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October 15th, 2005

Open Letter to the Starbucks Up the Street

Two or three times a week, for the past three or more years, I have been stopping at your store in the mornings on the way to work, as you are conveniently placed for the purpose. Generally, everyone has been very nice, and I'm quickly recognized by most of the staff as the "grandé skim no-whip white mocha and blueberry muffin" guy.

However, for the past year or more, you've been burning the drinks in the morning, both the espresso (because it leaves a lingering burnt taste in the drink), and the milk (which generally has a temperature approaching that of molten lava). I am a former barista myself, and know what the drinks are supposed to taste like; and I commented on this when it started, only to receive blank looks or "Oh really? Huh."

However, as I say, your store is conveniently placed; so I just resigned myself to the fact that if I didn't want to add another 10-15 minutes to go up the street to the Spectrum store, I'd have to deal with burnt coffee.

Earlier this week (Monday the 10th, I think it was), the milk was even hotter than usual, got-McDonald's-sued hot; so when I came in on Thursday the 13th, I decided that I just didn't want scalding milk that day. So I ordered my usual grandé skim no-whip white mocha, and added the comment, "Not so hot, please." A simple request, politely worded.

I watched them make the drink. The guy pulling the espresso marked it so on the cup; the guy handling the milk asked him for clarification on what it meant. The guy pulling the espresso replied, "Not so hot." The guy handling the milk promptly ignored the request and poured the usual lactate lava and handed it to me, without any adjustment at all. Thinking perhaps he just happened to have some not-so-hot milk in the pitcher, I tested it. Yup, same burnt coffee and scalding milk.

I asked, "Can I have an ice cube for this, please?" A simple request, politely worded. I asked for an ice cube. I did not ask for him to take the drink, pour out the top third, then scoop as much ice as you'd put into a tall frappuccino into it -- which is what I got.

So now I have burnt coffee, and to add insult to injury, it's cold.

Your store has finally crossed the line to where it's preferable to add time to my morning commute by going out of my way to go over to the Spectrum store, which crowded and busy as it is, doesn't burn the drinks. Does this count as "alienating people who should be your core customers?"

-The Gneech

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