Cup of Joe?


It’s so simple. You walk into a coffee shop, order yourself a cup of joe:
– black
– with cream
– double-double

However you like it. In whatever size you want – small, medium, large.
And it will cost you anywhere from $1 to $2.50.

And then there’s Starbucks. The problem with Starbucks is that it takes all these simple givens, chews them up, and then spits them back out in a way we don’t understand, and charges you double for it.

Starbucks is pretentious. Everything they serve pretends to be something else. They refer to their regular coffee as a “Caffè Americano”. Even their cup sizes are camouflaged and ask, “Who, me?”
Take what you and I would call a small coffee. To obtain its Starbucks equivalent, you need to ask for a Tall Caffè Americano. Tall. It’s like they’re afraid of giving the small cups a complex. Next size up is a Grande, followed by Venti.

I won’t get into the more complicated beverages available at Starbucks. There are Web sites devoted to demystifying this, such as:

1. Broken Secrets
2. eHow
3. wikihow

Besides, you can try for yourself at one of the hundreds of Starbucks available within a 10-km radius.

Then there’s the staff. I’m not sure whether they seek out know-it-all metropolitan Gen Y staff, or whether they have to lobotomize them upon employment, but every Starbucks I’ve been in has them. Same blank expression, different piercings. If you don’t order correctly, they wait calmly and trendily for you to catch on, and then gleefully repeat your order back to you with the correct terminology. Your momma must be proud.

But what gets me is what they charge for coffee. Don’t get me wrong – I make a decent salary, I occasionally splurge on a trip to the spa, enjoy shopping. But out of principle, I refuse to pay 2-3 times what other coffee shops charge. It’s coffee. Adding a dollop of whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel or a squirt of flavouring doesn’t change that.

Last week, after months of avoiding Starbucks, I walked in with a few people for a meeting. I ordered a small tall peppermint mocha coffee. The smart-ass behind the cash asked for $4.15, to which I replied an indignant “For a small?” (see what I did there? I said small) Response: Blink, blink. “Yes, that’s right.”

But a picture is worth a thousand words, and so, free of charge, I offer an updated logo with a frank appeal:

Old Starbucks logo vs. honest depiction

Old Starbucks logo vs. honest depiction

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3 comments on “Cup of Joe?

  1. Heather says:

    I think it’s also a question of taste. One thing I have noticed about other coffee shops, save for a spare few.. Is that their coffee tastes like shit. Yes, any coffee when you add two shots of 18% cream and two shots of sugar (said “double-double”) will taste good, but when I drink a coffee, I want to taste the beans, the roasting, etc. And hands down, Starbucks is better! Pre-packaged culture aside 🙂

  2. Tanya says:

    Totally disagree with Heather. I love coffee and Starbucks has to be some of the worst coffee I’ve tasted. There is a fine line between roasted and burned and there is no reason to believe that their beans are superior to anyone else’s.

    Ultimately, I am on the same bandwagon as Nadia. Whatever you feel about the taste, the prices are as crazy as the Starbucks culture. When I offered to buy a friend coffee, she insisted on Starbucks. I bought 2 tall chai lattes with soya milk and it cost me over $10, not including tip. My reaction at the cash register was “Are you f@*king kidding me?” I got a lot of stares, the kind you’d get if you were a traitor.

    The people I know who sing Starbuck’s praises make up their own stereotype: Urban professionals enamoured with the cheap Ikea image of the decor and too ashamed to buy their clients/friends a cup o’ Joe at some Mom and Pop shop. OF the many Starbucks devotees I know, none of them has been able to tell me how a proper espresso is made or even tasted one from an expert coffee maker. Those kids behind the Starbucks counter wouldn’t know the difference between a high-grade, perfectly roasted bean from the commercial ones they serve up as “premium”. They just follow the instructions, talk the corporate lingo.

    A colleague of mine recently shocked me when he showed me an app on his iPad, a kind of GPS for Starbucks. Not only does it show you where the nearest outlet is, it even calculates the distance and time to get there if you are walking, taking the bus, or driving. Another former colleague sent me a coupon for $1 rebate on a small bag of Starbucks coffee beans priced $12. No thanks. I get better beans in twice the quantity for the same price and the java I brew at home in my $100 espresso maker kicks Starbuck’s butt: no bitterness, no burning, no stupid price tag, no Yuppie image to keep up.

  3. Karine says:

    Haha I remember the expression on your face when you ordered your peppermint mocha. The prices are ridiculous. For me, going to Starbucks is a treat and I’m not going often. I don’t understand how people can go everyday, and some people go more than once a day.

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