I’m one of those people who stopped going to Starbucks years ago. Starbucks was good when I first started drinking coffee. When I needed a mild coffee to indoctrinate myself to the coffee drinking culture of the techy Bay Area. Starbucks coffee satisfied me plenty for many years. But as my palate started getting sophisticated, Starbucks coffee just didn’t cut it anymore. I noticed that their coffee felt weak, I would have to put two shots of espresso in my latte to get the oomph that I wanted. But I didn’t like paying for that extra shot every time. I even tried their regular brewed coffee, but that felt watered down and weak too. I slowly just stopped going to Starbucks as new coffee shops started popping up all over the Bay Area. Peets is my favorite, Barefoot Coffee is great, Chromatic Coffee is good, Verve is great too, now there is Philz Coffee close by, and then there is Blue Bottle Coffee too; the list goes on and on. Who needs Starbucks now?
But then the other day I noticed a new Starbucks opened up a couple miles down from our home. On the way from finishing errands I decided to stop in at this new Starbucks after many years of ignoring this coffee chain. And I was pleasantly surprised.
First of all it’s all about the coffee. I was ready to order a latte with 2 shots when I noticed they were promoting two coffee drinks, one of them was Latte Macchiato. I asked the barista what is the difference between a regular latte and the Latte Macchiato. He explained the small latte has 1 shot of espresso with 2% milk, while the Latte Macchiato has 2 shots of espresso with whole milk. Seriously? Isn’t this what I had wanted years ago? And because they didn’t have it back then it caused me to abandon Starbucks in the first place? Finally, Starbucks has an espresso drink that will quench my appetite for a strong latte. So I ordered the Latte Macchiato and let me tell you – it was outstanding. It was a perfect espresso drink.
I also noticed that the ambiance in the new Starbucks cafe was very inviting and had lots of seating for people who want to literally lounge in Starbucks for hours. Tables and chairs aplenty, with sofas and couches too – this was not the Starbucks I used to frequent. This was a stronger Starbucks Coffee shop. This was not the Starbucks from the early days when they were trying to entice you to just try an espresso drink or coffee, and pay a premium for it too. This was a “We know our coffee is worth the price and we know you want it, come on in and linger for a while, so you can get more coffee.” kind of Starbucks.
I know I am in the minority when I say I strayed from Starbucks. Because honestly, no matter which Starbucks I see, it is overflowing with customers young and old. Obviously Starbucks is doing extremely well if they can open a new Starbucks everywhere I go in the Bay Area, and in every state and city that I have visited in the last few months. I am sure there are more Starbucks now than there are McDonalds.
Driving around my area, I noticed two more Starbucks Cafes opened in the surrounding neighborhood. There are now more than five Starbucks coffee shops within a five mile radius of where I live. Looks like we are returning to Starbucks here in the Bay Area.
As long as Starbucks sticks to serving good coffee, I think they will be around for many years to come. Boutique style coffee shops may come and go, just as fashion trends come and go; but Starbucks, just like style, will stand the test of time.