It's sort of touching, those signs that have popped up in every Starbucks store. "We're your neighborhood Starbucks."
Well, actually you aren't. I live at least seven miles from the nearest Salem Starbucks. And that's the way this rural resident likes it.
If I want a friend, I'll get a dog. In fact, I have a dog. Pretty much all I want from Starbucks is a skinny venti vanilla latte a couple of times a week.
However, atmosphere does matter.
When I have a latte choice, I head for a locally owned place like the Coffee House Café. I like how they serve my "for here" drink in different looking cups, depending on what's clean. And how different baristas make my drink differently.
Starbucks has belatedly realized that becoming the coffee store corporate equivalent of McDonalds isn't such a good strategy. What was cool a couple of years ago now seems dated, predictable, commercialized.
A few signs touting Starbucks' neighborliness isn't going to change the vibe. Especially when the signs are obviously fashioned from a single corporate marketing cookie cutter.
About a week ago the head honcho of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, unveiled his "innovative customer-facing initiatives" and "vision for transforming the Starbucks customer experience and reinforcing a strong foundation from which to grow."
Great. This customer is ready to have his Starbucks experience transformed. I can hardly wait.
Free stuff would be an excellent place to start. Along with lots of others, I've complained that Starbucks sucks with its high-priced wi-fi.
So it's good to see that this is about to change. I found that out by perusing "My Starbucks Idea" on the Starbucks web site.
At first this struck me as just a corny superficial way a corporate giant tries to look like it's listening to customers, without really taking them seriously. But actually it's pretty interesting.
You can browse through the ideas and see which are under review (such as a punch card system) or coming soon (such as free wi-fi).
Unfortunately, "Lower your prices" hasn't struck the fancy of Starbucks management yet.
Instead of spending mucho $$ on advertising, just lower the prices a little. Old customers will return, new customers who are frightened by everyone who talks about "$5.00 for a cup of coffee!?!" will be lured in, and existing customers will feel 'special'.
I also liked "Go back to the European coffee house."
Please go back to your original idea of an European coffee house and get rid of the extraneous items like cds, stuffed animals, countless foods and all that factory holiday junk. I love the original Starbucks better.
And here's a shocker.
Until recently I'd been getting a grande latte (medium), but have switched to venti (large) because it seemed a better price per ounce deal. I assumed that a venti had an extra shot of expresso. It doesn't!
I never understand why extra milk is the only difference between Vanti and grande drinks. It is expected that there should be an extra shot!!!!!! Most of people don't even know this "secret".
Some apologists who commented on this suggestion said that coffee places have a formula for their drinks, adding an extra shot for every eight ounces. Since a venti is just four ounces bigger than a grande, it doesn't qualify for an extra shot – which supposedly would disrupt the harmonious balance of ingredients.
More caffeine the better, that's my recipe for harmony. So like some other commenters, I'll probably be going back to grande. If I want more milk, I'll take a few sips then fill up my cup with the free moo juice on the Starbucks counter.
Maybe that doesn't sound neighborly. But none of my neighbors charge me almost $4 for a large cup of coffee.