I don't hate Starbucks, don't get me wrong. I like coffee. Actually, I love coffee. I'd have sex with it if I could, that's how much I love my goddamn coffee. Hell, most of the time, a good cup of coffee is better than sex. Coffee is more readily available, that's for sure. And there's no moral or ethical dilemma in paying for coffee. I'm always satisfied after drinking a cup of coffee. I can easily drink coffee standing up. I can have coffee in public whenever I want and not be arrested. Wait - what was my point? Oh yes - I love coffee.
I don't hate Starbucks, don't get me wrong. I live on the North end of Columbus, near Polaris Fashion Place. If I head toward the mall, how many Starbucks do I find? In the mall itself - a Starbucks kiosk on the first floor. Moving onto the second floor, you find a Starbucks at the Great Indoors store, and yet another damn Starbucks further down. And what's across the street from the mall? Another damn Starbucks. And in the Barnes & Noble behind that Starbucks? You got it - another damn Starbucks. Leave the mall, and head down toward 23... before I even make it there, the Bank One offices have - you guessed it - another damn Starbucks. Onto 23 N... coming up on your right, you've got Giant Eagle - with a damn Starbucks inside. Cross the street, and you come to Meijer, with what else - another damn Starbucks. In front of Meijer, there is - do I even need to say it? Everybody sing it now... another damn Starbucks. In total, according to the Starbucks web site, there are 14 Starbucks within 5 miles of my home. Starbucks has spread across the country like a virus, infecting us with their formula of what a coffee shop should be. I hate the homogenization of American culture that Starbucks represents. Like McDonald's, Applebee's, Wal-Mart, and all other corporate chains, Starbucks is a major contributing factor in the growing blandness of America.
I don't hate Starbucks, don't get me wrong. I admit, I'm barely old enough to remember what it was like before Howard Schultz swept down out of the great Pacific Northwest and clusterbombed us with franchises. I grew up in a town that to this day is Starbucks free. Going home to visit is sheer hell. My java choices are to drink the swill that barely passes for coffee from the local Speedway, or to drink Folger's at my mother's house. It's at those moments that I fervently pray for a Starbucks to magically appear. However, I went to Ohio State back in the day, before Starbucks burst into town like a plague of locusts, and there were plenty of little independent coffee houses that offered a great cup of joe. Going away to college was a coffee-addict's wet dream. Unique house blends, roasted to perfection, lots of people watching opportunities - all in all, great places to hang out and get a caffeine fix. Every coffee place was different. They had open-mic nights where you could watch your friends embarrass themselves. Some were set up in old houses, some in strip malls. Some had work by local artists up on the walls. Some of it was bad art, some of it was good, but it could have been painted by someone sitting next to you. I prefer to support these independent coffeehouses that often existed long before Starbucks set up shop right across the street from them. As a consumer, I have a choice, and I choose to spend my money at locally-owned businesses when I have the opportunity.
I don't hate Starbucks, don't get me wrong. I drink Starbucks coffee on a somewhat regular basis and am generally quite satisfied. Sometimes, it's about convenience, and like I said, there's a damn Starbucks on every corner. The coffee isn't great there, but it's consistent. I know that if I walk into a Starbucks in Seattle (like I really would - there are a ton of better independent places there), or a Starbucks in Columbus, my venti Americano is gonna be the same. Which brings me to another point of my rant - venti? What the heck is that? Whatever happened to small, medium, and large? It's as if Starbucks is a country unto itself, with a language all its own. Or an exclusive club. You ever seen some poor uninitiated soul go in and order a "large coffee"? They look at that bastard as if to ask, "what rock did you crawl out from under, idiot?" That air of superiority, the pretentious snobbery, that condescending attitude in which they correct your order, "I'm sorry sir, we don't have a 'large'..." But sometimes, you've got to have your caffeine, and you've got to have it NOW. So I get in line and meekly ask for my 5-shot venti Americano like the well-trained sheep that I am. Baaaa.
I don't hate Starbucks, don't get me wrong.