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Baristas my ass…

January 4, 2007

I can’t believe I never noticed before. Well, I guess I can believe it, because it’s not as though I frequent Starbucks. I’m pretty much only in them a few times a year, when I get the ubiquitous Starbucks gift cards for Christmas. This morning I took one of those Christmas gift cards and went to get myself a double short nonfat latte (or whatever the Starbucks lingo is for that), and that’s when I saw them. The fake espresso machines.

There are no group heads. There are no portafilters. There is no filling and tamping and no real pulling. It really is McSpresso. The complete mechanization of what I considered, after several years of pulling espresso, to be something of a beautiful coffee art. It was the final push that sent me into Starbucks hatred.

I started calling Starbucks the Evil Coffee Empire when I was in high school, but I always maintained at least small good feelings about the place for three reasons: They pay their employees decently, give them benefits, and teach them the fine art of brewing a wonderful coffee beverage. So what if they also teach them to add a bunch of sugary, caramely, whipped creamy crap to those beverages–at least they were also learning the ancient art, the craft of pulling espresso.

Except they’re not. Not learning the art anyway. They might still be getting good pay and benefits, but whatever. It is totally a McJob, requiring no skill and no learning, and no craft. They just push a button! And then pour some poorly foamed milk on top. (Of course, I’m feeling an inner conflict because my cousin has been working at Starbucks for years and I’m sure she is not a skill-less worker. She would probably argue the opposite of what I’m saying here. Or maybe not.)

Not like this is some kind of massive moment of disillusionment. I’ve never been a Starbucks fan. It was just a weird, weird moment, and a little bit soul crushing, to realize that even espresso could be machined.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 25, 2007 4:52 pm

    I make better coffee than $tarbucks so there’s no reason for me to go there. Except when I’m stranded. And that’s the problem. They are everywhere and sometimes you need them.

    Then you go inside and realize they aren’t even making espresso, they are just pushing buttons. They have pretty much made a complete transition from automatic espresso machines to super-automatic ones.

    The CEO of $tarbucks says they made the change to shorten the amount of time it takes to make a drink and increase the number of drinks a baristo/a can make at once.

    Positively revolting.

    However, I recently learned a $tarbucks drink order that approximates what a real cafe would serve: a double tall wet cappuccino. Try it out next time and just be thankful you aren’t drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee.

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