It was announced in the papers here in Australia last week that Starbucks is going to close about 75% of its stores in this country. The fact that of the 84 Starbucks locations in Australia, 61 will be closed, is a resounding slap in the face to an arrogant multinational giant.
Over the last several years I have been back and forth to North America, and I have constantly been amazed by the amount of people who think that Starbucks makes a good coffee. It used to bug the shit out of me when locals over there used to drag me into Starbucks for a coffee like they were doing some poor clueless bumpkin a favour. I’d always go kicking and screaming, saying that “don’t you want to support a smaller business that actually makes good coffee?” My protests were usually met with blank stares of non-comprehension and embarrassed mumbles of, “but they make good coffee”.
“NO THEY DON’T!” I would impotently counter.
Saying that I hated Starbucks produced on my host’s faces, expressions reminiscent of a puppy being smacked over the nose with a rolled up newspaper. I’d try to explain how bad the coffee was, and they just didn’t get it. I’d just get that hurt puppy dog eyes thing. Then I would try to explain that it is better to support small local businesses than some large chain. They still didn’t get it. More sad little eyes. I also tried to explain that the insincere and obsequeious “crawling for tips” demeanour of Starbucks staff wasn’t actually good service.
It’s demeaning to customers and staff alike. It pains me to see people grovel.
I even tried pointing out to them that the cakes that they offered were very poor, but to no avail. It was like trying to explain what an orgasm was to plankton.
My wife has a poster above her desk at work that shows a pig sitting in mud, with the caption, “never try and teach a pig how to sing. It’s a waste of time and it irritates the pig”
Not only is the coffee at Starbucks very mediocre, but all the stupid names that they name their coffee irritates the hell out of me.
“Just give me a fuckin cappuccino you grinning crawler!”
Here in Australia we have a large Italian population that has thankfully dragged the Anglo Irish majority into an appreciation of what a good coffee should taste like.
It always seemed to me, an incredibly arrogant act of hubris that Starbucks tried to sell their bland crap here in Australia. One would have thought that a business which has all the resources of such a large company would have done a little bit of market research. We have a very well established and sophisticated coffee culture here.
The only reason why Starbucks does so well in North America, is that outside of the very large cities, it is incredibly hard to get a good cup of coffee. A couple of years ago I spent a week in Santa Fe, and to my consternation I wasn’t able to find a decent cappuccino the whole time I was there. One would think that in Santa Fe, which is the second-largest art market in North America, there would be some demand for a decent coffee and that demand would be catered for.
In a week in Santa Fe, I did not have one single decent cappuccino.
One time, when I asked for a cappuccino, I was brought milkshake glass full of whipped cream and extremely weak coffee. I was getting so sick and tired of getting such stupid concoctions that I asked to see the manager and I thought I’d straighten him out. Perhaps I could give him a lesson in how make a real cappuccino, after all, I have a espresso machine at home.
How hard could it be?
When I told the manager that a milkshake glass full of cream wasn’t a cappuccino and that I was willing to show him how to make a proper one, he indignantly retorted, “but I was taught how to make cappuccinos by Starbucks”, as though it was something to be proud of!
Oh, well at least I can be happy with the fact that there is only 23 Starbucks stores left in Australia. With any luck they’ll go belly up as well.
It’s too bad that McDonald’s have smarter marketing people, and they have researched the local market so that they produce some products that at least gives a nod to the local demands. I’d like to see McDonald’s and all those other horrible fast food chains go the same way as Starbucks.