So I think I’ve figured out the Starbucks secret.
It’s not their ubiquity. It’s not the benefits they offer their employees. It’s not even freshness of products.
Starbucks’ appeal is in brainwashing.
Think about it. At least an entire generation has cut their coffee drinking teeth on Starbucks. You may be like me, starting out with a fluffy 16-year-old girl drink and progressing to combinations not even listed on the menu. You drink Starbucks because it’s convenient and it’s the same in every city.
Given a couple years—or weeks, depending on the frequency of your visits—the addiction takes hold. You slowly move from a social drinker to brewing a cup a week in your home to… well, let’s be honest. You end up brewing at least two cups a day at home, and you often stop for a latte when you’re out. And now that you’ve developed a full blown expensive coffee habit, you’ve got to determine your favorite local shop. We all know true coffee snobs don’t drink corporate coffee!
So you grab an almond latte at Safari Cup during your lunch break. It’s fresher than the French Roast in your Starbucks thermos… but it doesn’t fulfill your craving. The next day, you try a “cinnamon roll” from O’Henry’s. The blend of cinnamon, caramel and vanilla smells delicious and warms you from the inside out, but it doesn’t really compare to the toffee nut latte you wanted this morning. (Everyone should have toffee nut syrup.) Highland Coffee serves organic, fair trade coffee—but it’s still more acidic than you prefer.
That’s it. Starbucks must slip some sort of brainwashing additive into their espresso. You think you prefer the way they roast their beans. You guess it’s because pumpkin spice lattes aren’t available anywhere else. But you’re wrong.
If drinking Starbucks means you’re brainwashed, then I’m perfectly content being a zombie. Bring on the toffee nut.