Friday, December 12, 2008

Mmm, carbon.

I've been noticing recently, I do not go to Starbucks as frequently as I once did. No, it doesn't have anything to do with my financial situation. I sell myself on the street, and being the rippling specimen that I am, business is very good.

No, I've just found that my taste for Starbucks coffee is waning. The introduction of the noxiously bad Piadini -which replaced two totally acceptable breakfast sandwiches- didn't help. Starbucks uses a very dark roast. Perhaps this is an attempt to cover up low quality beans, but that's a dangerous game. A very dark roast tastes like charcoal, so it takes a well-calibrated machine, a good analysis of the pull, and very fresh beans to make it taste good. Yes, it can cover up bad beans, but the margin for error during preparation is minuscule.

Generally, the prep is good and the espresso is fine, but man, it just gets dull. There is no complexity to their espresso whatsoever. No richness, or acidic bite. Nothing. I just find myself saying more often than I used to, "if I'm going to drink the calories, I'd rather have something that's really good." And if I'm nowhere near a place to make it, I just wait till I get home. Starbucks' move towards making better coffee with the Clover is a good first step. Still, I think they should move towards providing multiple beans for espresso, as well. This would make them more competitive with smaller cafes that provide superior beans and drinks.

And it just has to be an untenable situation when the only thing bringing me in is the selection of pre-made foods, especially the fruit platter. But those Piadini are amazingly bad. They taste like soap. The worst thing I've ever eaten at a Starbucks. And for a mobile warrior such as myself, the convoluted WiFi arrangement is a nightmare. So, actually, I'd say the thing bringing me in is only the fruit platter.

Now there's a dynamite business model.

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