|by michelle | une-deux senses, on Flickr|
I'm not a coffee drinker but I sure am buyin' what Starbucks is selling. The "experience", "treating myself", "affordable luxury", all of that is mine for a $4 cup of "chai".
And I use the word chai very, very loosely when it comes to Starbucks. Real chai in India is spicy, unexpectedly black pepper and cardamom spicy.
Starbucks chai, while delicious, is like drinking a gingerbread cookie. It's ridiculously sweet. And don't get me started about them calling it "chai tea latte":
1. "Chai" means tea. So no need to add 'tea' in there.
2. What on earth does this have to do with a latte? I guess because there's milk in it? This has confused a few new Starbucks employees, and I've gotten my share of chai with coffee mixed in. Yuck.
But when it's made correctly, ahhh. It's heavenly. My current (high-maintenance) order is a grande soy chai, with one pump of chai, at 130 degrees. Seriously. I'm *that* person, who tells them how hot to make my drink. So ridiculous, I know. But otherwise it's burning hot and I have to wait 10 or 15 minutes before I can drink my deliciousness. And in the land of Tiny Babies, a 10 or 15 minute delay means I'll probably forget about it, find it 2 days later, and just have to throw it out.
Many people lament the big business corporate-ness of Starbucks, but as a Seattleite, I'm "buying local" when I go there. They give their hourly employees health insurance. Everytime I've been to a Starbucks, every last employee has been unfailingly cheerful and friendly. Not to mention my customer service experience has been AMAZING.
My two favorite stories:
1. When I was enormously pregnant (8 months+) with T, I got a chai at my local Starbucks after waiting in line for a long time. As luck (and my clumsiness) would have it, I got out the door and immediately dropped it all over myself and the sidewalk. I went back in to figure out how to clean it up, and they remade my drink for FREE. *swoon*
2. At one location, they tell me when I order my drink that I should order it as steamed milk with flavoring, so it's cheaper. They've "fixed" my order for me every time I go there. Too bad it's not my regular shop! Shout out to the Redmond Ridge QFC Starbucks.
Howard Schultz's books have been on my reading list for ages. Maybe it's time for me to download one now!