Nothing I say here is going to be profound or novel, but I feel the need to put this down in writing just to know that it’s been said. I don’t expect this blog to convince anyone who already likes Starbucks to change their opinion. I wrote this more for people who already hate Starbucks, so they can read it and not feel crazy and alone for recognizing what a cultural train wreck Starbucks is while everyone else seems to be celebrating the disaster.
In an impossibly perfect utopia all prices would be fair and reasonable. In a dystopian world everything would cost as much as vendors could get away with charging. Starbucks charges five dollars for ten cents of liquid. Even after factoring in the costs of paying employees and maintaining a building, Starbucks is still gouging its customers, and price gouging is immoral.
It may seem like a few dollars for a little cup of coffee isn’t a big deal, but it is. Every dollar a customer spends is a dollar they earned by working. When you spend a dollar you’re effectively spending minutes of your life, and those minutes are invaluable and irreplaceable.
It took the universe about fourteen billion years of inexplicable expansion and transformation to create the planet that sprouted your family tree. There was practically a one in infinity chance of you ever being born, and now that you’re here you only get a few years to experience the majesty of sentient existence. Every second is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the most out of life before the future runs out and your past is sealed for all eternity. Starbucks tricks its customers into trading that for a ten cents cup of coffee. Why? So the owners and investors can get filthy rich and live the opulent lives that poor people only dream about.
When you walk into Starbucks and ask the barista how much a cup of coffee costs they should just spit in your face and shout, “Fuck you. That’s how much.” That would be honest.
2. Their marketing angle is to appeal to vain rich people
Starbucks isn’t honest though. It markets itself as a friendly, happy place that values and celebrates its customers (as it fucks them in the ass). Starbucks lies through its teeth to its customers to manipulate them into paying unreasonable prices for coffee. That’s unethical, and anyone who treats you like that is not your friend.
I boycott Starbucks if for no other reason than I refuse to call a small cup of coffee a tall cup of coffee. It’s not tall. It’s small. The only reason Starbucks calls a small cup of coffee “tall” is to manipulate its customers into feeling like they’re not getting ripped off. Renaming the coffee sizes is blatant, in-your-face manipulation. It’s unethical and disrespectful.
And yet Starbucks’ customers celebrate being manipulated into paying too much for a cup of coffee. Why? The people who run Starbucks know why: because their customers are vain. I don’t say that to be rude or shocking. Everyone knows Starbucks cups are status symbols. That’s practically the whole point of paying six dollars for a cup of coffee. You’re not even really paying to drink the coffee. You’re paying to hold an iconic white and green cup in your hand that tells the world, “I’m so well off that I can afford to pay six dollars for a ten cent cup of coffee.”
It bothers me that Starbucks’ customers celebrate their vanity, but it bothers me more that Starbucks encourages and takes advantage of its customers’ character flaws. In doing so, Starbucks has helped create a culture of pettiness and irresponsible spending. It has literally made society less mature and thus less civil. That’s unethical, and anyone who would do that is not your friend.
3. Anyone who feeds you addictive chemicals is not your friend
I’ve heard that coffee is actually good for your health as long as you don’t drink enough to get kidney stones. Personally, I’m addicted to coffee. I love it and would never want it banned. I don’t harbor any ill will towards businesses that sell coffee, but let’s just be clear about the fact that Starbucks’ business model is based on selling an addictive chemical to addicts. The people running Starbucks are lucidly aware of this fact, and they deserve a pat on the back for being clever businessmen, but their business model is one moral step below a liquor store. So they don’t deserve a pat on the back for caring about their customers.
4. They pay their workers poorly
Imagine working at a Starbucks and watching customers spend more on a single order than you get paid in an hour. Imagine watching that all day, every day until you start to wonder, “I’m doing all the work here. Why don’t I get to keep more of this money?” The reason you can’t keep more of the money is because the owners and investors of Starbucks need to get filthy rich, and they can’t get filthy rich without paying you barely enough to survive and not nearly enough to build a life with.
This is true of every franchise store, not just Starbucks. I’m as disappointed with those businesses as I am with Starbucks.
5. They force their workers to dress and act like slaves
It’s bad enough to pay workers as little as possible, but it adds insult to injury when you force those workers to act like they’re as happy as their wedding day every moment they spend at their thankless, soul-crushing job where vain, pretentious, entitled customers have free reign to bully them. It’s even more unethical to actually succeed at convincing your workers that they should want to act like the perfect, obliviously joyful customer service bitch. Working at Starbucks isn’t an opportunity. It’s an insult. Even if I was willing to pay $5 for a cup of coffee, I can’t go into a Starbucks because the forced smiles on the faces of the wage slaves serving me just break my heart.