I was recently going to a business meeting in Boston on a very hot day. Like the Braniac that I am, I decided black was the color to wear that morning and I was paying the price for that decision on this hot afternoon as I walked down Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay. For those of you not from Boston, Newbury Street is where people with lots of money go to shop, eat, live and just generally be around other wealthy people. For the rest of the folks like me who aren’t fabulously wealthy, we go there typically to eat out at a really fancy place for an overpriced treat, spend way too much for something we could have gotten for a lot less somewhere else, are a tourist or are simply passing through to somewhere else. Anyhow – I was hot, sweaty and THIRSTY. I had visions of ice coffee in my head, and started to scope out where the closest Dunks was because living in MA you are within two hundred feet of one at any given time by law. Except, of course, if you are on Newbury Street because of course there is no Dunks on Newbury Street (too “common” I suppose?). OK – after I figured that out I still wanted an ice coffee dammit and noticed a Starbucks not too far away. For years I have avoided Starbucks at all costs because a lot of reasons (stay tuned – it’s coming. Oh – it’s coming..) but I needed an ice coffee so I headed on in. After plopping down $5 (?!?!) for a large ice coffee I sat and took it all in. By “all in” I mean I started to tabulate in my head all the reasons why Starbucks can go fuck right off. Let’s begin – shall we?
1. Mocha Crap a Chillio Venting with a shot of Bite Me – Rule of thumb for me – if I need to speak a whole fucking other language to order a coffee I hate you. Yes, I have been in Starbucks before and not once will I ask for a venti, grande, tall or whatever bullshit you are trying to make me say. If I want a large, I will order a large. The best is when the “barista” (more on that in a bit) asks me after I say “large” – “do you mean Venti” or whatever bullshit I am supposed to say. No, I mean a large. As in “in charge”, as in “my annoyance with this bullshit is large”. Even typing this makes me pissed off. But Starbucks doesn’t stop there….nope even the coffees themselves have ridiculous (and flat out pretentious) names like “Iced Cinnamon Almond Milk Macchiato”, “Very Berry Hibiscus Refreshers” and “Iced Espresso Caramel Macchiato”. I am only listing a few of these preposterous names to make a point – that point being fuck you. What I love about Dunks and others like it is that they understand this very foreign concept – I just want a damn coffee and not some linguistic course in beans from the wetlands region in Brazil vs beans fresh roasted in sparkling manure from grass fed cows in the Philippines.
2. Barista? – Look, I work in Recruiting and HR and understand the importance of job titles but maybe this has gone just a bit too far here? I get it – you can make my caramel infused coffee bean from Mexico infused with organic orange peels farmed from the best socially conscious orange growing farms in Florida really well, but that shouldn’t require me to refer to you as anything other than “the person who got me my coffee”. One of the many great things about Dunks vs Starbucks is the person I give my money too and I don’t need to have any other name for our relationship other than “customer” and “person giving me my coffee”. Fuck Starbucks.
3. The Discotheque or 1969 Greenwich Village – Of course, you cannot walk into any Starbucks without being subjected to the most hipster-ish music like….ever. You are so trendy Starbucks to be playing Bob Dylan or the latest remix of DJ whatever the one name moniker DJ is of the moment. Here’s the thing though – this music sucks ass, and it makes my blood boil to have to listen to it. Another reason why Dunks > Starbucks is that when I go into a Dunks I am not subjected to whatever the soul patched barista behind the counter is currently into. No – as a matter of fact no tunes at all. Just the sweet, sweet sounds of angry people in line waiting for their goddam cup of coffee. That, my friends is what they call “ambiance”. PS – selling your “Starbucks Tunes”? C’mon now.
4. Get your coffee and move on in! – I am not sure when this “trend” started, but apparently the cool thing to do these days is move your ass in to Starbucks. Every time I am in one, there is always 2 – 3 people who are full on living there. They have their laptops out, feet up and even brought their favorite blanky from home in case it gets chilly. Oh yeah, they almost always have headphones on too because even these peeps can’t stand “Ironic – the remix featuring MC Cafe” or whatever shit they are playing. Is this like some scene I am not cool enough to understand? Maybe so, but I for one when I go into a coffee shop want to get my coffee and get the hell out. NOT set up my xbox, dial some friends on the phone and catch up on my laundry. PS – these folks also love to have phone conversations for all to hear. Yes, bro. I get it – you are super important.
5. Coffee with a conscience – What I am about to say will for sure get me in “PC hot water” but fuck it. I don’t care what farm produced my coffee nor do I care about the cause “du jour” you are peddling this week. No, I don’t want to donate to the monkey awareness in Nepal. I am not a cold-hearted bastard (maybe) but when I give I do it on my terms – not yours. I just want my coffee.
6. All I wanted was a donut – No, I am not the most “health conscious” person. Call me crazy though, if when I go to a coffee shop that I want coffee shop associated foods with it. Dunks is simple – donuts, maybe some bagels or bagel sandwiches. Pretty standard coffee shop fare. Starbucks? Dear God man. First there is the “wellness” section of the menu. If I want “wellness” I will eat a carrot stick. They have their “bistro boxes”….yeah “bistro”. Damn these pretentious bastards. I am so happy you have your protein boxes and no doubt you must sell them – but for this dude the last place I am getting my protein is a coffee shop. Yes – there are pastries – but even these are important with fancy names. Not a Boston cream donut to be found. Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame.
7. Will you be mortgaging your home or donating blood today? Let’s cut right to the chase – Starbucks coffee is ridiculously overpriced. I am the first person to appreciate great marketing (and they have great marketing) but NO coffee is worth what they charge. No coffee. Even Unicorn blood coffee or whatever the latest BS fad drink they have going lately is. Which leads me to…….
8. The Unicorn blood drink – Even my wife and daughter got caught up in their marketing and HAD to have one of these things, and of course take pictures and share them on social too. Let me be perfectly clear – no drink that a) doesn’t include alcohol b) Has “unicorn” in the name c) is not engulfed in flames d) does not have smoke coming off of it e) isn’t served to me in gold cups with silver straws f) doesn’t have alcohol in it is worth this kind of tomfoolery. I read people were waiting in hour long lines for this and even hunting down stores that still had it in stock. For a drink. What the serious fuck.
9. It tastes like…burning – Last, but not least is the single most important factor in all of this. The coffee tastes awful. The best way I can describe it is take coffee, burn it 10x over, add three shots of espresso and then mix it up with more burning and there you have it. “Strong” is an understatement. Call me what you will, but I like my coffee to taste like coffee, not some coffee bean on steroids and gamma rays. To even you most ardent Starbucks fans I say this: If I were to give you truth serum I firmly believe you would agree with me. Better yet, let’s do the “Pepsi Challenge” and put a Dunks iced coffee against the Starbucks “Iced in barrels of organic bean macchiato venti extract” and see who wins. Sometimes simple is just better.
OK Rant over. This most recent trip to Starbucks has only furthered my resolve that I am #teamdunks all day every day. I know a lot of you love Starbucks and taste is obviously very subjective. I know – but Ed, you love the craft beers! Isn’t that same as this crap? No. 100x times no. Very simply – craft beer is delicious and worth the cost (roughly the same as you would pay for other beers BTW). I don’t need to speak another language to get it nor invest in a charitable cause either. In closing, to you Starbucks fans I say enjoy the latest “Centaur infused Venetian Carmiallato” and the second mortgage you need to take out to purchase it. In short, screw you Starbucks. Rant over.