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Saturday, November 13, 2004
  Free Wireless + Laptop + caffeine = Procrastination : It's always too bad when you're at a coffee shop and the people sitting next to you who were speaking a cool foreign language get up and leave.

I'm at a chain-type establishment that shall remain nameless. The place is playing Ray Charles's music (exclusively) and prominently displaying his CDs, obviously in return for some huge pay-out from whoever is marketing the Ray Charles movie that just came out. Commerce gone amuck, I don't like it when it gets so sneaky and manipulative.

Check out the boy-shamen.
You might as well call it Starbucks, we all know that's where you ended up.

I think originally Starbucks was much better than what it has become, on a number of levels.

First, the quality of the drinks are worse, from a coffee-lover's perspective, as more and more of the employees are non-coffee lovers. Many who work there now are just fungible service workers, or worse, lovers of foo foo non-coffee coffee drinks.

Second, when Starbucks was smaller (in number of stores), it had very good relationship with its source growers and countries. Many of the coffees it used and sold were "fair trade." Now, Starbucks advertises when one its brands is "fair trade." The inference being that all the other ones are not fair trade (similar to body building where there is a "natural" class. What does that make the other classes with significantly larger sized competitiors?).

Third, Starbucks, in its every increasing drive to increase profits per store, has taken to more and more methods of customer manipulation. You pointed out but one.

I worked at Starbucks stores in VA and CA well before Starbucks grew to what it is now (2000+ stores). Therefore, I have watched with horror as the culture/business practices have changed. Fortunately, Pete's Coffee remains the viable good coffee alternative.
Great, thanks for "outing" me. My plan was to not reveal that I had been to Starbucks, thinking that anyone who could put it together because of the Ray Charles thing would keep quiet because they'd be outing themselves, too. But you busted my theory.

Now that we're being open about it, very liberating, mostly I agree with you about the quality of the coffee. Gotta love the egg-nog lattes, though (now that the x-mas *consumer* season is upon us--I see I'm making your point for you). Guess I am a sucker for the seasonal-menu-promotional. Shamrock shake? I'm there.
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