Tuesday, April 19, 2005

St*rbux Busters

Just for the hell of it, I encourage you to screw with the “barister partners” of your one-and-only neighborhood coffee shop (since that coffee shop undoubtedly ran off all the independent & individually owned coffee shops that dotted your neighborhood before the Plague of Seattle was unleashed upon the world). Here are some of my favorites:
  • Refuse to use their branded size terminology; instead order everything as either a small, medium or large.
  • Insist on a receipt if you pay cash.
  • Bring your own mug from home to have filled. Then make sure you receive the 10¢ discount. (It’s even better if your mug is branded with a competitor’s logo.)
  • If ordering in, insist on a ceramic mug. There should be some discount for that as well; make sure to insist on it.
  • Ask about their recycling policy. Where does all that paper and plastic end up?
  • If the “barister partner” is foolish enough to make suggestions to you having no idea as to your tastes, allow him/her to run through his/her spiel, wrinkling your face in disgust at every suggestion. Then order what you were going to order in the first place. Or better yet: exclaim that you’re no longer in the mood for something from their menu.
  • Ask about their refill policy.
  • When ordering tea, always let them know it’s because their coffee tastes so bad.
  • No matter how much you enjoy the music, complain that that awful noise is too loud and that you can’t study/read/talk.
  • Ask how much of their profit goes to the poor coffee bean farmer in the Third World. Ask them to justify their prices. Then ask them how much their corporate graphic designer earns. Again, ask them to justify their prices.
Oh, the list could go on and on. Please make sure to contribute! I’m hoping that this pastime is passed on from generation to generation much like trying to get the guards at Buckingham Palace to smile. Except here, we’re trying to crack open wide the corporate mind as well as destroy its so-called culture.


  1. Ah yes, the old green and white. And the ever lovely, but misguided barrista who always sneers at my simple order of a chai tea latte. "Don't you want to dress it up by adding a flavored syrup?", she always asks with a look of superiority. I thought it was already dressed up; considering I'm paying top dollar something that has never seen a tea leaf.--blanche

  2. * Tell the barrista you heard a rumor that they really only use 2% milk for every drink,and demand proof that they'll only use skim milk in your "skinny" latte

    * Tell the barrista that their syrups are too sweet and you only want 5/16 of one pump of syrup

    * As what brand of cinnamon and nutmeg they put in those always clogged shakers and whether the spices are freshly ground every day

    * Order a Diet Coke

  3. Oh, don't blame it on the barrista s/he is probably some poor schmuck who can't get paid what they are worth doing what they really want to do (even if they do not know what that is yet). Don't get me wrong I like to Starbuck's bash as much as the next gal and am a strong supporter of local independent businesses. However the fact is that as far as corporations go Starbuck's may not be so bad (it has a strong record on environmental issues, has promoted fair trade, supports the local community, pays a decent wage, provides employees with benefits, and much more), and their lattes are a whole lot better than the one I can get from my local independent coffee shop (that, by the way, charges the same price for it).

    That said, I still think that Starbuck's should still be held accountable for all of its corporate actions and decisons.

    So, please bring on my tall blended latte, uh, I mean my single shot low fat latte.

  4. I see Chrzanka's point. I don't have a problem with Starbuck's as a coffee shop, I do after all stop in and get coffee now and then. But Starbuck's as an institution is problematic. I'm not entirely convinced of the "good" things the Bucks does for the environment and it employees. From a marketing perspective, it's all just words. What's the "fine print" behind their public epxressions of their own goodness?

    I'd not really have any problems with Starbucks at all if, in my market (Dallas), there were alternative choices. But Starbucks has literally run them all out. 10 years ago when Starbucks first entered the Dallas market, their two stores in the best neighborhoods were big news. Now there are 7 locations within 2 miles of my office. What's more, Starbucks insists on exclusivity clauses in the rental contracts they sign--in other words, no other coffee shops can rent space within the same property as the Starbucks, nor can other non-coffee shop vendors sell "gourmet" coffee drinks. So for example, in a fairly new urban landscape multi-use development (apts., bars, shops, restaurants, and Starbucks), the Italian ice cream shop cannot sell espresso drinks because Starbucks has those rights.

    It's the sheer ubiquity of Starbucks and the lack of alternatives that drives me crazy.

    My anti-Bucks protest action:

    *Take a stack of used Starbucks gift cards to the cashier and tell him or her that you think there's a little balance left on some of them and you want to use it up. If you're feeling really malicious, after the clerk has scanned all of the cards, tell him or her that you don't have any money on you and you'll have to cancel the order.

  5. True that, true that! Speak the truth, brother. Deep down inside that is how I feel as well!

  6. Hello, all! My name is Matt, and I have been a Starbucks Barista for a whole two weeks. I'm mostly just doing it for shits and giggles, I work full time afternoons and had some free time, so hey, why not spend it making $8.50 an hour?

    Anywho. Steve: regarding the Starbucks Card idea; don't laugh. People do that. Also, people will buy like, thirty of the freakin' things and load them with $5.00 each (which, at least at Starbucks CANADA, will barely get you a Latte... tempted to point it out to the guy, but what could I really say without being mean?)

    I know some Baristas have a Coffee-er than thou attitude. I work with some of them. I have resolved myself to not be like that. Every day I get people in who'll order a large double-double (Canadian for a coffee with two cream and two sugar).

    I smile and say, "Is this size OK for you sir?" (Oh god, my mind... the gutter)

    "Would you like a milder coffee, or something bolder?"

    "OK, as much caffeine as possible? No problem, sir. The cream and sugar, and everything else you'll need are over there (points). Have a great day."

    See? Come into my Starbucks. Order the most complicated drink you can think of. I will be as accomidating as I can. I will smile. I will laugh at my own lack of knowledge.

    And we DO recycle. I almost got written up for throwing paper in the garbage. If you have a compost, come and ask us for coffee grinds, we're more than happy to share.

    I'm not saying Starbucks is perfect. But it is GOOD. There's always an outcry up here in Canada when an American business comes in and drives out Canadian businesses. The best example is when Wal-Mart bought out Woolco. But you know what? Most Woolcos were dumpy and expensive. Wal-mart is better. So what's the problem?

    OK, I think this is turning into a rant, so I'll stop now. :)