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Starbucks tumbles further

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  1. Awww, what a shame.

    It seemed like such a good idea at the time, screamingly overpriced coffee.

    1. They closed a ton of stores last quarter and are not making *as much* of a *profit* as the prior quarter.

      They are still making a profit overall.

      They area business and that is the purpose of being in business, to make a profit.

      1. I wouldnt shed a tear if they went out of business.

        5 Replies
        1. re: swsidejim

          I'm no fan of Starbucks, and probably bought coffee at one of their locations less than 10 times in total. My mother didn't raise any fools, and I know better than to let money dribble out of my pocket on such over-priced nonsense. But they do provide jobs and pay taxes, so I am just as concerned about them potentially going out of business as any other large employer. I mean, nobody was dragged into their stores kicking and screaming and forced to buy their products.

          1. re: flourgirl

            I'm right with you in that I know I never bought more than $20 of product from Starbucks but I know they took care of their employees by paying a decent hourly wage and providing health care It is a shame that a lot of hard working people will be out of work and lose their health care.

            I also believe that Starbucks increased profile of coffee in The US and that allowed for the growth of a lot of small, local, independent coffee houses.

            1. re: flourgirl

              A cup of coffee, not a latte, isn't much more expesive then places like Dunkin Donuts. In NYC every bodega and deli sells coffee for about $1.50 a cup, pretty much the same at Starbucks. It's only the lattes that get pricey but those do involve more work to prepare.

            2. re: swsidejim

              You know, that's really not nice to say. What about all of the people who work there? I certainly hope they stay in business. If you don't like them, don't go there (which I know you don't).

              1. re: swsidejim

                I would, I enjoy their coffee. Also they revolutionized the coffee we drink in this country. Coffee every where as elevated in taste after Starbucks bust onto the scene. Love them or hate them they changed coffee for the better. Its easy to forget the swill that Americans used to drink.

              2. This illustrates how sensitive food service businesses are to small declines in sales. (Of course, other industries are, as well). 55% of the Starbucks profit decline resulted from an 8% decline in same store sales. 40% resulted from closing unprofitable locations, a consequence of overzealous management and imprudent expansion.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Veggo

                  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/11/bus...

                  The Starbucks execs are trying to spin this as best as they could, BUT, they do have a point. They got started on downsizing the number of stores a while ago, seeing the handwriting on the wall. In addition, the key trend is that the decline in sales has leveled off to a constant rather than accelerating downward. So they could possibly have been pescient in their maneuvers.

                  I am not a big fan of all the fancy coffee drinks, give me my espresso and be done with it, but as someone else said previously, in my neighborhood, the reality is that the Starbucks wannabes came along after Starbucks rather than Starbucks started to put Mom and Pop shops out of business.

                2. I think it depends what part of the country you're talking about. The Bay Area already had lots of cafes. I know of three places where a Starbucks opened up across the street or next door. I don't know if it's true, but I've read that they did pick the locations deliberately to put the local places out of business. I wouldn't be surprised.

                  On the other hand, when I took a month long road trip through the South East 15 years ago, I had a terrible time finding good coffee. If Starbucks brought decent coffee to those places, then why complain?

                  A recently closed Starbucks in Berkeley has been replaced with a locally owned cafe and music hall. That makes me smile.

                  33 Replies
                  1. re: Glencora

                    I don't understand the ones who are talking about Starbucks being evil and such. I am glad to have a Starbucks in my little town. I can at least get a nice coffee without driving miles or spending tons on a special coffee maker. As far as Wal Mart goes, I think they are a bad company in that they have sent jobs and production overseas, as well as not giving health insurance to many of their employees and they helped create the economy we are in today. I have seen nothing on this board to tell me that Starbucks is anywhere close to WM in that regard,

                    1. re: kprange

                      One chain in a town is one thing. On my walk to work (NYC) a couple of blocks from the subway, I can pass four Starbucks shops -- and one is INSIDE MY BANK. It's ridiculous.

                      1. re: Up With Olives

                        Brings to mind the classic Onion headline "New Starbucks to Open in Bathroom of Existing Starbucks."

                          1. re: ferret

                            Or the classic Simpsons ep with a mall that was nothing but Starbucks...with an empty storefront boasting a sign saying "coming soon, another Starbucks"

                            1. re: coney with everything

                              Headline: " Starbucks to Close 600 Store"
                              The closing will affect a six square block area of Manhattan.

                              Hey, with today's frenetic lifestyle, you need a jolt of caffeine every block, in order to keep up, no?

                          2. re: Up With Olives

                            They closed several in St. Louis - you could stand and see two SB - and pick which one you wanted to go to. Walgreens and CVS are becoming the same way. It is the way of big business. Will they ever learn?

                            1. re: kprange

                              That is so true. I just don't get it. We have two CVS's in my not very big town. And big surprise, one of them is almost always empty.

                              We also have a Wal-greens right across the street from a Rite-Aid - and they carry nearly identical goods and have nearly identical sales.

                              1. re: flourgirl

                                it's based on the old walmart model - you open more than you can sustain to drive the independents out of business - then when they are gone you scale back to sustainability

                                1. re: thew

                                  If that was the plan it totally back fired in the East Village of Manhattan. Starbuck's introduced many people to paying premium prices for coffee and then had to retract while many independents opened in the neighborhood. Two Starbuck's closed and I can't even count how many other small coffee bars and cafes open in the last couple of years.

                                  There are people who frequent the neughborhood places that wouldn't dream of going to Starbuck's.

                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                    the plan works better when your product doesnt taste like warm charrd fecal coffee

                                  2. re: thew

                                    The problem with your theory, thew, is that I'm not talking about independents. There ARE no independent pharmacy/dry goods stores in my area and haven't been for years. These are all chains I'm talking about. And CVS, the chain with two stores in the area, is the one likeliest to end up having to close one of their stores. Sorry, but there is nothing about that that remotely makes sense. I might add that CVS spent a FORTUNE on the second store - which is the one that seems to be perpetually empty.

                                    1. re: thew

                                      Rite-Aid has the same strategy. They'll open right next to or across from another drug store.

                                2. re: Up With Olives

                                  Yeah but in NYC one office building could contain 1000 people. So one Starbucks could thrive from a few buildings. I also work in NYC and get Starbucks coffee all over the city and I can tell you that I am almost always waiting in a long line. So NYC of all places seems to make sense for a lot of locations.

                                  Plus if it wasn't Starbucks it would be some other coffee chain.

                                  1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                                    Why must it be a chain? And why must I pass four Starbucks in a three block area? I don't believe that's fair.

                                    1. re: Up With Olives

                                      It doesn't have to be. I'm all for local businesses. I'm a huge prominent of local business and spend a lot of time trying to promote those types of places. That said, there just aren't that many independent and successful coffee houses. The ones I have tried don't match the quality of starbucks or they are just serving some other chain/brands coffee. A local cafe that's serving Seattle's Best isn't really a local place if you ask me. Sure the owner is local but that's it. Starbucks employees at each store are just as local as the the employees working at some other cafe.

                                      Also the fact that Starbucks acts so responsibly makes them more acceptable. I've read a lot about the company and they do a lot of really great things, regardless of their size.

                                3. re: kprange

                                  Agreed, Starbucks is far from evil. It's one of the most socially responsible large companies in this country. They offer their part-time employees healthcare, buy from responsible growers and are involved with a lot of great charity causes.

                                  The negative reaction to Starbucks is a weird phenomena that we have in this country to bash things that are successful, be it a company, movie star, athlete or even a chef. I don't understand that line of thinking but it happens all the time.

                                  1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                                    People I know generally bash Starbucks because they think the espresso is over roasted crap that, least time I visited, wasn't wasn't even pulled by a human. Not worth the price charged. That having been said they are a socially responsible company.

                                    1. re: KTinNYC

                                      I typically only order the coffee and I think its great. I do agree that the new espresso machines do not offer the same quality as the old ones. In an effort to keep up with demand I think they sacrificed quality over speed. But before Starbucks it was pretty hard to get espresso on the go.

                                4. re: Glencora

                                  Starbucks can't put a local small business out of business simply by opening a store.

                                  People have to choose to stop going to the local business in favor of Starbucks in order for Starbucks to effectively put the local, small business out of business.

                                  Certainly Starbucks did not open a cafe across the street from an existing cafe and undercut them on price, right?

                                  The people in the neighborhood who chose to shop at Starbucks rather than the existing cafe put the existing cafe out of business.

                                  1. re: ccbweb

                                    True. I also believe that some of the Starbucks opened earlier than the local cafes. Family-run places aren't perfect, in fact maybe they're less likely to give benefits. I dunno. Chains are consistent. Personally, I'd rather go to a place with history and quirkiness. Though to be honest the only to-go coffee I've bought in the last several years was with a Pete's gift card. I can't really afford it.

                                    1. re: Glencora

                                      If I could go to a locally owned coffee house, I would in a heartbeat. While I only go once a week during the school year - a Friday treat - I would rather go to a family owned place vs a large chain.

                                    2. re: ccbweb

                                      <Certainly Starbucks did not open a cafe across the street from an existing cafe and undercut them on price, right?>

                                      Certainly they DID do that! In MANY, many cases and places.

                                      However, they do have the rep for treating their employees well and providing good benes. Imho, they are not the devils that Wal-Mart is, but no angels, either.

                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                        I'm sorry...Starbucks undercut other coffee shops on price?

                                        Isn't Starbucks routinely decried as the home of prices that are too high and also higher than other coffee shops?

                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                          For a 12 ounce/small cup of coffee, $1.50 is a good price.

                                          All the other stuff is pretty much hot or cold milk, with flavoring. Those items do cost more. People choose to buy it.

                                          I read the sign out front: Starbucks. Coffee. That is what I buy. Unless I feel like a treat. Or dessert.

                                          1. re: Cathy

                                            Not arguing the price nor what people choose to buy.

                                            My comment is in relation to an upthread exchange about the idea that Starbucks puts other coffee shops out of business by opening up nearby and offering lower prices ala Wal-Mart.

                                              1. re: Cathy

                                                No worries. I buy coffee when I go there, too.

                                    3. re: Glencora

                                      Hmm, well, as long as this got dragged up again, I should finish the story: the locally owned cafe that replaced the Starbucks went out of business in less than a year.

                                      1. re: Glencora

                                        I always prefer to give my money to a local business. But I have a very hard time finding one that has the consistency and quality of Starbucks. In my experience, the local mom and pops end up cutting expenses in order to stay in business. In coffee, that means cheaper beans, or buying in such bulk quantities they can't keep the coffee fresh. Others have a talent problem, especially the mom & pop roasteries. The one in my neighborhood over-roasts their beans about once a week and stinks up the whole block.

                                        1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                          You're in San Carlos, right? That is kind of a coffee desolation row. The closest decent place I could suggest would be Cafe Sportiva in Redwood City on Brewster.

                                          1. re: chipman

                                            Yep. We have two Starbucks and it's too convenient to just get coffee there rather than deal with the car for a cup of joe. Thanks for the tip though, we'll check out Sportiva one of these days.

                                            FYI: Caffe Sportvo

                                            1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                              Yep, Cafe Sportivo. Never could spell or read very well. For your info, they use beans roasted by Ecco caffe.

                                    4. While not a fan of Starbucks, these are definitely the things I will miss if Starbucks were to permanently go out of business:

                                      1. Clean (and free) restrooms
                                      2. Free cups of ice (and filtered ice water)
                                      3. Clean, air-conditioned (or temperature controlled) place to meet/gather

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Uh, do you ever pay for anything there?

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          I happen to like that I can get a fresh cup of coffee-plain old coffee- whenever I walk in. They dump the pots after one hour and make fresh.

                                          I have driven cross country and had my share of bad coffee...'coffee' that is brown colored water as well as 'coffee' that has been reduced down to a brown, thick gravy. I

                                          I am more than pleased to see a proliferation of Starbucks a short distance from the freeway where I know I can get a fresh cup of coffee at any time of day or night.

                                          {Again, they did not make AS MUCH of a profit this quarter. They still made a profit.}

                                          1. re: Cathy

                                            You're right - the few times that I travel down a freeway are the times when I stop in one and buy a cup of plain ol' coffee. And it's fresh and hot. Works for me.

                                        2. I'll speak up. I like Starbucks. In this town there are VERY few (unfortunately) mom and pop coffee houses with homemade baked goods and fresh roasted coffees. have had them in other cities and supported them but here there are VERY few, near the colleges and therefore a half hour from my house. I don't drive that for coffee often. I am in one of the many starbucks near me A LOT and i get great service and generally good coffee. A number of their baked goods are decent (the lemon and gingerbread loaves are fabulous - others are admittedly dreadful) and the expanded breakfast choices look good too. I have known people who work there and think it's a great company - unlike walmart, etc. and when i travel it is often the only decent stop one can find for miles for coffee in many small towns. they have not been perfect in sustainable agriculture but they haven't been all evil - because i do try to be a conscious consumer. i think they get a bad name from people in towns who had better choices and forget that there are those of us for whom starbucks is a godsend. it'd be dreadful if they went under in my book. although they do seem pretty busy around here still...

                                          1. To me, Starbucks is good only as a "third place" to study and to escape my roomate's atrociously inconsiderate girlfriend (and her infant child!) A small Earl Grey or an iced coffee* is the price of admission.

                                            * the cold temperature of iced coffee masks the poor taste of the beans themselves

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Agent Orange

                                              Oddly, the *$ iced coffee is triple strength brewed, so when the ice melts it still has a strong coffee flavor.

                                              1. re: Cathy

                                                That explains my behavior after having a Starbucks iced coffee. I get much more twitchy and shaky after one of those than a double shot espresso or a regular hot coffee. Good to know.

                                                1. re: Cathy

                                                  That answers a lot of questions. I've only ever gotten iced coffee at Starbucks and found it to be utterly disgusting. I never really take enough time to drink it for the ice to melt- it just takes like ultra strong/nasty coffee.

                                                  1. re: queencru

                                                    That's also why their iced tea doesn't dilute when the ice melts.

                                                    To me, the flavors are crisp and clear. But each coffee has its own characteristics. And we each have flavor preferences.

                                                    I do only add half and half (if anything) and never sweeteners to my beverages. I also can tell the difference between a strong brew of fresh versus bitter/old coffee.

                                              2. Those filthy, evil folks at Starbucks who are charging outrageous prices for their coffee should be hauled before congress and be forced to give up their windfall profits.

                                                Maybe the government can nationalize the chain and start handing out free coffee to all the less than fortunate people who can't afford $50.00 a gallon for their products.

                                                Spread the wealth! Give America a piece of Starbucks pie!!!!

                                                1. Starbucks may shed some crocodile tears but the folks at the top aren't all that broken up over downsizing US operations. The truth is they, like Yum! Brands (KFC et. al), see their future overseas, especially in China. Starbucks now has more outlets in Shanghai than in San Francisco. They pay Chinese wages and Chinese rents, but charge US prices, so it's easy to see the attraction.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                    Interesting info, Xiao Yang. I'm not surprised.

                                                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                      This is ironic to me, because the kind of ethos and comfort level that Starbucks seeks to imbue in their stores are the same sense of community and comfort one often find in Chinese teahouse, albeit set in much different environments. So substitute coffee for tea and high tech but earth toned furniture and high gloss decor for old world Chinese peasant furniture and voila, Starbucks!

                                                    2. I could badmouth Starbucks but I'd feel like an ingrate after all the free bathroom stops it has provided me in various parts of the globe.

                                                      1. good coffee, nice place to sit and talk.

                                                        1. a local sbux just went out of biz in a (historically) independent business area, and a lot of small biz people were celebrating--that a chain was "put out of biz" by the indies, and maybe the chains would feel they couldn't compete & would stay out. but maybe this was one of the 600 stores sbux corporate would have closed anyway because their profits were low? ah well, it probably amounts to the same thing. there are better local coffee *chains* than sbux around here, let alone all the great indies. the coffee at the grocery store/co-op is better! i can see going to a sbux if that is all there is, but it's not even good coffee, so if there is any competition at all, going to sbux is clueless or lazy or both.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                            My opinion of Starbucks is that it is just not very good coffee. The espresso drinks are bad, the 'baristas' are very poorly trained and the drip coffee is not very good either. However, having said that, I will say they treat their employees much better then most other company's their size.

                                                            Just because Starbucks doesn't provide good coffee, doesn't mean your local independent is any better. For the most part, they are far worse then Starbucks. At least Starbucks is fairly consistent. Except for the new serious minded coffee establishments popping up through out the country, most sadly are still crap.

                                                            1. re: chipman

                                                              agreed. i like several varieties of their drip coffee. several i do not. but there is often a choice. they will fresh brew hot and treat people to free coffee if you have to wait because it is brewing. the people that work there have always been nice. there are far worse places i could spend my money, corporate or not.
                                                              as i mentioned before, there is NOTHING better near me. very few places make GREAT coffee. at least in richmond, VA

                                                          2. Well as a place to meet friends or do a little bit of work I like Starbucks, but less so for their coffee than the atmosphere. I work in the city and frequent an independent coffee shop. However, I live in the suburbs, an area that hasn't been overrun yet with strip malls and big box stores. We happen to have a Starbucks and for weekend nights when I don't feel like going back into the city, I'm grateful to have a late night coffee house close by.

                                                            1. Well this is horrible news for me, both as a starbucks drinker as a person who needs a job >.>"

                                                              1. While I admit, I DO like--no I LOVE Starbucks Coffee. They make it strong--which is the way I enjoy it. However, what I do not care for about Starbucks is: There is no small, medium or large. It bothers me with this venti, grande..blah blah stuff. My long-standing order is "Venti coffee with room for milk please". They always have a tendency to overfill the cup. I like my milk and my fake sugar in my coffee. They should have two lines at SB. One for people who just want COFFEE and the other for the fancy drinks. Other than that, I guess spending the extra $$ on a decent cup of coffee is better than buying cigarettes. (I quit:))

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: jarona

                                                                  i like so much milk that i get a "tall in a grande cup". that way they don't overfill and they only charge me for the smaller size. it's lovely of them. :)

                                                                    1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                                                      Not surprising - a girl in my office used to be a barista in an NJ shop and $30,000.00 in gross receipts A DAY was not an uncommon weekend occurrence. Would that my own line of business were so lucrative.

                                                                  1. re: jarona

                                                                    yeah I do hate how they overfill it. I always feel bad dumping hot coffee into the garbage but they don't leave me a choice.

                                                                    1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                                                                      Former barista here- both for Sbux and another shop. My Sbux training included instructions to ask if you want room for cream (marked with an R in the custom box)- so they should be asking you.

                                                                      But if they don't ask, youu can ask them when you submit the order to leave room for cream. Or if you open and its too full, hand it back and ask they pour some off the top into the sink. As a former barista who closed lots of nights, we don't enjoy taking out a garbage bag full of coffee and praying it doesn't leak.

                                                                      That said, we did tend to overfill because if we didn't, people complained we were ripping them off. Sometimes you just can't win.

                                                                      1. re: contemporaryscarlett

                                                                        I've emptied plenty of trash bins in my day and know first hand how annoying it can be when there is liquid in there. So I really held off on this for the longest time despite seeing others do it. But I assure that even when ordering "with room" it still gets filled to just about the brim. After dealing with this for years I felt left with no other options. The pouring into the garbage was a big pet peeve of mine for about 5 years and finally I just gave in and joined the crowd. Just for the record I do clean up the area after making my coffee. I just hate when people spill things all over.

                                                                        I can imagine the complains of those thinking they were ripped off. You really can't win.

                                                                        1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                                                                          Its okay, the great customers (like you) far outweighed the crazy ones. I loved being a barista (both at Starbucks and the other place) but the money just isn't good enough to live on.

                                                                  2. I'm furious at the snooty dismissive Starbucks haters who would complicate my life with a mindless wave of their hand...

                                                                    If you think their coffee sucks your tastebuds are rotten!
                                                                    Yes, I'm the man, and I'm judging you! ;-)

                                                                    The stuff I get there is almost always a profound treat no matter how simple...
                                                                    Usually it's just a "Venti bold coffee with room for cream please"--- $2.00...
                                                                    It's delicious and I get killer energy for a little while...

                                                                    Last year, the employees saw me pushing someone's stalled car out of the road and into their parking lot, and when I went in, sweating and out of breath, the manager had a gift card in her hand for me!
                                                                    For being a good citizen in the community!

                                                                    I LOVE Starbucks ----- and I wanna tell the world!

                                                                    If they're not in Seattle, people WANT a Starbucks nearby!
                                                                    That's how they GOT so big!
                                                                    "We need one here! We need one there!"

                                                                    Then, as soon as they become a successful company, they're condemned as an evil corporation by a bunch of----

                                                                    I'm in Tampa and we don't have cafe's and killer coffee on the corners all over town!
                                                                    Cuban coffee maybe...

                                                                    How far would you have me drive when I want a good dark roast Starbucky coffee?
                                                                    Tampa is pretty big--- can't we have 5 or 6 Starbucks around town?!

                                                                    Should they have to shut down half of the locations because of a bunch of parroted negative hype?

                                                                    33 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Mild Bill

                                                                      I only have a problem if I can stand in one place and see two or more of the same businesses. It amazes me that corporations think that people won't drive two miles for a drug store, or some other business. That is my issue; not that they are a large successful company. I of course, have that issue with many large companies, though. I don't single out Starbucks - that wouldn't be nice, since I go there every Friday.

                                                                      1. re: Mild Bill

                                                                        You hit the nail right on the head. Fantastic post. Best thing I've read all day.

                                                                        1. re: Mild Bill

                                                                          i don't like them for one reason alone - and it isn't that they're a big successful corporation. it is that, to me, the beans taste burned. every time i give in and buy a cup, whether plain coffee, espresso, late, etc, i end up kicking myself in the ass, thinking it taste quite overcooked and nasty. again - to me.

                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                            that's a valid reason not to like their products.

                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                              That's a common complaint of Starbucks. They do offer a dark roast, which may not suit your palette. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes I like going to a place like Noah's Bagels because they usually have a few different roast levels available by the cup and have them signed accordingly. I do like a light city roast sometimes, which you won't get in a drip at Starbucks, although they do sell the lighter roast beans.

                                                                              1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                                no - i like dark roasts. Dark raosts "suit [my] palette. i drink mostly dark roasts at home. i rarely drink anything not espresso based, out or at home. The coffee at starbucks does not taste like a dark roast, it tastes like an overroasted bitter burnt bean that has had most of the character cooked right out of it. And there IS something wrong with that.

                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                  I agree about the dark roasts. There are plenty that don't have that bitter flavor that makes Starbucks drip unappealing.

                                                                                  1. re: queencru

                                                                                    Starbucks is actually an even darker roast than other brands' "dark". I saw an interview with Howard Schultz where he talked about the roasting and the (I should have noted, "very") dark roast flavor. Also, in his book, "Pour your heart into it" he discusses the dark roasting at Starbucks because it's a real point of difference for the brand.

                                                                                    He said darker roasting is his preference and he knew it was darker than others. "Dark" roast is a vague term as there are degrees of darkness. Basically, the darker you roast the more you reduce your yield, but you get another level of flavors that American coffee drinkers are not as familiar with. Most coffee retailers in this country roast their dark a little lighter to squeeze out higher yields and better margins. Schultz has a passion for the darker roasts that he experienced in Europe. At Starbucks he wanted to push the roasting to max darkness at the expense of yield. It's a specialty mentality and results in coffee that is darker and features flavors that can seem bitter or burnt to many. You are tasting the roasting process as much, if not more than, the beans. Starbucks does a lot of things their own way, like calling a small, "tall" and giving words new definitions, like "macchiato". They are definitely doing their own thing there.

                                                                                    1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                                      time to cut the condescension found both in this and the previous post. this is not about american palettes. this is not about me not understanding or appreciating what starbucks is trying to do. it is about overcooking the beans. he may prefer them that way. you may prefer them that way. but for my educated and knowlegable palette, and to that of many others, he goes beyond dark, beyond enhancing depth through a heavy roasting, and into the place where flavors are diminishing, and bitterness is enhanced, at the cost of nuance and complexity of flavor; in a word- burnt. I've lived and traveled in Europe and never tasted coffee that over cooked.

                                                                                      now - it is your right to enjoy it that way, just as it is your right to prefer your filet mignon well done. enjoy it. but don't try to convince me that my not liking it is because my palette isn't educated in other than american coffees, or that i don't get dark roasts, or any of the other erroneous assumptions you make.

                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                        No offense, but I don't think Starbucks tastes burnt. All palettes are different and its not an insult to you when we say that our tastes differ. I don't think anyone is telling you that your palette isn't educated. You are taking offense where none is intended.

                                                                                        But it does seem like you are insulting people that like Starbucks. Your claim that enjoying Starbucks is a kin to eating well done steak is a bit of a insult. I just don't understand why people can't like different things. Why does Chowhound have to turn into fights all the time instead of just discussions. If everyone agreed on every topic it would be a very boring message board.

                                                                                        You don't like Starbucks and think it tastes burnt. That is a valid opinion based on your tastes. However it doesn't meant that they improperly roasting their coffee.

                                                                                        I enjoy the flavor of their coffee and it doesn't taste burnt to me. Doesn't mean that I am correct or more sophisticated. I just like it.

                                                                                        This isn't about one person being right and the other being wrong. Everyone has different taste preferences, none being more right or wrong than the other.

                                                                                        I do disagree that Starbucks improperly roasts their coffee as you seem to be insisting.

                                                                                        1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                                                                                          One thing Starbucks has done in my opinion is raise the bar for coffee generally available from other outlets. There seems to be a lot less dishwater passed off as coffee in ordinary restaurants, hotels, etc than there once was.

                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                            Starbuck definitely rasied the bar in NYC. People use to be proud of the fact they drank crap but now there are scores of Indies some who are roasting their own beans and others sourcing from very reputable roasters, Intelligenica, Stump Town, Counter Culture, etc.

                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                              I totally agree. I think people forget the state of coffee in this country before Starbucks came to be. Even McDonald's raised their game by improving the quality of their coffee. Before Starbucks dark roast was considered gourmet and most were serving Folgers. Coffee has come a long was and a lot of the credit goes to Starbucks for spurring it on.

                                                                                              1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                                                                                                people here didnt get japanese food before benihana but that doesnt make it a shining example of the cuisine

                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                  I feel Starbucks has had a positive effect on our society.

                                                                                                  1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                                                                                                    i agree. still think the coffee sucks rancid ass

                                                                                            2. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                                                                                              There is a reason that many people refer to Starbucks as "Charbucks".

                                                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                and there is also a reason there are so many locations.

                                                                                                Some people like it

                                                                                                Some people dislike it

                                                                                                why can't that be ok?

                                                                                                1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                                                                                                  I can say the same thing about McDonald's.

                                                                                              2. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                                                                                                my tone may have been a little harsh, because i do not like being condescended to. i was very clear in saying that starbucks tastes that was TO ME. the response i got to that was being told that i don't like it because my american palette doesn't understand dark roasts.

                                                                                                There is nothing wrong with liking starbucks OR with liking a steak well done.

                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                  I understand your defensive stance but I really don't think anyone was trying to insult your palette. I totally got where you were coming from.

                                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                                    i agree that bux' coffee tastes burnt and nasty, as if the technique is to cover up an inferior bean, and i will only buy their product when i am literally trapped in a hospital waiting room for six hours or something and it's bux or nothing. european coffee does not taste like bux, bux does not taste like european coffee, bux coffee tastes like bux--a mass-marketed taste aimed at consistency and customer recognition rather than nuance or quality.

                                                                                                    i think that mine is a very common perception about bux in areas that have a lot of options for good coffee. the indies make coffee *way* better (that's how they stay open), the local roasters like peace and b&w *roast* coffee better, local chains (which i also avoid in favor of indies) do coffee better (dunn bros. with in store roasters, also burns coffee but at least their product doesn't taste like watered down burnt coffee like bux), caribou is actually okay, sorta-better-than-bux. folks with refined coffee palates are going to choose the indies, where they can get a product with some geographical individuality (beans), roasting individuality, and some craftsmanship in the shop as well. people who don't have the palate to appreciate the resulting flavor differences can get the same big-mac venti at a bux in jacksonville as in times square as in santa rosa--doesn't make it good. bux also uses really crappy milk in their coffee drinks that many customers would normally avoid, making the bux product a problem for the consumer. since it's easy to get a more unique and local, nuanced, higher quality cup of coffee, with organic milk/cream at the grocery store, why would anyone go to pay more for an inferior product at a bux?

                                                                                                2. re: thew

                                                                                                  Wow, thew! I didn't intend any tone of condescension. Just merely laying out some of the background on SBUX and their roasting as I've heard and read about it. The comment about American tastes vis a vis coffee roasting isn't a slam against anyone. The point is that Schultz was inspired by a European approach that wasn't common in the US at the time. That is one of the things that helped the Starbucks brand acheive their point of difference in the
                                                                                                  market. That is also why some people don't like their flavors, because they didn't go for a mainstream coffee flavor. You and I are making the same point that it is about preference and Starbucks has a distinct and deliberate roasting style that some people don't like. The success of Starbucks is unlike anything this country had ever seen, especially given their product.

                                                                                                  1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                                                    For me the most perplexing thing about Starbucks success is a lingering feeling that it should have been Peet's that took off nationwide, not Starbucks. Wasn't the founder previously affiliated with Peet's?

                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                      I agree about Peets. That is my preferred coffee. I don't think Schultz was ever personally associated with Peets. The original owners of Starbucks were after they sold Starbucks to him. His background was in sales prior to that. He sold drip machines.

                                                                                                      1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                                                        Maybe it's just that they started up around the same time and Starbucks took off where Peets should have? I've loved all the coffee I've had from Peets (used to live on Berkeley Way near Shattuck, close to the source).

                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                          Peets actually predates Starbucks. The founders of both companies were friends and Starbucks even bought their beans from Peets at first. In the 80s, the founder of Starbucks bought Peets after he sold to Schultz. It sounds like the people at Peets never shared the aggressive growth vision with Schultz. To me, Peets always seemed more interested in quality and craft, where Starbucks was going for locations. I once saw Jim Reynolds (Peets roastmaster) speak and it was like listening to an artist speak. They seem to put quality and craft above all else.

                                                                                                          1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                                                            I thought there was some connection between the two but wasn't clear on the particulars. One cup of coffee I had in their shop eclipses the meal we subsequently had at Chez Panisse Café the last time we were in the Bay Area.

                                                                                                              1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                                                                Yes indeed. (May have helped that we were just off the plane from NY and needed it bad.)

                                                                                                3. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                                                                  I'll preface this by saying I know nothing about coffee but having done a cupping at Counter Culture roasters I was shocked how the same bean grown at the same location tasted distinctly different from one year to the next. My speculation is that Starbucks does such huge volume they over-roast their beans to give themselves more consistent product. Over roasting hides some of the nuances of the bean and brings out a different flavor profile.

                                                                                                  It has nothing to do with putting out a more sophisticated product but more about making sure they coffee they produce taste the same from location to location year after year.

                                                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                    This makes a lot of sense. Consistency is super important for chains like Starbucks. I think "sophistication" has little to do with it however. I wouldn't say Starbucks does anything sophisticated.

                                                                                          2. re: thew

                                                                                            There are about 24 different roasts and you can ask for a French press to be made for you of one of the milder ones. The whole press is $3.50 and has about 3 cups, but you can also just ask for a cup and they will brew it for you and charge you the regular cup size.

                                                                                            On my iPhone Starbucks app the ones listed as "light" in flavor are Breakfast Blend and Organic Shade Grown Mexico.