We stayed at the Hyatt at Olive 8 in Seattle for the Coffee Fest in September 2011. They had a real espresso machine and grinder and a competent barista. I was pleased and surprised to get good Sumatra each morning and nice lattes - even with some art in the afternoon. But, what's right with Starbucks is they led me to this great hobby and much better coffee than I ever knew existed. I used to enjoy my stops at Starbucks. I actually enjoy dark roasts - I do not find them uniformly horrible. But, suddenly, a few years ago, I noticed that something had changed. I didn't know enough at the time to understand what it was - so I kept trying - different spots while traveling. Then I stopped in a Gloria Jeans one day on the Ohio turnpike and almost before I ordered a latte, there it was. Something is wrong here, I thought. Nondescript and certainly not tasting of coffee. That's when I really started searching on line and found what all you know about super automatics and such. Have you seen how they steam their milk? They have a white plastic tube they stick down in the pitcher and then walk away till the milk is good and hot. I even had a lady one time make me a latte with a real machine - I got suckered because she opened a drawer and pulled out a little packet of pre-ground coffee and stuck it in the portafilter - then she steamed the milk - added it to the woeful coffee and then steamed the whole thing some more till it got to about 250 degrees I guess. I had to throw the drink out. Many times I asked the people at the counter what the difference was between a latte and a cappuccino. They would give me some nonsensical answer, but the truth is, at Starbucks or Gloria Jeans, there is no difference. I have no idea why they have both on the menu.
Anyhow, I am thankful for Starbucks because they led me home to the best coffee drinks I have ever had, wonderful lattes, cappuccinos, Americanos, fresh roasted coffee. It's a wonderful life. The only trouble is now when I travel I have to take my own coffee with me.