Starbucks Poised To Make Astoundingly Lame Changes

by SAMANTHA QUEEN · March 24, 2008

espresso machineFinally, there will be change at Starbucks. Just when I thought I was going to have to take the three avenue walk to Bendel’s in order to get some quality coffee during my workday. So are they going to have their baristas actually make your coffee drinks, as opposed to just pushing buttons? Oh, what about quality coffee beans? Are they going to give us better beans, as opposed to the cheapest of the cheap, which they burn and then mix with sugared milk in order to conceal the taste? May we actually pay for coffee, as opposed to milk? OH! I know! They’re totally going to … oh. They’re going to grind the bean in stores. Wow. As the Times put it, those are sweeping changes. Revolutionary, even.

Yes, the biggest changes to the Starbucks product will be on-site coffee grinding and the arrival of the “Mastrena,” a more compact version of the automated machines currently in use. The two machines are designed and produced by the same manufacturer, but the Mastrena is made to facilitate customer-barista interaction (hence the smaller size) and be even more precise. So, I guess this means that when I order my venti, two-pump, sugar-free mocha, soy latte, there will be an all-around smaller chance of the barista fucking up my obnoxiously precise order. I suppose that I shouldn’t complain. But talk about taking the art and form out of coffee making! Howey needs to take a trip to Seattle to see how it’s really done. Or … err, Starbucks is from Seattle isn’t it? Gosh, how did that happen? Conundrums aside, there will be other changes, including a new coffee blend and a customer rewards card. Like I said – revolutionary.

For the record, I realize that I’m being hypocritical. I dislike Starbucks, yet I drink it anyway. I know this and I always try to be forthcoming with my love/hate for Starbucks. My issue is this: I don’t understand why there can’t be a coffee company as ubiquitous as Starbucks that offers a higher-quality product. Perhaps it’s unfair for me to blame Starbucks for the current state of affairs. They’ve made billions off of a product, and that product happens to differ from the product that I really want. I shouldn’t feel victimized, but yet I do. To me, Starbucks is like the man who is perfect on paper, but with whom I am fundamentally incompatible. He has all the right facilities, but he just doesn’t utilize them in a way that I find compelling. There truly is nothing more frustrating.

Anyway, looks like I’m still going to have to make the trek to Chocolate Bar; but for those of you in the East Village (as if you bastards don’t have enough quality coffee options), Sasha Petraske has opened The Mercury Dime, a coffee establishment located on East 5th at Second Ave. I have yet to try it, but word on the street is that it’s stocked with rare coffees prepared by skilled baristas using classic espresso machines. Word to your mother.