Saturday, October 16, 2010
I fucking hate Starbucks.
The Seattle, Wash.-based coffee company and I are at odds recently because I have a thing for its pumpkin spice latte, the quintessential autumnal beverage. I entered the Starbucks in my local strip mall today and told the barista, a jaded 23-year old who, when he’s not serving hot coffee is probably into The Cure or cutting his wrists, that I’d like a medium pumpkin spice latte, which costs $4.75. After I drank this concoction, which is far from the tasty treat I envisioned in my daydreams, it repaid me by giving me orange diarrhea.
That’s why Starbucks can go fuck itself raw with an un-lubed giant rubber dong. The company is an enormous octopus with massive tentacles that encircle the planet and squeezes the life out of everything good and just.
Its pricing is way off the mark for the crappy, bitter coffee it serves.
If you don’t think that Starbucks is not a pretentious yuppie hellhole, then check out its cup sizes. Instead of small, medium and large, Starbucks suggests - no, demands – that the sizes are Tall (12 oz.), Grande (16 oz.) and Venti (20 oz.). Three different languages for cup sizes and they all mean the same thing. If you order a Tall, you get the smallest size. Shouldn’t Tall be the biggest size? In the strange realm of Starbucks, where logic takes a back seat and tells you to suspend your disbelief, the Italian Venti is the largest size, while the Spanish Grande is medium. Whose bright idea was this? What kind of strange conditioning experiment is going on here? I’m not calling the small drink the Tall drink. That’s why I defiantly call the drinks small, medium and large. When I wanted a medium drink, I’m not saying Grande. The only time I say Grande is when I’m ordering Mexican food.
Starbucks spreads like a virus across the globe, pushing its inflated prices and snobbishness in 17,000 locations worldwide, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, China, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Russia, Germany, Poland, South Korea, Sweden, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. If the Saudi Arabians don’t hate us infidels enough, we dumped Starbucks on their doorstep.
Starbucks builds Starbucks next to Starbucks. Some shopping centers have two Starbucks in them, right across from each other. This over-saturation has led to amusement and resentment by some, who see the coffee giant as being an omnipresent juggernaut squeezing out stores that just serve coffee without the Starbucks aura behind it.
The Starbucks mermaid logo is smiling because the salty broad has our money and she’s going on a shopping excursion to Bloomingdales. Finding a dress to fit those dual fish tails isn’t going to be cheap. As long as we’re paying nearly $5 for lattes and not screaming highway robbery, we’re enabling Starbucks to continue to inflate their prices for a sub-standard product.
The problem with Starbucks is that it invented its own culture of liberal activism mingled with unbridled capitalism. It’s designed to siphon every last dollar out of its customers by hooking them with liberal guilt of suffering, poverty and environmental degradation, while cajoling you to buy expensive shitty coffee. If they can’t ensnare you with its caffeine-laden toxic sludge from some dirty Third World country, then you can buy Ethos water at $1.80 per bottle. Don’t worry because every purchase contributes 10 cents to helping children in impoverished areas get access to water.
Starbucks’ pretentious business and political standards seeks to drive out anyone who doesn’t vote for Democrats or makes over $65,000 a year. Hollywood screenwriters sit in Starbucks and type on their laptops as they slam down Sumatra coffee, which helps them hammer out another mediocre piece of tripe they can option at Mirimax. The fat middle aged bastard in glasses and an L.L. Bean jacket relaxes on an overstuffed chair and reads The New York Times and gingerly sips his Tazo tea like a prissy school girl, as a Bob Dylan tribute band plays over the speakers, daring anyone within earshot to purchase the CD on their way out. The place has an intolerable feel of a San Francisco coffee house. The only thing that’s missing are the bad poetry readings by a scruffy-haired beatnik who accidentally soils his dungarees because of a sudden acid freakout.
Every time we visit Starbucks we have to tolerate these urbane metrosexuals cuing up for a mocchachino or an Ethiopian select blend with a dash of steamed milk they gulp down on the way to their jobs as architects, public relations executives or members of the Obama Administration. And if you order the pumpkin spice latte and make a donation to the Peace Corps, you get a free Rwandan child with your drink.
In a way, Starbucks has a brilliant corporate model. By expanding at a breakneck pace, it can gobble up the remaining coffee retail market until it stands as the world’s only coffee source. And by cornering the market, they can charge the public outlandish amounts for their coffee. In the future, Starbucks will rule the entire world, and generations will be born not knowing coffee that doesn’t taste like it came out of a buffalo’s anus.
This trend must stop. We must say no to Starbucks and make them see the error of their ways. The shallow activism that whines at us to recycle but whose own cups can’t be recycled because they contain a plastic inner coating. The irritating marriage of selling CDs and Starbucks-related products, which only makes me resent them even more as money-grubbing hustlers peddling more than coffee beans. The inflated prices that make people drain their bank accounts to pay for something they could get for far cheaper at Dunkin’ Donuts or Wawa Food Markets and at a better quality. Dunkin’ Donuts’ might not charge $5 a cup or their coffee beans might not by picked by Ecuadorian peasants, but it’s a damn good cup of java.
For Starbucks to be taken seriously, it has to act like a company that cares about delivering good coffee at reasonable prices. Dropping the attitude that it’s a savior to the environment and helper of mankind while acting like greedy 19th century robber barons may be a good start.
And who knows? Maybe in the future I’ll walk into a Starbucks again and buy a latte that doesn’t cost like it was made from the breast milk of Balinese virgins and served in a solid gold cup adorned with rubies and sapphires. Until then, I’m reticent to enter a Starbucks, and will get my cup o’ Joe at a place where I’m not inclined to help the starving coffee growers of Peru or buy a Sheryl Crow CD.
I just want good coffee and no schmaltzy gimmicks.