Wanting to give a fair rating to a Starbucks americano, which is my usual drink of choice, I stopped by a Starbucks on the way to work one day.

Tall americano - It was okay, just devoid of a depth of flavor and with the bitterness coming in an undesirable form. It was a 5/10, which makes it a perfect standard of blandness against which to judge other coffee. If coffee is better than Starbucks, it's a worthwhile coffee shop. If it's worse, avoid avoid avoid.
See Starbucks in Mexico City
Starbucks on Urbanspoon Americano Rating: 5/10

I feel like I should explain the negative feelings I have toward Starbucks.

First off, I'm addicted to newness, so I much prefer to try new places every chance I get.

Their prices are also a little higher than most, and their coffee and espresso are both not as good as what you get at small chains or one-of-a-kinds.  Their espresso comes from automatic machines, and, while their employees go through a pretty cute little training program, the baristas are really not passionate crafters of coffees like at many modern coffee shops.  Consequently, their brewed coffee and espresso taste like crap if you've ever had good coffee and espresso.

As Wolfgang Puck said, "Starbucks, what they make, if you open a bottle and smell it, what did they do to the coffee?  They created a taste in the memory for people, which is interesting, so that people really think it's good coffee.  But it's terrible coffee! Like when I fly on United Airlines they say, 'We proudly serve Starbucks coffee.' I said they should say, 'We are embarrassed to serve Starbucks coffee.' "

I do appreciate the friendliness (excepting a handful of the NY locations) and the restrooms.  Particularly when you're in New York, the ubiquity of Starbucks is a life-saver. A day spent in Manhattan is a day spent managing one's digestive needs.  During the course of the day the last time I was there, I cleaned other peoples urine off 6 toilets, utilized 3 Starbucks, the restroom at Veselka since I also ate there, and used the restroom once at the Mid-Manhattan Library.

I question whether or not they really still need to charge $.50 extra for soy at this point as I'm sure almost every location can order and use it in bulk.  I also think they should roll out some Stevia products.

That being said, I admire their enterprise as a business, and they donate a shit ton to Democrats, though it's unclear to me why they (or anyone) would ever give $9000 to Rick Santorum.

This douche believes Intelligent Design should be taught in schools, sodomy should be illegal, Katrina victims should be penalized for not having evacuated in a timely fashion, and that he should be our next president.  He used to be a senator.
I also have a few things to say about their food.

They have these things they call their "Artisan Sandwiches."  Let's take a look from the time Cortney and I gave in to stopping by Starbucks at one point during our road trip from CO to TX.

"Applewood Smoked Bacon, all-natural egg and Gouda Cheese, nestled in a hand-scored, oven-toasted Artisan roll"
bacon egg and cheese on a roll
"All-natural egg omelet with Parmesan, green & red peppers and diced onion topped with melted Monterey Jack, in an oven-toasted Artisan roll."
egg and cheese on a roll

When I opened our bag, I actually assumed that this was my sandwich but that they'd forgotten the bacon, as clearly there were no peppers on this.  Actually, Cortney showed me, there were technically peppers involved, but they came in the form of little flecks of green and red in the egg.

These things taste fine, but the bread is a little thick and chewy.  I really would prefer an English muffin or something instead of this "Artisan Bread," too thick for the meager filling.

And look, I know that sometimes you just need a ghetto little sandwich on your way to work or whatever.  I just wish they'd 86 the flowery language bull shit if they're not going to deliver a corresponding level of quality.

I have this sickness where every time I wind up in a Starbucks, I want to try all their stupid little goodies, even though everything I've ever had from them has been so lackluster.  Sigh.  Goddamn evil marketing geniuses.

Update from July 27, 2011:

During my latest trip to NYC, the Megabus dropped me off at 28th and 7th at 4:30 in the morning, from which point I began walking toward breakfast.  On my way, I stumbled upon a situation on the sidewalk I had to photograph.  I assume it was meant as an art installation:

I call it "Applewood Smoked Bacon, all-natural egg and Gouda Cheese, nestled in a hand-scored, oven-toasted Artisan roll and Turd"
With a $5 gift card from the Jennie-O Turkey people, I decided to pop into Starbucks and have a treat on the last day I was 24.

I indulged in a grande, mocha-coconut lite decaf soy light with whip frappucino:

It was pretty good.  Nice little coconut shavings.  It's just never the same as the old formula, but still, it reminded me of some good times.

Then I had a little peanut butter cupcake:

It was okay.  The cake part is pretty pointless, not at all dense, and the rest is real sugary, so that I'd have been better off just buying some Reeses Cups if that's what I wanted.  Those two items were more than $5; I think I paid about a buck forty extra.

Starbucks on Urbanspoon

I went to this Starbucks:

Starbucks on Urbanspoon

in September 2011 in order to use the restroom.  At this location, you have to buy something in order to get the restroom code from the receipt.  You enter the elevator and type in the code, which honestly feels pretty Mission Impossible (if you have a good imagination/are a dork).

Thus, I tried their clover iced coffee: a Guatemalan, lavender, floral affair my barista enthusiastically recommended:

I didn't taste any of the things they claimed were there, but it did taste really good, which I've never said about their non creamed or sugared coffees before.  Of course, to get coffee that doesn't taste like shit at Starbucks, you have to pay $3.50 for the clover business instead of $1.5-$2 at a good coffee shop.  So, you know, your choice.

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