Bean v. Bucks

There are times when I desperately need a Chai tea latte, and the Bigelow Spiced Chai tea bags I usually settle for just won’t do. It is in these moments that I am usually plagued by the biggest dilemma any meager college girl can face: Starbucks or cigarettes? The last bit of change I have left over after paying  rent, buying groceries, toiletries, and satisfying the needs and wants of a certain handsome little four year old (scholastic book orders are a MUST, you know) usually goes to the latter. But, believe it or not, there a moments when that nicotine craving cannot trump the need for a good latte; so, I cave and give my soul to the devil in the form of an over priced coffee house.

I was facing one such dilemma one day a few weeks ago while wandering around downtown (I was running an errand and waiting for my appointment). To my dismay, there was no Starbucks in sight. I asked a passerby where I might get a latte, she informed me that the nearest Starbucks was about five blocks up; I thanked her and headed in the direction she had pointed me in.

Having only gone one block up, I came upon a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf; mind you, my coffee and tea snobbery isn’t nearly as developed as my laziness, so I settled for the coffee bean (or, in this instance, the tea leaf). I ordered my Chai tea latte, and waited for my name and order to be shouted from the end of the bar.

While I waited, I enjoyed the word and fact of the day on a flat screen above the bar. When my Chai tea latte was in my hand, not too long after the forecast popped up on the screen, I was overcome with that sense of satisfaction one might get after receiving a passing grade on their term paper (my relationship with Chai tea lattes is entirely too involved, I am aware), and when I took my first sip…. i was in euphoria!

I am usually always disappointed by my Starbucks lattes, spending the time it takes to drink one mumbling to myself about how I could be filling my lungs with nicotine at that very moment, instead of mourning the loss of my precious five dollars.

Now, I spent the time it took to drink my heavenly latte wondering why Starbucks is so popular and the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf isn’t. I also wondered which came first, the bean or the bucks? I came to the conclusion that it must be because people are attracted to the pretty little siren on the Starbucks logo, and the bean and leaf logo isn’t “uber” cool. After all, someone might get a tattoo of the Starbucks mermaid, but who would get a tattoo of the bean over leaf? Me, that’s who! I am officially declaring that my next tattoo will be the coffee bean & tea leaf logo, but that is beside the point. I also figured that people must be willing to walk five blocks to Starbucks, instead of one to the coffee bean because no one really knows about it. You’d be surprised how much awareness a Starbucks on every corner will raise, eventually people begin to think it is their only option. Now, that is marketing at its finest: put a coffee house on every corner, then pull back once we’ve got them hooked.. or blinded, which ever.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Starbucks. They do great things for farm workers and the communities they take over, but their coffee sucks, and so do their teas. If I’m going to give my life savings for a cup of coffee (or tea) it better be a damn good one! And, that is why my laziness & coffee snobbery are now united in making it impossible for me to choose any coffee house other than the coffee bean & tea leaf. I’m obviously still working on my altruism.

Published in: on December 7, 2009 at 4:25 am  Leave a Comment