Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Starbucks shame

We live in the land of java...a place where the streams run thick as lattes and the lakes foam up like steamed milk on mochas. Here in western Washington, coffee stands pop up every hundred feet (or fewer), and residents need, need, need their morning, mid-morning, afternoon, and tea-time grande, quad-shot, half-caf, non-fat, vanilla latte (it is the one order of the day that allows each person to assert their very specific identity with some authority, before driving off to work where that same identity is likely to be ignored, squashed, and even denied).

Yes, we Washingtonians are addicts. And when we travel, we can be obnoxious about it. "Where the hell is the coffee shop?!!!" "Can't you get a decent cup'o'joe around here?" "What the hell is this stuff...don't you have a Tully's? How about a Delano's? A Seattle's Best?" "Folgers? You're kidding me, right?" "Blech! Swill!"

Not only are we addicts, but we are coffee snobs. We don't just want coffee. We want a particular kind of coffee from a particular place in a particular cup with a particular blend, aroma, temperature, and flavor. And don't forget the cozy, the straw, and the bean! And the punch card! (For we are, indeed, loyal coffee drinkers.)

We are the Napa Valley of Coffee. And we have the coffee journals to prove it.

In fact, we are the birthplace of the biggest coffee company known to man (real coffee, not Sanka, or Yuban...none of that canned crap for us, now!)...STARBUCKS!

In the past two decades, Starbucks has taken over the world (hell, they're even in China now!)...but, like lots of businesses who have flown too far, too fast, the company has been cornered into making some major cutbacks. And now, a company known for its Washington roots has sold its workforce out. Because of that, I've decided to sell them down the river where they belong (and apparently prefer to be, since the labor is cheaper): read this article from the Jan. 14 Seattle Times for a dose of the bad news.

I'm not an idiot. I get that business can be expensive. And Starbucks has been known to make seemingly altruistic business moves, like freezing executive raises and bonuses, closing down new stores to keep older ones in tact, finding new jobs within the company for workers displaced by moves or closures. But, this is almost sacrilege.

And, unfortunately, it means Seattle's Best goes with it, since it is owned by Starbucks. Grrr....

I'm not so sad to let go of Starbucks...I prefer the little locally-owned java huts, and I enjoy their coffee more. Starbucks is a bit bitter for my taste. I write this more to make a point than to bitch about losing something I love.

I personally am not sad to give up the corporate coffee...I get mine from local pushers instead, where I know what's going in with my beans and trust that the barista making my cup of liquid gold is not going to be replaced by a speaker transmitting the voice of someone from India who will then be programming an espresso machine to make my coffee and hand it out to me via robotic arm.

Besides...I usually make my own at home every morning and take it to work, steaming and fresh, in a stainless steel mug that I can refill with water later in the day. And I drink it with my yogurt and granola and banana for breakfast.

And, seriously, who can afford a $4 coffee every morning in these economic times?

Still...Starbucks, shame on you.

(BTW...my husband bought has purchased scones there the last three mornings in a row. Apparently, I am alone in this boycott.)

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