I have a gold card from Starbucks with my name on it. This is a sign that I spend too much money at Starbucks. Ironically, it doesn’t really take much to get one. I had always used cash at Starbucks until I received a re-loadable giftcard last Christmas and for some reason decided to register it online. Primarily because it allowed me to reload it online. It’s actually quicker than paying cash and since we started traveling so much, it was handy to just use the card and save my smaller bills for things like cabs and tips. Once you register and start reloading a card online, you become a much more valuable marketing commodity to Starbucks. So they enroll you in their little loyalty program and start issuing you “stars.” After spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $100, which is frighteningly easy to do at Starbucks, they send you a gold card with your name on it. They also send you postcards for free drinks after you accumulate so many points and you get a free coffee for your birthday, so there is definitely some benefit to the whole thing.
It’s sort of amusing, since I am not a heavy Starbucks user by any means. I rarely get anything other than a regular coffee and only recently upgraded the size from Tall to Grande. Mostly because I object to having to order a cup of coffee by saying Grande Bold instead of medium dark roast. They do really brainwash you about the lingo at Starbucks. They’ll take your order if you say medium or dark but they will repeat it back as Grande Bold in a tone that suggests you please use the correct terminology next time. Of course it’s only correct at Starbucks. So it gets a little confusing when, on the rare occasion I visit a coffee shop other than Starbucks, I need to use normal terms or god forbid some other made-up lingo for that particular establishment.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Starbucks or I wouldn’t spend so much money there. Their product is reliably good and you just have to admire any retailer that can take a product costing maybe 10 cents wholesale and get people to willingly pay $2 for it. It sometimes makes you wonder if they put something other than coffee in their coffee. I am not a coffee snob by any stretch of the imagination. Other than the basic brew, my order has never been more complicated than a non-fat latte. (I did learn the hard way never to order a latte in Europe – you will get hot milk) In New Zealand we drank something called a flat white. As best as I could tell, it was a no foam latte.
Most days when we are not traveling, we brew our own coffee. By “we” I mean my husband, who is the designated coffee maker in the family. We buy 3 pound bags of beans at Costco, paying about $13 per bag. I haven’t figured out our exact cost per cup, but it can’t be more than about 30 cents. The coffee tastes just as good as anything at Starbucks and the best part is you get to drink it in front of the TV in your pajamas. So it was highly amusing to me when I recently received an email (the downside of the whole marketing thing) toting some exclusive new blend of coffee that was available for pre-sale to Starbucks Gold Members. This was the advertising pitch:
If your love of the bean has you yearning to explore something exquisite and rare, you’ll fall in love with the rich, woodsy herbal complexities of Aged Sulawesi Kalosi. With hints of warm baking spices and a rich mouth-feel, this extraordinary coffee is produced in very small batches on family farms and has been aged five years to gently reveal deep, intricate flavors that play delicately on the tongue.
Just for fun, I clicked on the link to see you much they were charging for this rare treasure. $18 – for 8 ounces. About 8 times what we pay for the coffee at Costco. And get this – it was SOLD OUT. I have a hard time paying $18 for a really good bottle of wine. But apparently there are a lot of serious coffee connoisseurs out there. Or a lot of people who have been brainwashed by Starbucks. I think I’ll stick to buying from Costco and occasionally enjoying a medium dark, excuse me, Grande Bold from Starbucks. Purchased with my personal goldcard, of course.
In case you didn’t get the title reference to this blog – it’s a Mike Doughty song.