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Discussions > Coffee > General > Starbucks bad?  
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baristaboy
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baristaboy
Joined: 4 May 2003
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Location: Georgia
Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Sun May 4, 2003, 7:18pm
Subject: Starbucks bad?
 

I hear a lot of talk that Starbucks has horrible coffee and espresso and then I hear it has great coffee and espresso.  What gives?  In the universe of quality coffee is Starbucks the pits or as good as it gets?
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jim_schulman
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jim_schulman
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
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Posted Sun May 4, 2003, 7:59pm
Subject: Re: Starbucks bad?
 

Starbucks uses excellent coffees, but roasts them so dark that a lot of their flavor is lost. Also they don't follow the best preparation methods for either their brewed coffee or their espresso drinks.

As they have expanded, they have abandoned local roasting and selling only fresh beans; they have also gotten far more sloppy in their personel training. On the other hand, many of the other cafes that survived the onslaught have improved. So, eight years ago their coffee would have been near the top of the heap, while now they would be closer to the bottom.

 
Jim Schulman
www.coffeecuppers.com
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MrJerry
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MrJerry
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Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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Posted Mon May 5, 2003, 9:41am
Subject: Re: Starbucks bad?
 

I agree with another_jim, there is a reason why they're known as Charbucks...must be the over roasting.

What really gets me is after paying too much for a cup of coffee they still have a tip jar by the register...what the heck is that about!?!

My advice is buy good quality beans, grind what you need, fill a thermos and get on with your day...no need to pay $4-5 for a cup of coffee when you can buy a full pound of some great beans for the price of two cups from Charbucks!

Just my 2¢...now I'm gonna go and have another cup!

 
www.killerbeans.com
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phaelon56
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phaelon56
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Posted Mon May 5, 2003, 12:57pm
Subject: Re: Starbucks bad?
 

I agree with the others that their heavy handed roasting style is just too much. An advantage it offers them is that they can use a wider assortment of beans of varying quality levels or consistency and by careful blending and overly dark roasting style, achieve a distinct flavor that is more or less the same year in and year out.

The volume in which they buy beans may necessitate some compromises but the dark roasting tends to obliterate the more subtle differences among varietal coffees. Consumer Reports magazine is hardly the bible of anything coffee related but when they compared coffees and espresso served in chains, they determined that Starbucks uses far more the the SCAA standard ratio of coffee to water. By using more coffee than others and also a darker roast, they turn off plenty of people. I've had Starbucks coffee freshly ground and made in an office coffeemaker with the correct proprotions of coffee to water - it was still too dark roasted for me but far better than what they serve at their stores.

Jim's point about consistency of training is quite possibly the key to why their espresso drinks are inconsistent - lack of proper training and supervision.  Sometimes superauto machines can be a godsend!

I never thought I'd be saying this but....  Seattle's Best might actually improve once Starbucks completes the acquisition. I had a triple shot 12 oz latte this morning on Concourse C at the Atlanta airport SBC location this mornign and it was among the worst espresso drinks I've ever had - far inferior to anything I've EVER gotten from a Starbucks.

Just don't get me started on the topic of chain restaurants in general (my current girlfriend REALLY likes Outback and Olive Garden - a source of major discontent for me).

 
Owen O'Neill
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ljguitar
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Posted Mon May 5, 2003, 2:02pm
Subject: Re: Starbucks bad?
 

phaelon56 Said:

Just don't get me started on the topic of chain restaurants in general (my current girlfriend REALLY likes Outback and Olive Garden - a source of major discontent for me).

Posted May 5, 2003 link

Oh Come On Owen...I think your gf started you on this course, and you brought it up, so why would you assume we are not going to feel free to join in enthusiastically?

We give away 'money for food' to some favorite 'homecooked family' restaurants, a really nice 3rd generation family Greek deli comes to mind as well, and a wonderful Mexican restaurant run by Koreans in a small western town 75 miles N of us...alas, they are not within my geographical vicinity or financial grasp at all times.

We also stop by fast food joints with arches, or the Austrailian Wilderness - shrimp on the Barbie - guys and yes, even the Italian Joint that mentions gardening...and we have learned to order what they make well and not be lured by special of the month choices...nor do we compare them to our local Italian Family run business.

I visit $tarchucks and enjoy it too, because of who I am there with - and their water is actually fine. I agree with whomever said it first..."Coffee at $bckS is just another flavor ingredient..."  When I visit there with friends, that is how I treat it. For me, it is about relationships, and I can make the really good stuff (food or coffee) at home.

Being in relatively good health, I have never needed Tums after any of these episodes.

L a r r y \o/ J

 
L  a  r  r  Y          J

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phaelon56
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Posted Mon May 5, 2003, 3:08pm
Subject: Re: Starbucks bad?
 

A Mexican restaurant run by Koreans.....  I'd chuckle were it not for the fact that there's just such a place (take-out only) less than a mile from me.  My favorite was an Italian restaurant I once wandered into with a date when in Manhattan. The only person who could speak serviceable English was the hostess - here native language was Spanish just like the rest of the staff!

I do try to support small independently owned places but recognize the chains have their place (even Starbucks). When you travel frequently for business and are not among those who are regularly entertaining clients at "nice" restaurants.....  sometimes an Olive Garden or Outback (last week it was Macaroni Grill) that's next to the hotel looks really, really good and fills the need.

When your GF insists on going to the OG in a city full of restaurants that we haven't tried yet (she just relocated to Charlotte NC)....  and there's a 1 1/2 hour wait for a table....  and she just can't see the point in going elsewhere....  once again - don't get me started!

 
Owen O'Neill
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ljguitar
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Posted Mon May 5, 2003, 4:03pm
Subject: Re: Starbucks bad?
 

phaelon56 Said:

A Mexican restaurant run by Koreans...

When your GF insists on going to the OG in a city full of restaurants that we haven't tried yet (she just relocated to Charlotte NC)....  and there's a 1 1/2 hour wait for a table....  and she just can't see the point in going elsewhere....  once again - don't get me started!

Posted May 5, 2003 link

I am trying not to get you started, Owen...really...I think it's the gf...

: - )

My favorite restaurant in Long Beach, CA used to be called Zorba's, and it was a converted drive in (now a walk up) that sold Greek, Oriental, and Kosher Mexican, and was owned and operated by an Asian family.

Last time we were there, it was gone. Bummer...

L a r r y \o/ J

 
L  a  r  r  Y          J

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phaelon56
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phaelon56
Joined: 11 Feb 2002
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Location: Syracuse, NY
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Espresso: LM 4 group , Isomac Tea,...
Grinder: Major, Super Jolly,...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos
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Roaster: Sivetz , Diedrich
Posted Mon May 5, 2003, 6:12pm
Subject: Re: Starbucks bad?
 

My favorite ironic/oxymoronic restaurant name was one that lasted for many years in my hoemtown of Syracuse NY. It was converted from a 60's era regional fast food chain known as Carrol's (they had red and blue as the color them and used big lighted angular V's on the side of the building rather than the arches of their well known competition). When Carrol's bit the dust this locations became
"Mr. Burger Chinese Food".  Yes - a Chinese food hamburger stand.

 
Owen O'Neill
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koffeekev
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Joined: 21 Jul 2002
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Location: Connecticut
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Posted Thu May 8, 2003, 5:14pm
Subject: Re: Starbucks bad?
 

Until last week I would agree with you on the coffee darkness at Starbucks. I was in Seekonk, MA last week on a business trip and found myself with a serious caffeine deficiancy. My choices were DD or *$. I ordered a double shot at Starbucks hoping for the best, and was corrected by the name Doppio. They poured it from a new super- automatic and I received it in an 8 ounce cup. It was very close, if not exactly, 2 ounces. The flavor was full and smooth with a 15% or so crema. It was a pleasure to sip. I just want to give credit when credit is due. Kevin
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dkyowell
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Posted Thu May 8, 2003, 8:38pm
Subject: Re: Starbucks bad?
 

koffeekev Said:

The flavor was full and smooth with a 15% or so crema. It was a pleasure to sip. I just want to give credit when credit is due.

Posted May 8, 2003 link

I can back koffeekev on this. On Sunday I ordered a single shot at a Starbucks with a superautomatic and was surprised to find myself sipping a shot that I actually enjoyed. It was better than any restaurant/coffe house espresso I have ordered in the past 6 months and it was even better than I can make at home with Starbucks beans. (But, not as good as what I can make at home with EV Dolce beans.) Do you suppose that Starbucks brews with fresher beans than they sell retail?

David
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