Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

They annoy me.

I'm standing near my Starbucks baristas, waiting for my Grande Almond Milk Latte to emerge from their careful hands.

It seems to take a long time to come. Because of them.

You see, I bother to stand in line and chat with the baristas if they and I are in the mood.

Yet in waltz all these other people with a demanding demeanor and a clinical impatience.

More and more people are ordering via the Starbucks app, wafting in and expecting their orders to be waiting.

Starbucks was in the forefront of mobile ordering and now it's taking it one step further.

One very painful step.

Today, November 5, the company is opening its first mobile pick-up cafe.

So, it seems, don't even think of wandering by, suddenly jonesing for a latte, and actually trying to get one by paying cash.

Instead, as Starbucks explains: 

Customers who visit this first-of-its-kind location will place and pay for their order using Mobile Order & Pay on the Starbucks mobile app. They will simply select "Starbucks Pickup - Penn Plaza" as their desired location and build their order using the full Starbucks menu. After arriving at Penn Plaza, customers can track the progress of their order on a digital status board and pick up their handcrafted beverage and food items directly from a Starbucks barista.

You must be wishing you're in Manhattan right now, for where else could this Penn Plaza be?

You must be wondering what it's like when 35 New Yorkers descend on a Starbucks, all demanding to have their coffee NOW!

Starbucks admits that when it first tested such a store, baristas complained.

There wasn't enough space. Oh, and the baristas didn't like the fact that there was no way to create a human connection with customers.

Starbucks claims it's fixed the issue: 

With that feedback, the team immediately started over and landed a store that met both the customer and the partner's needs.

Oh, I wonder about that.

Many baristas I've spoken to tell me that customer interaction is already being progressively diminished.

In having to prepare more orders more quickly, there simply isn't the time or the mental space.

Given the way technology has become the dictator of our times, is it so hard to imagine that, one day soon, almost every Starbucks will be a pick-up-only location?

The more we're being forced to communicate and purchase via apps, the more it's assumed that this is the normal way.

After all, this new Penn Plaza affair is but an emotional step forward from the drive-thru. 

I still marvel how long people are prepared to sit in their cars at my local Starbucks in order to talk through a microphone and pick up their orders without a word.

Starbucks insists it isn't about to create radical change: 

Starbucks Pickup is just one way the company is modernizing and reimagining the customer experience in its stores in high-traffic, metropolitan areas.

Oh, but you know how big cities start things that somehow become the done thing in far too many other places.

Published on: Nov 5, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.