Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Quality Coffee Catches a Break

The first good thing to come out of our failing economy was announced today: Starbucks is planning to close 600 stores, a hike from its original announcement of 100 stores. It seems that the coffee giant has taken a hit from our monetary downturn, and people are turning to homebrewing rather than drinking the abomination that comes from the Starbucks spout. Here's the whole story, a blog from Fortune Magazine: Starbucks Has A Bitter Plan

If you know me at all, you know how opposed I am to coffee from Starbucks. After working at Seattle's Best Coffee (which at the time was about to be absorbed by Starbucks Corp), and watching person after person fork over $4 for a 16oz. cup of water filtered through second-rate beans, I got jaded. Really jaded. Without batting an eyelash, women carrying babies, the homeless person on the corner (Borders is a haven for the homeless...I guess it's better than the ABC Liquor), and 15-year-old high school kids ditching class from Lake Highland Prep would come to the counter and demand a latte (Note: How many of you know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino? 95% of my customers didn't.) because that's what they'd seen on TV, and instead of buying their children a gallon of milk, they gulped down a mouthful of chemicals and caffeine.

I'm sorry, do I sound worked up? I am.

Not to mention that the three-week training I recieved was more exhaustive that CIA Special Ops boot camp. I can tell you pretty much anything about coffee, the history of Seattle's best, and the original blends of Seattle's Best and Starbucks coffees.

You would think that spending $4 for something liquid would have to render it absolutely AMAZING once it hit your tongue. The Thai spice martini I had at Dan Marino's Tavern on the Lake was $10, and it really was insanely good, which makes me not so angry for having paid $10 because I still rave about it. Not so with the ubiquitous green overhang. Have you tasted the new Pike Place Blend?? My mouth puckered like someone had just squeezed a lemon on an inflamed taste bud. The new amalgamation of bottom-of-the-barrel wholesale, over-roasted beans is too tangy and smells burned. If that's all their brewing at your local Starbucks, if they're not soon to be closed, ask them to brew something else. Or go somewhere else. Like these places in Orlando, all of which I love.

Drunken Money Coffee Bar
- If you get a chance, be hungry when you go. Chef John'ssoups border on heavenly.

Infusion Tea, Edgewater Drive or Pine St. - No coffee here, but the assortment of teas will make you forget all about the boring Joe. A hippie/mod place with a clean vibe that place excellent 80s new-wave alternative.

Daily Grind Coffee House and Cafe - Right downtown so it's perfect if you're just in and out. Between 8 and 9am, it's packed, so try some in between time.

600 stores is only 8.9% of Starbucks' 7,100 total stores, so there's a lot of work to do. Brew at home (buy a Tassimo!!). Drink tea. Support local business ventures. Or just drink juice. Organic juice.

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