hey coffee lovers

Discussion in 'Beverages' started by serena3, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. serena3

    serena3 Member

    i love coffee more than anybody, but i honestly think that starbucks is overrated. Anybody else think so?
  2. PsyGrunge

    PsyGrunge Full Fractal Force

    Caffeine is an all round nasty substance.
    i used to have an unhealthy dependence on it.
    Thank Christ I kicked the habit.

    Plus, Starbucks costs an arm and a leg.
  3. bbing

    bbing Member

    They came on the scene with great fruit and roasts (SBUX). I really believe than ran around buying and contracting up all the supply.

    Now that they (SBUX) got it; they dont have to really incur the extra cost of keeping it as fresh ITO: shipping staorage roasting. I also believe they blend prime with whatever to accomplish the "slim margin of acceptability". Why waste prime beans when you can get prime prices with subprime blends?

    I tend tp prefer low acidic stuff but I really love the African strains as well as Sumatra. Deep earthy richness with a slightly viscous oil left on your tounge. mmmmmm
    too bad they tend to rip my stomach up so much.

    I do suffer for my coffee.

    LSDMIKE Member

    when's the next tea party
  5. squawkers7

    squawkers7 radical rebel

    I drink way to much coffee...but I never liked Starbucks
  6. brack1936

    brack1936 Member

    I used to be coffee mad. Probably still am, but I don't drink that much at the moment. I only had one today .... but some days I drink waaaay too much. I have even contemplated farming coffee at one stage ......
  7. PsyGrunge

    PsyGrunge Full Fractal Force

    next tuesday at 4pm in the gardens of tea-den.
    be there or be square.
  8. snake_grass

    snake_grass Senior Member

    i like coffee in general

    i dont really care what is tastes like

    just as long as it is coffee
  9. nesta

    nesta Banned

    well, i fucking love coffee, and i worked for starbucks recently for close to three years. where do i begin?

    first of all, its not for everybody. the roasts in general are darker than most other companies, but color isnt everything. its a delicate balance of temperature, time, and moisture, and every bean needs a different roast to bring out its best flavor. you can get the same color beans by roasting hot and quick or slow and cool, but the flavor will be worlds apart...people who say they overdo the coffee may simply not like the blends starbucks offers, but saying they are "too dark" is far from the truth. color has little to do with it.

    further, a cup of coffee or a double espresso is under two dollars ANYWHERE i have visited a starbucks. the prices differ from market to market, but the fact is the coffee isn't really all that expensive. you can find specialty places where they charge far more for their coffees and they may be equal quality, lesser quality, or greater quality.'

    everyone likes to hate "the big guy" but the fact is craft coffees are still a luxury item, and starbucks isnt even in the top 4 coffee companies when it comes to market share of the coffee industry, no matter how many stores they have. one of the top four companies is actually nestle, believe it or not.

    lets take a look at what the costs go to. yes, it is a capitalist company operating in a capitalist society, and has no qualms about maintaining profitability. but this aside, it is a very progressive company. for instance, the partners are offered amazing benifits. as a part time employee, my benefits offered me more reliable and more affordable health insurance than either of my parents, whose full time corporate jobs bring in bonuses larger than my annual income was. insurance for starbucks partners is run through the aetna insurance company, and i have a friend who works for aetna. starbucks partners receive better insurance than the insurance company's employees receive!

    further, they strive to provide fair and adequate pay for coffee farmers they work with. in fiscal year 2004 they paid, on average, $1.20 per pound of coffee - when the going market rate was on average $0.70. they also work to help provide fair and affordable credit to farmers, who see income only once or twice a year and struggle during the growing season, often forcing early harvests and sales to pay the bills. they do this because by helping the farmers to feed themselves and their families and to afford to care for their crops, they in turn will be ensured the best quality those farmers can offer.

    there is the black apron exclusives program, where starbucks seeks out extremely rare and high quality coffee from the various coffee growing regions of the world. if a farm is selected to provide beans for this program, they are awarded with lots of money which they are then required to reinvest in their community - providing clean water, improving bridges, funding schools, and so on. iirc the money in question is something like $20,000 beyond the price of the beans themselves.

    also starbucks spends millions a year on training their employees. they are one of the only commercially successful retail companies in the world which spends more money on training than on advertising.

    all things considered, doing all this is a lot to offer for only charging 1.75 for a cup of brewed coffee. in all honesty the vast majority of people who complain about how expensive starbucks is are the people who get the frilly drinks. yes, those are expensive, and as dairy and fuel prices rise, the prices of these drinks will as well. if you get a venti (20 oz.) raspberry mocha, the costs not only have to account for the coffee (just two shots of espresso) and everything i mentioned like training, benefits, and labor, but also milk, two different syrups, whipped cream, and water and electricity to run the espresso machine and steam milk, and so on. this isn't real coffee. its delicious and has caffeine, but if you want just a cup of coffee its really very affordable. the average pound of coffee is, in the market in which i lived, only about 10 bucks. with the quality and integrity you get compared to folgers or maxwell house, this is great.

    and steps ARE taken to keep prices down. for instance, only one core blend (cafe estima) is certified fair trade. but most of the coffees qualify. so why can't they be identified as such? because there are lengthy certification procedures, and a LOT of expense involved with this. even more common is the fact that the vast majority of core coffees are in fact 100% organic. so why do only two blends say so on the bag? again, to keep costs down. we know the coffee is organically grown and ethically harvested, so why bother spending extra money, and needlessly driving up costs, just so we can put a stupid little logo on the bag to say so?

    all things considered, the coffee is pricey compared to most of whats available in the grocery store, and most of them are more full bodied as well. but i think all in all the quality is also far superior. it all depends on what types of coffee, what flavor profiles you prefer.

    in my opinion, coffee should be very full bodied and rich, very dark, thick and delicious with lots of complexity.

    i dislike the majority of central/south american coffees that starbucks offers. the house blend is nasty, same with breakfast blend and the colombia narino supremo. the guatemala antiqua is ok, and the brazil is surprisingly smooth and delicious. these coffees tend to feature a much milder flavor profile with much higher acidity. i find them thin on the mouthfeel and rather bitter compared to darker, smoother coffees.

    i really love the african/arabian selections the best. kenya is delicious, very full bodied and smooth with citrus notes reminiscent of grapefruit peel. the ethiopia sidamo is more floral, with very strong lemony underflavors. the arabian mocha sanani is the most expensive core blend (around 16 bucks a pound) but also the best, imo. the reason it is so expensive is that it comes virtually exclusively from subsistance farmers in yemen - essentially people with a few coffee trees in their backyards. this variety of origins, although its all in the same country, provides for a deep complexity and substantial variation. most blends vary slightly in flavor from year to year due to coffee being a natural, agricultural product strongly influenced by environmental factors. arabian mocha sanani varies not so much from year to year as bag to bag. all things considered, most bags of it will exhibit deep, rich wine- and berry-like flavors, and stunning richness and complexity. some partners compare it to the flavor of a good cigar, and indeed it goes very well with a nice cigar.

    the asian coffees are also darker and richer and smoother than latin american coffees, but instead of being fruity or floral, they tend to be earthy or herbal. sumatra is great if you love earthy coffee. sulawesi is also somewhat earthy, but more herbal in character.

    i was never a huge fan of the multi region blends, and in general i think most of them are some of the worst coffees starbucks offers. italian blend and french roast are nasty, and remind me of stale cigarette butts. they are very low in acidity and very strong and dark, though, and do have a devoted following.

    i did like the gold coast blend a lot, and despite being a multi regional blend, it was one of my favorites. next up i liked the yukon, but again it wasnt the best. the house and breakfast blends aren't worth trying.

    as for the issues of oversaturating the market and freshness issues, these problems are currently being addressed by the company. recently howard shultz became the CEO again after a while of not being. he instantly initiated MANY changes. the company is still expanding overseas, but new stores are not opening up anywhere close to the rate they were two or three years ago, and many, many stores are closing. a push towards the importance of freshness and training is taking place. it no longer is the case that you grind coffee and store it until you use it, and it is no longer acceptable to brew only every hour. the coffee brewed in store is ground THAT MORNING and no earlier. the coffee is now brewed every half hour. furthermore distribution practices are being reevaluated, and some blends being discontinued. iirc they're turning the arabian mocha sanani into only a seasonal release :(

    the coffees they offer are all over the board in terms of flavor profile, and there is sure to be something for almost everyone. if you only like overly sweetened, frilly espresso drinks where you can't even taste the coffee, then yeah, its expensive. but a cup of coffee, or a double espresso, is pretty affordable, even compared to other specialty shops.

    if you want something so sweet you cant taste the coffee, you can go to dunkin donuts or tim hortons and pray they give you something drinkable. its very hit and miss. with starbucks you pay a little extra, but the money doesnt simply go into the pockets of the higher up executives, it goes also to the farmers (both coffee and dairy), the truckers, the employees, and their spouses or partners. you also get a more consistant product, and while some markets are better about it than others, if you have a problem with a drink and tell them -they'll remake it for you!- good luck getting that at dunkin donuts...or worse yet mcdonalds. legendary service and knowledge of the product is what got starbucks where it is today - not advertising and making one or two people wildly rich while screwing over the "lackeys"

    now if you are a fan of straight espresso....i agree, starbucks is overrated. the issue here is that they almost exclusively use fully automated espresso machines. this reduces waste because with proper care and maintenance, an automatic espresso machine pulls exactly the same quality shot virtually 100% of the time, and if not its an easy fix usually. fully manual espresso machines make much better espresso, but they are also FAR more temperamental, and it may take 2 or 3 tries before you get a perfect shot of espresso.

    further, the starbucks espresso roast coffee is good as either brewed coffee or espresso, but its not the best blend in the world for making espresso.

    in my new town there is a little mom and pop shop which has infinitely more delicious espresso than starbucks, and i prefer it very much. its partially the coffee they use, and partially the machine. but the thing is, the automated machines are far more consistant across the board.

    so i wont tell you that starbucks is or isnt worth the money, but you have to understand that the money you pay goes to far more good than if you get a coffee at dunkin donuts, the quality is more consistant, and in general the service is far better as well.

    but if you have only tried a few coffees here or there, then there is a good chance you havent had the best they offer.....i'd be willing to wager there is something you will both really like and can find really affordable.

    i dont know....one thing i dont like about starbucks is that they act like they're the ONLY place that offers good coffee. and its true, in general their quality is superior to most of the stuff out there. but there are a lot of other places where the coffee is as good or better, too. but really you're going to find the same kind of price structure in most of these businesses as in starbucks.

    i dont know....just drink what you like....other companies have great coffee too, and i'm not trying to preach about how starbucks is the best coffee in the world or anything...its not the BEST.....but they are very consistantly good if you get the right stuff, and they are so good to those who help them succeed....the health benefits and the fair way they treat the farmers is enough to make me want to pay a few extra cents for a cup of brewed coffee over most other chains.
  10. nesta

    nesta Banned

    sorry thats so freaking long. but like i said, starbucks spends TONS of money on educating their employees about coffee and the coffee industry....i spent many hours pouring over manuels, texts, and so on.....

    not to mention independant research on the coffee industry.

    this is a subject that hits home for me a bit.

    all things considered, i prefer this local shop called soma because their espresso is way better than that of starbucks, but this is not to say i dislike starbucks' espresso.

    then again, i also like brewed coffee, and the one time i got it at soma it was far from phenomenal, and depending on the coffee in question, i'd prefer starbucks in general.
  11. BunnySuit

    BunnySuit Senior Member

    i love coffee, and i love starbucks. I don't think it's the greatest, but they definately are good. Except for all the stupid gimicky drinks (smoothies? grrr.) But i think there's a certain atmosphere it adds to this city. I's nice.
  12. polecat

    polecat Weerd

    As a former employee of a local coffee shop, I despise Starbucks.
  13. nesta

    nesta Banned

    they haven't got the whole supply. many of starbucks' competition offers coffee roasted from EXACTLY the same beans, from the same regions and farms.

    it all comes down to how its roasted and how fresh it is, and then how it is prepared.

    with the insanely overzealous expansion in the past decade or so some quality control issues popped up, some of them rather serious.

    they are currently trying to correct this to the best of their abilities. most of the changes i wholeheartedly endorse. some of them (such as the intruduction of an abysmal new flagship blend) i do not.
  14. nesta

    nesta Banned

    this is a common sentiment, especially among "hippy" types (no offense intended at all, simply observations. before i worked for them i had vastly negative attitudes regarding starbucks)

    however this is a public forum, and while you may simply make a statement and leave it at that, i'm also very interested in hearing your reasoning behind such a statement.

    why does one companies success make you despise it? is it because the company you worked for simply couldnt manage to compete? if so, why not?

    as a former starbucks partner, i did not despise the competition. i loved it, and often even patronized their establishments. there is a lot of good coffee out there. but the fact is there are some very concrete reasons why starbucks has succeeded so well.

    if you are willing to have a sane and rational conversation and as open to listening to the view of a former starbucks employee as i am to listening to a former employee of "the competition," then i would very much like to converse upon the matter at hand.:cheers2:
  15. bbing

    bbing Member

    insane and irrational conversations seem to be more of the order these days.
  16. mighty_thor

    mighty_thor Member

    Mee too, bbing.

    Great info, Nesta. Thanks for the long-ish posts.

    Starbucks is not usually my favorite cup, but that is because of the taste, not because of any hatred of their success. It seems to me that their brews are WAY too bitter. Still, they do deliver a consistent, quality product, and I enjoy a cup from them every so often.

    Mostly I've been trying to get better at brewing my own. I do have a few bags of beans from Starbucks, but right now I'm digging some beans from some local coffee shops, and also some from Seattle's Best. I like to mix it up and sample the differences. I like a more "earthy" or "wooden" flavor rather than bitterness and chicory.

    I've tried a variety of brewing techniques... the French press is the best so far, but also the messiest.

    The most important thing I've found so far is to grind the beans just before you brew. This one thing makes a huge difference.

    Mmmmmmmm...... Coffee. :)
  17. HushBull

    HushBull Insuperior

    Yes, I love coffee.
    Probably too much.
    Why go to Starbucks when I can get my coffee for free where I work.
  18. Charlisangel

    Charlisangel Member

    You people bashing strabuck, havent you see the episode ''gnomes'' from south park 2nd season!
  19. wally m

    wally m 14

    You can walk in to Starbucks any where in the world and get the same cup of coffee.
    There are better cups but there are a lot worse. Starbucks was great in there time, but once the sugar got involved they went in that direction. I know once I get out of the northwest I never know what I'm going to get a far as a great cup of espresso.
  20. PsyGrunge

    PsyGrunge Full Fractal Force

    a cup of tea is more my cup of tea.

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