Starbucks in China

As a non-coffee drinker, it is hard for me to understand the gigantic appeal that Starbucks has created.  Starbucks is an international phenomenon with nearly 11,000 stores and 6.4 billion dollars in Revenue last year. The company can move swiftly and forcefully into new products as it did when it bought Tazo Tea in 1999.  The power of market domination allows them to simply buy out their competition when they wish as they did with Torrefazione and Seattle’s Best in 2003.  They can dominate green coffee bean markets with their substantial buying power and leverage.

My dislike for Starbucks has nothing to do with being a corporation. I love corporations. They have worked hard before they were corporations to get where they were. Some hippies will get all up in your face and say that Starbucks is bad for the “mom and pop” coffee shops. That’s a silly argument because Starbucks at one point was one of those coffee shops that just happen to find success.

Starbucks make me feel ill with their carefully chosen subtle, but not too bland, color scheme.  Even the background music has been Starbucked, with watered down instrumental versions of Jimi Hendrix, for example.   The quirky living room sofas and tables, which are not so quirky when you realize they are identical to the other thousands of stores.  Starbucks is simply a McDonalds for the new media generation. Starbucks wants a consistent cup of coffee, just like McDonalds wants the Big Mac to taste the same wherever you go, so they over-roast it to remove any minor flavor variations in the beans.

Starbucks in India

“Will that be a Tall, Grande or a Venti?”

Starbucks’ menu language is just stupid – especially for espresso drinks. All I have to say is “tall” is small. The barista or cashier will not speak to you in normal cafe speak either… If you order a double cappuccino, you get the most dreaded question of all – “Will that be a Tall, Grande or a Venti?”

“Line up, suckers.”

If the long lines out the door were for being so great and so popular that would be fine. But, the sad fact is that they purposefully designed the shop layout to encourage snaking lines creating a sense of excitement and encourage the sheep mentality in consumers. For people who pay attention to this stuff it shows a lack of respect to the customer.

Starbucks employees have the nerve to stick a tip jar on the counter, and even at the drive thru. Your one job is to mix stuff in coffee and give it to me, and then of course maintain a store.  Millions of people work in mundane jobs like this everyday and Starbucks’ employees, for some reason, complain about it more than I’ve ever seen. I’m convinced that Wendy’s employees work harder. I read a blog from a Starbucks employee who says that we should tip him because…

“we also do customers favors quite often (not charging for refills, not kicking you out when we are supposed to, letting people bring their pets in, etc).

Tipping makes us love you, and when we love you we make better drinks for you, give them to you faster, etc.”

Starbucks in Africa

Take a look around next time you go to a Starbucks.  Guaranteed one the following people is there…

First you may see the writer who wants you do know he’s a writer.  Yes, we all know that writing is a fascinating occupation, but unfortunately, unlike hookers and crack dealers, you cannot simply point them out by looking at them.  However, when a person has to tell you that he’s a writer (intentionally), then writing suddenly becomes less impressive.  Those kind of people usually go to the busiest Starbucks in town and pop open their Macs, making sure that the shining Apple logo is on display for everyone to see. Then they pretend to write, sigh, and brainstorm their thoughts.

You also may possibly see the guy who hates Starbucks but goes there anyway. The world is packed with shitheads and nobody can deny that, but there are those who realize they are complete shitheads, and yet, brag about it. I’m taking about that certain someone who won’t shut up about how crappy Starbucks is, and forget the fact he is ranting while waiting in line inside Starbucks.

More thank likely you will see at least one study group.  Why go to a proper school library that is filled with textbooks, resources, and free computers when you have the most crowded Starbucks in the area?  It definitely makes more sense to go to a place where noise is a popular demanding song, has tables that barely support an encyclopedia, and a crowd that’s yelling for a proper frappuccino.  It’s like Turkish prison, except with worse

Guarantee you’ll see the person who peruses the DVD/music section as if he might purchase something. It’s really great when you’re waiting in line behind somebody only to realize that they’re not in line, but instead deciding whether or not they want to purchase Akeelah and the DVD, which I am positively sure that no one ever bought. Yes, we know that you want to shed the stereotypes that white people don’t watch Black movies, but if that particular Black movie sucks, then we understand the reason that you didn’t see it in theaters.