Coffee shop of the future


Leo Sarmento
5 min readDec 14, 2021
Back in 2010, at least…

My parents didn't have the opportunity to see visions of future come true. There are no flying cars, no mind reading, no teleportation; no utopia. Their vision of future was created by corporations and big industries, supported by governments and social unity. Science sounded like something from fantasy and today it has a firm grip in reality and feasibility.

Nowadays future isn't future anymore. It's a near present. The world is digital and fully connected. 24 / 7. For once we double the processing power each year. Tech is ubiquitous. Things are possible. And predictable.

For me it's a privilege to see something I've imagined become real.

I digress.

The challenge

In 2010 I was proposed a challenge as part of recruiting process. I could choose to redesign homepage, create a mobile site for, design a level for a fps game like Halo, or imagine a starbucks of the near future. I chose the latter.

Only one small problem. I don't drink coffee.

The process

Well, I had to reimagine a very famous coffee shop, and as I said before, I don't drink coffee. But I've had many very resourceful user centred design techniques to help along the way:

  • desk research
  • user empathy maps
  • user journey analysis
  • prototyping tools

And I know enough coffee drinking people and some of them we actual starbuck regulars.

So it was just another day at the office.

Desk research

Most of what I needed was right there at their website.

Starbucks 2010's website

Their mission:

To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

Their values

It's all about the experience

Our Customers
When we are fully engaged, we connect with, laugh with, and uplift the lives of our customers — even if just for a few moments. Sure, it starts with the promise of a perfectly made beverage, but our work goes far beyond that. It’s really about human connection.

Our Stores
When our customers feel this sense of belonging, our stores become a haven, a break from the worries outside, a place where you can meet with friends. It’s about enjoyment at the speed of life — sometimes slow and savored, sometimes faster. Always full of humanity.

Our Neighborhood
Every store is part of a community, and we take our responsibility to be good neighbors seriously. We want to be invited in wherever we do business. We can be a force for positive action — bringing together our partners, customers, and the community to contribute every day. Now we see that our responsibility — and our potential for good — is even larger. The world is looking to Starbucks to set the new standard, yet again. We will lead.

User journey

From some in depth interviews and I was able to figure out the whole customer journey…

Their current costumer journey (in 2010)

And the loopholes I could identify and deal with in my vision:

- the customer is not always recognized despite the willing of wanting to make every customer to feel special

- even when the attendant knows the customer, it is not possible to guarantee he will know the regular order

- payment time increases the customers line

- the full experience of feeling special can only happen at your regular store

And how would the ideal user journey be …

And what opportunities were in the future:

- physically not much would change at the stores

- each Starbucks is unique and try to blend in with its neighbourhood

- the human factor is very important for the brand

- even with technology improvements the store would try to keep that “analogic” feeling

- changes would be unnoticeable for the public and probably be restricted to the food preparation and cashier's area

- customer area would most likely going to keep the same as today

The solution

Android was crawling and the best device around was the iPhone4. So there was no Starbucks App yet. And even if Starbucks had a proprietary app, as most of enterprise apps of yore, it would mostly repeat the content on their website.

So an app with a preordering and payment systems would definitely be ahead of its time and I could also display some of my prototyping skills in the process.

The in store experience would begin on the app and be finalised at the store. The cashier would recognise and greet the customer by name, see his usual order and side dishes, be able to offer add ons to the order and maintain the humane contact and interaction accordingly to Starbucks mission and values.

Here is a small sample of the app interactions:


At least expected results. This was a fictional project and wasn't published.

But there were some foreseen improvements using the app at the Starbucks stores:

- every customer was going to be treated by name, therefore, as special customer at any store

- the whole process was supposed to be quicker as the payment would be automatic and the order confirmation would be done visually and almost instantaneous

- the pre-order app would be available to every platform and was another means of speeding up the service

- the technology improvements proposed would only contribute to a more human experience

Although it was very received by the recruiters, unfortunately I couldn't leave the country at the time and had to pass the opportunity.



Leo Sarmento

15+ years trying to understand people as an UX Specialist. Let me tell you some stories about my work…