Anthropologists from West Virginia University went to Boston to check out how customers are treated at the U.S. gourmet coffee giant's shops, compared to the indie shops. They visited three Starbucks locations and three non-chain shops -- gauging the shops' performances on patrons' and employees' levels of sociability, seating characteristics, whether customers were there for work or relaxation, amenities and atmosphere, Time magazine reported Thursday.
The researchers determined Starbucks' baristas were significantly more social and friendly to customers than servers at the independent shop, the magazine said.
Starbucks employees were more likely to know their customers by name and tended to be more helpful in guiding those who weren't sure what they wanted to order.
"In contrast, the baristas at the independently owned coffee houses were more aloof and would just wait or sometimes stare at a customer, offering minimal assistance," the researchers said.
One independent shop enforced a 30-minute limit on customers lounging about, the researchers said.