Starbucks Drive Through - But Why?
At my day job the other day the topic of Starbucks came up, and as neither I, nor any of my co-workers, had taken a break I opted to take the subject deeper, you know, for the sake of clarity. And for the sake of an article.
For those of you who, for some unknown and likely God forsaken reason read this site regularly (get a life already!) my apologies in not keeping the flow of stuff coming. As I watch our Facebook page grow for no known reason, and look at the stats of this site I'm dumbstruck that you folks actually read the tripe I scribble out on an irregular basis, which of course make me feel guilty by not scribbling more of it. "Nonsense," I say to myself, "just write when the mood strikes,damn the torpedoes! You do this, for free I might add, because you want to!" Guilt however is sometimes stronger than rationality, and I humbly take keyboard to task to craft something not entirely unreadable.
Okay, so to the topic. Yes, I usually futz around before getting to it, lol.
So, as I sit here clacking away, enjoying a cup of delightful coffee, I replay the conversation at work the other day at work. By the way, my coffee is not a brand called delightful coffee, it is simply a 12 ounce mug of Folgers Black Silk with two heaping teaspoons of Caffe D'Vita French Vanilla Cappuccino mixed in. Yes, I'm futzing around again. This Caffe D'Vita stuff is delicious as intended, by itself, but is 98% caffeine free, not suitable for my wake up routine, so I mix it in with my morning Joe.
Anyway, the topic, I'll try again.
The area I live in was, until about 20 years ago, very affluent, what with the snowbirds bringing in vast amounts of wealth part of the year. Then it changed. Now there are about 100,000 full time residents and about 10,000 jobs, so many people work out of the area, and the rest are either retired, self employed, or unemployed and on assistance of some kind. This being an area of California, and California as a state slowly but surely driving away businesses that make stuff, this area, like the whole of California, is largely service industry oriented, with the low wages which tend to follow such industries. Don't get me wrong, this is not a political post, I'm simply setting up the rest of the article, however I do want to point out that no government can tax itself into good times, it simply does not work like that.
Now, amazingly, I'm ALWAYS surprised when I go through town and drive past a Starbucks with a drive-thru at pretty much any time of day or evening and see 10, 15, 20 cars in line for coffee. It literally blows my mind. So the question that begs is: why? Given the above circumstances why would anyone, in an economically backwards, backwater of the world, idle their car wasting expensive (and heavily taxed) gasoline to wait in line in order to pay five bucks (plus) for a cup of coffee?
For sure Starbucks knows their numbers, obviously they studied their demographics and know that the clientele is out there, because these joints are always doing brisk business, still it baffles me, as I sip my 12¢ cup of home made brew. Now somewhere like in a major metropolitan hub, yeah, I get it, pay through the nose for good coffee. Hollywood, Los Angeles, it's as much a status thing as it is good coffee, New York, Chicago, I get it. But not in Banjotown. Yet the proof is in the pudding, to use a cliche, even in Zeke-Land Starbucks does loads of business, hence my question to co-workers.
My day job is not in the same area I live, and while it is economically better off than where I live, it has roughly the same debt to income ratio. People make more, but they pay more for housing and the like. Ever notice the closer you get to the ocean the higher the cost to live there? Location, location, location. I keep more of my income by paying less in housing, although I commute farther and far longer, and I have a decent level of disposible income between work and other things I do.
When asked why they buy Starbucks so often, or in varying degrees of often-ness, my co-workers responded with things like:
It's the convenience of it all.
I don't have time to make my own.
I don't own a coffee maker.
Shut up and work already.
I like to buy their food too.
I'm a gold member (or something like that).
Let me trot through each of these.
Convenience. Okay, well, I just now timed myself walking into the kitchen to pour and mix myself a cup of delightful coffee. 32 seconds from my chair back to my chair. OR I could drive down the way and burn 45 minutes apportioned thus: 6 minutes of drive time, parking time, time walking in, or time in the drive through, time in line ordering while hearing the folks in front of me confront all the questions of their lives in a simple coffee order (should I order half caff with coconut milk to ease the trauma of that day 7 years ago when I [fill in silliness here]...), place my order, wait 6 minutes uncomfortably standing off to the side among the "internet cafe" types, get my order, add stuff to it, sip it, add more condiments to it, sip it, add more, sip it, smile and trundle back home.
It's delicious. Okay, well, yeah, sometimes it is very good, but I have had a couple, shall we say, icky, yeah, that works, icky cups of coffee there. Not a lot by any stretch, but enough turpentine tasting coffee to stop requesting "A Venti Whatever You Have That Is Hot, Wet, Brewed, Strong and Caffeinated" to learn my lesson. Nope, I just don't do that anymore. However an Venti Eggnog Latte? Oh heck yes. And twice on Sunday.
I don't have time to make my own. Erm, ooookay. I set mine up the night before (I hear you, coffee snobs. "OMG, you leave the fresh grounds in the brew basket all night to oxidize? Gasp!" yes, yes I do) which takes no more than 2 minutes. When I leave for work I fill my thermos with that which I did not drink for consumption through the day. Saves me an enormous amount of time and money!
I don't own a coffee maker. Buy one.
Shut up and work already. Okay.
I like to buy their food too. I admit, the cold case goodies look appetizing, but didn't you ever, I mean even once, get the feeling that it was sort of like the decorative soap at your auntie's house? It's soap, it's there, but you really aren't supposed to actually wash your hands with the chunk of pineapple looking soap. That's what the Dial pump soap is for! Ninny!
On the food topic, latest word is that Starbucks will be expanding their food offerings, which personally I think is pure genius, I just hope they can keep the selections and quality consistent store to store, coast to coast. they want to be more restaurant-like. Model it after McDonald's but with higher quality I say, after all, they invaded the coffee market with their McCafes, turn around is fair play.
I'm a gold member (or something like that). That to many means one spends entirely too much time, money, energy, on BarStucks. Why the garbled trade name? Because Starbucks in a way represents an anathema to those of us who don't shoehorn ourselves into "That which Is Popular And Is Generally Accepted As A Status Thing" thing. Bringing this up, the co-worker fessed up that she usually goes in to order, and has simply been a card carrying Starbucks sipper for years and years, hence the gold status.
I know, you're waiting for the counterpoint quip to all this. Ha, keep waiting.
So maybe later today I'll take the little one down the way to that coffee joint to get her a hot chocolate. And maybe a Latte. and maybe something to nosh.