Fake Beverages, Entitlement, and Society’s Downfall: A Rant

Starbucks is ruining society.

As a former barista, with six or more years of experience spread among a number of independent coffee houses, I could write a full rant on what Starbucks has done to coffee, but I won’t, this rant will instead focus on what Starbucks has done to us.

I purchased a double tall soy latte from Starbucks about 15 minutes ago, I paid $4.02 for it, please know that I am part of the problem.

While waiting at the bar to pick up my beverage, which, by the way is a regular menu item with a milk modification that is offered for an additional 50 cents, I heard a series of other beverages called. 80% of them were absurd. And that’s an actual calculation. Of the five drinks that were called while I waited for mine, four could be found nowhere on the Starbucks menu and included bizarre ingredient contortions like “a half pump of vanilla” and “a single half caf, half decaf shot” (that’s one shot with two different kinds of coffee), one order was even an impossibility, as the customer requested a macchiato, but wanted it blended and without milk. These three were certainly eye roll worthy, but it was the fourth that took the cake (it could be a reduced fat chocolate chip coffee cake, if you like), a 30oz blended orange juice and cream, with the cream consisting of 2 parts half and half, 1 part 2% milk, and a scoop of vanilla bean powder. I stared at the drink when it was delivered. Since Starbucks doesn’t even offer a 30oz beverage of any kind, the drink was actually split into a 24oz iced cup, and a 12oz iced cup that was half full. I think I actually winced. The baristas didn’t seem happy about this drink, but instead of saying, “I’m sorry, we don’t have that particular item,” they made it.

And I wonder, when did this become OK? I would not go to a restaurant and order a tuna casserole, explaining to the server that, “well, I know you have noodles because there’s a shrimp fettuccine dish on the menu, and I know you have tuna because there’s a seared ahi dish on the menu, why can’t someone just make me what I want?” It’s rude. Worse, it’s entitled.

Sure, restaurants and coffee shops provide service, and we pay for that service, but when did we get to thinking that anything we want should be ours just because we want it?

Further, when did we start wanting the stupid things we now seem to want? The last Starbucks drink I mentioned was basically a glorified Orange Julius. Why would an adult want that? And why, if an adult did want that, wouldn’t she go to a place where Orange Julii are made and order one? Well, I’ll tell you why, because she wouldn’t have to. Starbucks tells her it’s OK to ask for whatever she wants and she shall receive it. And when this Julius ordering twit goes elsewhere, I’m sure she expects the same treatment, and that’s what this really boils down to. No one hears the word “no” anymore. And no one feels embarrassed for being unnecessarily demanding.

Starbucks perpetuates the notion that to be difficult is to be important. I firmly believe that a growing number of the drinks ordered at Starbucks have little to do with taste or caffeine and have everything to do with, to paraphrase a great Carrie Bradshawism, cultivating eccentricities to distract others from the fact that the orderers are devoid of personality. I’d bet that most people who order ristretto shots at Starbucks can’t tell the difference, and that the average coffee drinker thinks macchiato means caramel (sheesh, the confusion Starbucks has unleashed on the general coffee ordering public with this one). They don’t know what they’re drinking. But they think that you think they know what they’re drinking, and so they order mangled, complicated beverages to impress you, and thus, feel classy. Which is a kind of irony, really, if you accept the premise that class is largely about manners, and good manners are largely about making the people around you feel comfortable. “Etiquette tells one which fork to use, manners tells one what to do when one’s neighbor uses the wrong fork.” Since I’m writing a rant chastising these obnoxious beverage princesses (and I mean for that term to include men and women alike), once again, I realize I’m part of the problem. I should just let this stuff go.

But I can’t. Because it doesn’t end with the coffee line.

People actually cultivate eccentricities for their naughty kids now too. “Little Gunner Augustus didn’t throw that sandwich at you because he’s a little shit, he did it because he’s an epicurean artist. Isn’t he expressive? Isn’t he interesting? I’m just amazed every day at what a cool, indie person my three year old is!” and “Paddox didn’t punch you in the butt while you were minding your own dang business because he’s an undisciplined a-hole, he was re-enacting a scene from Tartuffe, he’s so theatrical!”

I’m done with it.

Difficult people are difficult. Not inherently interesting/cultured/discerning/palately gifted, not entitled to have every request they make treated as legitimate. Wanting something is not the sole criteria for getting it. I want to be a unicorn, but I’m pretty sure no matter how much I want that, it won’t happen.

Ugh, Starbucks. This is your fault. Burger King, you’re not helping either. I don’t need to “have it my way,” it’s a Whopper. I’ll take it with the standard stuff and pick off what I don’t like when I sit down, because I realize you’re not a restaurant, you’re an assembly line and my individual whims monkey with that process.

Try something this week, go to a shoe store and try on a pair of six inch heels, then ask the sales clerk to hack off the heels and fashion them into a pair of flats, because that’s what you really want. Does that sound crazy? I think it’s where we’re headed.

10 thoughts on “Fake Beverages, Entitlement, and Society’s Downfall: A Rant”

  1. ha, ha, while I was reading your article, I was breaking my neck like like a bobble head toy agreeing with you and thinking Burger King started this crap!!!

    Then you go and mention them at the end!!! Ha!!!!

    I thought i was the only one that saw huge sense of entitlement everywhere I go!!!

    I think Starbuck puts up with it so that they can charge their outrageous prices. (am I the only one that thinks paying $5.00 for a cup of coffee is outrageous??) Maybe I’m just frugal but I cringe when and if I do. I have only ever bought that white chocolate thing from Starbucks. Um, what’s it called? I swear, I can’t remember the name!!!!!!

    But you know what, I have a confession to make, I don’t even LIKE Starbucks coffee. The best coffee I have is always at the bodega around the corner from me. $2.00 and I get a nice big cup! I told you I was frugal!

    But yes, definitely agree with everything you said!!!!

  2. First, I wholeheartedly agree with your overall discussion on entitlement and the consumerist idea that the crazy/difficult/stupid things you order/buy somehow define your uniqueness. Second, as a former barista…PREACH! The bastardization of coffee by Starbucks has given me so many headaches after years as a barista.

  3. I more than tentatively disagree. The fact that people are willing to pay for such “stupid things” proves only that there is value in them. Starbucks (and other businesses) have done well to figure out how to provide this value to consumers. There is nothing socially irresponsible about a business model that strives to meet the desires of customers, so I don’t think it is appropriate to bring them into the rant. If you think people ought not to want such “eccentric” tastes, then call out the people who make those choices. In anticipation of your next rant, who are you to judge me and my non-fat extra-hot white chocolate mocha with no whipped cream?

    Cheers,

    MSV

  4. Ha! I love this, welcome to Persephone! I’m totally that jerk that special orders my 79 cent hamburgers, but I don’t go to Starbucks because their choices overwhelm me and it’s harder than it should be to get a cup of coffee with room for cream.
    Write more for us!

  5. I tentatively disagree. I think Starbucks’s schtick is kind of that you can customize to your heart’s desire (though agreed that a couple of those examples are crazy), and it’s the specific people who go there and don’t understand that it’s one specific establishment, not necessarily representative of all establishments in its food service category, who are the problem. I think the larger problem is “special snowflake” syndrome, wherein everyone needs to be so unique and different, combined with our cultural inability to understand context.

    I don’t really understand why you can’t write articles that say exactly what I think, geez.

    1. I think the Starbucks thing is definitely indicative of the larger special snowflake syndrome. But it turns into a vicious cycle that Starbucks is part of.

      You should submit a piece about something you have a strong viewpoint about!

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