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It's Not Just the Unicorn Frapp — Starbucks' App Is Overwhelming the Baristas

Morning traffic jams are already enough of a headache to deal with, but congestion at your usual coffee spot? No thanks.
Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato photographed on June 8, 2016. (Joshua Trujillo, Starbucks)
Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato photographed on June 8, 2016. (Joshua Trujillo, Starbucks)Joshua Trujillo / Starbucks

Instead of grinding coffee, Starbucks is grinding to a halt in some of its busiest locations.

Starbucks' mobile order and pay system, which allows people to order ahead and then swoop into a store, sounds like a brilliant idea, but the company said it has had some growing pains with the system.

The mobile technology was so popular that in in the first quarter of the year, 1,200 of Starbucks' busiest locations had 20 percent or more of their transactions in peak hours coming from mobile order and pay customers, according to the company.

Starbucks cupsElise Amendola / AP file

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But store traffic ground to a near halt as baristas worked to keep up with the influx of orders from mobile, in turn, possibly causing some walk-in customers to leave. As a result, the company has been experimenting with new ways to "more efficiently handle increased demand," both from mobile and walk-in customers during peak hours.

Those steps have reportedly included training some employees to specifically handle mobile orders and additionally, experimenting with adding more employees in some high traffic locations.

"Steps we have taken since the beginning of the calendar year to increase throughput have enabled us to better and more efficiently handle increased demand," the company told NBC News. "And we saw measurable progress in peak transaction throughput in Q2 as compared to Q1 in these busiest stores."

In U.S. company-owned stores, mobile ordering currently accounts for 8 percent of transactions, a Starbucks representative said.

So there you have it. Technology can try — but rest assured, nothing is going to get in the way of you and your coffee, however you choose to order it.