Wednesday, October 7, 2009


In February, 2004, while attending Carroll College, I wrote the following article for the independent publication, Amorphous, which I served as co-editor of...

Sometimes I wonder how we take Starbucks seriously. Sure their products taste fine, but I often wonder how their utterly foolish use of language is so easily overlooked. Perhaps nobody cares and maybe people enjoy using funny language to order a coffee, but I just want to make sure you are aware of the everyday farce known as Starbucks.

First of all, I have to get this monkey off my back. Let’s talk about Tall vs. Grande for a few minutes. (Editors note: There was no Venti size at the Carroll College Starbucks at the time) A Tall is a small and a Grande is a large. Are we agreed on this? After three years, I think I finally understand. But how can a Tall represent a small? I remember when I was about four years old watching Sesame Street. Grover taught me about NEAR and FAR. The Count taught me how to count. I also remember Big Bird and Slimey teaching me about big and little.

Here’s the point: Tall will always be synonymous with Large. Always. Grande, obviously a French word for large or grand makes sense. It really does. But if a large is a Grande, then shouldn’t a small be Petite? It doesn’t make sense that both sizes are named after words meaning “big.”

Next up, the ridiculous descriptions of various flavors of coffee starting with Light Note Blend, which is described as “Smooth and round with a straight forward, delicate flavor and a crisp clean finish”….garbage.

Can anyone tell me what a straight forward drink is like? Is Starbucks telling me that their coffee is bullshit free and they’re gonna hit me with the flavor straightforward? And how can it be delicate if it’s straight forward? Delicate to me would mean the coffee is holding back. I don’t like my coffee holding back. And I don’t know what a crisp clean finish is. How do they know how my coffee will be when I finish it? Maybe it’s cold and has been sitting out for two hours. Well then, it’s not too crisp and clean is it my friend?

How about a Colombia NariƱo Supremo? With a name like that, I could be getting chili. But I’ll look at the description to make sure I’m not mistaken. “Full bodied with satisfying walnut overtones" …hmm. I have never heard of a full bodied coffee. I have some friends and family who are definitely full bodied, but have never seen a coffee that was. And what is a walnut overtone? Sounds like musical peanuts to me. It should say, “Tastes like walnuts.” That doesn’t confuse me. Straight up and to the point.

One more just to drive the point home. Sumatra coffee is described as “Spicy and intense with herbal aromas." Okay, enough. I don’t need an intense coffee. I just need something to get my day started. Spices and coffee don’t go together. And if I wanted herbal aromas, I would have ordered a tea. Sumatra coffee sucks.

Another complaint is that I participate more in ordering my drink than I do in a whole semester of classes. Ordering a coffee isn’t so bad. I only have to answer about six questions. But get one of those crap-achino drinks and you’re done for. How many shots of espresso? Points or cash? Whipped cream? Tall or Grande? What flavor? Leave room for cream? I feel as if I deserve a letter grade along with my latte.

One more Starbucks bash for you. In the last week of January, the coffee machines broke. No coffee for a whole day. None. And I still am not over it. If I’m correct, the name of the franchise is Starbucks Coffee. The product that started it all wasn’t being served. I can’t believe that it couldn’t be fixed within an hour or two. There are Starbucks representatives all over this great nation. The fact is they let me down. I had to go buy a $10 Dole instead.

So next time you’re in the coffee shop, take a look around. Order a small or regular coffee and see their reaction. Whatever you do, don’t take it too seriously.

Today, my thoughts on Starbucks haven't changed much. Just last week I went in to my local Starbucks to use their wi-fi. I bought a coffee because I figured as long as I was getting free internet, I should have something to drink. It turns out that wi-fi at Starbucks is not free at all. What made me angry was that 100 feet away from Starbucks is Panera Bread, a restaurant with free wi-fi and much better coffee.

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