing in line and had already scoped out dining at the Social House, a nice little sushi place. They were busy and we only had about 45 minutes to eat so we made reservations for after the show got out. We decided to take the recommendation and hit Kahunaville as it was close to the doors for the show. A couple of drinks, some Monday Night Football and a few appetizers were all we needed. We chowed down on the Tahitian Coconut Shrimp and Hawaiian Sliders. We got a great show as well with some flashy bartenders complete with free shots at the end of that show. A great start to an evening of shows.

So off to Mystère – right across the hall in fact. We had amazing seats in the second row from the stage. At first I was noticing there were a lot of men in the production and I for some reason hadn’t expected that. It wasn’t before long though that the women started to show up. It was difficult to tell the difference between some of them thanks to the amazing makeup job. We were so close you could feel the breeze as the performers flew overhead on the trapeze. Amazing special effects, displays of strength and endurance and of course a musical score that went very well with the show. It kept the story line moving. I would definitely recommend to anyone that they go see Mystère at TI-Treasure Island while in Las Vegas. I’m also very happy that we purchased in advance. There are half-price, or heavily discounted ticket sellers along the strip, however we didn’t really see them being to deeply discounted.

After the show it was upstairs to Social House where we had some Saki, their signature Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno. It truly melted and was done similarly to Tataki. The view we had out the window was great. You could see the pirate ship where The Sirens of TI perform each night. Once done our amazing sushi we decided to take in their show. I’m not sure if it was the fact we had just witnessed the true choreography and athleticism of Mystère or because we were beginning to fade, but honestly the show was disappointing. Poor lip-synching the show lended itself to almost a cheesy pirate burlesque show. That would be the only highlight of the show was that there were women, no actually girls, dancing around in scantily clad lingerie. Of course the guy pirates were nicely ripped too I was told. Overall, I wouldn’t waste my time standing around for this one again.

After the show we hailed a cab and took “the back roads” to the MGM Grand. After a quick shoe change I was off to the Hooters Casino right across the road. A quick 10 minute walk found me standing around waiting for the $3 blackjack table…easily the cheapest one near the Vegas strip. Before long a seat opened up and I limped in with $50 in change. Before long I was almost double my money but alas I kept playing. After a mere 3 hours at the table I walked out with the $50 I came in with up 3 Coronas and 2 bottles of water. I had also probably tipped the four dealers about $30 during that time too. The way I look at it is that they pay me for a win, so I’ll thank them with a tip on the fly. Back across the street to the MGM Grand and my head hit the pillow to pass out for the night.

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Cake for free!

So today started out to be a good day. I went to yet another Starbucks on the way to the office today, and needed some food as well. I ordered my non-fat, no whip mocha and added a slice of carrot cake to the order as well. Wouldn’t you know it, the employee damaged the cake. There was nothing wrong with it, but the way she grabbed it with the tongs, squished the corner so she couldn’t sell it…it was mine for FREE! It was a great way to start the day I suppose. Now how am I going to top FREE cake in the morning?

It’s still fairly early in the day, so I know there’s plenty of opportunity. I also had something actually important to write about, and was thinking about it on the way into the office. Of course, I forgot what I was going to write about. It was almost a story idea I think. I guess that means that the creative juices are beginning to flow, and that story is getting closer to reality.

One thing that I have been thinking about writing on lately is Google AdSense. There’s ways you can get stuff for FREE from them as well, I’m just not sure how it works. I’ve been thinking that I need to focus on keywords in my posts to get some better content related ads to display across 360aday.com, but I just haven’t determined what these words should be. Apparently it’s still seeing a lot of information from previous posts (I don’t want to say it, but the initials are W.L.). It’s understandable since that was the focus of the site for a while. Now if only I could get something better.

I’d love to see some more amazing travel deals on the site, or promotions for travel to Australia on QANTAS. I really want to go there this fall, and would love to fly on QANTAS. Hopefully WestJet will strike up some interline deal so that I can fly for cheap! I’ve also given consideration to heading back to Munich again for Oktoberfest! I was there last year, and what an amazingly fun time that was. So much beer. So many people. So much music. It really was an enjoyable time — for the most part.

So, I know it’s a short, rambling post about nothing at all (again) but you should also fill in the poll to the left. I’m sure that soon I’ll begin writing some real content. Perhaps regarding websites that I’m working on — of which there are a few. I’ll be working code for a new Blue Rock Landscaping website, hopefully a new site for Creative Soup Kitchen, or CSK for short. SPRY is also working on a deal with NECCS to secure their website, and there’s also a new site for a book that’s due to come out soon called “Happy in Rush-Hour— that’s written by a friend of mine, Leanne.

Oh yeah Terri, “Just so you know” you owe me for half of that speeding ticket! It’s your fault I was going so fast…actually, I think it’s probably Bryanne’s fault since it was her gathering. And Lyndsay, thanks for the “Ode to Marshall” — yours will show up soon here no doubt.
(WC: 544)

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