By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

Why Starbucks is Overrated


We live in an age of crippling caffeine addictions, with it being consumed by 92% of college students according to Starbucks is often the go-to place for a caffeinated beverage of your choice, which is understandable given that there’s one on practically every street corner of the world. 

If you like burnt, bitter tasting coffee, Starbucks is great. It’s certainly not cheap though. At the original 1912 Pike Place Starbucks, a brewed 16 ounce coffee will set you back $8 according to the Starbucks Reserve website. 

A 16 ounce drip coffee at a normal Starbucks is a fairly reasonable price at $2.95, however there is an extra charge for every new ingredient added to a drink which can jack up the price pretty quickly considering that many Starbucks customers love to order specialty beverages.

Starbucks founder Howard Schultz profits off of American individualist culture by catering to everyone having their own extremely specific preferences by allowing endless add-ons and substitutions. He also expects customers to be versed in Starbucks lingo to be able to place a drink order.

If you’ve ever been inside a Starbucks, you’ve seen that their drink sizes are not actually listed on the menu. Customers are just expected to automatically know them and understand their meanings, which aren’t obvious with names like Short, Tall, Grande, Venti and Trenta. 

If some of those words sound like they’re in another language, it’s because they are. They’re in Italian, despite the company having its roots in Seattle, WA. Ironically, those sizes wouldn’t even make sense to an Italian because they translate to great (Grande), twenty (Venti) and thirty (Trenta) according to Google Translate. Even the sizes that are in English, like Short and Tall, don’t make a lot of sense since Tall is their second smallest size. 

Schultz got his inspiration to start Starbucks from his first visit to Italy according to, but with the burnt flavor of their coffee, and incorrect usage of Italian words, it comes off more as cultural appropriation than an authentic homage to Italian culture. 

Schultz likely wanted to create his own coffee culture at Starbucks, which for better or worse, he has done quite successfully. You can make an order that would be absolutely ridiculous anywhere else, but a Starbucks barista wouldn’t bat an eye at you. 

One of the drinks that Starbucks regular Britt, who goes by the Instagram handle howyoubrewinn, likes to order is an iced Venti Brown Sugar Shaken Espresso with no cinnamon, five pumps of brown sugar, two pumps of white mocha, extra caramel drizzle, cup lined with caramel, extra vanilla cold foam and caramel crunch topping mixed into the drink. This drink totals $9.90.

Of course, the average customer is not going to request such an order. If someone ever attempted to do so at one of the Italian cafes that Starbucks was modeled after, I imagine they would be promptly chased out of the building with a broom followed by a string of Italian curse words. 

One of my favorite cold drinks to get is an “Iced Peach Green Tea Lemonade”. After ordering it a few times, I realized that about 70% of my drink was ice, whereas only about 30% of it was the actual beverage. 

I thought that was a bit of a rip-off for a 16 ounce drink that costs $4.25, so one day I requested to have it with less ice. Instead of giving me the 16 ounce drink that I had ordered and paid for, they gave me less ice but put it in a 12 ounce cup. Outrageous!

Customers are also victims of false advertising. Starbucks is currently facing a lawsuit because their “Refresher” drinks including the “Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade”, “Strawberry Acai Lemonade” and “Pineapple Passionfruit Lemonade” do not actually contain mango, passionfruit or acai according to the New York Post. They are instead made up primarily of water, sugar and grape juice. 

There’s no shame in enjoying your favorite Starbucks order from time to time, but it is overhyped due to it being such a trend and status symbol. Next time you’re craving a caffeine fix, consider trying out one of the numerous local cafes, they might surprise you.

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    Michael SamuelDec 29, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    Who would have thought that Starbuck’s is not only convenient but a bargain when compared to local cafes…..supporting small businesses is costly to the consumer…….