A Fresh Brewed Monopoly

Mar 012006
Authors: Steven Gross

Does a double-blended, upside-down and sideways caramel espresso macchiato at 165.8 degrees with extra foam, zip-zab and on the flip-side make sense to you? Have you ever tried to convince a personal banker that your student loan needed to include the cost of coffee because it was essential to your academic success?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you are showing symptoms of a serious disease known as "The Starbucks." The only known cure for this eye-popping and twitchy disease: more Starbucks.

With a store on every city block, Starbucks has swept across the nation like a fresh-brewed plague. Starbucks is an unstoppable and skillfully-brewed force that won't quit until it completely empties your wallet and turns you into a sleepless, coffee bean-grinding zombie.

How has Starbucks become such a frothy success? Many attribute it to their strong ethical standards in their global operations. By paying a higher-than-demanded price for coffee beans, Starbucks ensures that third-world bean growers can earn a decent living.

The last time I checked, an act of goodwill would require the company to take the loss. Unfortunately, the extra costs associated with this "ethical" practice are passed on to Starbuck's loyal customers in these Caffeinated States. Charging poor college students $5 for a Grande Mocha Crappuccino (that's right – I resorted to a crappuccino joke) is hardly ethical.

Sure, Starbucks protects the average coffee farmer by making sure they get a fair price, but are they really bringing the spirit of the magic bean to their customers? Whatever happened to the good ol' days of Juan Valdez brewing you hand-picked coffee cherries in the comfort of your own home? I miss the intimacy of waking up to a Columbian drug lord and his donkey breaking into my house through a poorly locked window.

Don't get me wrong, there is a plus side to a Starbucks addicted society: by depriving Americans of sleep, we can be productive well into the wee-hours of the night. Sure the work won't be quality, but here in America we don't get caught up with inane things like "excellence" and "superior products" – we're all about quantity – or maybe that's China, I forget.

Regardless of its effects on the American economy, the Starbucks epidemic is foaming out of control. Starbucks has become so dominant that their once useful store locater featured on their website now answers every address query with "Walk outside. You'll see one."

For those of you who haven't fallen victim to "The Starbucks," it's only a matter of time. At first, you're simply content with enjoying the rich and intoxicating aroma of love-grown coffee beans as you walk by their plethora of stores, but this won't be enough for long; before you know what's happening to you, you'll find yourself percolating from the mouth and rummaging through dumpsters in a Starbuck's alley trying to find anything that can satisfy your dark-blended addiction – welcome to craving country.

Once you come down with "The Starbucks," the fight is over before it can ever begin. Don't fret though, while there are some creamy consequences to this disease, it's not all bad. By succumbing to conformity and the predictability of the same coffee shop every day, you're protecting yourself from the evils of change and heart-stopping surprises – after all, the non-stop coffee consumption makes you jittery enough.

Love it or hate it, someday you will find yourself enjoying a monopolistic cup of coffee at your local Starbucks. Regardless of what you've been told in the past, the best part of waking up, is Starbucks stealing your money.

Steven Gross is a senior finance/real-estate major. His column runs every Thursday in Verve. He wrote this article at 3 a.m. while snorting shots of espresso.


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