So a few weeks ago, I went to Portland, OR for some coffee training.
While I was there, I drank a massive amount of coffee. Case in point, Ristretto Roasters:
Now, I didn’t drink all of that by myself. I was with a few other of my fellow trainees, but that was the second stop of three that morning. We were also tasting coffee and espresso all day long, so to say I was highly caffeinated during my trip is an incredible understatement.
But let me just say that almost all of the coffee I drank, including some of the espressos that I personally made, were delicious.
Since I’ve been home though, I really haven’t had a cup of coffee that matched the quality of those in Portland. The last cappuccino that I grabbed at Houndstooth Coffee was the closest I got.
The lack of coffee quality really hit me the last time I grabbed a drink at Starbucks. I probably wouldn’t have ever gone back after Portland for several reasons other than just taste, but I had a couple of free drinks on my gold card, and then someone got me a gift card for my birthday…
But I cannot deny the truth. My coffee tasted pretty disgusting.
Which makes me so sad.
I know, I know. Starbucks is a massive corporation, and the coffee’s low quality isn’t really a secret. I’ve know for a while that the beans are roasted too darkly and that their baristas are typically not trained correctly in espresso extraction. I know that their drinks sizes are total crap and that they drown out all of coffee’s great traits by using way too many processed syrups.
What really kills me about it though is that Starbucks was what got me into coffee in the first place.
Sure, when I was younger, I went for the Frappuccinos, the Caramel Macchiatos, and Mochas, but eventually that led to regular lattes, black coffee, the Verismo, and then, even further, to shots of espresso and experimenting with the French Press, Aeropress, and Chemex.
Starbucks also introduced me to the Third Place, a place where people can gather outside of the home and work or school. It became a comfortable location where I could study or see my friends. It was a safe haven where I could spend time with my family or escape from them…
Starbucks also introduced me to ethical business practices while I was in high school and encouraged me as I pursued my own business degree to keep people and the environment at the forefront of my future business plans. It has been just as influential in how I approach business as any of my professors.
But my time as a regular Starbucks customer is coming to an end.
I just don’t like the coffee any more. Additionally, the stores don’t quite meet the local feel that I need for my third place, and when it comes to ethical and sustainable business practices, supporting local businesses is in my opinion right in line with those standards.
I’m sure I’ll stop in a Starbucks every now and then, like when I’m visiting family, since they don’t know any better, but I am certain this will be my last year as a gold card member.
It’s been a great ride, Starbucks.
Thanks for the memories.
P.S. I’ll see you in the morning. I still have $4 left on my gift card. Waste not, want not. 🙂