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Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

I am a self proclaimed coffee addict and Executive Director of a non profit missions agency working primarily in the Mexican cities of Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Ensenada. I've been married for over 30 years to Chelle, and we have one grown son, Joseph, a graduate of Auburn University in Alabama.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Real Cup of Coffee

Yesterday I stopped into Starbucks Coffee because I had some time to kill. The big green has been in the news of late over some real world financial issues. But the biggest stuff has been regarding coffee and the environment in their stores.

Let me tell you what I mean. A couple of years ago I had a meeting with a guy in a Starbucks in Vancouver, Washington. Now let me tell you, the Pacific Northwest is Coffee Heaven. Starbucks started in Seattle and there are lots of great independant coffee joints up there. So I went in to wait and instead of smelling the wonderful aroma of fresh groud coffee, I was hit by the foul odor of warmed over egg and sausage biscuits. I had to check the door to make sure I had not accidentally entered McDonalds.

When I asked the baristas what was up, they said they were a test store for a new breakfast product. I just thought it was a dumb idea. Here was the national leader in coffee moving from their strength, coffee, to eggs. Who makes that type of decision. Who ever it was I felt he should have been fired. Which eventually he was. Which brings us to yesterday.

The big green, again under the management of Founder Howard Schulz, eliminated all of their breakfast sandwiches, and this week closed all of their stores for three hours to retrain the people on better service and how to make a good cup of coffee. Yesterday, after waiting almost five minutes at an empty counter while the employees played around with other, I finally got an average Cafe Americano.

While the stores no longer smell like sausage and eggs, they also do not smell like coffee. Because the coffee is sealed in airtight bags and Starbucks has gone automated, instead of brewing their coffee by hand, or as the Italians like to say, "con la mano."

When I was Iowa last year, I stopped by a small coffee place near Iowa University, [pictured above] called The Java House. What an experience! No breakfast smells. Just fresh baked goodies and coffee. Like a coffee place should be. So I ordered my coffee and the guy gives me number. It took me a second to figure out what was going on. The barista was making each cup of coffee individually in 1 cup drip systems. It was in short, fantastic. The way coffee should be. Strong, dark, and with the oils of fresh roasted beans on top. Starbucks can retrain all they want. They will never be able to match the cup of coffee I had that day in Iowa City.

Comments on "A Real Cup of Coffee"


Blogger Bullfrog said ... (2:00 PM) : 

I have a pretty strong anti-Starbucks bias, mostly because their coffee is expensive and tastes a little over-roasted, regardless if the package says "Meduim Roast" or "Dark Roast" (it ALL tastes burnt to me).

That said, I actually loved their breakfast sandwiches and am sad to see them go.

The best cup of joe made in a franchise-type of environment is definitely at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, but you can never beat a "mom & pop" when it comes to quality of ingredients and preparation.

I am fortunate to have a coffee cart where I work, and they use great beans and the barista is excellent, I even buy my grounds from him.


Blogger timmer said ... (9:16 PM) : 

Nothing will ever compare to the cup I had in Prague once...


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