What is wrong with Starbucks? - Page 5

Talk about your favorite cafes, local barista events, or plan your own get-together.
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SpromoSapiens

#41: Post by SpromoSapiens » Mar 29, 2013, 9:44 am

It's easy to hate the coffee at *$, but as a business model, you could do worse. Sure, they're everywhere, they're basically another blight on the landscape like Subway or McD's. Having them in airports and on barren rural highways is of little consolation. And yeah, a few years back there was a kerfuffle about management taking an undeserved cut of tips. But despite their contamination of the public's understanding of what good coffee really is, I have heard, by and large, that they generally do pretty well by their workers, wage- and insurance-wise (for a coffee shop job that is, albeit one where you don't actually get much experience translatable to positions in higher end coffee bars). You have to wear a stupid uniform, you have to hear canned music, but hey, it's a job. And the fact is there's not enough great specialty coffee on earth to supply *$; if their game was really aimed anywhere near the top, they'd easily drain the milkshake right out from under Stumptown and Intelly, let alone the littler guys. All that said, after so many years of feeling justified in looking down my nose at *$, they go and give me one pretty good reason not to hate them...
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wrote:"This important legislation is aligned with Starbucks business practices and upholds our belief in the equal treatment of partners. It is core to who we are and what we value as a company."
And then, after a boycott caused stocks in the first quarter of 2013 to be "a bit disappointing," at a shareholder meeting, Schultz tells investors, "If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it's a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much."

Wow! You go, Schultzy! Your coffee's gross, but your CEO'ing is pretty awesome.
http://dailycoffeenews.com/2013/03/28/s ... -marriage/

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SpromoSapiens

#42: Post by SpromoSapiens » Mar 29, 2013, 6:11 pm

I posted my previous post without having read the entire thread. Now that I have, coming back to root of the thread, in response to this:
AlexKilpatrick wrote:How hard can it be to communicate the basics of how to pull a good shot?
It's actually a lot harder than it seems. You picked it up "without much effort" because you wanted to, because you have an interest specifically in coffee, because you're drinking it yourself. You're also spending your own money on those beans, and you own & maintain the equipment you're using; your only ROI is linked directly to your experience with these goods, and so of course you'll be a quick study. You're also a sharp guy, capable of negotiating a variety of fairly complex factors all at once, and you don't have to do it with a line 10-deep staring you down on their way to work.

I live in a place with virtually no top-quality coffee, and almost as little top-quality baristas. On the whole, as of today, I'd say the staff at the shop where I work is the best in town, which is not to say that there aren't skilled baristas elsewhere, but just that our entire staff ranges from pretty-good to very-good (I'm humble enough not to lump myself into the "excellent" category, having seen competitions. Also, we have a very small staff, so it's pretty easy for me to say these things.) A couple of us came in with experience, a couple were trained from square one by me (and I've trained folks in other cafes on other coasts as well), and we've had a fair amount of turnover the past couple years. Lemme tellya, if you don't drink coffee, if you don't particularly care about coffee, and if you don't have a cool head under pressure, you will definitely not pull decent shots with any regularity in a cafe setting. Even at Starbucks, where consistency & speed come even before quality, they probably turn down the heat or AC during closed hours. Therefore when they open up again, the temp & humidity in the room will have changed quite a bit, and if they want shots that morning that are the same as the night before, they'd have to adjust the grind (or blacken the beans beyond recognition). Starbucks notwithstanding, the vast majority of coffee shops, even halfway decent indies, probably don't afford that level of consideration. Top tier aside, any shop that doesn't also enforce strict usage of measuring glasses & timers is probably serving "off" shots most of the time (or, most busy times, anyway). Even at my place of employ, when I'm not around, the grind can end up way out of whack because so many shots get pulled straight into cups and there's just too much other stuff to be attentive to (milk, food, cleaning, speed). And let's face it -- even for the average "snobby" consumer, if there's a lotus on the surface, what's underneath will be given a lot of slack (to put it generously).

Pardon the rant; in retrospect I clearly take a bit of umbrage at your suggestion, with all due respect. After all, what are we doing here anyway, if not reveling in the pleasure of a thing to which there's so much more than meets the eye? This isn't "PBJ-geek" or "Home-Lemonadista", although I don't mean to discount the vast expanse of notes between a hand-squeezed San Diego-grown Bonnie Brae/Turbinado with large cubes versus a metal-lever-squeezed New Zealand Meyer / Panella with shaved ice. :wink:

Disclaimer: This is not a defense of Starbucks. This is in general recognition of the work of skilled baristas.