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The Starbucks menu taste test, with David Burke

Tuesday, 24 Sep 2013 | 12:22 PM ET
Dhiraj Singh | Bloomberg | Getty Images

First, Starbucks asked people to leave their guns at the door.

Now, they've stirred up some REAL outrage. They've taken away the pumpkin bread.

The coffee giant is hoping to improve food sales with a menu makeover, starting with baked goods. It's replacing pastries and other foods provided by outside vendors with a new line of items from La Boulange, a San Francisco bakery the company bought for a reported $100 million.

"My 3-year-old son is devastated that they no longer carry pumpkin bread," tweeted customer Joshua C. Bell.

Starbucks new menu: Better or worse?
Monday, 23 Sep 2013 | 3:00 PM ET
A taste test of Starbucks' new menu items with David Burke, celebrity chef, restaurateur and creator of the cheesecake lollipop.

Starbucks tells CNBC that only a third of its customers buy food in the store.

"They're buying elsewhere," said a spokesperson, "so that's one of the key reasons we're moving in this direction."

(Read more: Wake up and smell the coffee – market may perk up)

The new items arrive frozen and have to be heated before serving, which can mean longer waits. Also, the serving sizes are smaller, yet the prices are generally higher.

Public reaction? Divided.

"They gave samples last week; they were really good," said one woman outside a Starbucks in New Jersey.

"I found it dry, tasteless, and I won't be back," said another.

And then there's David Burke.

The celebrity chef and restaurateur just happened to be grabbing a cup of coffee at the Starbucks we'd staked out. He went inside and bought several of the new items—a ham sandwich, a croissant, lemon pound cake, and a Birthday Cake Pop ("I am the founder of the cheesecake lollipop—it's a great idea, thank you").

(Read more: CEO: Guns not part of 'Starbucks experience')

He brought the food items back outside and began an impromptu review. Check out what he says in the video.

Bottom line—"I would say that this is an improvement from what I remember in the past. I'd come back for everything but the croissant." High(ish) praise, indeed.

—By CNBC's Jane Wells; follow her on Twitter: @janewells

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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