I’ve had a long-time love/hate relationship with the place(s). Well it never reallyu got to ‘love”. Though I really like the people at my local place, in fact i’ve always liked the baristas, it was the mega-cup corp. that was a constant source of irritation.
But this post is not about the people or corporate culture; it’s purely about the coffee. At first when they originlaly began to expand in New York City, they were relatively small and the coffee was bracingly fresh. Not the mediocre expresso, the in-store brews. And the beans they ground and sold by the bag were strong and fresh.
But then as the corporation grew, time and again I’d find I’d brought home a bag of stale or less-than fresh beans. Once when I complained to the manager I got into one of those (verbal) fights that got me permanently banned from that store–until I wrote a column about it and got the district manager to “re instate” me. (The fight grew out of my saying the beans I’d bought were stale and the manager responding by saying he’d have to go into the back office and check its freshnes date, and my telling him I didn’t care what he found in the back room, it wouldn’t change the fact that the coffee he’d sold me was stale..
Anyway, not long after that they began putting expiration dates on the bags (I’m claiming credit for my column doing that), but the problem wasn’t solved. They still had too much inventory or poor inventory control to keep maximally fresh beans in stores and I stopped buying it for home although I kept drinking it in-store. The fact that their numbers were tanking had something to do with this failure of their core business, I b elieve.
Then they came up with the wrong solution to their problems. The hideous Pike’s Peak blend. For some reason they listened to the wrong critics of their in-store coffee. All the thin-blooded people who said it was “over roasted”, when, I think, they just can’t handle strong drink.
So what they did is come up with this incredibly medicore weak blend, this “Pike’s Place” brew, thin and under-roasted, with an awful acrid stale-before-it’s-time taste even when it wa fresh, and made it their standard, sometimes the only brew available in-store. (You still can order a “bold” blend, but it’s not always available.
So they’ve trashed the one thing they built their entire brand on for this weak coffee- flavored hot water. It’s a huge gamble. A bet on the bad taste or who-has time-to-care taste of the American public.
I hope they come to their senses before they lose big. Not for their sake but for yours and mine.