I love great coffee. I therefore hate Starbucks. So I thought I’d let them know:
Starbucks Coffee Company
566 Chiswick High Road
Dear Customer Relations,
I have to admit to being a bit of a sucker for your Caramel Frappuccino®. On a hot day, slurping one of these cholesterol and calorie loaded concoctions is a wonderfully self-indulgent way to cool down. The only problem is that I always drink it too quickly and get ‘frozen gullet’ (which is as painful as having your tonsils removed via your rectum without anaesthetic!1 ). Yet, despite the certainty of the excruciating pain to follow if I buy one, I still struggle to walk past your establishments in warm weather. And let’s face it; there are a lot of them to walk past.
The other day, I was wondering just how extensive the global spread of Starbucks had become and was staggered to discover from your website that I can now slurp a Caramel Frappuccino® in no less than 50 countries.
It appears from the website that it came as something of a shock to you too:
“To this day we’re still amazed by how warmly our coffee shops have been embraced by millions of people around the world”.
Well, you can’t be as amazed as I am I can tell you. How can you grow to the point where you have 5,500 ‘coffee houses’ all over the planet when you have never served a decent cup of coffee in 4 decades?! You see, whilst I may have a weakness for your rather excellent Caramel Frappuccino®, I think your lattes, cappuccinos2 and espressos are an insult to anyone who knows what real coffee tastes like.
Firstly, your coffee is too weak – by a country mile. We all know that Americans dilute their coffee to homeopathic levels but that is no justification for inflicting urine-coloured coffee on the rest of the world. I’ll never forget queuing very early one morning in a Starbucks near Union Square in San Francisco with all the flakes3 and hookers – they made the cast of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ look like a bunch of Nobel prizewinners – and the barista looked at me like I was the crazy one – just because I’d ordered a ‘Quadruple Tall Latte’!
You shouldn’t have to drink half a gallon of coffee to get a caffeine hit. Maybe it’s because you want to hide the true taste of the coffee because, secondly, strength notwithstanding, the coffee itself is… well, bloody awful.
I suspect that this has something to do with the fact that it is ‘Fairtrade Certified™’. Whilst I applaud every attempt to support traders in developing countries, I believe that ‘Fairtrade’ is a means of securing a premium price for inferior goods by appealing to the social conscience of the consumer. If it doesn’t sell because it’s crap, stick a ‘Fairtrade’ label on it and it will fly off the shelves and at the same time, you look like a socially responsible retailer. At the end of the day though, it’s still crap. If we had ‘Fairtrade’ aero-engines, aircraft would be falling out of the skies like rain.
Let’s face it, it you have a cup of Illy espresso in one hand and a cup of Starbucks in the other, one is going to taste like heaven and the other is going to taste like you washed an athlete’s foot sufferer’s socks in it.
So, despite the delights of Caramel Frappuccino®, the global Starbucks pandemic is a complete mystery to me. You have succeeded where Swine Flu failed and you have spread across the world. I just don’t get it.
Go on, tell me. What’s the secret?
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Actually, I have never had any part of my body removed via my rectum. This is a figment of my literary imagination. ↩
To be accurate, Cappuccini is the correct plural noun but that would be a bit nit-picky. ↩
For the benefit of UK recipients, ‘flake’ is American for tramp/vagrant. Being behind them in a Starbucks queue is very frustrating because they pay for their coffee one cent at a time (and they don’t smell terribly good – a bit like Starbucks coffee come to think of it). ↩