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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Friggin' Starbucks, Man...

The Nu household is very happy with their new $500 toy--the Nespresso D290 coffee machine. But, I bet a lot of you guys are wondering what spurred this expensive Nu investment. "Come on, $500 for drinks, really?," said the little cheapskate refugee in me. But, yes, really, and here's why.

Today, I read about MonkeyPig's boycott of "StarSuck as well as any coffee house that charge an arm and leg." Now, I know something about MonkeyPig. She is definitely cheap but, in the past several years, she has learned to "live a little." By that, I mean that she does treat herself to some luxuries, one of them being store bought coffee. In fact, she is so into her coffee that she makes it a point to treat her sisters to coffee whenever we go on reunion. To be honest, I have never really been a constant coffee drinker or Starbucks customer. I'll go with my pals from work or with MonkeyPig, but I've never made a point to go to Starbucks for my own sake. The last time I went with MonkeyPig, I remember cringing at the prices. Is a cup of coffee really worth $3.00+ to me? NO.*

So, it's sad to see that MonkeyPig, even though coffee was one of the few luxuries in her life, give up store bought coffee because of the outrageous prices. This realization has only strengthened my resolve to not buy overpriced coffee, but it's not why I decided not to and it's not why I didn't put up a fight at all when Mr. Nonny Nu suggested we get the Nespresso. Mr. Nonny Nu didn't grow up in a refugee family. By all accounts, he was well off compared to us. But, after thinking about how much each cup of coffee cost and the total cost in a month, Mr. Nonny Nu suggested that we just buy the darned thing. This wasn't a case of "why buy the cow when you can get milk for free?" It was a case of "why not buy the cow when the milk costs more than the cow itself?"

When did we start paying out the nose for a stupid drink? And, from Starbucks? It's not even all that good. They are never consistent. I ordered the same exact thing for Mr. Nonny Nu everyday, and it would always turn out jacked up. After a few times, it was getting annoying because Mr. Nonny Nu was complaining to me about it when I had no control over how they were making the coffee beyond giving my order. So, that's why we got the Nespresso--partly because of the price that we were paying anyway and partly because of the lack of consistency in the product, even though we ordered the same thing every time from the same store.

Anyhow, in researching the Nespresso and how to make different types of coffee, Mr. Nonny Nu stumbled upon something called "the ghetto latte." Just this weekend, Wikipedia had an actual entry for it, but today, it has been deleted! Anyhow, there is a short description of it in the "latte" entry:

The complicated pricing schemes offered by some establishments have led to the practice of ghetto latte (sometimes called bootleg latte), whereby some customers use the free milk and other condiments to convert a cheaper latte to a more expensive one.
Apparently, this is an unwelcome practice. I googled "ghetto latte" and found this site where Starbucks personnel exchange ideas. In this case, a Starbucks barista posted an entry to complain about customers making ghetto lattes. Many of the responses were along the lines of, "Ah, it's okay. I don't mind. Milk doesn't cost that much. Good for the customers who know how to get what they want at a lower price." But, there were some pretty rude remarks dissing customers for not being able to afford the drinks (Dude, you're working at a STARBUCKS. You're not exactly one of the pillars of the community.), complaining about having to refill the milk jug (Um, isn't that part of your duties?), calling it "stealing" (Doesn't Starbucks advertise the condiments as being free?), etc.:
The custome (sic) can't afford the actual drink, then get a smaller size, or don't get it at all.

Say no to this going on. It's not fair to your other customers who use those creams too.

i love how people "applaud" this sort of thing when it happens at starbucks, but if this happened at any other retail establishment it would be, well, stealing...

If these ppl are ok with being looked down and judged for being penny pinchers then fine. wouldnt it be great if they would tip the difference?
Quite frankly, I am appalled at these comments. If only the whole world knew what Starbucks was saying about us behind our backs. But, these comments finally answered something for me. I previously explained that I am not much of a coffee drinker and, when I get the daily morning coffee for Mr. Nonny Nu, I'd experiment with different drinks, hoping to find one that I really liked. So, one day, after ordering a full-blown venti Caramel Macchiato every single day for weeks, I order a grande iced Americano in a venti cup. UH OH. At this point, I hadn't even heard of a "ghetto latte." The reason I ordered this way is because I wanted to add the cream and sugar myself. I didn't know how much should be in there for my taste, so I wanted to taste while I mixed, and you can't do that when you have the barista adding the sugar and cream behind the counter for you, right? And, I needed extra room in it, which is why I ordered the grande in a venti cup.

Well, what do you know? I order Mr. Nonny Nu's drink and then, after having ordering a "proper drink" for days on end, I also order the beginnings of a "ghetto latte" (unbeknownst to me at that time). The cashier, whom I'd seen many mornings, gave me a dirty look. Huh? I thought I misinterpreted, so I just went on my merry way, mixed my drink, and left. I never ordered it again because it just didn't taste good to me, and I have never gotten a dirty look again. But, now, I understand why I got the dirty look in the first place. You know, I could kinda understand if I had been making a habit of this. But, I thought I had established myself as a "regular customer" after having ordered "proper drinks" for weeks before. I guess not. With Starbucks, you are in the shithouse upon your first ghetto latte drink order.

As far as I am concerned, Starbucks has been overcharging all these years. For them to even blink when a few out of the millions of customers decide to order intelligently (as opposed to conveniently) is rather disturbing. For these reasons, I am extremely happy with the Nespresso purchase and am joining MonkeyPig in her boycott of overpriced coffee chains. If you are a serious coffee drinker, I recommend making the investment and getting your own coffee maker at home. Screw Starbucks.

* I am currently reading Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely. It is about humans' irrationality and how this irrationality is predictable and therefore exploited by (among others) marketers. I highly recommend this book and will lend it to anyone who is interested in the concept. It has really opened my eyes to how we are manipulated every day--and I'm only on chapter 2!

[edit] I encourage everyone to go read the comments by Starbucks employees. I can't believe these people. How dare we pay for overpriced coffee and work within the rules that they themselves set up? I am NEVER going back to a Starbucks again. I am actually considering shamelisting these people. This one is my favorite:
What a bunch of assholes the SB people are to bitch that much about milk and customers. I really have to wonder why I bother spending money at all at SB. Maybe if I'm such a terrible person I should just drink it at home. There's barely a difference between SB and Folgers at this point anyway.

Telling us we're taking advantage of your condiments (ps - it's just milk and sugar packets, not gold, pearls and treasure you've got spread out) by spending $2+ for a drip coffee??? And you're upset that customers are adding milk? Are you serious? Does SB brainwash you into thinking you invented ... coffee with cream ... and that somehow that's some trademarked/branded product you're supposed to be so serious about upselling?

I go every day and spend $2 to get a grande drip in a venti cup. I then go to the condiment bar and put in an inch of milk and two Equals. Why? Because I like coffee with a lot of milk, the way my grandma used to make it for me, and two equals makes it taste just right. And I'm happy. And I keep coming back.

Yes, I could order some dopio triple cream vanilla frappe with chocolate sprinkles or whatever, but guess what ... it's just coffee that I want ... I don't want an americano, I don't want a latte, I don't want anything fancy, just a goddamned cup of coffe to start my day off. And it's drip for god's sake! I'm paying $2 for $.20 of coffee beans and hot water.

Here's a little perspective for you SB corporate brainwash victims (oh, sorry, what are they telling you to call yourselves nowadays ... owners? partners? shareholders?) about where you really fit in in the rest of the world now that your little summer job has magically stretched into your "career": You work in a coffee shop pouring coffee, so you can lay off the attitude. You're one step away from asking if we want fries with our burger.

Posted by: Coffee Drinker in Seattle | Sep 7, 2006 11:54:25 PM

3 comments:

Cl. Panic said...

If only the whole world knew what Starbucks was saying about us behind our backs.

I always wondered what is being said in those nail salons back in the day when I was dragged into them to wait for my mom to get her nails done.

stillman said...

wow. I guess I'm ghetto. I always get a tall in a grande cup, not to "steal" the inch of milk but because those braindead barista wannabes never leave enough room and I hate pouring it in the garbage!

Nonny Nu said...

Thief!! I'm not accepting food from you anymore because I don't want to be in receipt of stolen property.

(Okay, joke's over. Remember to offer me bacon next time.)