5/2014 Update: I am keeping Starbucks on my list but see them gradually declining in service and product. The last several trips have been with long lines caused by the cashier having to make drinks. Also, they have changed their pastries to some bad tasting stuff with fancy French names....I just want a blueberry muffin..
Starbucks is excellent because they are disciplined in the execution of their processes across all units to provide their customers with consistent quality and service.
Over the past year, I think their focus on efficiency in ordering and processing has decreased as they have added more complex drinks, foods, gift cards, etc and shifting more processes to the order taker (cashier).
Also, I think they have increased their prices to the inflection point of benefit-value, so that substitutes are more acceptable.