Sunday, August 14, 2011

What, me complain?

I feel like I haven't bitched in a while. So I'm gonna.

I'll admit it. I bought into the whole Starbucks thing. For, like, ever. When I lived in Cleveland in the early- to mid- 90s I had Starbucks coffee delivered to my house, because they hadn't quite made it out of the Pacific Northwest yet. I've been somewhat faithful to the brand for a long time, and I'm not really sure why, when you consider their coffee tastes burnt and is ridiculously over-priced. The nice thing about buying into the brand, though, is the fact they are EVERYwhere. If you don't feel like getting out of your car at the non-drive thru one on your way to work, there's a drive thru one a block away. There is always one conveniently located to anywhere you happen to go - in the mall, by the gym, inside the supermarket. If you are a total Starbucks devotee, you will never find yourself far from one.

A couple of years ago I discovered Dutch Bros coffee near one of the branches I work in, and whenever I work there, I go to Dutch Bros on the way in. Dutch Bros is fantastic tasting coffee. Seriously. You don't need to hide the burnt taste with crazy syrup additives and foam. It just really tastes good. And it's inexpensive, AND they can knock out your order in no time. AND they are friendly. Chit-chatty. Tip inspiring.

Lately I've been off Starbucks because the one closest to my house, and closest to the gym, the obvious choice of getting a post-workout coffee, is always packed and the staff just sucks. They suck. They are constantly getting orders wrong, they take forever to fill said orders, the lines for waiting for your coffee are longer than the lines to order your coffee. They have piss-poor attitudes and appear to be annoyed with anything you might order. Often times I will go the extra two or three miles out of my way to hit the Dutch Bros when I come back from the gym on a Sunday, because of the good coffee, the friendly staff, and the fact it would take me the same amount of time to drive clear over to Washington Square, wait in line for my order, and come back to my house as it would to get a cup from the Starbucks a mile away. From a bunch of bastards. For more money.

I noticed signs for a Portland Bagel Company going up in the Murray-Scholls shopping center a while ago, and it's in the same strip mall situation as the stupid Starbucks that I hate going to but sometimes do anyway out of convenience (only to be irritated upon my departure). I'd considered going in but hadn't yet. This morning as I waited in the long (but shorter than the pick-up-your-coffee line) order line, I googled Portland Bagel Company to see if they offered espresso drinks. According to the brief page I read, they did. So I left the stupid Starbucks line (that hadn't moved), walked past the irritated customers waiting for their incorrect coffee orders, and walked two doors down to the bagel place. It was empty.

I asked if they had espresso or was it just drip coffee. They said they have espresso in other stores, but this one was drip only. I cocked a thumb toward the Starbucks and said "Because of them?" and he said yes. I tried to illicit some kind of opinion from the guy, but he was too nice to bite, and listened politely to my mini-rant of the injustices of it all with a customer-is-always-right-even-if-a-little-bit-crazy-sounding smile on his face. I ordered a drip coffee and a bagel and after some more chit chat with the friendly counter guy, I left with plenty of change in my wallet and a really good tasting cup of coffee. Irritated.

How about a little friendly competition, Starbucks? You already have consumers so snowed into believing your coffee is the best out there, so who cares if this little bagel shop serves espresso too? Are you concerned that once people taste what coffee is supposed to taste like, meaning not burnt, they'll leave your stupid location and spend all their money two doors down? And who died and made YOU king of the strip mall, by saying PBC can't sell espresso at this particular store? Are you worried that if your customers discover that they can actually get friendly service at the other place, YOUR staff might have to put on a smile and listen to the order the first time? Or possibly wipe off the counter from time to time? It irritates me that rather than strive to be better than a competing coffee shop, Starbucks would prefer to throw their weight around and not allow said competing coffee shop to even compete. But I know the truth - the bottom line is that even this cup of drip coffee I am currently sipping on is a THOUSAND times better than any cup of coffee I have ever had at Starbucks.

I will say as an aside that there are Starbucks locations where the staff IS friendly, the store IS clean, and the service IS accurate and somewhat speedy (well, relatively speaking.). But not this particular one, who from this moment on will never see a dime more from me. Not just because the coffee tastes like shit, and the staff is surly and incompetent, but because they KNOW they are terrible, and have no intention of improving. That's just sad to me. Sad, stupid and lazy.

And crazy irritating.

1 Comments:

At 10:38 AM, August 16, 2011, Anonymous jackie said...

Never been a big Starbuck's fan. If I do want a latte I go to the inidie coffee shop in Milwaukie.

 

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