Instant and Starbucks?! Oops, in a short breath you have pronounced two of the most offensive words for the “coffee connoisseurs” of our times. It is believed that any self-respecting coffee drinker will fight and even go cold turkey but they will under no circumstances succumb to the temptation of grabbing a cup in one of the conveniently located coffee chain branches and it is safe to say, that Starbucks is at the top of the pyramid of such icons people love to hate.
The coffee sold at Starbucks falls behind when it comes to quality. It is logical as you can’t be doing business globally and sell high quality coffee. By that, I do not mean coffee beans but the end product. Simply because there are not enough experts to be employed and it is not financially viable. So if it is not their coffee, what attracts people to Starbucks? Perhaps, the idea it sells?
The company calls its stores the “third place” which is where we should go to unwind, meet friends, annoy baristas by being on the phone while placing an order or by asking for extra hot drinks. To research Jack the Ripper, yeah, go ahead and judge me, I’m nosy and despite not making a habit of it, I have been to Starbucks and seen quite intriguing stuff for that matter, but back to the point.
When we are not at home or at work, Starbucks want us to pick one of its stores to do whatever it is that tickles our fancy as long as we remain in their premises. So they work very hard through marketing and training their employees to make us feel like we matter when we walk through the doors, or did you really believe that the baristas at your local store really care that your dog is taking some therapy sessions or how great your weekend was?
Unless, you are a really nice customer, which unfortunately is a species walking towards extinction, the “how are you today?” you hear every morning is yet, just another job requirement.
Being the second most commercialized commodity in the world, it is impossible to limit coffee to a beverage. It impacts and influences our lives in ways that defies our imagination. Take social status, for instance. Knowing the exact amount of coffee and water necessary to brew the perfect cup as well as the fancy apparatuses that go with it and the trendy spots to get a coffee in town , are signs of refinement and surely makes you look cool and stand out in the crowd. So imagine what happens when the judged less fortunate proudly hold a cup of their favourite Starbucks coffee.
When that happens, the quality of the beans loses its relevance and social factors comes into play. Coffee snobs enjoy the idea of exclusivity and when a Starbucks coffee, despite being overpriced, reaches the hands of us, mere mortals, the whole concept lose its appeal.
In my opinion, which I must add is not backed up by any study, the above is as visible in the so called developed world, like in the UK, where Starbucks coffee is now frowned upon by the elite of coffee drinker aka the 3rd wave enthusiasts. As it is in the countries that are not quite there yet, such as Brazil, where “all things Starbucks” imply social status because the average Joe or Jose, if you want to use local terms, can not afford a 15 Reais caramel macchiatto. So the brand is still a perk for the privileged to savour.
Of course, this is just a point to be considered. The coffee industry as all the others are constantly evolving. Perhaps, Starbucks in Europe has had its days of glory and now it is third wave coffee shops turn to shine.
Whether you won’t be seen without a Frappuccino on a summer day or if you cringe by the mention of the ‘S’ word, the fact is, Starbucks might be considered an unpleasant child of capitalism by some, but the coffee chain still plays a major role in the coffee industry and it is mostly to outlive the new wave of coffee.