Today, all Starbucks stores closed early to provide training for their “baristas.” Nationwide, the specialty coffee sales leader began closing it’s door at 5:30 PM, leaving those looking for a bad cup of coffee or for a super sweet drink that has a coffee aftertaste high and dry or more importantly, maybe they left the door open for smaller shops to show the uninformed just how bad Starbucks coffee really is.
This news today reminded me of other recent news from Starbucks, namely that Starbucks will be closing stores that are not well performing, they will also be cutting back on the number of planned new stores and that they will be laying off 220 employees. Has Starbucks hit the saturation point of how much coffee the country can consume? Are they victims of their success? Have they grown too much too fast?
I am biased against Starbucks coffee. I think it is bad coffee, but more than that, it is far too expensive for how bad it is. From the first time I tried their coffee all those years ago when they first arrived in southern California, I did not like them. The main reason for not liking them was that their coffee was bad but there was also an emotional reason. There was a small coffee shop in Pasadena that we used to frequent called “BrewHaHa” that was shut down after Starbucks came into town.
This lead me to think about what made one coffee shop successful and the other not, and it’s not the coffee, it’s the image. One of the troubling things about our society is it’s consumerism. So the success that Starbucks has seen is more due to their white cup with green logo than whats in the cup. Much like the symbols of society and how they are marketed as a symbol of status the coffee cup is now part of the same marketing and consumerism. When Honda, Toyota and Nissan introduced their new car lines, Acura, Lexus and Infiniti, it was because people would not consider driving a luxury vehicle with a Honda, Toyota or Nissan badge. Luxury vehicles have a Cadillac or Mercedes Benz or BMW badge. Coffee was given a label and sold to the unsuspecting coffee drinker who has been hoodwinked into thinking that he is getting a “luxury” item.
Coffee is a perishable commodity either in a green un-roasted form as well as roasted and ground forms. Once roasted, the coffee begins to loose much of its flavor not long after roasting. Most roasted coffee can be considered fresh for up to two weeks after roasting, after that it begins to go stale. Starbucks coffee is roasted in one of several roasting locations and shipped to local stores. I do not know what the transit time is between the time the coffee is roasted and when it is shipped to stores nor do I know how long it is before it is ground and served. What I do know is that the coffee is over roasted, the water used to brew it is too hot and since the coffee tastes so bad most people only see fit to drink it as long as it has plenty of cream and sweeteners.
With the closing of all the Starbucks stores, I hope that the coffee addicts looked for a new place to get their fix. Hopefully every neighborhood has a local coffee shop that roasts their coffee on the premises, if not then hopefully they found a shop that keeps fresh roasted coffee and they found a cup of coffee that has a clean finish and coffee that isn’t bitter but has plenty of flavor, a cup of coffee that is so good it doesn’t need all that cream and sugar to cover up how bad it isn’t.