The Chicago Snob

Why Starbucks Sucks

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I almost feel like I should apologize for writing about coffee again... but the fact that I thought about apologizing just now, makes me feel a lot better about not actually apologizing.

When you move to (or visit) Chicago from just about any other city in the U.S. (save New York and perhaps Seattle), one of the first things you notice is that there seems to be a Starbucks on every corner, especially in the loop.

Yes, Starbucks has become the McDonald's of coffee, with a Coca-Cola-esque vision of putting a mermaid-laden cup within arm's reach of every man, woman and child in our fair city.  Case in point, there are over 50 Starbucks locations within the loop area, alone.  This is great news if you like guzzling bad coffee (which most of you do), or if you're in the mood for a shot at winning type II diabetes (e.g. Peppermint Mocha, or gasp, Pumpkin Spice Latte).  It's also great news if you happen to be a bum looking for a bathroom to sleep in.

To make matters even worse, Starbucks has also forged alliances with Safeway (which owns Dominick's) and Target, so that you can get your fix while shopping.  Mmmmm, delicious!  The one place they haven't managed to weasel their way into (yet) is Midway Airport, thank goodness.

Okay, yeah, that's pretty bad, sure.  But what really makes Starbucks so terrible is two-fold:

  1. The Starbucks Customer:  Every morning hoards of professionals get in line and act like petulant adolescents, entitled to throw fits when their drinks aren't made to their exact specifications.  Fine, you pay $5 for a venti, razzzmatazzalicious, mocha, frappa-whatever, and it makes sense to want it done right.  However, that does not give you the right to go ballistic on the barista for putting the lid on your drink before you could manage to pull yourself away from your BlackBerry and request that your whip cream not be un-coiffed.  At least show some level of decent comportment.  Besides, any self-respecting person would just order a medium, skim latte and call it a day.
  2. The Starbucks Staff:  Yes, after just having had their back (kind of) I'm now putting them on blast too.  I know the job pays just $12 per hour, plus health benefits, and a 401(k)...  and you have to put up with customers like I just described every day, but that is no reason to not do good work.  Most of the staff (trainers included) don't even know how to properly froth milk, or, why you need to allow the coffee to stop brewing before you serve it.  To boot, a lot of Starbucks employees have poor attitudes and treat patrons like an obligation or a nuisance.  Oh, am I taking you away from the 9 am showing of Judge Mathis?  My bad.  At the end of the day, you're not building rockets, you're just making coffee, so please, at least do it properly.

If, after reading this, you still decide to patron Starbucks, please don't be an asshole about it (see #1) and realize that you're overpaying for a terribly sub-par product with even worse nutritional value.  Also know that if I see you, mermaid cup in-hand, I will probably snicker and jeer at you from inside my own head, but will outwardly totally dismiss you as a human being, just like every other Chicagoan walking down the same street at 8 am.

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11 Comments

Elizabeth Rago said:

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Where do you get your coffee?

The Chicago Snob said:

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Great question, Elizabeth! Once I get to work, I always make a French Press. I typically get the coffee I use for the French Press at Intelligentsia, or Caribou. If you're an everyday coffee drinker, I also suggest that you do the environmentally-friendly (and totally Snobby) thing and invest in a high-quality insulated travel mug. I suggest Nissan Stainless Steel, like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Thermos-Nissan-18-Ounce-Stainless-Steel-Insulated/dp/B0000639WN

Elizabeth Rago said:

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Why thank you, Chicago Snob. I am an avid coffee drinker and already have that exact travel mug! I like hitting local shops myself when I am not playing barista at home. I have a french press and have been too chicken to try it out, but you have inspired me to dig it out and give it a whirl!

The Chicago Snob said:

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You're quite welcome, Elizabeth. Just make sure that when you use your French Press, you have the coffee ground specifically for a French Press. It takes a coarser grind than normal coffee makers, but you probably already knew that.

Elizabeth Rago said:

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I do need to hit the store for a course grind... Thank you for your help. -E

The Chicago Snob said:

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You're quite welcome, Elizabeth. If you have any other questions, or if I can be of further assistance, please email me at chicago.snob@gmail.com. Have a great finish to your week!

R1 said:

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No, you need to hit the store for a grinder! It will change your life as much as the french press does. Don't need to spend much, but if you are going to press you should experience fresh ground beans as well. Good luck and enoy, a Starbucks employee with a very good attitude who can froth milk and doesn't serve coffee while it's still brewing.

R1 said:

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Oh,and I make $8.41/hr.

Meg said:

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You make 8.41? I need to transfer to that starbucks. I make $7.54.

FlippyO said:

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I would expect someone who is snobby enough to link the word "comportment" to a dictionary site to know the difference between hordes and hoards. Clearly, I was wrong. I guess you have "snobby" down, but w/o the intelligence to back it up.

borg said:

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The author of this post just seems like a bit of an exaggerated drama queen. I know it's all for effect but at least make the post funny next time.

This sort of post would have been original 5-10 years ago (and I'm being charitable here) but now it just seems lazy and uninspired. Oh and I rarely drink coffee (maybe once a month) but when I do, Starbucks is just fine. You aren't actually "snobby" you just aspire to be so.

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