Melting Pot

This Whole Starbucks Thing…

If you have not yet heard about the latest Starbucks controversy, their “Race Together” idea, click here to read about it.

As has already been established on this blog, I am not much of a fan of coffee. Unless it has so much sugar and flavorings added that it scarcely resembles coffee, I don’t (usually) drink it. So I am not exactly a Starbucks fan/junkie. I HAVE had drinks from them a couple times over the years. Are they good? Sure. Do they match the hype? Eh, not so much. For the kind of coffee based drinks I like, I can go to the local coffee shop and get far yummier drinks for a small fraction of the cost. A large (sorry, no clue what size this is in Starbucks-speak) latte at my local coffee shop is $2 and some change. My local coffee shop uses natural oils and extracts to flavor the drinks, not chemical-laden flavorings, and the coffee beans are freshly ground for each cup ordered. They do all kinds of special events for and with the community, like game night, music night, art showings etc. The atmoshpere is warm and cozy and inviting – it is like hanging out at a friend’s house rather than being in a public space, complete with a fireplace, a couch, a couple big recliners, and hand made afghans you can cozy up with if you so choose. (I take my own with me, a “common blanket” used by goodness only knows how many people brings out my inner germaphobe.) My local coffee shop makes me wish I loved coffee so I could stop in more often, because they are all kinds of awesome that Starbucks just can’t compete with, for me.

Back to Starbucks and their latest little debacle, though. I THINK I can understand the general idea behind the “race together” thing. Sort of. Assuming it is a genuine sentiment which, let’s be honest, it probably is not. Playing devil’s advocate, we will pretend it is. I can see the good intentions behind it. However, good intentions mean nothing when paired with ill-thought execution.

People go to coffee shops for coffee. Not to have a total stranger (or a casual acquaintance if they frequent the place enough to know the baristas and the baristas know them) try to strike up conversations about controverscial and often personal subjects such as race. The lines at Starbucks already move rather slowly (based on my admitedly limited experiences with them) – baristas trying to hold such conversations is surely going to further tie things up, and most folks just want to get their coffee and go as quickly as possible.

Furthermore, I can see brawls breaking out because of this. I for one would have no problem simply declining to engage in any such conversation if the situation were to arise. I know folks who would eagerly participate in such a conversation in a civilized manner even if others involved disagreed with them. Let’s be real though: many people do NOT react this way. Many people will become irate and cause a scene. Some will become confrontational and violent.

Again, if the sentiment is genuine, I get it. I simply feel this is not at all the best way to go about things. I feel sorry for the baristas and innocent by-standers who will be hurt in some way as a result of this when the wrong person is provoked into a “conversation” about race (or any other topic Starbucks may decide is a good one for another such so-called campaigne as this) and all hell breaks loose as a result.

Will this stop me from ever setting foot in a Starbucks again? No. I do not go in often anyway. Frankly the whole ccp issue was more upsetting to me than this is however as one who does not own a gun it did/does not directly affect me so I can’t really be too upset over that one. I understand those who wish to no longer support the company as a result, though.

No I do not agree with everything Starbucks says or does – the same can be said of every store/company that gets my business whether frequently or only on occasion. If you were to boycott every single company that does a single thing you do not agree with, you would have to find a way to become 100% self reliant in a hurry. That said, yes there are some I refuse to give my business for one reason or another. We all have to pick and choose this sort of thing every day – give our business to company a even though we don’t like this thing about them or choose company b because they don’t do what company a does in that area, even though they do something else we don’t like but we find it less offensive.

For me, this issue is not one that will keep me from making my oh so seldom trips which, by the way, are only to the locations inside a Barnes & Noble. Bookworm that I am, I love to go to B&N and once in while Starbucks will draw me in whilst there. What really keeps me from being a Starbucks customer more often, besides my general dislike of coffee, is the fact that they are so over priced for only average beverages. That and the fact that if you don’t know all their lingo you are looked at as if you are a moron and God help you if you are inclined to ask for an explanation of just what a drink is, or how it is different from something else on the menu that sounds like the same damn thing, so you can be sure you will at least like your ridiculously priced drink. Sorry I am not a coffee whore who knows the difference between the dozens of similar but only slightly differentiated from each other drinks available or just what the hell a “venti” is in terms of size. Not my fault you want to feel special by going outside the norm of “small, medium, or large”. *shrug*

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2 thoughts on “This Whole Starbucks Thing…

  1. First off, I agree with you completely about Starbucks not living up to the hype. Their coffee is really nothing to write home about, if you know what I mean. Secondly, on the very rare occasions I’ve ever patronized a Starbucks, I’ve had the same problems with tediously slow line-ups. As for the issue at hand about the baristas, the barista is there to fill coffee orders, not engage in conversations. And *certainly* not conversations about race! That is just plain wrong; race, creed, and all the other things like it are incredibly personal, not to mention political, and if I was the owner of that location, I would have fired that barista on the spot for creating the situation that has resulted. The backlash from that is, as you mentioned, going to be big, and the franchise is going to have their hands full trying to calm all the masses of people that have been mortally offended by the incident.

    Having weighed in with my personal opinion about all that, I don’t tend to patronize Starbucks unless I’m desperate for coffee. My heart has always belonged, and always will belong, to Tim Horton’s. Because Timmy’s is Canadian, and we have so few truly Canadian things left to hold onto.

    Love you, sweetness. Never forget that.
    ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

    1. I have never had an opportunity to try TH, though I would love to some time. But yes the whole point is the Starbucks CEO is nuts, people go to coffee shops for coffee and things like race are indeed far too personal for public discussion with strangers! I can’t help but think of all the other topics that could be selected that would be just as offensive or even painful for some folks. Generally speaking politics should play as little a role in business as possible, and this little campaign is the very opposite of that.

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