coffee talk.

April 8, 2009
i don’t go to starbucks. ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you that’d i’d always rather cozy up in a little no-name joint with comfier chairs, funkier lighting, and groovier tunes. the kind of place that you don’t find a replica of just two blocks down. a place where you can order a small coffee and sip it from a real mug. but this afternoon, while waiting for james to finish a tutoring session in a spot across town, i stopped into one. there wasn’t an independent store in sight and i wanted to get some work done in a place where i could enjoy a hot drink and free access to wifi.
i justified my decision by saying that from everything i’ve read, it seemed as though starbucks might not be so bad after all. encouraging customers to compost with used coffee grounds? switching to recycle-friendly plastic cups? tackling global warming with a game? sounded pretty good to me!
as i settled in to my chair, i overheard a young father ask a manager if she had a spot where he could recycle the three soda cans that he and his children had just emptied. the woman smiled and used the charming but mildly puzzling southern expression, “we sure don’t.” she proceeded to explain that it was a shame that the state encouraged recycling but also charged for it. what? what about the new recyclable cups? where would they go? where was starbucks the big corporation now? shouldn’t it be swooping in to pay the bills and uphold its policies? starbucks can assure that its shops across cities and countries serve coffee that is consistently mediocre but it can’t also assure that all of its shops recycle?
i realize that i may sound like a ranting lunatic. you’re probably thinking, ‘where are the pictures of pretty things, already?’ i promise, more pretty things tomorrow.
but today i was reminded of why i had forsworn starbucks. and it wasn’t because of dubious environmental policies. it was because nothing can beat independent coffee shops. ones that can make their own policies, write the their own signs, choose their own grounds, furnish their own joint with their own eclectic collection of velour sofas and rickety stools. starbucks the corporation can greenwash itself silly with all of its talk about recycling and composting. but what about starbucks the store? the one on this corner, where recycling isn’t picked up for free? who’s responsible for it?
{postscript: in case you’re wondering, the wifi wasn’t free and the father left, cans in hand}.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Nicole Marie April 8, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    wow. i definitely agree that local independent coffee shops are best but am also known to stop in a starbucks but that really interesting about the recycling thing .

  • Reply Devan April 8, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    fight the power! or, more appropriately, conserve the power!

    i am all for no starbucks on the grounds (pun!) of fighting hypocrisy, lameness, and ubiquity.

  • Reply Beth April 9, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Good for that dad! While I *definitely* prefer the Aubergine Cafe down the street to a Starbucks, I tend to go easy on Starbucks because I can always find one and they allow me to use the bathroom.

  • Reply the_young_dude April 9, 2009 at 3:02 am

    thanks for this! We just NEED to quit starbucks. Cold turkey..

  • Reply Amanda Nicole April 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Jeez, what a weird policy! Like Starbucks can’t afford to shell out for recycling pickup or something.

    I always bring my own travel mugs (I have one for hot and one for cold), which I think more people should start doing. It’s so guilt-free!

  • Reply Amy@OldSweetSong April 9, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I am guilty of Starbucks everyone and awhile but I have always agreed with you that local independents are way better. I will make a concerted to quit Starbucks. And it will be in your honor.

    (No promises though, my BF is a HUGE Starbucks fan)

  • Reply Erin April 9, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    thanks for the notes guys! and thanks for reading through my rather long little note. girl has to vent once in a while!

  • Reply debbie April 9, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    I am guilty of going to Starbucks every once in a while, only because they are every block or so and even inside my college campus. I agree that their no recycling policy is lame! I’ve been using my own mug or making tea at home when I can instead…

    I love your blog!

  • Reply Karen April 10, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Amen! I love indie coffee houses…and you know? I don’t even really like Starbucks coffee. It’s never as good as a freshly ground blend from a local shop.

  • Reply Siobhan April 11, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    ohh I’m so pleased to hear someone say this! I loathe starbucks, I’m in Ireland and they’re popping up all over the towns and cities here… it’s insane, you walk for two minutes in the city and theres another one! (and the coffee isn’t even nice… shush…) Theres a great coffee shop beside my uni, old leather chairs, a fire place and homemade scones, independent coffee over star bucks anyday!

  • Reply Joanna June 7, 2009 at 7:44 am

    I'm sorely disappointed to hear about the lack of recycling at Starbucks. They should really know better. I try to go independent wherever possible or at least opt for Peet's coffee, which is infinitely superior to Starbucks.

  • Reply Joanna May 5, 2018 at 7:28 am

    I am completely the same as you. I do indie coffee only, no Starbucks for me for many reasons as you so eloquently described, particularly bc there is one in every city /town in America.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Comments are moderated.