Barista’s Negative Critique of Starbucks: A Funny Rant from a College Student

It’s not about coffee. It’s about status. It’s about the corporate takeovers, the loss of the small town feeling, industrializing, standardizing, and conformity. Every city corner, every shopping mall, every airport seems to come standard with a Starbucks.

Americans these days are obsessed with owning brand names. This fixation ranges from the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the shampoo we choose, to the freaking coffee we drink. God forbid our lives are touched by anything no name or generic. One will find that product loyalty extends into areas like bottled water, where the only difference in the products is their packaging.

When I was in Los Angeles, some friends and I were sold (at an unbelievable price) some falsely represented Calvin Klein cologne. When we discovered that the product was really “MK1,” and not the expected “CK1,” they were furious that we had been duped. It smells nice, so who really cares if it’s a cheap imitation?

Conglomerate geniuses like Starbucks take advantage of consumers’ superficiality. With prices that are about 30% above normal, there comes an expectation of prestige, and a false sense of product superiority and quality. Being a coffee connoisseur myself, I can say that the espresso at Starbucks is not any better than what one can find at Mom and Pop coffee shops nationwide. What Starbucks does have however is variety. Tazo tea, Frappuccinos, products other than beverages, cups, beans to take home. Ambience. That 547 you give the aproned teen behind the counter isn’t for that skim latte you consume, it’s for the lifestyle you so badly wish you had. Businessmen in suits with laptops and perpetually ringing cell phones. Picture college students who love poetry and independent films wearing berets and $30 wooden necklaces from American Eagle; Too many of the loyal customers are posers, who I’m pretty sure don’t even like coffee. I am so sick of the 14-year old girls who have only had the kind of cappuccino that comes out of a machine at a gas station, (which isn’t actually espresso, by the way but is made by mixing a mysterious powder with hot water, contains no milk, is not steamed and is not recognized to have any actual food value by the FDA.) These girls order things they can’t even pronounce, and then complain that there is too much foam in their cappuccino. *The difference between a cappuccino and latte is actually more than the number of letters it takes to spell the two. The answer lies in the foam to milk ratio. A latte is Ã?½ of each, and a cappuccino is almost all foam.

Too many times I have gotten blank stares from socialites when asked what kind of milk they would like in their white mocha. “UmâÂ?¦cow?” was an answer I got once.

The American public is basing their acquisition decisions on the wrong reasons. Our generation has been brainwashed by the idea of trying to look cool. As Tom Hanks said in the movie You’ve Got Mail, “The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee, but an absolutely defining sense of self! Tall! Decaf! Cappuccino!” What they don’t realize is that personality doesn’t come in a paper cup, no matter how much money you spend on it.

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