Wednesday, September 17, 2008


My favorite local coffee shop [chain], dear Reader, is Brew HaHa. I like their coffee, I like the vibe in most of their stores, soccer moms aside. My morning commute some days is a long haul. I like to get up as late as possible on these days, and thus I purchase my coffee en-route rather than brew it myself. Sadly, my commute's route does not pass by a Brew HaHA. It does, however, pass a Starbucks.

Merry Christmas! Psyche!!

I know there are a lot of Starbucks haters out there. And many of them have their reasons. As a former High School Punk Rock wannabe, I can relate to the intrinsic hatred of all things corporate. But, in a flash of not-so-unexpected irony, like many high-performing High School Punk Rock wannabe students, I ended up going to college and ending up as a cog in the working middle class. On a basic level I want to hate the corporations and "the man", but let's face it: to a lot of people, I am "the man".

All that aside, I've accepted that from time-to-time I will buy Starbucks coffee. I don't feel that bad about it either. As far as minimum-wage service jobs go, they take pretty good care of their employees. They have a good product - strong coffee. I still want to hate them, but here I am, twice a week, buying a coffee.

Starbucks is a pretty ridiculous place. There's a thousand of them. They are always pushing some offer on you. And the people there are so obviously commanded to make you feel like a Gen-Y-er - Everyone's a winner! Just believe you can do it, and it will happen!

But the thing that gets me the most is their cup-sizing convention. All I want is 16 goddamn ounces of their strongest, darkest, high-test coffee. 16 ounces happens to be the size of their middle-sized cup. But no, they have to call it "Grande" (which should really refer to the largest if you ask me, but no, that is Venti - I think - and what the hell does that mean?).

I know I'm not the first to complain about it. Why is the smallest called the Tall?

On top of silly cup-size names, every morning, they have 3 drip coffees on tap: a regular roast, a decaf, and a dark roast. Really, their dark roast is the same thing every morning, but they call it something different and moderately racist every day of the week - Komodo, Ivory Coast, West Philly Blend, etc.

As a regular customer, I expect I should be able to just get my coffee and get the hell out of there with no headache. But I refuse to go along with their naming convention. I order a medium dark roast every morning. And I feel a little guilty, as the employee is required to use the stupid naming convention. So the exchange is like this:
Me: "Medium dark roast, please [satisfied, subtle grin]."
[she winces]
Her: "Ok! [huge toothy smile] One Grande Burundi Kayanza coming up!"
I am then barraged by offers for 1/2 off iced drinks after 4 p.m. This would normally annoy me, but typically I'm satisfied by my ordering victory - every day I successfully get my coffee without uttering a word of their pseudo-language.

"Save your receipt and get $2 off an iced drink after 4 pm!"

Today was a little different. I ordered using the English language - one medium dark roast - only to see the Barista (???) pouring me a cup of the regular blend. I corrected her to say I'd like the dark roast, and she worked really hard to not drop the smile as she said "Anniversary blend? Ok." and grabbed a new cup. As she rang me up at the register, she stated, "Our default is the regular blend - Pike Place. If you want something else, you need to specify." I smiled and said, "Oh, ok!"

I was taking solace in the fact that at least Starbucks ruffles a few feathers by remaining staunchly anti-Christian.



rbilson said...

Grande used to be the the largest size when Starbucks first opened. They added the Venti size a few years later.

The only reason I know that is because my wife worked there while in college.

Still, I go there at least once a day. Can't get enough.

Rachael said...

I miss out on so much not having a morning commute. My biggest decision in the AM is do I walk to the left or the right of the house!

sam said...

I hate starbucks because I don't like their coffee and I don't like their green tea. Most importantly I can't stand the homogeneous atmosphere. I am as corporate as you can get but I still hate starbucks. I know they give good benefits to their employees and it's unfortunate that in this society treating employees well is the exception instead of the norm. That said, no company treats their employees well for the sake of being being good hearted. They treat them well because it makes corporate sense to. I have a feeling that now that some of their locations (or is it all?) have unionized the management at starbucks will start to come down hard. Many corps are good to their ees because they don't want them to bring in a third party. Now that EFCA is likely going to happen you are going to see A LOT of companies become super good to ees until they sign their union cards.

I'm going to shut up now. I'm in Utah and my throat hurts and for some reason I don't sleep anymore at night.

All this said, I don't drink coffee so it really doesn't matter to me.