the mermaid, the myth, the legend: Starbucks

We all know Starbucks.  The mermaid logo and bright green letters glowing on every street corner in the United States.  Starbucks was founded in Seattle, Washington by three (now ridiculously wealthy) partners: English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegl, and writer Gordon Bowker.  Just forty years later, Starbucks now boasts nearly 20,000 locations, 13,000 in the US alone.

“The name is taken from Moby-Dick; after the name Pequod was rejected by some of the co-founders. The company was instead named after the chief mate on thePequod, Starbuck” (Wikipedia).

Some cranky and overly-caffeinated coffee drinkers (ie. Wolfgang Puck) criticize the bitter and burnt taste of Starbucks (or rather, “Charbucks”) coffee.  Starbucks does, in fact, roast their coffee beans more than other coffee shops, giving their brew a more burnt and bitter flavoring.  Personally, I like the sharp, strong aftertaste of a hot Starbucks Americano or a refreshing Starbucks iced latte. I enjoy the taste. Sue me.

Why Starbucks is awesome:

  1. WIFI!
  2. Seasonal drinks. (Pumpkin Spice lattes in the fall, Peppermint Mochas at Christmastime)
  3. Rewards Card. Earn 1 star each time you use your registered Starbucks Rewards Card to rack up awesome benefits (free soy milk and syrup, free in-house refills,  free drink every 15 stars, free birthday drink, etc.).
  4. Food. Always amazing scones, muffins, cookies, yogurt parfaits, oatmeal, and bistro boxes (hummus/veggies, protein plate, fruit/cheese, etc.). And did you know that, if you ask, your barista will warm your scone in the oven? Delish!
  5. iPhone app.  Manage your favorite signature drinks, locate nearby Starbucks, and scan your Rewards card on your phone screen!
  6. Water. Forget buying their bottled water.  Starbucks tap water is triple-filtered and FREE.
  7. Music. Pick up the little white card at the register for a free iTunes download.
  8. Culture. Starbucks boasts its own signature drinks (frappuccinos, mistos, etc.), sizes (see below), ambiance (wooden tables with leather or silver metal chairs, dark room, jazzy music).
  9. Name-calling. Make up the most obscure name you can.  Don’t pretend you haven’t done it, too.  I just love making the barista call out, “I have a peppermint mocha for….Rudolph?”
  10. THE Frappuccino. Others have tried to copy it, but nothing compares to the Starbucks Frappuccino.  Frappé + cappuccino = happiness.
  11. Supermarket. Folks, we’re talking bottled frappuccinos, pints of java chip ice cream, single K-cups, VIA instant (but still delicious) coffee singlets, and ground coffee of all varieties.
  12. MY drink! Did I mention Starbucks named a drink after me?  Order a “tall blonde” next time you need a little pick-me-up.  That’s a “tall” (12oz) blonde (light) roast coffee.

Don’t be that loser that orders a “medium.”  Know your “Starbucks sizes:”

  • Demi – 3oz, espresso shot
  • Short – 8oz, smaller of two original sizes
  • Tall – 12oz, larger of two original sizes
  • Grande – 16oz, Italian for “large”
  • Venti – 20oz, Italian for “twenty”
  • Trenta – 30oz, Italian for “thirty”

Oh wait, there’s more!  Have you heard of the Starbucks Secret Menu? No?! Well prepare yourselves, kids. Most of these top-secret drinks are more like desserts, but I’m not complaining!  Here it is:

  • Green Eye: three shots of espresso. Yes, THREE.
  • Dirty Chai: chai latte (hot or iced) with an added shot of espresso (you can even make it a “double dirty” or “triple dirty chai”)
  • Dirty Hippy: dirty chai latte with soy milk instead of regular milk
  • Zebra Mocha: white chocolate mocha mixed with regular mocha
  • Red Tux: zebra mocha + raspberry flavoring (think “red velvet cupcake.” Yum!)
  • Bootleg Brulée: white mocha with two shots of espressco, toffee nut syrup, and caramel drizzle
  • Marble Mocha Macchiato: white mocha on the bottom with no whip, shot on the top and mocha drizzle
  • Chocolate Dalmatian: white chocolate mocha w/ sprinkles of java chips and chocolate chips
  • Cinnamon Roll Frappuccino: vanilla bean frappuccino w/ cinnamon dolce syrup (tastes like a Cinnabon!)
  • Cake Batter Frappuccino: vanilla frappuccino w/ almond and vanilla syrup
  • Captain Crunch Frappuccino: strawberries & cream frappuccino with hazelnut syrup (apparently tastes exactly like Captain Crunch cereal!)
  • Super Cream Frappuccino: your favorite frappuccino w/ a half cup of blended whipped cream
  • Affogato-Style Frappuccino: an extra shot of hot espresso is added atop your frappuccino instead of blended into it
  • Three C’s: cinnamon dolce latte with chocolate and caramel syrup
  • Biscotti Frappuccino: buy a Starbucks biscotti and ask the barista to blend it into your frappuccino (takes like a DQ Blizzard!)
  • Grasshopper Frappuccino: mocha frappuccino w/ java chips and peppermint syrup
  • Neopolitan Frappuccino: strawberries & cream frappuccino with vanilla bean powder and a pump of mocha syrup
  • Raspberry Cheesecake: white chocolate mocha w/ raspberry syrup
  • Chocolate Pumpkin: pumpkin spice latte/frappuccino w/ chocolate syrup
  • Oreo Frappuccino: double chocolate chip frappuccino w/ mocha syrup
  • Strawberry/Lemonade Frappuccino: blended strawberry lemonade
  • French Vanilla Flavor: any drink w/ a few pumps of toffee nut and vanilla syrup
  • Chocolate Turtle Flavor: any drink w/ mocha, toffee nut, and caramel syrup
  • Banana Cream Pie Frappuccino: vanilla bean frappuccino w/ vanilla and hazelnut syrup and a whole banana
  • Samoa Frappuccino: mocha/coconut frappuccino w/ caramel drizzle (tastes just like the Girl Scout cookie!)
  • Thin Mint Frappuccino: Tazo green tea frappuccino w/ chocolate syrup and java chips
  • Snickers Frappuccino: java chip frappuccino w/ java chips and caramel drizzle
  • The Nutella: cafe misto w/ chocolate syrup and caramel drizzle

The moral of this story?  Yes, I do believe that Starbucks will one day take over the world.  And while I am sometimes disappointed with how commercial and capitalist Starbucks has become, the quality of their coffee is not sacrificed for the insane quantities of coffee they brew and blend.  And, I’ll admit, it’s always nice to dash into a Starbucks and order a ridiculously obnoxious and complicated drink just because you can.  My “signature” sip at Starbucks? Grande. Soy chai latte. 1 shot of espresso.  Extra hot. No Foam. With a straw.


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