Jason and the Veganauts

and the Quest for the Vegan Golden Fleece

Screw You Starbucks

Let me start by saying that I am not proud to have been a Starbucker.  When they started popping up like zits on the face of the Earth, I hated them for being the corporate tools that we all knew they were.  I rolled my eyes when I heard stay-at-home Moms listing the 14 adjectives that it took to order a freaking cup of coffee.  I shook my head at the young college kids who were paying for a drink that cost as much as my month’s worth of Ramen noodles once cost me.  I started out hating Starbucks just on principle.

However, years later, I fell in with a Starbucks crowd.  Peer pressure and crowd mentality are powerful influences.  It started out innocently enough… a black coffee with self-serve cream and Splenda and a side of pretentiousness.  Then with my plant-based dieting switch my coffee orders got creative.  My most recent regular drink order would have made most stay-at-home Moms shake their heads: a hot, venti, sugar-free-hazel-nut-soy-latte.  I’m no wimp though, I would dust it with cinnamon myself.  I couldn’t bring myself to ask for that on top of the other emasculating parts of the order.

A black cup of coffee at Starbucks is about two bucks.  Then you can add as much cream, half-n-half, or whole milk you want.  Hell, you can pour your coffee in the garbage can and just drink whole cream if that’s what you want to do.  When I was on Atkins I got close to doing just that.  At the time cream was a no-carb food and I could have as much as I wanted.  For health reasons.  I’m still apologizing to my circulatory system.

The cost of Starbuck’s coffee climbs the more complicated your order sounds.  For instance, the manly soy latte beverage I was in the habit of ordering cost $5.50ish.  It fills me with shame to type that number out and look at it.  Dave Ramsey, financial expert, even references the Latte Effect to describe these kinds of expenditures that bleed us dry with small daily purchases.  I didn’t go daily, but the people that do are spending $5 a day, $35 a week, $140 a month, and around $1700 a year.  On a fru-fru coffee drink.  It comes in a paper cup.  You drink it.  Or you could visit Europe, but whatever.

I made myself feel better with my 1-3 purchases a week because I used the Starbucks Gold card.  This card took off some of the extra costs associated with supremely fru-fru beverages.  When I paid with the card it reduced my coffee-like drink cost to $4.11.  Still embarrassing, but it made justification easier.  The items that card holding Starbuckers got for free included the sugar free syrup and the soy.  <insert record scratching sound effect> Whaaaa?? You pay extra for soy without the Gold card?

You think you were shocked, that poor DJ just scratched the heck out of his favorite record.

When you visit a Starbucks and buy a black coffee you can’t have free soy.  There is none waiting for you in a chilled carafe at the self serve station.  They offer several octane levels of dairy products but not an ounce of free soy without a Starbucks Gold card.  You pay extra to have soy milk in your latte and you certainly pay more to have it in your Double Ristretto Venti Nonfat Organic Soy Chocolate Brownie Frappuccino Extra Hot with Soy Foam Upside Down Double Blended… but you can help yourself to a free gallon of half-n-half if you want.

Now, earlier this week Starbucks announced that they would be revoking the Gold card’s power to get the soy milk for free.  This means that everyone, everywhere will be forced to pay extra for compassion, health and environmental stewardship IF they choose to buy coffee from Starbucks.  It’s a sixty cent surcharge for the lactose intolerant- an upcharge for what some people would consider a disability.  Sixty cents extra to avoid the barbaric dairy industry and their treatment of the bovine community.

Warning, PG-13 rant: Well screw you Starbucks.  I can take blinders off as easily as I put them on and THEY ARE OFF NOW.  You are a cancer on the land and to the people.  Your choice to charge extra for soy milk is a huge slap in the face and one which I refuse to stand for.  I was annoyed that I needed a card to get my CHEAPER soy milk added to my coffee for free- but I’ll be damned if I will spend another red penny on your company because of this.  You already lulled me into paying $4.11 for a drink.  I was one of your Sheeple and I baaaa’d right along with the rest of them.   Baaaaa venti…  baaaa frappe…. baaaaa espresso.  NO MORE! In fact- you go ahead and repeal your dumb ass decision and I’m still not coming back.  I will return to your insanely expensive coffee if and when soy milk AND almond milk (which you don’t even offer) are AS free and AS available as all of the dairy products you offer.  Fire the short sighted and ignorant MBA’s that told you this was a good and profitable move.  Fire the executives that agreed with this bullshit.  Prove that you don’t hate vegans and the lactose intolerant.  Show us you aren’t a money machine that is happy to oil your cogs with the blood of dairy cows.  Prove you aren’t as evil as you are revealing yourself to be.

Or rot in Hell.  I’ll be happy either way.

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45 thoughts on “Screw You Starbucks

  1. Hi Jason,

    Thanks for the post. I share your frustration with paying extra for soymilk! It’s just plain crazy, but I’m sure with time they’ll change their ways. Especially if enough people ask for soy for free. I used to order plain coffee from my local Starbucks and ask for their soymilk to use as creamer – they reach behind their counter and hand me the soymilk box, which I can use generously. I’m sure they were just bombarded with requests so much that they are used to handing out their soymilk to any who asks for it. There is yet to be a carafe out ready for all though…

    Happily I found out that the fair-trade coffee shop across the street from my work has a nice carafe of soy milk awaiting all, without having to ask for it! I go there now instead of Starbucks even though their coffee costs about a quarter more.

    • Thanks Erin! There are so many local, responsible and worthy coffee shops in my area that Starbucks did them a favor. I’ve been reintroduced to quaint coffee shops who cater to me first, rather than shareholders and owners. Your extra quarter is money WELL spent. You da coffee bomb!

      • Jessica W. on said:

        Jason!
        Where are these local, quaint coffee shops in our area? No really, I have yet to find any I like, which is I go back to the big SB.

        Enlighten me, please. :)

      • jasongillett on said:

        My newest favorite is Sleeping Moon (which should be an exciting name for any wolf lovers). It is next to the Ovida Institute. It is owned by an FS Grad too!! Let me know when you’re ready and we can have a coffee meeting!

  2. You soooo need to do a vlog….

  3. Bravo! What gets me is soy milk is actually cheaper than cow’s milk (at least it is in my supermarket)! And, people who order soy milk are either VEGAN or LACTOSE INTOLERANT – which means, we are also going to be asking them to leave the whipped cream off our lattes! Our drinks should be cheaper to make than anyone else’s … yet, they are now the most expensive to buy. I echo your sentiments: SCREW YOU, STARBUCKS!

    • It IS cheaper!! It is it is it is! This is why it is so frustratingly crazy! It is like a taco bar I go to where I omit the meat and cheese in exchange for beans, but they charge me extra for avocado. Duh! I saved you a fortune in costs- don’t gig me with a surcharge for helping YOUR bottom line (I said to them the last time I went). Fight the power! : )

  4. As you know, I’m not a coffee drinker so I shun Starbucks anyway. However, this post made me want to stand up and cheer (ok, so maybe I did, just a little)

    And I nearly fell down laughing reading the upside down double blended bit. I can picture some lame-o ordering that very drink in a very nasally voice!

    A pox on Starbucks! For shame.

  5. That stinks. I usually drink coffee at home…as a stay at home mom, I can do that ;) but I get an iced soy latte every couple weeks or so. I never knew there was an option for free soy with a card. I just figured it was a luxury tax for not wanting to wait for my coffee to cool to make one at home.
    Most places don’t even offer soy so I was just happy to have the option :(

    • I’m with ya Susan- I remember when I learned they charged extra without the magic card and almost pulled out then- it took one more step away from sanity for me to cut the Starbucks cord/card. Your Luxury tax comment made me chuckle because it was so spot on- we pay extra for something that costs less- why not put a sign on the door that says no vegans or lactose intolerant people allowed! Jeesh~ thanks Susan!!

  6. I stopped going there when I went plant-based because I refused to be a Gold Card member just so I could get “free” soy in my occasional coffee order, but this post has raised my ire even though we have so many corporations to hate I can barely keep track of them.
    Starbucks, WTF?! You’ve gotten your tentacles into almost every corner of America by now — are you trying to capitalize on the plant-based upswing by making $$ on your non-dairy milks? Have you completely forgotten your Seattle roots?!? Screw you, Starbucks, indeed.

    • Good one Jennifer- I wish I’d read the writing on the wall as clearly as you. My sister just got back from China and she said they are as prevalent there as they are here. I have not heard what their creamer sitch is… Boo Starbucks, Go Team!

  7. Wow, I didn’t even know you could *get* the soymilk for free with the gold card~~back in my Starbucks days I just paid the extra premium and didn’t know there was anything I could do about it.

    The thing about soymilk, almond milk, etc., is the shelf life is so much longer than cow’s milk. There is no reason for them to not have it in a carafe as it’s not going to curdle!

    My local co-op offers soymilk creamer in a nice little self-serve carafe and I love them for it. Makes me appreciate them even more (if that’s possible).

    • Your co-op sounds perfect. I’m so guilty of blindly going along with the sheeple. Please tell them I, a random stranger, appreciate their existence. You make a very good point about the storage temps for these products too. Which in turn makes me even more frustrated! I guess I can calm down and brew my own coffee- I’m minimizing my impact in so many other areas, it is certainly time for me to do so in this area too. Cheers!!

  8. I’ve never even tasted coffee in my 52 years of living. Hopefully there are many out there like me who have never contributed to Starbuck’s bottom line. Overall, I will not shop at a place that charges extra for healthy choices. Great blog post.

    • Thanks Cheryl- this is another area where I made made poor choices for a long period of time that I eventually get around to fixing. This is just the next step in my personal quest to clean up my life. Goodbye Starbucks and all of the negative energy that comes in your paper cup with a plastic lid. You rock Cheryl!!

  9. Hey there, Tonto. Nice editorial! I live in the land of coffee-huts on every corner. Starbucks to us is actually the McDonalds of coffee shops. So, locals usually have their favorite spots to pick up their particular fix. Mine happens to be the 32 oz. iced white chocolate. Breakfast of champions! I didn’t know Starbucks offered soymilk. What is that by the way? Sounds like something served in a tall glass next to a veggie-burger. Just giving you a hard time! Keep on keepin on.

    -Rob

  10. I was once a Starbucks junkie as well. When I lived in DC there was literally a Starbucks on every corner in the Dupont Circle area. I still love me a soy latte, but I only buy from local roasters now. The service is nicer, the coffee tastes better and usually they don’t insist on vanilla soy milk (as Starbucks does) – and they usually offer almond and coconut milk, too. If Starbucks doesn’t put vanilla cow’s milk in their standard lattes, why do they use vanilla soy milk for the alternative lattes?? Okay, it’s a small gripe, but it feels good to get it out there.

    • This came at a really good time- so I should credit Starbucks for their timing. I have made so many similar corrections from the errors in my old life- this is really just another brick in the wall as I rebuild myself. I don’t shop at Wal-mart, why should I go the McDonald’s of coffee shops when there is a world of independent coffee houses that could really use my money- as much I as I could use their almond milk. Now… cocoanut milk… that sounds intriguing.

      And WOW! The Virtual Vegan Potluck page seems to be blowing up! http://www.facebook.com/VirtualVeganPotluck People must have heard the next feast is in the works : ) I’m very excited!!

  11. I get my veggie subs at Subway–no meat, cheese, mayonnaise, or oil. But, heaven forbid, I add avocado and my cost for the sandwich is $6.50. While a cold cut sandwich with I don’t know how many kinds of meats is $5.00. It pisses me off.

    • I could flip tables of that ignorant garbage. I ran into the same problem when my daughter and I grabbed a sub last week. They should be attracting us with discounts because they still make a fortune off of our cheap food.

      I pay extra for guac on my tacos every Taco Tuesday. No meat, no cheese, no sour cream, and a half cent’s worth of re-fried beans. My coworkers pay less because they skip the guac. They have no place to put it because their tacos are overflowing with costly crap. The BS level has reached a tipping point. Plant power!

  12. Boy, now we are beginning to save money right and left on corporate stupidity. First Chick-fil-A and now Starbucks. Of course Chick-fil-A hasn’t been on your menu radar for a year now. Good read. Enjoyed the plumber articles last week as well. Thanks.
    P

    • Papa John’s was Shan’s favorite store bought pizza- no more. Wal-Mart is on the long term poop-list. If this keeps up I am going to be whittling kitchen utensils out of free range trees and wearing the clothes I weave out of plastic grocery store bags.

      A part I left out of the plumbing article was how a month ago the landlord called a plumber to fix a few things around the house- and I was there when a father and son team came and fought like ugly hell for an hour of general maintenance. And damned if the old man didn’t remind me of Sam.

      I think we may have dodged a bullet there.

  13. Ha! I love it! Starbucks are just legal drug dealers. I have fallen in love w chocolate almond breeze!

  14. Epic rant! Starbucks can suck my balls. Almond and coconut milk for president.

  15. I’m glad I never really got into Starbucks–I considered it an every once in a while treat but always thought it was so stupid to pay that much for something I could probably make at home–if I weren’t so lazy. I never realized they charged extra for the soy, though I should have known since it wasn’t available in a carafe.

    I too feel gipped by being charged extra for adding avo to a salad or sandwich in place of meat. However, for anyone who eats at Chipotle, guac doesn’t cost extra if you order a vegetarian burrito. I actually don’t get it on my burrito but my boyfriend does on his steak ones so I just tell them that he’s getting my guac and they don’t charge him extra. A small loophole, but one I’ll take :)

    I’ve also been charged extra at an italian restaurant for ordering a pasta dish that had shrimp and just asked for no shrimp–and it was like $2 extra! I don’t understand places that make it harder to order items with substitutions. I know it’s inconvenient for the kitchen but if it means the difference between retaining a customer or losing them, I think it’s a small price to pay.

    • It is going to take a wave of veganauts to wash over this bull crap. There is no reason our cheaper food should cost more. 2 extra bucks to NOT get shrimp?? You make me want to start flipping tables over in a rage!! VEGAN HULK SMASH!! I think I have a mission- cheap food should be cheap- don’t charge us extra for our good choices dag nabit!

  16. nburgart on said:

    Freaking awesome. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Normally I’m just a tea drinker there, but from time to time I get a chai or a latte with soy milk. Its ridiculous. Now I pretty much went for the social aspect so when my main coffee buddy left the state I’ve stopped going, but at least I still have my baristas that know me and will get me the soy for free if I want.

    • It’s good to know your baristas! They can always help with a soy hook-up : ) My new coffee shops seem to have much less turn-over than Starbucks so I have been able to really build a coffee relationship with the same people. My favorite shop even has a special mug set aside for me on days I show up with a laptop and a stack of work. I think I may go get a cup now!

  17. I’m with you. Soy milk and/or almond milk is no more expensive than cow’s milk. It even makes a much better latte. I never understood why the non-cow milk drinkers have to pay more. How about this, Starbucks (and Caribou, while we are at it)? ONLY use plant-based milks and charge EXTRA for cow’s milk. Wow, think of the revolt.

    • Considering the cost to the environment and the dairy cow’s “living” conditions I would expect milk to cost more. It would too, if the dairy industry wasn’t propped up with government subsidies that allow them to turn a fake profit. It is an agriculture welfare program that hurts people and other animals. It is a frustrating mess. I wish it could change for the better at a faster pace. I am feeling impatient while waiting for the world to change. My apologies to John Mayer.

  18. Vicky on said:

    Burn in hell for the overly priced soy and coffee that starbucks offers that is sold daily, around the world to customers who choose to buy it everyday? Burn in hell movie theater popcorn, burn in hell prescription drugs, burn in hell hotel mini bars. Why? They wouldn’t have such high demands without the high demands of customers. Customers as in you and I. I work at Starbucks-I agree, Starbucks would eat my wallet if I came everyday. But then again, why are you people coming every day for this over priced cup of steamed milk of 260 calories? We are the idiots, you see. Starbucks is just doing their corporate job.. making money. Just like every corporate out there. The day Starbucks starts to care about your wallet is the day you genuinely start to care about theirs…

    • Isn’t that the truth. I have found so much satisfaction from unplugging for all of the consuming I did. I think my anger was pointed outward in the short term, but directed inward at myself in the long term. Anything that I think is unfair is just off my list. Local shops get my money now. It may not solve all the problems but fixed the big one I was facing on this particular day.

  19. At first I was a bit mad they stopped offering the free soy with the rewards programs but then I thought about it… IT’S A REWARD PROGRAM. it didn’t cost me to start it, and I was drinking soy beforehand and paying. If I don’t want the extra charge for soy, I figure I can go somewhere else. It’s a free rewards program, and personally I don’t think it is right to complain about something for free. Yes, it was nice to get the free soy while it lasted. But, I get free soy when I get my free drinks, so technically I still get it free, although occasionally. I am allergic to milk. Not a really sensitive allergy, so I do like an occasional whip and I don’t like it when people actually assume I don’t want whip if I get a soy drink. Normally I just get iced coffee with soy and they don’t charge for the soy. Any espresso drink, they charge me (like my fav Iced Caramel Macchiato). I agree that I don’t like they use vanilla soy, as it is sweetened and has vanilla flavor. I typically like unsweetened drinks, except for an occasional treat. I don’t know why people are saying soy is cheaper but in the grocery stores around me (I like in a big city, like LA), soy and almond milk etc are more expensive. . . wholesale prices might be different though.

    • Despite my rant in the day following the disappointing news, I understand both sides of this story. A lot of people (especially when this was being discussed on Reddit) said that if I didn’t like it I shouldn’t go. This surprised me since that was the premise of the post. I stopped going. I have had one Starbucks drink since this posting, and it was handed to me by a friend. I have given all my coffee money to the handful of independently owned coffee shops between home and work. It feels great to support these mom and pop shops. It is like going to a local hardware store rather than a Lowes or a Home Depot. I have Starbucks change in policy to thank for this discovery. Here is what I think about the cost of soy vs. milk: For a 5 dollar cup of coffee- they could fill the entire cup with just soy milk for less than 50 cents. If $4.50 isn’t enough of a profit margin for a big chain store like them- then I’d rather give the money to to people who need it to stay in business.

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