Millions of Americans think Starbucks Sucks. That’s because Starbucks coffee sucks. Well, if you like burn-n-bitter coffee, I guess, for you, Charbucks doesn’t suck, but it does for the rest of us. If Starbucks and their coffee suck so much, then why is Starbucks so successful and what are some good alternatives to Starbucks?
Prior to the 20th century, hardly anyone purchased roasted coffee. Do you think that the cowboys and settlers of the American west crossed the great planes with coffee purchased from a coffee roaster in New York or Boston? Nope. They and every wife along the eastern seaboard purchased green beans. Why? Because green beans, if kept dry, will last for years.
Every house wife from Augusta, Maine to Key West, Florida, from Dover, Delaware to Salem, Oregon; all purchased green beans. You may be asking, at this point, “Well then how the hell did they roast them?” Folks, all it takes is heat; frying pan, oven, or even a match stick. I once watched indigenous Indians in Costa Rica roast green coffee beans in an old used propane tank over an open fire, just like your great-grandmother. Folks, roasting coffee isn’t rocket science.
Oh, and by the way, that coffee roasted by the Indians of Costa Rica was the best coffee I ever drank; smooth as silk, not a hint of bitterness, with notes of chocolate, nut, and hint of citrus. Why was their coffee so fantastic? Because the beans were fresh roasted; I mean like hours fresh. Secondly, they, just like your great-grandmother, roasted their beans, low-n-slow, to a dark brown (NEVER BLACK), and they roasted a new batch of fresh beans every week or two.
So, how did we Americans get to the point of burning the snot out of our beans? You can thank the US Army. During WWI (sic. 1918). Some bean counter in the US Army (pun intended) decided that it’d be a great idea to pre-roast coffee and send it with the American Doughboys to Europe. The problem was, and still is, that roasted coffee goes stale pretty quickly. After a little experimentation, they learned if they burnt the snot out of the beans and then vacuum sealed the beans in a can, voila! You now have drinkable coffee with a shelf-life of years.
The down side to that was that the American Doughboys came home thinking burnt and bitter was what coffee was supposed to taste like, hence the birth of the industrial coffee industry (Hills Brothers, Maxwell House, Yuban, etc. Unfortunately, not much has changed, a.k.a. Charbucks.
To this day, a vast majority of roasted coffee purchased in America has been sitting in warehouses and on store shelves for months if not years. No wonder American coffee tastes so bad.
Birth Of The Coffee Industrial Complex
In the early 70’s, Starbucks was competing against Maxwell House, Yuban, Hills Brothers and the like. Up until Starbucks came on the scene, nearly every industrial coffee company purchased cheap, bitter beans, then burned the snot out of them. Starbucks simply purchased a better quality bean AND THEN burned the snot out of them and left them to sit in their warehouse for months.
The old-guard 20th century industrial coffee companies refused to change with the times. So, with the help of slick Wall Street marketing companies, Starbucks cleaned house, thus eventually becoming just another industrial coffee company, selling cheap beans and burning the snot out of them.
Starbucks Coffee Sucks
Today, there’s no doubt that Starbucks is still the 600-pound gorilla in the coffee world. How can that be if Starbucks coffee sucks and millions of Americans think that the corporation Starbucks sucks? The simple answer to that question is that Starbucks became a huge name in the coffee world before there were good alternatives to Starbucks. As one critic said, Starbucks simply offered a better-burnt bean.
The bottom line of why Starbucks Coffee Sucks is because that’s what they think people want. And by and large, they’re right. Most coffee drinkers like bad coffee. Producing a great cup of coffee is the last thing on Starbucks’ mind. Starbucks passion is profit and shareholder equity, not good coffee.
If you doubt my assertion, just walk into any Starbucks and ask them for the roast date of the coffee that they just served to you. You see that, “What are you talking about”, look? That tells you right there, that the coffee in your hand could have been roasted before your mother reached puberty.
Lastly, let’s talk about why the company Starbucks Sucks. Starbucks is run by a bunch of Harvard Business School MBA weenies that possess complete contempt for its own customers. So much so, that it’s palatable.
Starbucks liberal agenda has taken aim at gun control, promoting critical race theory, defunding the police, spitting on soldiers, and telling conservatives that they don’t want your business.
Gee, there’s no wonder why most Americans think that Starbucks sucks.
Birth Of The Micro-Roaster
About the dawn of the 21st century, local, small batch, custom, micro-roasters came on the scene to offer something better than Starbucks. Unfortunately, nearly 100% of these entrepreneurs chose Starbucks as their business model and tried to duplicate their taste profile.
In other words, they were desperately trying to become the “next” Starbucks. If you did a blind taste test, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between most of these micro-roasters and Starbucks.
Alternatives To Starbucks
Yet, if you’re looking for a good alternative to Starbucks, then a local micro-roaster is a good place to start. Unfortunately, that does not necessary equate to good coffee. As I stated above, most micro-roasters are trying to become the next Starbucks. Therefore, their taste profile is identical to Starbucks, i.e., burnt and bitter. And, that’s exactly what I find in a vast majority of coffee shop and micro-roasters.
In my hometown of Coeur d’Alene Idaho and the surrounding area, there must be a hundred or more coffee shops offering local micro-roaster coffee. Although advertised as “fresh roasted coffee”, most of the time you still can’t find a roast date on the bag. In my book, that’s a sin. There are only two coffee roasters in my region that offer great coffee.
Your Hometown Roaster
Chances are that, even in your hometown, you are not going to find a local coffee roaster that stocks green beans that are smooth. You won’t find a local coffee roaster that doesn’t burn the snot out of their beans. And you won’t find a roaster that includes the roast date on the bag; and that date should be less than 72 hours old.
The best alternative is to turn to the internet and find a company like mine, Lake City Coffee (see below). You want a company that will not over roast your beans and will ship them the same day.
Amapola Coffee Lot B0784-050121
If you think the secrete to great coffee is finding beans from a specific country or region, think again. There are over 100 different compounds in coffee. The beans picked last week often will taste very different than the beans picked this week, even from the exact same bush.
That’s why if you take a look at a 69-kilogram burlap bag of beans, you’ll find a lot number. That lot number refers back to a specific acre where the bush is located and includes the pick date. Why lot numbers? That’s’ because each lot will taste different, sometimes a lot different.
In other words, if your roaster hasn’t taste tested the beans before purchasing them, you’ll never know what you’re going to get. If your coffee has “Columbia” or “Ethiopian” or whatever marked on the bag. That doesn’t mean squat about the taste of the beans.
Picking The Right Bean
I recently learned from a coffee wholesaler that most coffee roasters never taste-test the green coffee beans that they buy, which would definitely include Starbucks. All they care about is having an Ethiopian, Brazilian, Columbian, etc. sitting on their shelf. I find this so hard to believe, that I have to say it again. A vast majority of coffee roasters never taste-test the coffee beans before they buy them.
Here at Lake City Coffee, Alisha and I taste-test 20-25 different beans, all from the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica. We always source 100% of our beans from this region because Costa Rica has a world-renowned reputation for smooth coffee beans, i.e., not bitter. And in all of Costa Rica, the Tarrazu region, in my humble opinion, has the best beans. Since these beans are so hard to find, we buy a full year supply, so that you never have to worry about your next roast. It’ll be exactly the same as the last roast. And when we switch from one picking year to the next, we’ll give you a few weeks heads up.
Lastly, when we select a bean, we’re looking for coffee that’s smooth as silk, with complex and prominent flavors of chocolate, nut, and perhaps a bit of citrus or floral notes. A one or two-dimensional coffee isn’t good enough for our customers or for us. That’s why I even take several of my bean finalists to my friend Trevor Treller, (Proprietor of Terroir Fine Wine and Level 2 Wine Sommelier) for his opinion.
Lake City Coffee
My wife, Alisha, and I started Lake City Coffee because we have a passion for helping coffee drinkers to take their coffee drinking to new heights. We’re not coffee snobs. We just think that a great cup of coffee helps people to relax, enjoy the good life that God has given to us all, and that coffee helps to facilitate good conversation and relationships.
We’ll find the perfect bean, roast it to perfection, and ship it to you within hours. Then we’ll teach you how to make a cup of coffee that’s worthy of your great-grandmother.
More importantly than our coffee, Lake City Coffee (Alisha and I) are much more about our customers. This is a people business and coffee is just the vehicle. Granted, we’re coffee nurds, obsessed with smooth coffee, but it’s still about people. That’s why we personally communicate with each and every customer.
What on earth could we talk about with our customers. Well, that depends on you. We’ll talk sports, politics, religions, guns, and yes coffee. Actually, we spend a lot of time pointing people to one or another of our plethora of articles, teaching how to brew super smooth coffee. For more details on Coffee 101, go to the top of any of website pages and click the “FAQ” tab. There are some super good articles there.
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