Coffee break for Starbucks' 135,000 baristas

Coffee chain to close all 7,100 stores for employee training. Dunkin' Donuts offers 99 cent promotion.

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Starbucks lovers will have to look elsewhere for their caffeine fixes from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Warning to Starbucks junkies who usually get a fix on their way home from work: You're out of luck on Tuesday.

Starbucks, which last week announced 600 layoffs, plans to temporarily close its 7,100 U.S. stores on Tuesday for three hours of employee training.

The coffee chain said the in-store training program which will begin at 5:30 p.m. local time, would foster enthusiasm in its 135,000 U.S. employees and improve the quality of drinks made by Starbucks baristas.

"We believe that this is a bold demonstration of our commitment to our core and a reaffirmation of our coffee leadership," said chief executive Howard Schultz in a statement.

Stores that normally stay open beyond 8:30 p.m. will resume service after the training session is finished.

But for those who still need their afternoon dose of caffeine, there is a cheap alternative.

Dunkin' Donuts - "to ensure that no coffee lover is denied a delicious espresso-based beverage" - announced that it will offer small lattes, cappuccinos or espresso drinks for a promotional price of 99 cents on Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Starbucks (SBUX, Fortune 500) has seen rising competition from privately-held Dunkin' Donuts and McDonalds (MCD, Fortune 500) recently, and welcomed founder Schultz back as CEO in January after a lackluster performance by the company in the latter half of 2007. To top of page

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