Showing posts with label Starbucks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Starbucks. Show all posts

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Goodbye Sweet Clover...

In reading some news recently, I stumbled across by far the most saddening news of the week. Starbucks released a press release stating that they just bought the company that makes Clovers. Sure that might actually mean that now the average citizen will be able to obtain a good cup of coffee from the consistently poor Charbucks, a welcome improvement. But it also ends the era of local coffeehouses even being allowed to buy the machines, as Starbucks now exclusively owns the technology, which means that if a non-Starbucks place already doesn't have a Clover, they're not going to (or so says the press release).

A funny thing is that the press release also stated the company will be introducing a "state-of-the-art espresso system that provides a perfect shot every time." Unless this machine is more of a cage with a World Barista Champion locked inside, I really have my doubts in seeing this come to fruition.

All in all, I draw some hope for the non-Starbucks world from this article in Slate.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Poor Coffeehouse Warning System

In a lot of my first visits to coffee outfits, there have been some times where I can usually tell before I even sip anything that it's going to be a rough experience. I have compiled a list of warning signs that a coffeehouse might not be that great. Some are scary, some are weird, but all seem to be fairly obvious. Without further delay:

You can tell a coffeehouse is poor when:

1. They ask you to instruct them on how to make an americano

Their menu says "expresso"

3. The barista greets you with "What do you want!?"

4. Where they get their coffee is a secret

You can't see the beans inside the espresso grinder because of all the residual oil

6. When you order a double shot of espresso, the barista looks at you all weird and retorts "You drink that!?"

They don't have ceramic cups and a menu option is espresso

8. You watch the barista start the pulling of a shot of espresso by first pulling out a small bag of ground coffee from a freezer

9. The coffeehouse owner is afraid people will steal the signature drink recipes and is in the process of getting the rights to a peppermint mocha latte (the ingredients are all trade secrets of course)

10. Everyone is wearing the same outfit

11. All of the recommended coffees are flavored

12. Their coffee roaster is in Italy and the coffeehouse is in the States

13. The coffee is sitting on a hot plate

and last but not least
14. The owner/barista asks you what blood type you are before she sells you coffee, as coffee is only good for some blood types (this really happened)

If you have some warning signs yourself, feel free to post them as a comment!

Friday, June 29, 2007

CC: Caribou Coffee

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Caribou Coffee
Location visited:

Free WiFi ? :
Rating: 1+ [see key]

Just having returned from a long series of plane trips, I felt it appropriate to write a small blip on Caribou Coffee, the coffee chain alternative (in most airports) to Starbucks.

Since there are no real locations in my home Philadelphia area,
I have had most of my experience with Caribou Coffee abroad, quite often in airports (though in passing I thought the Caribou Cafe on Walnut St could be their eastern coffee branch, I found it dubbed but a decent French restaurant, as elaborated on by local food bloggers Messy and Picky).

After numerous visits to Caribou Coffee, I've had but a small number of decent cups of coffee and zero cups of drinkable (never mind decent) shots of espresso.

Am I surprised? Not really. The only real advantage that Caribou could ever pull over their chain competitors would be better coffee, but I can only say that I've had a few non-bitter cups from their founts. The classic problem of serving consistent, well-pulled espresso haunts Caribou every bit as much as it does any other national chain (yet on a positive note, I do give Caribou props for not lowering themselves to automatic espresso machines like Starbucks).

So if you have to choose between Caribou and Starbucks or Seattle's Best, obviously go with Caribou. But most often, I'd say wait until you can find a better cup elsewhere.

Friday, April 28, 2006

CC: Starbucks...

What's a Coffee Commentary?

Starbucks (aka Charbucks) Coffee
Location visited: Various

Free WiFi ? : NO
Rating: 1+ [see key]

Ok, I’m really going to try and be objective here. I’ll put aside my disdain for how they run small, viable coffee establishments out of business with nothing but a well-publicized yet rather blah product. I am not going to rant on how they often claim to support responsible and social action for their coffee purchasing and yet their actions seem to show otherwise 1 2 3. Oh, and I won’t even go into how they lead thousands of people astray, the masses thinking “oh, I know good coffee and it's Starbucks.” But I guess I should give you my evaluation of the chain.

First, I shall share my positive comments. I must say, their interiors are nice. And from what people tell me, their more sugary, milk-shaky drinks (mocha caramel frappuccinos) taste pretty good.
And on a side note, I loooooove people who say they love Starbucks coffee and they only drink things overladen with chocolate, caramel, and whipped cream.

Now a couple critiques. First of all, the coffee has always, no matter where I went, been a charred-black, disgusting brew. Before giving up on Starbucks, I can recall just throwing coffee away because my mouth couldn’t take the misery. As many of you know, this bitter, hellish taste comes from over-roasted coffee bean, a Starbucks signature. As a home roaster, I can tell you that oily black beans were never meant to be used for good coffee. e-v-e-r.

Secondly, there’s a difference between competition and crushing independent businesses with sheer juggernaut force. Ever notice in NYC that there are Starbucks across the street from each other? And as some would say, most people don’t know much at all about good coffee, hence why most people drink what looks popular.

Basically, I would render the same feelings as these
folks: “…there are only two kinds of people who say they like Starbucks coffee: those who like dark strong bitter coffee, and those who are trying be a part of the coffee craze.”

To wrap it up: Spend you’re money elsewhere