Question of the Day: What’s Wrong with Starbucks Coffee?

On February 14, thousands of gun rights advocates will drop by their local Starbucks to spend a $2 bill. The note will denote their support for Starbucks’ firearms policy, which observes all local, state and federal laws. In other words, despite pressure from grumbling gun grabbers, the Seattle coffeesmith refuses to ban guns in their stores where concealed and/or open carry isn’t prohibited by law. But there’s a bit of moaning amongst the firearms fraternity about “Starbucks Appreciation Day.” Some members of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia have been kvetching about Starbucks coffee. Is it really that bad? And if it is, what food or drink item will you be purchasing to avoid the liquid that’s inspired some of the coffeescentiΒ to call the chain “Charbucks”? Oh, and to keep our brand pure, Springfield .308.


  1. avatar Aaron says:

    Their drip coffee deserves its reputation for being bitter and overly brewed. Their new “blonde” roast doesn’t slice off your ear…it’s actually quite close to good quality coffee you might make at home with decent grounds (ie not Maxwells) I usually get a latte or cappuccino anyway, which usually are pretty well done-up. I also like their packaged foods. One suggestion: paying for your items with a $2 bill means it goes into the till. $2 in the tip jar means that other patrons will see it and perhaps an inquiry or conversation will ensue. I’m also going to make sure I buy some ammo on that day, too.

  2. avatar JS III says:

    Starbucks has great coffee but for half the price you can go elsewhere and get coffee that is almost as good. For those that dont like, try the iced coffee its great..

    1. avatar Aaron says:

      It’s not even necessarily about the food and beverage for me, anyway. I need comfortable places with power and wi-fi throughout the day, and Starbucks fits the bill quite nicely. Even if I pop in for a few minutes of email or just to use the restroom, I at least buy something – it’s only fair…

  3. avatar Ropingdown says:

    Tazo Chai Frappucino. Minimizes the burnt bit. If you can afford to bump fire 5.56 you can afford a Tazo Chai Frappucino Grande. It’ll put the quick in quick draw. Not accurate, just quick.

  4. avatar HAVE GUN says:

    Biggest problem for me is the nearest one is like 80 miles away. If it was closer I would buy some of that bad tasting swill.

    1. avatar NR says:

      Dude, that was last week. Check out your window- there’s probably one right down the street.

  5. avatar pair-o-dee says:

    I cannot drink their drip coffee, but always enjoy a non-fat latte’ there.

  6. avatar ready,fire,aim says:

    i’m going to have a grandie- double cappuccino latte with an extra shot of espresso with skim organic soy milk,organic honey. sprinkled with cinnamon and whip cream on top…. shakened…..not stired….LOL

  7. avatar Aharon says:

    I’ll purchase hot herbal tea. I don’t usually feel that I need to leave a tip for ordering something as simple as a cup of tea without table service, however, in this case as a gesture of goodwill from the RKBA pro-gun community I am going to leave one.

  8. avatar Ralph says:

    First of all, you need to speak a foreign language to order there. Grande, venti, veni vidi vici? What’s that all about? I prefer to order in English. Second, I’ll spend four bucks for a cup of Joe in a topless club, not some pretentious pseudo-Seattle coffee house.

    And finally, what the hell is a barrista?

    1. avatar Aaron says:

      >And finally, what the hell is a barrista?

      When you’re finishing up law school but haven’t passed the bar yet?

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Since I retired, I haven’t passed a single bar. Not one.

    2. avatar Rick Boatright says:

      They’ll happily take your order in english. “A small black coffee please.” works fine.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        But I don’t drink black coffee.

    3. avatar Aharon says:

      I’ve heard that Starbucks is not as Orwellian as they used to be with trying to replace English words with their Starbuckeese. Last time, I ordered coffee from them was back in San Francisco five years ago. They tried that ‘oh, you must mean vendi (or grande)’ crap with me. With two of San Francisco’s finest (real cops) standing by watching us with amused looks I replied loudly; ‘no, I do not mean vendi. I speak English and I mean medium. Learn it.’ The counter girl was like ‘jeez. ok. whatever’. My behavior would be considered non-PC in San Francisco.

      1. avatar Totenglocke says:

        Because reading the menu and clearly seeing the prices change with different sizes makes it SO difficult to remember which is which. Maybe instead of spending time yelling at people just trying to take your order and prepare your food, you could spend that time reading the menu?

        1. avatar Aharon says:

          No. When I go to a coffee shop (that charges absurd prices for bad coffee — and I’m there mostly for the caffeine) for my first cup of coffee and I say medium coffee I simply want a medium coffee. Is that so difficult for you to understand?

      2. avatar CarlosT says:

        Considering that there are four sizes, “medium” is spectacularly vague word choice. If the terminology offends you, pick a size in terms of ounces and use that.

      3. avatar CarlosT says:

        By the way, your first mistake was going to San Francisco, the worst city in the world.

        1. avatar Aharon says:

          SF is long past the old image of the 1970 beatnik, bohemian, quaint city by the bay filled with real artistic, literary, and creative types.

    4. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Oh Ralph, don’t be such a curmudgeon. πŸ™‚

      The ones I’ve been to will happily fill your order for a Large or Medium or Small.

      Oh, and Triple Venti Caramel Macchiato (Triple because Tall gets one shot, Grande two, and Venti also two, unless you specify three)… the more you know.

    5. avatar HSR47 says:

      “veni vidi vici”

      No no no… It’s “vidi vici veni.”

    6. avatar Ropingdown says:

      A topless club that serves coffee? Stunned. US economy certain to fall off a cliff within months. Cultural decay. Harbinger of the Apocalypse. Now a cat house, that’s different.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        A topless club that serves coffee?

        One of the, ahem, gentlemen’s clubs in Rhode Island advertises a “Legs and Eggs” brunch. Coffee is on the menu, along with stuff that I can’t even imagine — and I have a vivid imagination.

        FYI, those “clubs” give me the creeps.

  9. avatar Rick Boatright says:

    Their drip coffee has a reputation for tasting burnt. It isn’t, but it is a roast and bean combination which many don’t like.

    Their espresso is not bad at all, it’s far from world class, but it’s not bad, but you have to LIKE espresso. Of course, if all you want is caffine, you get the espresso hidden in a big cup of warm milk and flavorings that cover up the bitterness of the espresso.

    Good drip coffee, even very dark roasted good drip coffee shouldn’t taste “burnt.” Starbucks doesn’t explain it of course, they claim that the taste is good and that the complaints are subjective. The coffee community and people who drink premium drip coffees disagree, they claim that the reason is that Starbucks roasts their coffee at a higher temperature to get the average roast up to the darkness they want as fast as possible. Roasting at a “normal” temperature doesn’t have the smaller beans get burnt. This allows Starbucks to push more beans through the same number of roasters, and since people accomodate to odd tastes, after a while it tastes “normal.”

    I don’t know if it’s true, but I know full well I would rather drink PT’s John Brown or their Ad Astra before -any- of Starbuck’s drip. But I will on Valentine’s day.

  10. avatar frankgon4 says:

    They also have hot chocolate and various pastries and cookies to choose from

  11. avatar Scotta says:

    Their prep drinks are good. Ill be attending to get a frappacino. I just need to find some two dollar bills

  12. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

    I wasn’t surprised to read that so many people didn’t like their coffee. I love my good ole Dunkin Donuts coffee and it costs a hell of alot less than their fancy pants brew. I got that same mug for my birthday and it’s not PC, because its side says “[email protected]@@H WHERE’S MY COFFEE” . I only drink from it in my room because I don’t want to offend anyone (mom almost threw it out) and the person who gave it to me has a weird sence of humor.

  13. avatar O.N. says:

    Breakfast sandwiches past 11am. All the reason one needs to dine at Starbucks.

  14. avatar Tank03 says:

    Being from New England I was raised to think that Dunkin Donuts was the last word in coffee. Lately, I’ve been frequenting a local Starbucks (located inside a Barnes and Noble bookstore) in order to have a pleasant and reasonably comfortable place to use some free wi-fi. I’ve been quite surprised to find that I actually like their coffee. Also, I always order in English and they’ve never corrected me with any of that Italien BS.

  15. avatar Sean C says:

    This is NOT about coffee, it’s about turning the tables on the little anti-Constitution/anti-gun groups that try to intimidate the businesses.

    I stopped going to Peet’s & California Pizza Kitchen altogether.

    1. avatar mondle says:

      yeah I don’t go to any of the places here in town with the no gun allowed signs and I have called them up and told them why I was not going to frequent them and then enlisted my friends to do the same

  16. avatar Silver says:

    I’m not a coffee drinker but sometimes I’ll stop in for a caramel machiatto or some other froo-froo drink, or hot chocolate. I have nothing against them.

  17. avatar Todd94590 says:

    I was bit by the home-roast bug about a decade ago–
    roast, let the beans set for a good 24 hours (where the beans release CO2), and then use a decent grinder just prior to brew. The ‘freshness factor’ definitely matters, and will be considered fresh for about 14 days; after that, the taste becomes noticiably different.

    Just as our hobby of guns can become expensive, the same rings true for roasting your own: it can be inexpensive by using a modified hot-air popcorn popper, to midrange hundred & a half for a dedicated small roaster, to a grand or more with a high end roaster. And then there’s the grinder– I have two, one for coffee, one for espresso; price wise, a hundred to a few hundred.

    There are plenty of places around the ‘net to buy ‘green’ coffee beans. Personally, my favorite bean is Sulawesi (formerly called Celebes).

    When you buy a pound of beans from $bucks, there is no telling how long ago it was roasted. My own bottom line is that if I want good coffee, I get it at home. Coffee, whether from $bucks or anywhere else, just does not measure up.

    Now, to take myself off of the proverbial soapbox, I do order a cup out now and then. I will admit to ordering said beverage with all the bells & whistles (whipped cream, frappa-whatever it is, and sugar– add a sugar buzz to accompany the caffeine buzz). Does not matter to me what the name of the store is.

    While Starbucks did allow open carry, specifically here in the bay area of CA, the government decided that we were the boogy-men and outlawed open carry as of Jan 1. I plan on visiting at least two Starbucks on every day (13th thru 15th), and paying with $2 bills. And I certainly hope the petition to change concealed carry (change from May Issue to Shall Issue) gets enough signatures and is placed on the November ballot.

    1. avatar Barstow Cowboy says:

      $7 cups of coffee, and $1,000 thingamajigs to roast your beans (or whatever), $150 things to grind your beans before you roast them? I just can’t understand how in the hell this country landed in a debt crisis.

      1. avatar Ropingdown says:

        The options on a Porsche commonly add an extra 30 K to the price. This coffee stuff is beans by comparison.

      2. avatar Aharon says:


    2. avatar Rick Boatright says:

      While the home-roast bug does let you control that side, my local micro roaster ( travels to individual estates in central and south american and buys single estate coffee that I can neither afford to choose nor access any other way. The Hacienda La Esmeralda Montanya is utterly amazing and as Columbian’s go the Finca Villa Loyola is the best Columbian I have ever tasted.

      1. avatar Barstow Cowboy says:

        Oh yeah, well I hired a Colombian to be my own personal coffee valet. Two times a month I fly him down to an undisclosed South American location on my personal jet, where he scours the estates of the global coffee elite and personally hand picks individual beans of the highest quality, which are individually flash processed on the spot using technology developed in a NASA experiment but never used due to the extreme expense involved. The coffee is then flown home on a decommissioned SR-71 spy plane and delivered to my house by a virgin Lebanese Yak, which is then sacrificed to the god of coffee, giving the beans an otherworldly quality unavailable from Starbucks. Needless to say, this makes for great coffee, if you can afford it.

  18. avatar Kevin says:

    The sumatra beans are to die for.

    1. avatar Aharon says:

      Now that is taking chivalry and the willingness to sacrifice one’s life to a whole new level.

    2. avatar Todd94590 says:

      that’s my #2 favorite

  19. avatar RandomHero says:

    LEMON BARSSS!!!!!!!!!!!

    and/or a white choco mocha

    1. avatar Aharon says:

      I love lemon bars. Here is a recipe:

      This site has a subsection on cast-iron cooking for those who like the classic cookware and recipes:

      1. avatar Ropingdown says:

        Before we know it this site is going to become another Home on the Range. Food pictures must be pre-emptively banned.

  20. avatar Totenglocke says:

    Nothing is wrong with their coffee (other than price) – it’s great. However, many people like to be trendy and try to look “cool” by bashing it because it’s popular. This is more of a commentary on the low quality of the person making the statement than it is on the quality of Starbucks offerings.

    1. avatar Aharon says:

      I’ve been bashing Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee long before it became trendy. Much as the NYT is best used for lining bird cages, the chain’s coffee is best used by taking the left over coffee grounds and using them as fertilizer (or so I hear some people claim about used coffee grounds).

    2. avatar twency says:

      Got nothing to do with being cool or not. I’m not cool. I accept it, and don’t try to change it.

      I think Starbucks coffee tastes burnt.

      So perhaps it’ll be a Frappuccino for me.

  21. avatar Accur81 says:

    Dear Starbucks bashers,

    Here are some spelling tips:

    barista: Italian for “bartender,” is the person, usually the coffee – house employee, who actually prepares the beverage.

    caffeine: A bitter white alkaloid…a mild stimulant usually found in tea or coffee.

    venti: Italian for 20 – a 20 ounce drink.

    grande: Spanish word meaning large – a 16 ounce drink.

    If you cannot spell one or understand one or more of these words, your credibility whilst bashing Starbucks declines considerably.

    And if you want the best coffee in the world – get Jamaican Blue Mountain. It’ll change your perspective on things.

    1. avatar Aharon says:

      “If you cannot spell one or understand one or more of these words, your credibility whilst bashing Starbucks declines considerably.”

      Posted comments that include a misspelled word or an imperfect understanding of a word don’t send me into a belief that the writer’s credibility is less. The comments section here are gun guys gabbing about coffee. They aren’t professional journalists, gourmet food snobs, or experts writing a researched full post article.

      Some of the best coffee I’ve ever had comes out of my French press each morning. It’s way better than Starbucks and Peets Coffee though Stumptown Coffee here in Portland is probably still better than mine.

      1. avatar NCG says:

        +1 for Stumptown. A rare area where we agree.

        1. avatar Aharon says:

          In that case, there is great hope for you πŸ™‚

    2. avatar CarlosT says:

      And a bit of history to go with those terms. In the ’80 and earlier, your average Seattle coffee shop or cart had two sizes: 8oz and 12oz. The common slang for these were “short” and “tall”. That’s how it was for ages and ages, two sizes with very straight forward names. When the 16 and 20 oz sizes were introduced, they needed to come up with new names, and so they came up with Grande and Venti, which don’t have same clean logic to them, but what are you gonna do? Call them “taller” and “tallest”?

      As for what I get, my standard Starbucks drink is a quad tall 120 degree soy latte. I usually specify the temperature at Starbucks because most of them will make the drink to hot to drink otherwise, and I get soy because I’m a little lactose intolerant and do better with soy milk. And I get four shots because I want to taste the coffee and Starbucks espresso isn’t that strong. At independent coffee shops that hand pull shots, they tend to get better extraction of flavor out of the espresso, so I’ll usually go for a triple instead. In an average day, I usually get between six to ten shots of espresso.

  22. avatar Barstow Cowboy says:

    Circle K, house blend, venti quatro ounces, $1.79. Can’t beat it for caffeine to dollar ratio, unless you’re trying to make some kind of coffee fashion statement, WHICH I WILL be doing on February 14th, but probably never again.

  23. Up here in Canada Tim Horton’s coffee seems to be a source of great patriotic pride based upon the giant lineups at the takeout windows. I have absolutely no idea why.

  24. avatar Buddy says:

    I find that Starbucks coffee is good…..if you brew it at home. Whenever I buy a cup in the store, it is bitter. I’m not sure why. On the 14th, I’ll just go buy me a bag of beans, go home and grind enough for a pot, brew up a pot, and reload or cast some bullets while I enjoy my coffee.

  25. avatar Mark Smith says:

    It’s burnt and over-sugared.

    They burn the grounds so there’s a consistent taste across Starbuck’s locations everywhere, but it tastes like burnt coffee covered up by massive amounts of sugar.

    As far as I can tell, most people can’t distinguish between genuinely good coffee and the stuff they sell at Starbucks, 7-11, Dunkin Donuts, etc. So for the vast majority, it tastes just fine. Nothing wrong with that. Good coffee is expensive. Doing it right is time consuming, expensive, or both. 7-11 coffee is cheap and quick, if you can tolerate it. Or it’s tolerable if it’s just the caffeine you’re after.

    If you can taste the difference between what comes out of a Mr. Coffee and what comes out of a $1,000 dollar coffee machine, you might be in for an expensive ride though.

  26. avatar Chas says:

    Love their lattes.

    Can’t stand their coffee.

  27. avatar Aharon says:

    If anyone ever takes a trip to Portland Oregon look up some of the city’s best coffee shops. The coffee here is great (and so are Oregon’s micro brews and wine) with a number of small private coffee roasters providing the beans. Prior to moving to Portland, I lived in San Francisco which by comparison has imo some of the worst coffee that I’ve ever had. It seems to be an un-written law in SF that all served coffee in restaurants has to be French roast or a dark Italian blend. Figuratively speaking (for those who are literal), SF has Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee shops on most street corners.

  28. avatar Lemming says:

    I don’t think Starbucks makes bad coffee. Indeed, I think they put a lot of thought, work, and even some love into making quality coffee. It’s just quality coffee that I don’t particularly enjoy.

    It’s me, not you Starbucks.

  29. avatar bontai Joe says:

    I don’t drink coffee, ANYONE’S coffee. I don’t even like the smell. But I’ll look up a Starbucks somewhere near me and buy something to eat just to support them in upholding the Constitution of these great United States on Feb, 14.

  30. avatar BT says:

    My roommate is in charge of making the coffee here. You can have it any way you want, just as long as it’s black and roughly the consistency of mud. Since Starbucks coffee is (generally) better than that, I will do my chunk of the buycott gladly.

  31. avatar CarlosT says:

    Start a coffee blog so we can go argue about guns there.

    1. avatar MadDawg J says:

      Ha ha ha

  32. avatar John Bergmann says:

    If you don’t like the drip try a pour-over. Its quite a bit smoother and doesn’t bitter in the cup!

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