The tall and and short of it

Life is an escape. Everyone is trying to escape or hide from something. I am trying to hide from labels. The specific label I seek to be furthest from is 'Starbucks latte-drinking liberal'. The first thing I ever bought in the United States was a coffee from Starbucks. After seeing that on city street corners Starbucks joints sprout like weeds after the rain, I have been avoiding them ever since. I have embraced everything local (Yes! I am that guy now). I have other more legitimate reasons to avoid Starbucks. My problem with Starbucks is their pretentious fancy sizes - tall, venti, grande. Can you trust such a place to give you a honest cup of coffee when they can't their sizes right? The other is that the coffee is way too expensive. I also learnt that if you drink their grande Java Chip Cookie Coffee don't bother eating the rest of the day.

It is well-known that all size and flavors of coffee that you order regardless of the price advertised are within a few cents of each other. The different prices are to fleece the price-blind, but not lose the price conscious customer. What economists call 'price discrimination'. One would think that price range between the cheapest and the costliest of about $7 dollars would keep most coffee shops happy and in business. But, not Starbucks. They have one more trick up their sleeve in this sneaky price discrimination business. Their smallest size is never advertised. You can order it at ANY Starbucks, but you will fail to see any mention of it on the chalk board or menu. Why? Tim Hartford has discussed this at length almost two years ago, yet the word hasn't got out.

I have tried the Starbucks short twice already and I been served without the barista batting an eyelid. The second time I was offered a second shot or espresso - 'free'. For my Starbucks savvy, I presume. Besides, saving valuable cash in this oil-strapped world, it tastes better for the reasons the article explains. Trust the Americans (Texans in particular) to ruin everything by emphasizing size over substance.

*In some fairness to Starbucks: Most of the money made goes into the pockets of the owners of the real estate. Corner shops don't come cheap.


Ashutosh said...

I empathize with and understand everything you say, and yet I cannot bear to be torn away from my Grande Caramel Macchiato. But I think about it in a different way; I fool myself into thinking it's an actual money saver. The point is that I don't eat outside and instead spend that money on this, which actually turns out to be cheaper since almost any meal outside costs more than 4.01$. Smug, satisfied, full of coffee I am.

Paddy said...

always thought starbucks was in the "service" business rather than "coffee" business (it just happens that they are serving coffee) but am sure the would be successful serving anything else as well.
many people consider it a home away from home where they relax,do their bills,finish their papers, write proposals, hold business discussions or listen to music and chill out..

Tim Marzullo said...

I am enlightened. I never knew a small actually existed. Guju!