Monday, January 09, 2006

Mugg Life

How does coffee come across my wire two times in one day?

Back when I was a latte sipping liberal coffee shop know it all, I thought about coffee all the time. Who made the best mochas?, who had the best espresso?, and who had the best location for inane debate?; these questions weighed heavily on my mind. Having moonlighted as a barista in two coffee serving establishments, I considered myself something of an expert on coffee. African coffees went best with honey, South American coffees went best with sugar, rum is the best lightener - though whiskey will do just fine.

Now that I am older and have less time to spend at coffee shops, my mornings consist of a desperate search for dark water into which I can pour half and half and sugar, so that my eyes might pry themselves open in time for work. With this change has come a sort of impatience for latte sippers (liberal and otherwise).

I applauded Bill Maher's new rule: "The more complicated the coffee order, the bigger the ass#$%#!"

What I'm sayin' is, I used to really worry about Starbucks Coffee, those evil corporate mavens of something I held so dear. Now I just kinda laugh. If I can't get my Community Coffee from New Orleans or my Altamaha Mud from St Simons, Folgers does just fine. Hell, Eight o'Clock Bean smells great at eight in the morning.

So imagine my surprise, as I'm sweeping the wires and I come across not just one, but two, stories of Starbucks goofiness in one day. We'll file one under New Orleans and one under General.

Again, I can't help but laugh. Starbucks: the McDonalds of the coffee world. Ha!

9 comments:

Dante said...

Much like beer, I can drink almost any coffee and enjoy its good points. I get a kick out of people who swear by some haughty taughty coffee brand like my Sister-in-Law's "Seattle's Best" or some other good-but-pricey can of grounds.

I always order a large coffee when I go to Starbucks. It's a pretty fun experience because I say I want a large coffee. The person rigning me up then says "You mean Venti?" I repeat "large coffee." We usually go back and forth a few times until she rings me up for a large coffee. If they want my business, they'll learn my language. I don't feel like I'm getting something special just because you don't understand the word "large."

The problem with all the talk of evil Starbucks is that their coffee is pretty darn good. I prefer Starbucks coffee to the stuff they had over at the Blue Sky but would much rather have a cup of Espersso Royale Cafe's coffee (especially for the price). I won't comment about Starbucks lattis, frappuccinos, and whatnot since I'm not a big drinker of them.

Lately, I've been absolutely thrilled that my current workplace provides free Columbian Rost Folgers. It's pretty good, but so is the regular Folgers.

And Starbucks is far from being a McDonalds. McDonalds is a real estate firm that sells burger franchises to individuals to sweeten the deal on their commercial leases. Starbucks is a self-contained business that has no franchise aspects to it at all. McDonalds is more like a confederacy of smaller stores with a strong central administration where a Starbucks is a monolithic giant (not that I have a problem with either strategy).

Thinking of hidden menu items (Slate link), next time you're in Taco Bell ask for a combo burrito. They'll make you one. The combo burrito was last officially on the menu as a $.99 item back when there were $.59, $.79, and $.99 value menus back in the mid 90's. It's just a bean burrito with beef on it too. Every time I've asked for once since it left the menu (last time was a year or so ago), they've made it without question.

S.A.W.B. said...

I personally prefer ERC for my weekly-or-so pre-coronary caffiene bomb. However, it's not because I care about supporting the local guy, the flavor of the coffee, or the price difference. It is, in fact, a far more important reason.

The coffee maidens on weekday mornings at ERC have what one englishman called, 'huuuuuuge, tracts of land!'. That, and they tend to be genuinely pleasant, as opposed to the rectally-inserted corporate smile one gets at Starbucks. Somehow, the coffee tastes better...

And yes, I know both girls' names.

petallic said...

Yes, S.A.W.B., that's why I give my patronage to Jittery Joe's, 'cause until recently there was this one really foine barista. I loved watching him arrange chairs. Plus, the first words he ever said to me were, "You like it hot, right?"

Ah, good times. I must admit to still being a coffee-house junkie, though to be fair I am also gainfully employed. Life is good.

Dante said...

I like the Starbucks workers because that "rectally-inserted corporate smile" pens up all their anger inside. Angry cashiers are FAST cashiers. If you don't believe me, next time you're at a place with long lines (Wal-Mart, Big Lots, K-Mart, Kroger, etc.) look for the line with the angriest-looking cashier. I'll bet you a million dollars that line moves the fastest. They won't care about anything but ringing your stuff up and getting you out of their store and that's they way I like it. I've got enough friends that I don't need the coffee jock to make conversation with me when they could be using that time to speed along the process.

And as far as 'huuuuuuge, tracts of land!' go, I've learned from looking at some of the failed marriages of some of my friends that if you don't want to catch any fish, don't go fishing. Apparently, looking but not touching is pretty easy until they ask you to touch.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Pettalic, didn't Sprout used to be a barista at Joes? Were there any girls that came there just to see him? (Pops wants to know...)

S.A.W.B. said...

I don't have time to go fishing these days Dante. However, I don't mind an occasional trip to the aquarium...

petallic said...

Um, Pat, you do realize your brother has a veritable following, right? A bevy, a harem if you will. The answer is yes, and I still enjoy watching him arrange chairs.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Welle, Iye 'ave 'eard tell o' dis greate gyrlish horde that plauges the rouge Sproughte, but onley in hushed tones where dems dat teuw seeme to develop some account of nearves. One dare not make too much of such prattle, w'out some sorta testiminy frome them who're part of it, savvy?

Iye do thankye, lass, fer yourn...

patsbrother said...

paT, your mix of brouge, pidgin, Standard English, and pirate really makes for something strange.

So saith the one who can (or could) make a 20 oz. cappucchino, with it's glorious half-filled forth. (Not that I ever cared enough to drink one myself.)