In case you hadn’t noticed, there are a LOT of Starbucks out there. In NYC, it seemed that if there wasn’t one on every street corner, it was only because they hadn’t finished renovating the new space yet.
In the ‘burbs I’ve found that it’s really no different.
Granted, there isn’t one on every corner – but that’s not the way things are referred to in the ‘burbs. Rather, for us non-city dwellers, it’s all about distance and, depending on where you’re from, you will either refer to distance as miles or minutes. For example, when I lived in Alaska, it was all about miles (“Girdwood? Yeah, that’s about 45 miles south of Anchorage”), however here on the East Coast, we tend to speak in minutes (“Philly is about 40 minutes from here with no traffic”). That said, I can tell you that in my area, there is a Starbucks probably about every 15-20 minutes. I pass four on my way to work. Two on the way to The Home Depot.
One of the things I have noticed with the rapid expansion of the Starbucks brand has been a slip in quality. Please don’t get me wrong, the coffee is still good, but the issue I find is in consistancy.
Where as before (say, 10 years ago) one could walk in, order an espresso beverage, and be assured that it would be exactly the same drink from Starbucks to Starbucks, it has now become something of a crap-shoot.
For instance, I love the Starbucks Marble Mocha Macchiato. Love it. Of the four Starbucks I pass by going to work, there are two that are the most convenient so that if I was going to stop in the morning, it would be at one of them. I did this for about a year and became so aggravated with the way my drink would be made. I’d watch and sometimes they’d forget the white mocha. Sometimes they’d put the shots in BEFORE the milk (for those who don’t know this, the signature of a macchiato is that the shots go in last). Sometimes they’d actually forget the espresso altogether. Sometimes they’d put so much foam in that when it would settle, I’d be left with only about half a cup of actual drink (which would understandably be sickeningly sweet).
And the service could be just as shoddy. Sometimes the barista I’d get would be very pleasant. Other times, they could be downright jerky…and let me assure you, I am not a sit-there-and-take-it kind of patron. If I’m pleased with your service, I will not only be back, but will tell everyone I know about how great you are. By the same token, if I’m treated poorly or am unhappy with the quality of something I receive, I will be equally vocal about it.
In any case, it got to the point where stopping at either of the two Starbucks that were most convenient along my commute could result in postively ruining my morning (and there are few things worse than being put into a bad mood before one even gets into work). I finally decided that I did not want to deal with this any further and instead began detouring slightly out of my way in order to stop at the Starbucks in Newtown.
My sister and I have long recognized this Starbucks as being one of the “good ones” in that the management and training of the employees is such that every drink I have gotten there has been perfect. Perfect. So pleased have I been with the quality, consistancy, and service, I’ve even called Starbucks to give accolades to this location. The Princeton Starbucks is another you-can’t-go-wrong location (the one on Nassau Street directly across from the University, not the one in the mall).
Now if they could only figure out how to repliacte this experience and bring all their other locations up to this standard, then I could feel free to stop at any Starbucks without trepedation…and that’s something I haven’t been able to do for years.