If you’ve read my blog, you know that I have a major bug up my backside about Starbucks, evidenced by my incessant need to state in a Tourette’s like rant that they can suck it whenever the opportunity presents itself. Friends say I sound like a jilted lover when I talk about Coffee Megalopolis. (I don’t know why they always have to take their side. Where’s their loyalty?) It wasn’t always this way between us; there was a time where Starbucks and I were thick as Butch and Sundance…and given how things turned out, it makes sense I’d use an analogy of two guys who ended up riddled with more bullets than Sonny Corleone.
We were introduced by my wife Charger Gal. I’d never given the Java conglomerate with the green lettering a second glance before she led me through their doors. As she ordered with the glossed over expression of a Stepford Wife, I explained that I wasn’t a hot drink kind of guy. That’s when she said the words that would alter my life: “They have Frappuccinos.” This ice blended concoction intrigued me enough to give it a shot. And thus I was introduced to what became my signature drink: A Venti Mocha Frappuccino Light, extra-blended, no whipped cream. (I refuse to say the words “No Whip”. I may act like a douchebag at times, but I have no desire to be so intentional about it.)
I suddenly found myself utilizing Starbucks and their 1,457,692 locations for everything: Meeting with friends, getting out of the house for a walk with Charger Gal and our dog B Is Love, sitting alone to write and people watch. How commonplace did it become to see me with this chilled goodness in my hand as the years passed? Try a hundred dollar a month habit. I would deal with any size line or any level of behind the counter incompetence and do so while looking like a smile ridden victim of Nicholson’s Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman. This devotion culminated in a friend of mine giving me a personalized gift card that spelled out my exact order for any fresh faced barista who dared alter the magic elixir. Little did I know that the ultimate sabotage would come directly from the Willy Wonka of Morning Joe.
One day I walked into the Starbucks near work and was regaled with the pronouncement that Frappucinos were now created to customers exact specifications. I didn’t quite get what was so new about this, seeing as how my gift card already performed this task quite satisfactorily. I was told that Coffee Megalopolis no longer delivered pre-packaged Frappuccino mix and that these drinks would now be made from scratch by the workers. Now they say you should trust your gut and I have an above average amount of gut to trust, thus my being a big time subscriber to the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” adage should have set my Spidey sense into overdrive. But addiction is a monster and mine needed to be assuaged. I ordered my drink, retrieved it from the counter, and headed to work before taking my first sip of the new Frappuccino.
IT. WAS. DREADFUL. It was an abhorrent assault on the taste buds that could only have been previously utilized by Jack Bauer to torture terrorists in CTU. This could not be. It must have been a mistake, a misfire of epic proportion. So I returned later that week and ordered again…and again, my sense of taste was overtaken by a tart bitterness that must resemble semi-sweet chocolate mixed with castor oil. Maybe it was just this Starbucks that was chockfull of incompetence. I began scouring the local stores near my home. One after another, each made my drink from scratch as I waited with frantic anticipation. One after another, each drink was worse than the last, culminating with asking Charger Gal to take a taste (a passive aggressive attempt at retribution for introducing me to such heartache no doubt). Charger Gal’s response was twofold: That the drink tasted like coconut and it was time for us to make like LeBron and take our talents to Coffee Bean.
Coffee Bean is an admirable substitute. The drinks are solid and the local store is a fine place to hang with Charger Gal and B Is Love while reading the paper on a Sunday morning. There are some drawbacks: the drinks are a bit more expensive, the baristas have a habit of adding whipped cream no matter how many times I request it not be (Leading me to theorize that every Coffee Bean barista regardless of gender possesses a food fetish behind closed doors), and they charge tax if you enjoy your drink in their facility. How a coffee house executed what the current political administration cannot is beyond my comprehension, but hey, that’s life.
As for Coffee Megalopolis, I drive by its stores on occasion…which is to say every 45 flippin’ seconds. I still can’t understand why it had to forsake me in such a way and I continue to harbor a virulent vitriol that I unleash whenever afforded the opportunity. But in those moments where it’s just me and my deepest thoughts, I hope that the day comes when they return to their pre-packaged mixture of ice blended delight.
I still have the card, just in case.