I have a love/hate relationship with Starbucks. Actually, I would love to hate them, but I just can’t. I think it is ridiculous to spend upwards of $5 on a cup of coffee. And I hate and refuse to use their size names – why is the shortest cup called the tall, anyway? I love to just order a small coffee and watch the confusion on the barista’s face. I once ordered a cup of coffee only to be told I did it wrong.
But oh, the smell. There is something so comforting about the smell of their distinctive, over-roasted coffee. It hits you as soon as you walk in the door. And because so many of their shops are located in bookstores, I now associate that smell with long, relaxing trips looking at books.
A friend once showed me her Starbucks gold card. It’s really just a personalized gift card that tracks all of your purchases. And I had to have one. It involved registering a generic gift card and waiting until I had made the minimum number of purchases to qualify for gold status. I am not a fan of targeted or big brother marketing. I should hate that they track every sip. But I don’t. I’ve now discovered that I can pay for my gold card, monitored purchases using my smart phone. Something about that makes me feel young and tech savvy.
My daughter caught the Starbucks bug. She and I used to go once a week on the way to school. It was our thing. Now that she has her own car, it’s her thing. But I’m still paying for it. She’s hooked my account up on her smart phone, so now I guess we’re both gold members. Just sipping separately.
I am a very conscientious supporter of local, small businesses. I should hate Starbucks just like I should hate Walmart (or The Man, as my brother calls it) or any other large chain. I should hate that they charge a ridiculous amount for a cup of coffee and that they make us use ridiculous names like venti caramel macchiato or mocha frap to order. But I just can’t. The aroma, the taste, the vibe have all been engrained in me like the smell of Mom’s cooking, or the tastes of Christmas, or the comfort of home. I hate that.