Friday, November 7, 2008

Starbucks is out of coffee

Look, you know I'm not liking Wawa Coffee, right? Okay, so Wednesday I'm picking up Nora after school, and it's kinda windy and cloudy and raining, and I'm zoning a bit after a rough night of insomnia. So I look for a Dunkin to get a shot of caffeine; none around. Okay, I'm going to settle for Starbucks -- not a huge Starbucks fan, I'm one of those who think they over-roast, but I need the buzz.

So I fight the traffic and make a left turn into the not-too-conveniently placed Starbucks, park, and wait...and wait, while the two baaarrrriiissstttaaassss stumble through making iced tea and wrapping scones. But I'm thinking, I just want a large coffee, can't be too hard.

"Could I get the Ethiopian, please, large?"

"Oh, no, we're out of that. I should have erased it."

"Okay, just a large Pike Place."

And she goes to pour it and...Starbucks is out of coffee. No one in the place, and she only comes up with half a large. Starbucks is out of coffee. And then she offers to "make it an Americano for you?" You mean, top up a half cup of coffee with hot water, and then charge me more for it? She gets the stare. She tries again.

"I could make a fresh pot, just a few minutes. Four minutes."

Screw it. I went to Wawa...but I looked at the ranks of half-empty, reeking pots...and I got a Diet Pepsi.

What the hell does it take to get a cup of coffee that doesn't taste like tar, or stale grain, or brown water in the damned 'burbs? Is anyone listening?

20 comments:

Mr. Thursday said...

Let me tell you, the BEST coffee in the suburbs is in Wayne. Cafe Procopio, right next to the Wayne R5 station, and about 100 yards from Teresa's Next Door, makes some stunningly good coffee. My aunt, a coffee obsessive, will stop there when she's in the area BEFORE she comes to see me. That is, she drives several hours to come and see family, but makes certain to get an espresso from Procopio FIRST.

Her priorities might be out of order slightly, but that coffee really is fabulous.

Lew Bryson said...

I don't see the problem here. I like your aunt. When we drive 5 hours to visit my wife's uncle, I like to stop at the Texas Hot for a pair of dogs with Texas Hot sauce and diced onions first. Life's uncertain, grab the good stuff when you're there.

Stephen Beaumont said...

I make me own French press coffee at home, Lew -- you've tasted it; great stuff, eh? -- and stick to espresso when out. Doubles, that is.

Lew Bryson said...

Steve,

I make my own at home, too: got a press in 2006. Get good beans. But you live in a major world city! I live in the 'burbs, there are people here with money (too damned much money, to be honest), but there's no good coffee, and, natch, no espresso except at Starbucks. We used to have the Bucks County Coffee kiosk at the local market, but they got bought and shut that down. I need something when I'm out and about. What I'd LIKE to see...is more local coffee shops that serve something decent and give a damn about it. Or, as I said: if Wawa would just go to thermal carafes...

sam k said...

There's a beer-related bitch in this whole thing, too. Can't tell you how many times I've been in a brewpub, looking at the chalkboard for longer than the average customer and making a decision based on exactly how I feel at the time, and how a particular style offered by the establishment will satisfy that urge.

The bartender approaches, asks what I'd like, and when I say "The Flim-Flam Imperial Porter, please," hear to my dismay, "Oh, sorry we're out of that." I will literally get up from my seat, walk over to the board, and wipe the selection off with my hand. When you're out of a product that's listed on an easily manipulated message center, the first thing you should do when it's out is to go over and DELETE IT.

Now I'm left to run through the entire decision-making process again, and am rarely pleased with the outcome, mostly because of my staff-induced attitude. (Sorry, it's genetically imprinted, much like your own, Lew.)

If it's on a printed list, tell me that the selection is not currently available before I make that decision! Isn't your job all about CUSTOMER SERVICE?? It should be so easy!

Brooks said...

This is why I drink tea.

But then again most of the time you can only get Lipton orange pekoe

bill mc said...

I know you don't like chains, but Mickey D's coffee (Newman's Organic I think) is decent and they actually brew it more than once a day. A lot better than the local Dunkin' Donuts.

Lew Bryson said...

That's not the only beer-related bitch, Sam, though this is kind of beer-derived: why the hell can't I have a choice of more than one or two coffees? They've got a bunch of them back there; make me some!

(Just a note to the several coffee purveyors who tried to advertise by posting "comments" to this which were mostly "We have lots of great coffees, here's our website!"... You're probably selling excellent stuff, but that's not what this blog is for. It's my blog about beer, whiskey, sometimes coffee...and me. You want to advertise, buy space. Putting up a comment makes it look like I'm endorsing you, which I'm not. At least, not till I've tried your coffee.)

ryan said...

hey lew, this isn't about coffee but I've had a similar situation. I've been trying for a while now to get a taste of Legacy's Hoptimus Prime. I've heard mixed reviews and want to try for myself. However, I've never been able to find it. I've searched many a bar and distributor in vain, including a trip to the brewery one weekend only to find it closed for the day. Thank god for the canal street pub it made it worth the trip. I was curious though if you've ever sampled it and if you had any thoughts. Thanks

Lew Bryson said...

Haven't had the pleasure, Ryan: so damned many beers, only so much liver...

Lew Bryson said...

By the way, Jay: why not get yourself a tea wallet (Google it) and carry the tea you want with you? You can always get hot water, no? (Ha! You can thank me later, fella!)

Elizabeth said...

Your know-it-all sister, with her first ever blog ** thank you! I do the firsties dance! ** Anyway, for the tea drinker, go to Republic of Tea and get their neat little Tea To Go tins. Good tea, nice airtight tin, easy to tuck in a pocket or bag. As for coffee, I'm a Starbucks Gold Card holder, but I am really fond of La Colomb here in Philly, on Rittenhouse Square. Boho as can be, but very good coffee! The owner is leaving to walk across Antartica soon, but the staff knows coffee and things will be fine.

Lew Bryson said...

But where do you drink coffee when you're not in the city, Liz? (Welcome, by the way: but stop that dancing!)

bill k said...

Starbucks profits have dropped 97% due to store closings and loss of Lew Bryson's $3.00 by not having a cup of frapacrapachinno.

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/081110/earns_starbucks.html?.v=6

roan22 said...

oh shit Lew, on behalf of Starbucks, I apologize that you got caught up in in what I see as Starbucks' biggest flaw, the ability to manage to always have freshly brewed coffee on hand. This is because every 30 minutes, policy states we are supposed dump the current batch, and make a fresh one. Starbucks relies on mini timers to alert baristas to make a fresh batch, and they are supposed to be mindful of them. However at peak times it can be impossible to keep up, or after a large order (guy comes in to buy 5 venti coffees for his construction crew), we will run out and some customers will be forced to wait a few minutes. However it has long been Starbucks policy that we are NOT to charge customers if that happens, and I never do. Never. Even if I charged them and realized there was not enough coffee for the order after the fact, I give refunds.

Starbucks tries very hard to please customers, but there is a flaw with the regular coffee...which you totally got caught up in unfortunately.

Rebecca Stephens
Starbucks store #786
East Norriton, PA

roan22 said...

Oh yeah an Americano is more expensive because its made of espresso shots and hot water. No brewed coffee should ever be put into an Americano! You seem to have gotten a very lazy barista and that sucks.

Knut Albert said...

I'm not really impressed that you give refunds if you've run out of coffee. What's the alternative?

Lew Bryson said...

Knut -- I think what she's saying is that if the customer has to wait for the coffee, they get the coffee and the refund. Which is not so bad.

But Rebecca...this store was decidedly not busy, and the girl seemed completely surprised by the lack of coffee. You do put your finger on a major issue: a coffee shop, one that is so strongly identified with coffee (even if most of their customers are only getting coffee-based drinks), can't afford to have a point-source bottleneck like that. I mean, WTF?

Lew Bryson said...

Oh yeah an Americano is more expensive because its made of espresso shots and hot water. No brewed coffee should ever be put into an Americano! You seem to have gotten a very lazy barista and that sucks.

That's what I thought! She really did just seem to be stumbling through the day without giving much of a damn.

roan22 said...

Baristas only make $7/hr. I think this plus the constant turnaround affects morale, and performance unfortunately. As a shift manager, I try to boost morale while I am there, giving out little appreciation awards, or buying pizzas, etc.