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America decaffeinated: The great Starbucks outage of 2012


Thousands of tweets flooded Twitter lamenting a Starbucks-less Wednesday.

Updated at 11:35 a.m. ET Thursday: Bleary-eyed customers who stumble into their local Starbucks every morning did so literally Wednesday. That's because hundreds of the coffee chain's stores were closed.

By M. Alex Johnson of msnbc.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

The forced decaffeination of America's morning commuters was due to overnight maintenance work at stores across the country that wasn't finished on time for the morning rush, Maggie Jantzen, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, told NBC station WCMH of Columbus, Ohio

Jantzen said she didn't know how many stores were affected, but she said about 10 percent to 20 percent of the stores that were due for the work were unable to open on time. 

The company said the work was routine maintenance on a standardized water filtration system and that no safety issues were involved.

But because of it, stores were closed across the country — as many as 1,500, mainly in the eastern half of the U.S., a quick tabulation of local news reports and hundreds of tweets by msnbc.com indicated. (A spokesman for Starbucks told msnbc.com on Thursday that the number of stores was in the "low to mid hundreds.")

Coffee drinkers were left dripless from South Dakota to Florida, New York to Texas.

"I like to start my day with Starbucks, so I don't really know what to do," Kelly Furnet told NBC station WJXT as she stood outside a shuttered shop in Jacksonville, Fla.

"It's a huge problem because, in my office, people go there multiple times in a day for their coffee fix," Rebecca Stockdale, who works near one of the closed Starbucks in Columbus, told WCMH. "You can't have them coming to work without their caffeine!"

(This story has been updated to reflect that Starbucks later said the number of stores involved was in the "low to mid hundreds.")