Posted in Art, Coffee, Everyday life, The Conscious Disbeliever

Why we drink bad coffee – I am talking to you Starbucks

I am a customer of Starbucks, but I  never touch their coffee, not even with a ten foot pole. I like some of their sandwiches and a few of the cold drinks served there. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and tried  many of their coffees, but for the life of me, I cannot like the taste. Even though they say that the coffee is arabica, many times I have encountered a rubbery taste typical of blends that have robusta and the lack of body is appalling.

coffee: we suck at it so badly [53/365]
coffee: we suck at it so badly [53/365] (Photo credit: Terence S. Jones)
Coffee is not just a drink, it is a multi-sensory experience. The very first thing that strikes me is the aroma, more so when I grind my coffee beans. Then comes the sight of that black elixir and the anticipation of taking that very first sip and the explosion of taste, as well as that warm comforting sensation it provides as your drink it. But not just that, coffee also revolves around conversation and ambiance. It is not the same to have your coffee on the run in a disposable cup than to drink it in an agreeable environment.

Starbucks provides a nice place to sit down and enjoy your coffee – oh if only it was good – comfortable, with music, free wi-fi and as in most coffeehouses a sense of community if you want it.

The business model is great and has been picked up by many other coffee shops, some even serve very good coffee.

Maybe as consumers we follow the so called “Principle of least effort” and are more than willing to sacrifice quality to obtain convenience.

And possibly another is some good neuromarketing. It could be our  (well not mine, but…) brain remembers the pleasant experience and favors it over the taste.

As social animales we crave a sense of community and this kind of shop offers it to a limited degree.

Some of the people who are part of the coffee house community are young and probably were never exposed to a traditional coffee shop. I had the joy of living next to a small coffee roaster, so every Saturday I would wake to the exquisite smell of freshly roasted coffee (one of the chimneys was just next to my window) and of course run next door for my fresh cup of Joe.  I guess that if they get them while they are young, they won’t know better.

Well, as taste is so individual and subjective, maybe I am only being a coffee snob, or as some say “being more papist than the Pope”, but I just can’t help it.

What is your take on this?

See you next time.


Family man, gamer, neurosurgeon, "Born Again 6.9 Atheist" and of course, Coffee aficionado

13 thoughts on “Why we drink bad coffee – I am talking to you Starbucks

  1. I agree, the state of coffee is terrible and I’ll be touching on it in one of my next couple of posts. Starbucks does sell some great cups. Santa brought me a pair of nice double-walled glass ones perfect for cappuccino.

  2. since leaving the US 5 years ago I haven’t been to any cafeterías that have a sense of community – in europe its more the italian way (stand at the bar, drink it down, pay and go). but i did practically live at a coffee house in kentucky when i studied, and the sense of community (and snobbery) brought me up to an average of 4 coffees a day. good marketing, like you say, but it was also high quality shit 😉 it was a roastery as well, and we all constantly smelled of roasted beans, our hair, clothes, breath 😉 but i’ll be damned if i drink BAD coffee just for the community. no way. i’d rather drink alone on my balcony!

    1. Just out of curiosity, where in Kentucky is this coffee shop you speak of? I am a Kentucky native, and might like to pop in there as a fellow coffee consumer if it’s close or somewhere I visit on trips. I too, think Starbucks coffee is terrible. Like mud. But their morning buns are absolutely delightful!

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  4. Thanks! Starbucks coffee is by far the worst!!!! And they rarely have any decaf. The flavor taste like the bottom of the pot and it always leaves me jittery. Good coffee should leave you refreshed and tingly. Panera Bread’s coffee is much better, reasonably priced, comes in any gourmet style- and they let you have unlimited refills!! 🙂 It is also a much more cozy setting for lounging with the laptop, and better food too!

  5. I agree that Starbucks coffee is horrible. Everyone says that they like “Starbucks Coffee” but they’re actually talking about the frappes, lattes, etc. they serve. They’re not even talking about the actual coffee. The frappes and lattes do taste pretty good but the coffee is just the worst.

    1. Precisely, that is what they rely on. Should you care? In the end taste is a personal matter, so if it floats your boat… I think that if you try some really good coffee you may change your mind.

      1. I’ve been thinking for about four months about this and at this point I just don’t care. I just want caffeine. However, what is “good coffee?” Is there such a thing? Could it be true? What do you recommend? What is available to the American consumer? Could you please point me in the right direction?

      2. Very good question. What is good coffee? It is a matter of taste and as such it is very subjective. Everybody has their own idea of what is “good coffee”. I can only give you mine. First of all I believe that you have to start off with a good quality coffee, so get an Arabica and skip the Robusta. Also if at all possible, get beans and grind them yourself just before brewing. Depending on where you live you can find this easy or difficult. If you live in a big city it will be easier to find a local roaster that can provide you with good fresh coffee beans to make coffee at home and also with a good cup if you are on the run. If you live in a smaller town you may not have access to a good roaster and will have to settle for store bought coffee or have to get it shipped to you. Getting coffee to go will probably mean going to some large chain like one of these, good luck with that.
        I normally make coffee at home and take it in a thermos to drink on my way to work. At work I can get a variety of coffee (drip, French press,AeroPress,espresso) as we are all big coffee drinkers there. I will only drink coffee away from home or my office if I can get it from a good roaster, if not I rather wait.
        The consumer in America can easily get coffee shipped to their home. You might want to take a look at this link .

        How to brew coffee

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