By Darius Thornton
For whatever reason, you’re craving coffee. Maybe you’re just a bit parched and got bored of water, juice and the other usual suspects. Maybe you want something sweet, but it’s too cold for milkshakes or ice-cream. Soda is just not cutting it. Maybe you just need caffeine to summon up a bit of energy to get through the day because you don’t want to try your hand at the unpredictability of energy drinks. The point is, you want coffee. Now, where do you go to get it? Now, I know what you’re probably thinking–Starbucks. The most famous fast-food cafe in existence. It’s gotten so popular that it’s practically synonymous with coffee and has earned a place in pop-culture. But I’m not gonna tell you to go there, in fact, I’m gonna tell you not to go to Starbucks. I know, completely unthinkable. Why? Hold on, put down the pitchforks and let me explain myself. Well, in my opinion, which is obviously of near-immeasurable value, Starbucks is incredibly overrated and overhyped. In fact, it kinda sucks, sorry. Now, I know this makes me seem super contrarian, or someone who just hates things that are popular, but if you’d just hear me out, I’ll give you all my reasons on why.
First off, they just charge way too much. As a soon-to-be broke college student, I’d rather not blow almost five bucks just to get a moderately sized cup of coffee. That’ll be like a tenth of my total funds. I’m already gonna have to budget for ramen noodles, Cookout, and boxes of pancake mix. Seriously though, if you want anything other than plain old brewed (yuck), you better be prepared to pony up some serious cash. Having to pay $3.75 for a “tall” sized mocha is highway robbery. The escalation of prices doesn’t make any sense either. Sure, it makes sense that the larger size you get, the more you have to pay. But why is a white chocolate mocha so much more than a regular one, and why is iced coffee like a dollar cheaper? That’s not very consistent. Also, can we talk about how little sense their sizes actually make? It goes demi (3 ounces), short (8 ounces), tall (12 ounces), grande (16 ounces), venti (20 ounces), trenti (30 ounces). Wait, why are the last three in Italian? If you’re gonna do that, why not make all of them French or all of them in English. I get wanting to have a bit more style than the standard “small, medium, large and extra large”, but the fact that Starbucks seems to be trying to pretend to be this authentic Italian cafe is unintentionally hilarious. No Starbucks, you’re not authentic in the slightest. You’re a typical, Americanized, commercial food chain designed to sell coffee to the masses, and you do it well. You’re as far from an authentic Italian cafe as Taco Bell is from being an authentic Mexican restaurant. Well, at least Taco Bell doesn’t try to hide what it is and dress itself up. Who do you think you’re impressing with the Italian verbiage? And if you’re going to do it, you might as well go all in because your sizing system is unnecessarily complicated. Alright? Grazie mille!
Now, this may seem like low-hanging fruit because it’s something that Starbucks has become quite infamous for. In a word, ice. Yes, ice. Namely, just how much of it they put in your cup. If you order an iced coffee or a tea, chances are that your cup is going to be 75 percent ice with just a few sips of the actual beverage. It’s the classic hustle, like with chips. The company puts a lot of air in the bag to make it seem like there are more chips than there really are and when you open it, you’re somehow surprised to discover that you have been ripped off. Then, if you aren’t careful, the ice will end up melting in the drink and then you’re stuck with watered down iced coffee or tea, which no one likes. In 2015, a Starbucks customer from Chicago actually filed a five-million-dollar lawsuit against Starbucks for putting too much ice in their beverages and ripping people off. Though the federal judge ruled in Starbucks’ favor (no surprise there) it has remained a topic of conversation. Can I get a bit of beverage with my ice? Speaking of cold things, let’s talk about something else that sucks, the food. Now, I understand trying to live up to the whole cafe aesthetic by having stuff other than coffee, but man is it disappointing. The pastries are just awful, all of them. The muffins are weirdly dry–like almost Popeye’s-biscuit level; the scones are so hard they’re practically hockey pucks and can probably be used to break windows; the coffee cake is passable, I guess; the doughnuts taste like plastic; the bagels are an insult to the New York food culture; no one actually eats cake pops, and the cookies and brownies are just forgettable. Starbucks, you aren’t a bakery. Seriously, you could find better stuff in the baked goods section of your local grocery store. But the sandwiches, the sandwiches man, are just on a completely different level of trash. The bread is always tasteless, stale, dry, and cold, which is just the strangest mixture. The meat and cheese just aren’t fresh. In fact, none of it is. Why else do you think the sandwiches look perfectly and unnaturally identical? Just like any other fast food restaurant, Starbucks freezes their food and then warms it up in the microwave. Normally, I wouldn’t hold this against them, but since they’re so insistent on maintaining this image of being somehow above “fast food”, I had to do it to ‘em. I wouldn’t go to Starbucks for a meal, but hey, if you do, at least you can wash it down with some ice.
Alright, enough potshots, it’s time for me to go after their bread and butter, or, more accurately, their beans. Starbucks’s coffee isn’t even good. I just can’t get past how bitter it is, and that’s not limited to just standard roast either. Even flavored coffee leaves a lot to be desired, relying on the flavor of choice to mask the underlying medicine-like taste that just can’t seem to go away. The only type I can somewhat tolerate are iced mochas and frappes because those barely taste like normal coffee to me. It’s like drinking a slightly watered down milkshake at that point. But if I’m gonna do that, why not just drink an actual milkshake? The caffeine is also a bit too much. I understand wanting energy in the morning, but coffee takes you to another plane of existence for a few hours before it goes away all at once, and you end up crashing and feeling even worse than you did before you drank it. If I want energy, I’ll just drink Mountain Dew or something as it’s more fulfilling. And before someone says “just get decaf”, what’s even the point? Then I’d just be drinking a diluted milkshake filled to the brim with even more sugar. And I’m not paying a fifth of my total life savings for that, when I can go to McDonald’s and get it for almost half of that.
You see that, Starbucks? I’m on to you. You may have everyone fooled, but not me and I’m going to speak my truth–truth to power. You guys can keep your vanilla bean, pumpkin spice, sweet potato, apple cinnamon, white chocolate latte– I’m good. But your coffee isn’t.