July 18, 2009

Starwho? Whatbucks? NOT Transformers, but Starbucks in Disguise.
  • They tried this 10 years ago in San Francisco. It was a pretty good imitation of a real coffee shop, but word got around fast. The location is now a full-on, branded Starbucks.
  • They should start selling doughnuts and call it Tom Hortin's
  • they should get some decent coffee.. I HATE starbucks coffee.... my local diner has better coffee! A name change isn't the answer!
  • Wait, 1999 was ten years ago?
  • I am a coffee philistine apparently, satisfied with something reasonably tasty, hot, with caffeine in it. I've only visited a Starbucks once, many, many years ago with a friend who knew all the silly lingo. When I asked for "a cup of coffee, please", the ensuing sneer from the "barista" made it inevitable that I would never again darken a Starbucks doorway. They can take their venti frapuccino wankery all the way to bankruptcy court for all I care. *harrumphs, brews cup of tea*
  • I've never had a problem ordering a plain coffee - you have to use their sizes, but that's not a problem since their tall really is the size of the large at the actual non-chain mom (but not pop bc she owned it alone) donut shop I worked at. But you just say "I'd like a coffee please," and they give me a coffee. Sometimes they do ask which brew I would like (the dark, or the medium, etc - which will have fancy names up, but if you just say the medium they know which one that is). Their coffee is much darker than a lot of people are used to. But it's not bad - saying it's bad would be like saying that semi-sweet chocolate is bad because it doesn't taste like milk chocolate. They are different things. I regularly drink dark coffee, though I don't like espresso (darker again). They did introduce a new price level of coffee into Canada - at a time when most coffee shops were charging about $1 for a small, and $1.25-1.50 for a large, Starbucks came in with $1.50 for a small, and $2.25 (or similar) for a large - I was a coffee-shop addicted teenager at the time, so it really hit me hard. But the coffee I had been drinking for $1-1.25 really was swill, even from supposedly better places like Second Cup. Nowadays, even McDonalds is serving half-way drinkable coffee. So what we have here is a chain that successfully got people to pay more money for a superior product - why does this annoy people so? We don't complain about upscale china places that ask you if you are interested in porcelin or stoneware, though these are distinctions not everyone would make. What I would complain about is something completely different: in the city where I lived until Wednesday, several coffee shops discounted pretty heavily if I brought my own travel mug, from $1.25 to $1 or from $1.50 to $1.25. Having worked at a coffee shop, I think I remember that the paper cups cost about $0.25. But by offering such a discount, they are also encouraging the use of re-usable cups, which is good. But Starbucks only offered a measly $0.10 discount :(. Okay, that makes me sound really cheap. And I should just tell myself that another reason for their higher prices are that Starbucks pays its employees much more than other coffee shops and, I believe, offers health benefits in the US. (Is this true?)
  • @jb - I have read that they do offer health benefits, even to part-timers. So there is that. And while I usually shun corporate-anything whenever possible, I haven't ever had a problem with Starbucks. I know I can get a consistently good cup of coffee rather than have to take my chances with convenience store coffee. If I'm really looking for a "cafe experience", then I'll search out a locally owned place, but unless you're in the inner city, those tend to be even more generic than Starbucks. And I always just order "just a small coffee, please", and have never been given any attitude for refusing to use their silly "grande, venti, verde, arrivederci, HastaLaVistaAntipasto", etc. sizing system. Having said all that - I'll still choose Dunkin' Donuts over Starbucks given the opportunity. Unfortunately, although I live in the 4th largest city in the U.S., we only have about 3 Dunkin Donuts. :(
  • jb wrote: "Their coffee is much darker than a lot of people are used to. But it's not bad - saying it's bad would be like saying that semi-sweet chocolate is bad because it doesn't taste like milk chocolate" Their coffee is burnt. On purpose. They char the beans to hide batch-to-batch inconsistencies because all you taste is the smoky burnt flavor. That isn't darker than most people are used to, it's plain bad coffee. Burning it is not a good thing. My wife says it tastes like burnt rubber, and I have to agree. In many cases it's also served way too hot, which for coffee is simply wrong. it should be brewed at a hotter temp than many places do, but not served excessively hot. If you can't take a sip right out of the gate without burning your tongue it's too hot. If my wife orders a latte and I order plain coffee, hers should not be gone before mine hits a non-scalding temperature. Few things tick me off more than taking one sip and then spending the rest of the cup not being able to actually taste the coffee because half my taste buds just got singed off. With that said the espresso-based drinks are generally tolerable, and the plain coffee is at least reliable - you can always find a Starbucks no matter where you go - so in a pinch if the choice is Starbucks or no coffee, I grit my teeth and order. Also, Starbucks only gives benefits to part-timers at chain-owned stores. A lot of the stores you see are kiosks or based inside a larger store (ie, Starbucks inside a book store, etc.).Those part-timers don't get the vaunted Starbucks benefits. Kudos to them for trying actual manual machines though, just like a real coffee shop! Any idiot can hit the buttons. I appreciate a barista that can actually pull a good shot him or herself, on a real machine, rather than the half-trained pushbutton monkey + automated system combo you all too often find behind the counter.
  • MonkeyFilter: Rather than the half-trained pushbutton monkey + automated system combo you all too often find.