There is no shortage of ‘I hate Starbucks’ postings on the internet and blogosphere. Indeed, there is even a website devoted to SB haters: http://www.ihatestarbucks.com. So I wondered if it would be pointless to add one more voice to the chorus. Perhaps this little blog will not separate itself from the ocean of voices, but I feel that as this vile company continues to spread all over the world, we need to continue relentlessly exposing it.
I thought that by moving 7,000 miles away from the USA to a developing country, I might be able to avoid SB and its ilk. Then again, I should never underestimate men like Howard Schultz, men whose ambition and greed know no bounds. Last year, I watched as Viet Nam’s first SB opened across the street from my apartment. In the intervening year, more stores have sprouted like weeds around Ho Chi Minh City. At times, I feel as if SB is following me, as they have just bought the large corner building in my new neighborhood and are quickly throwing up another store, accelerating the rapid gentrification of the area.
At last count, SB has 20,891 stores in 64 countries. 2013 revenue was 14.9 billion dollars. That’s a whole lot of coffee drinks. The company’s website and wikipedia page have to be updated daily, as Schultz and team are opening, on average, two new stores a day!
Here then, for the record, are my top 10 reasons for despising Starbucks:
1) SB runs small, independent coffee shops out of business. You remember- the funky coffeehouses with real coffee, cushy sofas, chess boards, and eclectic music which used to dot all the medium sized and large cities in the Western world.
2) Their drinks are overpriced. Actually, everything in the stores is overpriced.
3) Their drinks are unhealthy and are contributing in no small way to the obesity epidemic around the world. A venti iced caramel macchiato may taste delicious to a 13-year-old, but the price to be paid comes not just at the cash register, but years later as these calorie bombs fill our arteries with sugar and fat.
4) The drinks have stupid names, befitting a status-conscious, trend obsessed , dumbed down population, who can utter phrases like ‘Grande Iced sugar -free vanilla latte with soy’ with a straight face.
5) The names of the drink sizes are ridiculous to the extreme, pretentious to the core, and could only have sprung from the brains of marketers with master’s degrees in ‘mocking the public.’ Small, medium and large have morphed in planet starbucks into tall, grande, and venti. Are you f—ing kidding me? The last time I entered a SB years ago, I refused to play the game and ordered a small coffee. The barista didn’t bat an eyelash. She obviously had seen my ‘type’ before-unrepentant old school types- and she casually gave the order to her co-worker: ‘tall drip.’ Management must have prepped her that some holdouts might not even know what a ‘venti’ is. My, how untutored we are!
6) SB is wasteful and a blight on the environment. Years ago, a friend I was meeting insisted on a rendez-vous at the SB in Lima. I made sure to order my coffee “For here.” I glanced at the neat stack of attractive ceramic mugs behind the barista. She instantly grabbed the paper cup and started to make my drink. I inquired. “Did you not understand me? I said ‘for here.’ ” She stared at me blankly.
Finally, she said, “So, you want a mug?” She had a curious expression on her face. I could see why. As I looked around the store, of the three dozen or so customers sitting and drinking, not one had a ceramic mug. Many of them had been there for hours. This is the standard scene at every SB. Management says, ‘unless the customer specifically asks for a mug, give everyone a paper cup.’ With the conspicuous logo, of course. All destined for the landfill.
7) The store interiors are sterile, faux hip wastelands, filled with overpriced coffee merchandise, corporate music, and a corporate vibe that is impossible to ignore. To escape the bad music, many patrons put in earplugs to listen to music on their laptops, but they must also contend with baristas shouting things like: ” Iced skinny caramel frappuccino to go!” Every ten seconds.
8) SB doesn’t want just any location in a city. They want the location. They want the beating heart, the cultural center of whatever city they land in. In Seattle, you find SB at Pike Place Market. In Portland, they are right there in Courthouse Square. In Lima, they are front and center in Kennedy Park. SB will pay any price to get the location they want. Their marketing team identifies wherever the young, trendy and rich hang out, draw an X in the middle, and go to that landlord with an open checkbook.
9) SB employees are forced to wear ugly green aprons.
10) SB’s logo is ugly, creepy, and probably satanic.
11) Their coffee is bad, but most of their customers probably don’t even notice. How could they? With all the sugar, milk, cream, whipped cream, chocolate, caramel and ice in SB’s drinks, how can one taste any coffee? While people say they like SB coffee, what they really mean is they like the caffeine buzz. Put a cup of black coffee in any of these people’s hands, and they would spit it out instantly. “Ugh, what is that?”