Starbucks vs. the Little Guy

I love Starbucks coffee. I have to say, however, I have been to some stores recently that are a little bit less Starbucky than their 1990’s forebears. According to the report above, Starbucks has sold out to the man. It has replaced baristas with machines, has mass produced locations, and has compromised its ambiance with retail space. These changes over the last few years are the explanation for some of its less-than-stellar stores. The changes also explain why ma and pop coffee shops are making a comeback in certain areas.

What do you think? Is Starbucks losing its luster?


  • Barry

    As a lover of good coffee, I have stopped going to Starbucks. The coffee all tastes burned to me, and describing it as “smooth smoky flavor” doesn’t fix it. I just don’t care for it much anymore.

    Here in Louisville there are a few small coffee shops that bill themselves as the “anti-Starbucks.” Non-corporate, small roasters etc. who seem to make coffee much more than a morning beverage. And, the beans are not burned. If you are ever in the Louisville area, go to Heine Bros, Java Brewing Co., or Sunergos Coffee. Good stuff.

    Plus, they all have free wi-fi, not like Starbucks where you have to pay.


  • Jason Allen

    That’s my favorite coffee shop in KC! Broadway is unbelievable.

    I like starbucks but I think they are losing quality in their product. The automated mumbo-jumbo is a horrible idea.

    But I digress.

  • josh R

    The nice thing about Starbucks is that you alway get what you expect. The coffee isn’t great, but it is never offensive. I think I have had about 2 orders that tasted ‘off’ in years of going there.

    Most other coffee stands are not nearly as consistent. Their coffee is often better than Starbuck’s , but sometimes you get too much, too little, too hot, or too cold.

    The prices are much higher at Starbucks, but they take better care of their employees.

    I really like the Dutch Brother’s coffee here in the Northwest, but their hours are not quite a convenient as Starbucks, so they usually lose out.

  • Jim Peet

    Do it at home. Get yourself a Bunn brewer, and buy the best coffee. Want to move up (we haven’t yet), procure a bean grinder. Another step up (too expensive for me), an at home roaster.

  • Bryan L

    I wish I could like coffee but I just don’t. I like coffee flavored sweets but not coffee (plus I don’t care for hot drinks). I feel left out from all you coffee drinkers : )


  • Paul

    I don’t like coffee, but I love gourmet teas, so I end up in the coffee shops anyway.

    I, as the big city super liberal, support the small guy person, will not go to a starbucks/caribou/gloria jean’s unless I am dragged there. Especially because most of the mom and pop coffee shops support the arts, and starbucks only supports their shareholders. So, they lose out on my end.

  • Benjamin A

    Life is too short not to enjoy good coffee. Starbucks bold is akin to ‘spit-tune’ juice. They are way over priced as are most coffee shops. Buy a good bean, grind fresh daily, brew using distilled water- pure delight! Cheers!

  • mike

    Jim Peet,
    You don’t need a home roaster! I roast my own beans at home all the time. The best way I’ve found is in an old fashion omelet skillet. Turn up the heat (med-high to high) drop in the beans and toss them every thirty seconds or so until the beans are dark and have a good sheen. When they’re a little lighter than you want take them from the heat, drop them in a collander (strainer), take them outside and swirl and toss them to remove the chaff. Fresh beans are great but they’re even better if you let them sit overnight in a non-airtight container.

    The only real trick is to keep those beans moving and turn on the vent above the stove!

    I like to pop the cap on the skillet as I’m taking it outside in order to keep smoke down. The whole process usually takes twenty minutes, and you’ll have the best sup of joe you’d ever want! for unroasted beans.


  • Jesica

    I’m a coffee redneck. I have one of those one cup jobbies, and that’s about all I drink.

    I pour it into a big (redneck) plastic big-glups from the gas station, add ice to the top, pour in 1/2 glass full skim milk, add the coffee and stevia, and I’m a happy Mommy for the day.

    Allowing myself a Starbucks once a month is a big treat…so I won’t complain.

  • Jada Bown Swanson

    ***coffee snob entering the discussion***

    My husband grew up in Seattle, went to the original Starbucks and had weekly, if not daily, Starbucks appts. with his family.

    Do we go? Yes. Do our kids know what we order? Yes. However, I use gift cards there. If I am going to pay money for coffee, well, I prefer to fly to Costa Rica and get REALLY good coffee. I know not everyone can do this, but if you can DO IT!!!!!!!! (Thank you God for letting me go to Costa Rica on a missions trip to teach and for the YUMMY coffee I got to enjoy and bring home!!)

    Also, if you want AMAZING coffee, and I do mean AMAZING coffee, order it from this website A man from our last church, who we lovingly called our ‘dearler’, began Stewart’s Brother’s Coffee, which is now Seattle’s Best Coffee and sadly, owned by Starbucks, too. He got out early, though and started his company–Vista Clara Coffee.

    Vista Clara has the BEST decaf coffee I have ever tasted (and I am a Full-Octane Coffee Girl), not to mention MANY other roasts/blends, etc.

    So, back to the question at hand. Yes, I do think Starbucks is selling out, or rather ‘losing its luster’ as Denny put it.

    But, giftcards spend nicely there and I won’t complain about getting them or using them to enjoy my double shot, skinny, latte with one pump of sugar-free hazelnut syrup and a moment of sanity, unless the kids are with me and indulging in donuts and water (because they think Starbucks has THE BEST WATER–keep thinking that kiddos).

    However, I prefer making my own latte at home as we have an automatic espresso maker, a Costa Rican coffee maker, which is a wooden contraption that makes the absolute best coffee EVER!!!, a French press, and then the ‘old faithful’ drip coffeepot, that I really don’t like but use most frequently.

    Seriously, all of you who like coffee and like supporting the little man, check out Dave’s Vista Clara Coffee. Sorry for the shameless plug, but it is java-licious!!!!

  • Don

    I don’t go there .. Coffee is burnt as said above.. I go to a deli at 5:00AM and BS with working guys everyday for 5-10 min before we all go to our details..Going to a coffe shop to sit on a couch seems silly

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