Wednesday, August 24, 2005

passing the Buck.

i've tried and tried and tried, but i just do not like coffee. i remember when i was small, my mother told how she wasn't allowed to have coffee until she was a teenager, but even so, she made off to her grandmother's house for a nip of the forbidden fruit. that a drink was reserved only for grown-ups excited me. i couldn't wait to try it.

and then one day i did. i felt completely and utterly betrayed. it smelled rich, delicious and creamy, but it just tasted like ass. like something scraped off the bottom of someone's shoe. it will now be coming up on my sixth year as a coffee slinging whore, and my hatred of cofffee has only intensified. when your car, your clothes and your purse stink richly of the evil bean, you can't help it. hate coffee. always will.

sometimes i deliver that little zinger at work to some unsuspecting party, whether it be customer or fellow partner (partner: cheesy corporate word for employees at the Buck, much like coworker, associate, team member, etc.). "yeah. i don't drink coffee" which is either followed by an incredulous stare, an embarassed laugh, an oft-repeated and incredibly unfunny joke, or, most common of all, nothing. because why should anyone care? they have to get to work on time, after all.

still, i am rather amused by the fact that the drinks i make every day - day in, day out- i have never even tasted. i don't know what a caramel machiatto tastes like (nor do i care enough to spell it right), or a latte, or cappuccino, or a mocha. i managed to strenuously avoid all that training where we taste every damn drink the Buck has to offer. i couldn't, of course, get out of the little video/coffee tasting session that happens immediately after hiring. i managed to look surly and sullen and pronounced the ass-pressed coffee that i sampled as "shit". and i wonder why i never moved up in the company.

what brings on this personal vitriol for a company and product that feeds and clothes me? this site.

i started trolling the web earlier tonight in search of some blogs or websites along the lines of green apron monkey, i.e., a snarky but erudite enumeration of various ways St*rbucks is ridiculous. i had the idea that i might start a webring for blogs of disgruntled baristas. instead, i found St*rbucks Gossip, a site that is almost scary in the sheer volume of devotion and love it showers upon the Buck. i never thought i would read forum threads debating at length the merits of Chantico (an obnoxiously sweet chocolate drink that no one ever bought). the people on there seem to run the gamut - there are some baristas on the boards, but mostly it's people who love, love their local St*rbucks and go there with their kids and spouse to hang out. who the hell are these people?! oh, right. the assholes i had to kick out of the store last night.

i guess i'll never get it. i never even went to a St*rbucks until i was 20 years old (hard to believe i lived that long without Frappuccinos, but them's the breaks, kids). after that, even though i have always lived within close proximity to one, i almost never went in. only if another poor slub dragged me in against my will. occasionally while in new york city with time to kill, i would find one and sit and write, but i never bought anything. i always had the vague feeling that St*rbucks was dirty. i couldn't see the espresso ground into the tile grout, but i knew it was there.

i fully acknowledge that the Buck is, for many reasons, a good and worthy company. that i get better health insurance than my mother (who has been a teacher for 20+ years) for only $62 a month, working 20 hours a week, is proof enough of that fact. i recognize that the Buck's obnoxious and unbridled growth is the reason i have these benefits. i understand that this may make this whole rant hypocritical, but oh well.

i am still amazed that the Buck has become what it is. it has grown from a small, chill coffeehouse mentality that i at least was able to taste during my early years at Barnes and Noble's cafe to this gigantic seething machine, where baristas don't even know how to pull a shot by hand anymore (it's all done automatically - press a button), where the endless pushing of pastries, frappuccinos and syrups has just turned it into an endless factory of crappy, processed sugaryness that is still, somehow, masquerading as a little neighborhood place where, much like the fabled Cheers, "everyone knows your name". meanwhile, this morning, it was push people in, push people out, barely a hello before i grab their money or card and then send them on their way, caffeinated but not enriched by any sort of human contact.

in closing, i politely request that people just get over themselves. yes, i'm talking to you, mr. venti americano with 6 equals. the next time you get the urge to tear your St*rbucks barista a new asshole, take a deep breath, and think about this: children across the world are starving. children in THIS country are starving. people are dying in a fucked up war. the world is getting warmer. we're on the brink of an energy crisis. YOUR COFFEE IS NOT THAT IMPORTANT.

thank you.


me said...

St*rbucks has exploited this nuttiness quite successfully, but they didn't create it. Some coffee drinkers have always been weird about it.

"There's so much pother in this world about the correct way to make coffee. People get positively fanatical on the subject. I shouldn't be surprised if one day we have a civil war between the boilers and the non-boilers, or perhaps the drippers and the percolaters. Silly notion . . . as if coffee were of any importance. Now, tea, on the other hand . . ."

That's Philo Vance, a detective from the 1920s.

I'm feeling kind of pro-Starbucks just at the moment, since I took refuge in one a week ago during a deluge and they offered me free sandwiches (well, they were about to throw them out).

4:19 AM  

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