Saturday, February 03, 2007

Further Proof That Starbucks Coffee Is Bad

Consumer Reports' testers deem McDonald's coffee better than Starbucks, giving McD's brew a "decent", while Starbucks got a "burnt and bitter". Not a surprise that Starbucks has the nickname of "Charbucks" in these parts.

I had a guy tell me once that the reason that Starbucks was so popular was because of the quality of their coffee. Bullcrap. They sell ambiance and atmosphere, and have elevated a beverage to a status symbol. That, and familiarity and marketing, is why people buy Starbucks' coffee, not because of its quality.

15 comments:

Becca said...

Its easy to be critical if you live in a place like Seattle. In my 20 minute drive to work, I pass a McDonalds and a Starbucks and no other coffee shops (one kind of scary looking donut shop that may have coffee). I go to Starbucks because I happen to like coffees with frothed milk, something you can't get at McDonalds, and occasionally with chocolate syrup mixed in, also something you can't get.

So, in Seattle, when you have lots of options, I would totally be a snob about Starbucks. But the reason Starbucks is successful has nothing to do with Seattle (besides selling the image that its a Seattle company), it has everything to do with location location location and keeping the competition out. Before Houston had no coffee shops, now we have Starbucks. It created a market and no one is attempting to compete with them to keep it.

Oh, my last option is our work cafeteria, which, my favorite, has a coffee counter that "proudly brews Starbucks coffee" which means they use the bitter yucky beans that Starbucks does, charge as much as Starbucks, but they do not know how to froth milk, get the coffee hot enough, or mix in the right amount of syrup, making it worse.

(And no, my work doesn't provide me free coffee, I have to pay for it, and the machines in our office that we have to join a "coffee club" to participate in are the standard no frills kind that get left on all day)

Woe is me. How do engineers survice without good coffee??

George said...

Hey now, why spoil perfectly good milk and chocolate syrup with bad coffee?

Starbucks is opening lots of shops in lots of places because they've convinced people that bad $4 lattes and Edgy Pop Top 40 CDs on endless loop are a rockin' way to dose on your daily caffeine. And besides: everyone in the big cities and the fashionable places is drinking this bad coffee. It can't be that bad, right? And why shouldn't you be able to drink bad coffee too?

cari said...

for me its not about drinking good or bad coffee, its about drinking coffee at all. literally my options: Mcdonalds, work coffee (with no milk, and stale, I might add, except the powdered kind), or Starbucks. Before, I would have paid my $10 a month to join the work coffee club so I could get my daily fix, now I get slightly tastier, slightly more expensive starbucks. I would get it there regardless of the the faux-trendiness (though, heck, might as well have it). That's how Starbucks gets my business.

btw, the coffee is totally bad. i consider it coffee flavoring for my frothed milk and chocolate, and its not bad flavoring.

Peter T. said...

I really like Starbucks coffee. For real. I avoided the stores out of principle for years, but eventually had the odd one here and there. I absolutely hate saying "Grande" and refuse to say "Venti".

But basically I like that the coffee is strong. Really strong. I get the shakes sometimes from the excessive caffiene. By contrast I am currently drinking a coffee from our company's caffeteria and it's horrible.

That's why I googled "bad caffeteria coffee" and found you guys.

George said...

I don't think Starbucks' espresso (not drip) is that strong. Given their espresso roast is on the darker side of the spectrum, the beans have lost more of their caffeine content than a lighter roast.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to get a foreigner's perspective on "American coffee" in general. As insulting as "Americano" is, I thought it would be easier to find commentary. Anyone willing to respond re: Starbucks or otherwise?

Peter T said...

Hi again. I was talking about the strength of their brewed coffee. And I also meant flavour as opposed to caffiene content, though even their dark roasts make me a bit jittery if I have more than one. Compare it with other chains or even 90% of the boutique/private cafes I've visited and try and compete. Especially outside of major centres, it's difficult to find a good cup of coffee.

Not to mention a trip to Ecuador or other Panama or other growing regions... they usually have a starbucks or powdered nescafe. It's rediculous. Right at the plantations you can usually get decent coffee, but the rest seems to be for export only.

As for the Americanos, I love 'em. But they have to be doubles and with not-too-much water. There's a fine line between a great americano and a waterey cup of brown water.

I think it's common for Europeans to scoff at any american version of coffee. Brewed coffee is just a different drink than espresso. They're made differently and enjoyed differently.

Think of an americano as something like a cross between a brewed cup of coffee and an espresso. Nice rich flavour that can be gulped. Also something like a late with water instead of milk.

How about the Canadiana? It's an espresso in a coffee mug topped up with brewed coffee. Yum. Like whiskey in your beer.

In fact, maybe espresso is to brewed coffee as whiskey is to beer? Same ingredients, different drinks? ... nah, it's also very different than that.

Anyhoo, back to work...

Anonymous said...

Just so you know...the difference between dark roasts and the milder blends do differ in both caffeine and taste (obviously), but not so obviously, it is the milder blends that have more caffeine...and a lighter taste. This is why the bolder is usually and aquired taste..its more about appreciation for taste then it is about caffeine levels. so what happens is a lot of peopel assume bolder coffees are stronger in caffeine, when its really just the taste...so they get the bol and think it tastes liek crap....its not that, its just they didnt knwo the real differences between the two. So if you dont liek starbucks coffees, try the milder blends and see if it makes a difference. as for the espresso shots not tasting good...they are only good for 10 seconds...if its not mixed within this time the taste will blntly change to a bitter/burnt type...make sure theyre making it right. this is why people also choose to get americanos...it captures the flavour of the fresh pulled shot, instead of having it just stright up. if you dont think its strong enough, you could always just add another shot! its all about options, and thats why starbucks is so great...it gives you any option you want...if its not on the menu, ask, they will say yes if it is possible!

Anonymous said...

just a recommendation for you who likes the coffee made with the frothed milk...if you want something a little less expensive you coudl always ask for a 'mild/bold misto"...which is either the mild coffe or bolder coffee filled ahlfway then with your choice of steamed milk to fill the rest...you could also add whatever flavour you want (you can ALSO do this with any kind of tea you liek to...tea misto...i recomment the earl grey white chocolate misto). it comes to $2.65 i believe for a grande..so much cheaper and still tastes oh so very good (i actually prefer it more) cheers!

George said...

Hi Anonymous, thanks for your comments.

As for the roast types, I do know the different between dark & mild, both in taste characteristics and caffeine levels. And every roast I've tried from Starbucks, I thought was below-par all the way to downright bad. I've had plenty of dark and mild roasts from Caffe Vita, Zoka, Tullys, Vivace, and the like, and none have tasted so poorly as Starbucks' roasts to me.

Starbucks tries to make baristas "make it right" by automating their machines to push-button types. This in my opinion muddles not only the taste but the craft of making espresso-style coffee. Another point off for Starbucks.

Finally, thanks for the tip on mistos. I don't drink milk with my coffee as of late, however. I find milk obscures the taste of the coffee. In Starbucks' case, this is a blessing rather than a curse, given the overall bad taste of their coffee.

Again, thanks for the comments.

Dennis Chamberlin said...

I swear that in past years I could get consistently "good" cup coffee from Starbucks. To me, "good" means only that it tastes pleasant, but I really can't tell one non-flavored bean from another. However, in the last six months or so, the Starbucks coffee has *averaged* as barely drinkable. I've not found a single good cup, and a few were completely undrinkable --- very bitter, and resembling something I might drain from my car.

Sadly, they are still consistent, but consistently bad. They have tried to position themselves as a premium coffee place that is worth the kind of money that people used to spend on small meals.

Now, if they no longer trouble to make a good cup of plain coffee, I will choose other places to make my occasional treat purchase of expensive foo-foo coffee drinks.

Anonymous said...

Starbucks coffee isn't "strong", it's burned beyond recognition. Good coffee beans do not have to be incinerated in order to produce flavor. Adding frothy milk and chocolate to cover up coffee that tastes like ashes is just plain silly.

the best cup of coffee said...

wow....really old post, but yeah, *$'s is really really bad coffee. Of course, if you like things over cooked and burnt, its probably something you like!!

Mariana said...

I consider the Starbucks coffee a weird combination between burnt coffee beans and brewed coffee made with too much water. I even dare to say that if you haven't tasted some other types of coffee beans of course your palate will be broken and it wouldn't be your fault. Just to try something different and expand your knowledge about coffee; if you haven't been to another country, you could let a friend that comes from another country make you a cup of coffee with their own the beans and their own process. Maybe then and only then you can actually see that Starbucks coffee is not good and no amount of frothed milk (I still don't understand any coffee that needs to be bigger than a regular mug) can make up for burnt beans and watered down coffee. And a last observation, which I see as an American thing, if you leave the house in the mornings in such a hurry that you couldn't even make yourself a decent cup of coffee, how is it that you do have the time to actually stop at a Starbucks store and buy overpriced coffee everyday? It's neither good or cheap so I don't see the point...

Anonymous said...

I recently went on a trip to America and was shocked by the quality of coffee - in fact even though i am a self confessed addict i did not drink it on my whole one week stay. It is far too sweet, milky, watery and over processed. Completely disgusting. And the sizes were ridiculous. The small size is the equivalent to a large over here.