November 8, 2010

This is how I’ve broken off my eight-year relationship with Starbucks

I have to say that I can’t imagine life without coffee. The smell of freshly ground coffee drives me crazy. I’d sell my own mother, my country, and my cat for a cup of coffee (hypothetically speaking).
Before I’d moved to Canada, the best coffee I had ever tasted was in Turkey (surprise, surprise) and in France (obviously). I’d made my acquaintance during the first few days in Toronto, when I was feeling disoriented and out of touch with reality (a nine-hour flight, culture shock...). Caffe latte brought me back to life. In my vulnerable state, I had decided that I can totally live with a chain café like that.

From time to time, depending on the location and the professionalism of the barista, I found myself either loving my latte more, or feeling disappointed in it. Sometimes I thought that we need to add more milk into our relationship, sometimes the embrace of the coffee wasn’t strong enough, sometimes there wasn’t enough spice.
Eight years is not the shortest period for a relationship based on love and dependence.

All of a sudden I felt that I no longer love Starbucks coffee, and it’s only a sweetened and watered-down drink, which has nothing whatsoever to do with real coffee. It’s a total surrogacy of feelings.

I started researching anything related to Starbucks. I’ve read the book Taylor Clark Starbucked.The most horrifying moment for me was the chapter with the greedy shareholder who was asking “When are we going to open more Starbucks locations?” during a meeting. I had so many questions in regards to Starbucks’s politics, concerning the countries that produce their coffee.

I visited their website. I tried to figure out what I was wrong about.
Since I grew up in a communist society, I came to see anything big as being right, and myself as being wrong.

The simple truth consists in the fact that a portion of the money, which I make in Canada, does not stay in my community, and instead ends up in the hands of American shareholders. Having been hooked on Starbucks’s marketing strategy (a pleasant atmosphere, an easy access to caffeine), I voluntarily give up my money to a corporation that only wants to fill the world with an imitation of coffee; I do that instead of sponsoring small local cafés.
It seems that Starbucks isn’t having much trouble reaching its goal. I never thought I would find Starbucks in Paris.

Yes, you can comfortably sit down with your laptop at Starbucks, and spend countless hours with just one cup of coffee. Yes, Starbucks can be a point between work and home. This is all very well thought-out, by smart people. Smart people who are able to acquire large masses of clients.

Finally, I feel free. For the past year and a half, I’ve been busy experimenting. I haven’t yet found a replacement for Starbucks as a meeting place for friends, but I’m always trying something new. I also brew my own wonderful coffee at home.

If you have any suggestions about mom and dad coffee shops in Toronto, feel free to share them.


  1. Well done for kicking the habit! They are so smart the Starbucks people. Even when we know its wrong there is something so nice about going to Starbucks for a coffee. I heard recently that they are experiencing a drop in profits however as more and more people like you are beginning to prefer independent coffee shops. As a result they are giving a lot of their shops make-overs to make them seem more individual and quirky. They're always one step ahead of the game.

    Luckily here in Italy Starbucks is not a popular choice and most cafes are independently owned.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    Sarah Elizabeth x x

  2. Sarah Elizabeth,
    Thank you for the lovely comments!

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog too, Olga.

    I read your gradual disillusionment with Starbucks with interest. Personally I'm a tea drinker and here in France it's nigh on impossible to get a decent cuppa outside one's own home. I thus never stop by a teashop for a cuppa.

    My dearly beloved is a militant coffee drinker - he likes Nespresso coffee and that's about it outside Italy. He is not a Starbucks fan either.

    While it feels comforting to find a familiar logo wherever one goes, it has limited appeal once one is settled and has the confidence to explore the local offerings.

    I hope you find a fab alternative to Star$bucks.

  4. Thank you for stopping by, and for making this comment. Russian also love tea. One of my friends has at least 30 different kinds at home. Crazy, huh?

  5. What an interesting post about Starbucks, fortunately not to be found in the part of Italy where I live. Also I never visit such chains when in the UK as I prefer individuality such as we have here in Italy.
    Thankyou for visiting 'News From Italy' and commenting, it is lovely to meet you, I hope you will call by again.

  6. Hi Lindy !
    Thank you for visiting Artful Nuance.
    It seems like Italy is a bastion of good coffee.

  7. Hi Olga, I have popped over to visit from Sarah Elizabeth's blog. I am most interested in this article about Starbucks. I have some friends who don't drink coffee at home and yet are addicted to the whole 'Starbucks experience'.It's totally weird, and yet I think that Starbucks thrive on people like that. I adore coffee, and like you, I like to make an occasion out of making it at home. Sadly though something terrible has happpened to me. I have gone off coffee!!! Arrgh, what am I to do. Life without coffee is just not the same, I don't particularly like tea and definitely not herbal stuff! I have recently had an operation to remove my gallbladder, and I don't know if my body is changing or what, but I find that coffe e just tastes bitter to me now.Anyway, that is enough of a rant. I have really enjoyed reading through your posts. Much love Linda x

  8. Very good post Olga. I have never been into a Starbucks! I refuse to spend my money in these sort of chains. In London I prefer to go to the traditional little "caffs" often run by 2nd (and now 3rd) generation Londoners of Italian descent. Or the Lebanese ones. In Cork I have yet to find the perfect cuppa.

  9. Hi Lindy,
    Thank you. I'm glad you agree :)

    Hi Linda,
    I have just visited your excellent blog. It really is full of flowers and wonderful views. I'm glad you are my follower. I will definitely follow your blog.

    Hi Dolly,
    It's so admirable that Starbucks never pulled you into its nets. You must be the only person who has never been there - among my acquaintances anyway.

  10. Olga, thankyou so much for visiting and leaving kind comments. I hope that you will get to visit Ireland one day. Thankyou for following me, I am highly flattered. I have decided that I will just keep on drinking coffee until I get the taste for it again, because I just love it so! Have a great weekend, love Linda x