14 November 2007

Keep your human rights out of my coffee

I'm admittedly a class-A Starbucks hypocrite. I hate just about everything about the place from its faux-bohemia to its goofy "song of the day" campaign to its $7 price tag for a cup of black water; but I'm a sucker for a Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte. Hey, a mans gotta have his vices, right?
As soon as fall rolls around and Starbucks breaks out those crimson 10% post-consumer recycled cups, I get excited. Egg nog and gingerbread lattes? Count me in. I'm a sucker for it and proud of it. It's like waiting at the check out and giving in to the impulse buys; so long as you know its been psychologically and physiologically analysed and scientifically researched and placed there for a reason, its OK if you give in; right? Like those true rebels Rage Against The Machine said, "know your enemy".

Starbucks, for me, is a guilty pleasure however, there are rules; strict rules.

For one, I will never wait on a line for a cup of coffee. I don't care if Juan Valdez and his donkey are the guest baristas; this guy, meaning me, does not wait on lines, period; especially not for a cup of overpriced java from some faux-socially responsible conglom who uses environmentalism as a gimmick to perpetuate the illusion of a little funky off-the-beaten-path granola coffee shop in Seattle or Vermont or some shit.
Somewhere along the way I'd bet Jerry Baldwin or Gordon Bowker killed a guy with their bare hands to get ahead and now they're desperately "giving back" to restore their karma with the Ethiopian coffee farmers.

Oh, and rule number two, I'd take a sidewalk coffee cart guy's coffee over Starbucks any day and I'd take a Dunkin' Donuts coffee over that any day but I'd take a cup of diner coffee over them all; but now and then after a day of playing in sandbox of other peoples money, I like to indulge in a frothy, lukewarm $7 latte in a 100% virgin bleached cup stock. But I'll only go in there if its empty and I don't have to wait. End of story.
In reality, I don't give a fuck about my coffee being Fair-Trade certified. Let's relax, people. It's coffee! Is it really a good thing to ponder the plight of Third World tobacco-coffee farms at 7 o'clock in the morning? Can I have one moment of my life where I'm not feeling sympathy for someone else? Can I have one thing in this world without feeling like I'm cutting off someones hand in a foreign land to enjoy it? I'm still settling in with this thing about diamonds being evil now. One thing at a time, world; I'm a simple man.

So ANYWAY, this dude Taylor Clark has written a book about Starbucks and he follows along the love/hate relationship most all New Yorkers have with the little upstart company from Seattle. From the book:
"When New York’s first Starbucks opened in 1994, it wasn’t greeted with alarm, as phase one of an insidious plan to colonize the city. In that innocent era, Starbucks, with a mere 425 stores—compared to more than 14,000 today—still enjoyed a reputation for being kind of hip and even a little bohemian (O.K., upscale bohemian)."
"Starbucked will be the first book to explore the incredible rise of the Starbucks Corporation and the caffeine-crazy culture that fueled its success. Part Fast Food Nation, part Bobos in Paradise, Starbucked combines investigative heft with witty cultural observation in telling the story of how the coffeehouse movement changed our everyday lives, from our evolving neighborhoods and workplaces to the ways we shop, socialize, and self-medicate.

In STARBUCKED, Taylor Clark provides an objective, meticulously reported look at the volatile issues like gentrification and fair trade that distress activists and coffee zealots alike.

Through a cast of characters that includes coffee-wild hippies, business sharks, slackers, Hollywood trendsetters and more, STARBUCKED explores how America transformed into a nation of coffee gourmets in only a few years, how Starbucks manipulates psyches and social habits to snare loyal customers, and why many of the things we think we know about the coffee commodity chain are false. "

I think I'll be adding this to my library. HOLLA!
The $17 Blank T-Shirt Cult

Well, who did you think Starbucks stole the idea from?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Coffee puts the system under the strain of metabolizing a deadly acid-forming drug, depositing its insoluble cellulose, which cements the wall of the liver, causing this vital organ to swell to twice its proper size. In addition, coffee is heavily sprayed. (Ninety-two pesticides are applied to its leaves.) Diuretic properties of caffeine cause potassium and other minerals to be flushed from the body.

All this fear went away when I quit, and it was a book that inspired me to do it called The Truth About Caffeine by Marina Kushner. There are five things I liked about this book:

1) It details--thoroughly--the ways in which caffeine may damage your health.

2) It reveals the damage that coffee does to the environment. Specifically, coffee was once grown in the shade, so that trees were left in place. Then sun coffee was introduced, allowing greater yields but contributing to the destruction of rain forests. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else.

3) It explains how best to go off coffee. This is important. If you try cold turkey, as most people probably do, the withdrawal symptoms will likely drive you right back to coffee.

4) Helped me find a great resource for the latest studies at CaffeineAwareness.org

5) Also, if you drink decaf you won’t want to miss this special free report on the dangers of decaf available at www.soyfee.com