Saturday, 5 March 2016

Why Starbucks is Cheap: A Mic Mac Mall Excursion Written by Guest Critic Dianne Hatcher

Second guest spot goes to Dianne, who went to Starbucks which, for a Mom, is all about downtime and stretching out the experience...

"I would be willing to pay double the price for a Starbucks coffee if I had to, and I mean that. No, I haven’t added a shot of Bailey’, it’s simply due to the fact that if I’m drinking a latte, 99% of the time it means I am alone. I’ll explain later, but since I have a family, that shit is priceless. So reviewing a latte is the best excuse to get a little break.

Google maps told me the nearest Starbucks is 47 minutes away. Rural Nova Scotia is probably the only place in the world where a Starbucks is not within walking distance. I wonder how easy it was for Starbucks Execs to do a market analysis of the South Shore and decide not to set up shop. I purchased this particular latté at the Starbucks in Mic Mac Mall. I ordered the Grande Skinny Vanilla Latte. It has got to be the easiest drink to order from the menu - a drink where you don’t have to embarrass yourself in front of strangers fumbling with the words while the barista repeats it back to you like "DID YOU MEAN….this?”. God, I hate that. I mean I hate that when it happens to other people when I'm in line behind them. I order the exact same drink every single time I’m here, since forever, which goes to show how daring I am at trying new things. I used to order a Skinny Vanilla Latte because I cared about the extra calories and fat (skinny is skim milk/fake sugar) and I would rather replace those calories with chemicals than risk my vanity. Now I’m married with two kids and I always get a hefty muffin on the side, so I might as well end the charade and get a normal drink from now on. I’d be doing myself a favor and making the drink even easier to order - "Grande Vanilla Latte please!"

Waiting for my drink at the counter, I watch the baristas working. There is so much mystery around the Starbucks barista, more than any other person that well, makes coffee. Don’t they receive a ton of training and have to pass a complicated test to be able to work there? I don’t know, I’ve just heard that. Well, my barista today is ‘in-training’ and the others are commenting on how great her milk froth is, and that they couldn’t even make that. Should I be happy I have the trainee? I’ll go with that. My biggest complaint about their service is they never spell my name right on the cup!! It’s always with one "n". I get it, most Diane’s are with one "n" - but not me. Everyone who has a weird name knows what that’s like it makes you insane. And I apologize to my son Jaxon for ruining his life with the name I gave him, I must have been feeling ironic when I picked out his name. Just once, I want to go back to the counter, slam my drink down and demand a new one because my order was wrong only for the fact my name was wrong. But I’m not a complete bitch, except in my head. However, my constructive criticism for Starbucks is that they should include in-depth studies of baby name books as part of their orientation. You know, to familiarize themselves with spelling. Minus five "Harvey" points for that oversight.

My latte is really sweet. It reminds me of my sweet, sweet alone time. Now that I live in Chester, I don't mind paying so much for the Starbucks latte, it’s a symbol of Mom freedom. Those few hours alone to run errands. I take a closer look at the actual Starbucks logo now, to see if their symbol resonates with me. I attached a pic. It’s kind of a mermaid with wavy hair, wearing a crown but also with two tails. Umm, what the hell is that supposed to be anyway? Why have I never noticed how crap it is? They are lucky their coffee is so good because their branding fails. I never considered myself to be overly "deep", so I refuse to waste any personal time searching for meaning in a half woman/half fish caffeine goddess.

Okay, so I know you all think I could go to Tim Horton's, or a local coffee shop for that matter. Anything being better than paying for high priced fluff. But local coffee shops with their organic blends are more pretentious than the fake hipsters at Starbucks. I walk into an organic coffee shop and feel like I’m Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman walking into a dress shop on Rodeo Drive. I get the "You don’t belong here" look, due to my brand names and washed hair. On the other hand, you have Tim Horton's. That place is like a special club for members only and since I don’t have my seniors discount card (yet),  I don't feel at home there either (though I could totally work with that aged vibe, being in the 35-45 year-old bracket now). Plus, Tim Horton's is in Chester, which means if I’m there my kids are probably behind me screaming for a Chocolate Chill and Timbits, so there is zero chance of a positive experience.

So I guess what I am really paying for is the total Starbucks experience. The experience of having silence for a few hours. My skinny vanilla latte is really good cold too - I usually drink it over 2-hour+ period, because when it’s done I have to go back to being responsible. Yes, I savour the hell out of it. Today, I will give my drink an "8 out of 10 Tim Hortons", because let's face it, I’m Canadian and everything coffee is compared to Tim’s."

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