In Defense of Starbucks

… or at least its consumers.

(Originally posted August 5, 2010 on blogspot.)

I go to Starbucks several times a week. I’m sort of known for it. I eat there. I buy coffee there. I hang out there. I even worked there for a few months after I graduated from NYU with my second Masters Degree. I only left because my shifts as a barista were causing me to turn down teaching gigs. And that’s just silly.

One of the first things I did once I knew where our new apartment was located was look for the nearest Starbucks. I have a preferred customer card on its way in the mail. It’s gold, and it has my name on it. My drink orders are embarrassingly specific. That’s the kind of Starbucks customer I am.

Since moving to the NYC area seven years ago, I’ve had people tell me that going to Starbucks is ridiculous. I could go on a vacation with the money I spend instead. But here’s the thing. I don’t want to go on one giant vacation at the end of the year. I want to go on little mini vacations every day. Vacations where I get exactly what I want, in a comfortable, familiar environment. I can be warmed by a tall one-pump-mocha-extra-hot Chai latte. Or cooled off with an iced grande half-pump-classic-sweetner green tea. Or I can start a rehearsal after being Mommy all day feeling energized because of my doppio cappuccino. All for under $5.

And I’ve had people tell me all about the corporate evil that is the Starbucks machine.

Two things.

1- I worked there, and that was not my experience. Did I work as a top-level executive with insider secrets? Of course not. But my guess is that the people hurling stones at the company don’t have insider secrets either. I found the company to be fair, and supportive, and healthy- both in concern to its employees and the world as a whole.

2- Please. The Smith Family is entirely freelance-supported. And. We BOTH come from family-owned businesses. I know all about family-run businesses, I am in support of them, I do my best to choose them when given a choice. I go to Mom-and-Pop coffee shops too. My support of Starbucks (and Target, while we’re at it) does not automatically equal a dismissal of all other coffee shops. I drink a lot of coffee.

My little sister and my best friend share in my passion for Starbucks. Whenever something bad happens to any one of us- no matter how big or small- the response is always the same. “Get yourself to a Starbucks as soon as possible!” We know it doesn’t heal anything. Not really. But if I send my sister to a Starbucks, I know that she’ll walk in knowing exactly what she’s going to get. It will be clean and inviting inside. She’ll be greeted by a friendly barista. She’ll have someone else take care of her. She’ll know exactly how much she’s going to spend. The most serious impulse buy she can make will be getting a cookie, too. A few dollars and a few minutes later, she will be able to face whatever is going on, drink-in-hand, feeling a little bit better.

I could probably talk about Starbucks all day, but I better wrap this up. I’m meeting up with a new Mommy-friend at Starbucks. The same Starbucks where we met the other day. One tall no-whip-java-chip-frappuchino, coming right up.

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