Starbucks is one of those brands that makes lots of promises to their customers. You can mostly likely walk into any store today and see a sign that says, “Our Promise: Your drink should be perfect every time. If it’s not, let us know and we’ll make it right!” It’s a simple an effective way of giving you permission to have a great experience every time.

Another one of these promises I recently found underneath the cup sleeve printed directly on the cup. “The 10 Second Rule: Starbucks renowned freshness standards ensure that you enjoy flavorful espresso. We use each shot of our rich Espresso Roast within 10 seconds, or we pour it out. This rule is your guarantee that Starbucks espresso is always fresh and made to order.”

Before we go any further, can we all notice how espresso is spelled? What are the first two letters in the word? And how would you pronounce those two letters? Do you see an “x” at all in that word? Hmmm….

Right. Moving on.

Espresso sits for less than 10 seconds or it gets pitched. Otherwise, the freshness gets compromised. Is that really a big deal? Is this just some marketing tactic by a big company to communicate something that doesn’t really matter? Or does it change the experience of their drinks?

I wondered the same thing. So I decided to put it to the test.

I took my Starbucks espresso machine to a client’s office along with a fresh bag of Starbucks espresso roast and a gallon of mountain spring water. The staff and I talked through the concept of brand promises and what that looks like for their office. When we came to this point, I stopped and asked them if it this was a big deal or not. Some said it didn’t matter. A few felt like it was a ploy by a big brand to make you feel better about their product. Most were indifferent.

I asked, “Would you like to see for yourself?”

We turned the espresso machine on and quickly began grinding beans. We decided I would brew one shot of espresso and divide it up between 5 small cups. We would let that sit while the second shot was being “pulled” (notice my barista vocab). The second would be divided quickly the same way. The staff would taste the second shot (the freshly pulled one) followed by the first shot (this one has been sitting for about 30 seconds by this point). We did this for a total of 15 people.

The result: Every person agreed that there was a significant difference between the two and all 15 preferred the fresh shot. It’s apparent that the longer a shot of espresso sits, the more bitter it becomes. We all decided we would rather have our drinks made with freshly pulled espresso.

Well done Starbucks.

However… how many people actually realize this or make the effort to take this test themselves?

Very few.

So doesn’t it end up becoming an irrelevant promise? Something that people don’t really care about. Aren’t their marketing dollars and valuable cup messaging real estate wasted on a promise that so little actually understand?

Or is it the other way around? Do we expect Starbucks to know geeky little things like that about coffee and communicate them to us? Is it Starbucks way of saying, “We know you would never know this, but we notice it. And it’s a big deal to us. So we promise freshness.” It’s almost insider speak. “Our team of experts would never serve 10 second old espresso.”

Now the question:

what are those things about your business or organization that no one would ever notice?

Distinctions that are utterly important to you because you’re the expert. It sets you apart. Maybe that’s why you even started your business.

Now, make a promise around that. Draw attention to it. Communicate the importance of it to you and watch customer loyalty increase.

Joshua Scott is a sought-after marketing speaker and consultant. He has been speaking to crowds for over 18 years and has spent the last 12 years in the dental industry. He works with businesses and organizations around the country to inspire their teams and create confident marketing strategies.

Discover more about Josh’s approach to marketing at

Like what you read? Give Joshua Scott a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.