Despite being the world’s most ubiquitous coffee shop chain, Starbucks has managed to maintain a cult-like following among its ardent devotees. So when rumors began swirling last week that the ‘Bucks might be unleashing an obsequiously-named beverage known as the Unicorn Frappuccino, baristas probably should already have been on high alert. Then, when the coffee chain announced on Tuesday that, not only was this beverage real, but it would only be available for five days, baristas should have immediately began plotting how to call in sick for the rest of the week.
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But sadly, plenty of barista got caught up in the impending unicorn shitstorm. (I’ve been waiting to use that phrase my entire life.) Frazzled Starbucks employees quickly turned to places like Twitter and Reddit to vent about how difficult this new drink was to make, especially in light of such high demand, which apparently often meant a long line of Unicorn Frap requests one after another.
The posterchild for this mayhem quickly became a 19-year-old Starbucks employee from Colorado, Braden Burson. He posted a video to his Twitter account after his Wednesday shift pleading with everyone to do baristas across the country a favor and stop ordering these complicated SweeTart-like drinks. “Because it’s been so popular online, everyone’s like ‘Oh my gosh, I need to try it when it comes out,’” he says in the video that he has since removed but that has been preserved on YouTube.
“Well, today it came out and I have to tell you… PLEASE DON’T GET IT! I have never made so many Frappuccinos in my entire life…. I have never been so stressed out in my entire life. It has been insane.”
Burson’s rant went so viral even the Associated Press picked up his story, forcing the barista to backtrack a bit, probably for fear of losing his job. “It's a great drink,” he told the AP. “But it is difficult to make when there are like 20 fraps all at once both front and drive thru.” For its part, Starbucks seemed somewhat sympathetic to baristas’ complaints, including Burson’s. The coffee giant admitted the excitement around the Unicorn Frap “exceeded everyone's expectations,” and that the company wanted “to talk [to Burson] about his experience and how to make it better.”
But Twitter isn’t the only place to hear tales of unicorn horrors. The Starbucks section of Reddit is also overflowing with stories. “I didn't experience the unipocalyspe firsthand, but Jesus the aftermath has me wrecked,” wrote Redditor grapeflavoredorange. “My store sold out at 11:30am yesterday after making 1000+ of the bastards. I just got off a 6:45-3 shift and I swear if anyone says ‘unicorn’ around me I'm gonna snap. Every second car in DT was asking for one. The girl on DTO went from ‘No, sorry, we sold out yesterday! What else can I get for you?’ to ‘We sold out, we have none, and they aren't coming back.’ The phone kept ringing with people asking for them, we had to hang up signs at DT and on the front door saying we sold out. At least 3 cars backed out of the drive line upon seeing our signs during my shift, people were walking away before even coming inside, a grown woman screamed when we told her we don't have anymore, and to top it off, we had a car full of teenagers screaming ‘fuck you’ at us as they sped out of the DT lane. Because of a drink.”
Starbucks’ official press release on the beverage says it “comes with a bit of magic.” I’m starting to wonder if that “magic” is a dusting of methamphetamines because that the only thing I can imagine sparking this kind of behavior. The good news for barista is that the same press release states the drink will only be around “while supplies last.” Judging by everything we’ve seen, that can’t be much longer.