Recently I tweeted how frustrated I was with Starbucks customers drinking all of their coffee in "to-go" cups while seated IN the cafe.
Not surprisingly, I received some defensive responses (my favourite? A very deflective self-righteous "maybe you should lead by example instead of judging others" response from a yogini- extremely unhelpful and non productive, thanks).
More than anything, this response of deflective ownership of personal choices made me consider more carefully a) my knee jerk annoyed reaction, b) why this is rampant in Starbucks vs other coffee shops and c) who is to "blame" for this phenomenon?
I typically avoid Starbucks as I have a few issues with their company (namely water waste, employee treatment history and slow organic and fair trade coffee use), but sometimes I need my coffee fix and there is no avoiding the 'bucks.
What is shocking is how every single person sitting down in a full to the brim cafe is sitting, leisurely enjoying their Starbucks out of a disposable cup. Andrew and I drink coffee from local shops frequently throughout the week where the polar opposite is true: the majority of customers are drinking out of porcelain mugs.
Why is that?
I'm sure part of the reason is the type of customer who frequents Starbucks vs a smaller more environmentally conscious cafe. Perhaps it's just that us granola crunching customers demand more often to drink out of mugs?
Except... have you ever tried to order "for here" at Starbucks? Unlike smaller, more environmentally conscious cafes who actually ask the customer if they'd like their coffee "for here or to go?", Starbucks baristas automatically pulled the to-go cup while you order and before you can say "STOP" start scribbling on the paper cup. There is no "do you want that for here or to-go?". Often I have placed my order and have had to concede to the paper cup because the barista already started writing (and would have thrown it out). Or, I placed my order and the second "prepping" barista grabbed a to-go cup instead of the mug.
I quickly learned that I had to start with: "I want mine in a mug please" before I even begin to place my order AND I have to keep a close eye on the prepping barista to make sure they grab a mug.
Further, it's happened several times that there just weren't any mugs available.... It would appear that Starbucks just aren't equipped to provide enough mugs for a full cafe of seated customers.
So. Now I start my order with: "Do you have any mugs available? May I have my coffee in a mug please?".
Why the new "reusable" 1$ cups are a cop-out:
Perhaps you've already seen them? The cheap, plastic 1$ cups are being touted as Starbucks main solution to my "to-go" gripes. I find this "solution" to be sadly inadequate, unoriginal and honestly half-a#$'d on Starbucks behalf. Why?
- The cups are made from plastic- which we know that plastic chemicals leach more readily into heated beverages.
- The plastic is #5, which isn't readily recyclable
- The plastic cups are flimsily made, cheap and most likely won't last beyond a month of regular use, meaning they most likely won't get recycled and will end up in the landfill
- They are made in China (which means they are shipped to the US and Canada via polluting transportation AND we have no idea the work conditions of the workers).
- Really, the cups are more of a marketing sham than anything (read this report on how Starbucks will make money from these cups).
Come on Starbucks- you can do so much better!
Although I do feel that as the customer part of the ownership for making consciously minded choices lands directly on us, Starbucks could be doing MUCH more to encourage their customers to drink their coffee out of reusable or "for here" mugs:
- Making sure their cafes have enough "for here" mugs
- Training staff to always automatically ask "for here or to-go?"
- Having signage promoting customers use their "for here" mugs
- Providing a steeper discount than 10 cents for bringing your reusable to-go mug