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A coffee franchise in the US

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Doves and Other Fowl, Countering Caffeine, and Chocolate-Coated, Alleviated Technical Woes

  • Feb 15, 2009
  • by
Pros: Delicious beverages, pastries, and sandwiches; attentive service; ambiance.

Cons: One dreadful incident involving service; decreaed friendliness over the months.

The Bottom Line: The bottom line is no longer straight and proper; it squiggles about the page after ingesting an unwanted dose of caffeine, but at least it enjoyed its peppermint mocha.

The Remedy for Flash Movies!

     One word: Chornillamon. One word more: Mocha brownie. (Oh, excuse me! Did I just speak two words? How about "mochabrownie" or "mocha-brownie" or even "delischimous"? No, none of these shall work. I cannot pardon my error, but I shall keep it so that those who see it may laugh.)

     What, you ask, is a chornillamon? Furthermore, why am I reviewing Starbucks when so many others have done admirable jobs of extolling this shop's sweet, chocolate-laden virtues? Well, I am an English major who considers technical writing as enjoyable as paying bills. Hours spent on the Internet could be turned into mere moments if Macromedia Flash Player were not such an integral part of the Web. My existence has quickly been reduced to soft, grammatically perfect murmurings: "Please cooperate. Oh! I did not mean to press that button. Must flash exist?"

     Considering these aspects of woe, I am certain that you would like to know exactly how I survive in a world in which even stereo systems are becoming digitized. The answer lies with Starbucks, a thoroughly addictive café that seems to have swept the United States. Miserable though technical courses may be, mochas serve as an elixir equal to no other.

     "What," you ask, "about that mysterious word, "Chornillamon"?" Patience is a virtue, my dear reader; wait and you will see the delights of that convoluted, polysyllabic word.

     Please note that I have not actually partaken of Starbucks' palate-pleasing merchandise since... since... Oh! The agony of it! Consequently, I have become feeble and quite incapable of articulation. If my review suffers, pardon my little errors, for they can only be mended by coffee that I do not have.

Eating Vegetables, Taking Medicine

     Certainly, no child would be terribly fond of performing either of these activities--unless, of course, the "medication" and "vegetables" came from Starbucks. You see, coffee beans covered in dark chocolate are far more important in the curing of minor ailments than are Tylenol and Aspirin. As for vegetables, chocolate is derived from the cocoa bean, is it not? If, then, chocolate originates from a plant, is not cocoa a vegetable in the strictest sense of the word?

     All of this, to state that Starbucks specializes in a plethora of delights commonly known as coffee, mocha, or frapaccino. Certainly, the unadventurous--I mean, the cautious!--could order an Americana--a simple blend of Starbucks' signature coffee. Those who order this rich beverage will be asked if they would like room for cream and sugar. Although several reviewers have stipulated that employees seldom provide this room, I can neither agree nor disagree. Even in the case of Starbucks, there is no scope for imagination in an Americana.

     For cold mornings when one may wish for something lighter than a mocha but more flavorful than an Americana, there do exist a number of lattés. While the Pumpkin Spice Latté features an unique yet pleasant amount of various seasonings, the Cinnamon Dulce Latté contains that ingredient which is more important than any other to the perfection of confectionary items. At some point, I really ought to pen a sonnet discussing the virtues of cinnamon!

     Whether it be summer or winter, I consistently flood my senses with the joy that constitutes a mocha. Of these, there are many--most of which are, sadly, seasonal items. Winter evenings often find me treating a Peppermint Mocha as if it had been served in pure elegance by a French chef. Better still is the Peppermint Mocha Twist, which incorporates chocolate and extra peppermint in such a pleasing blend that I know very, very few who could resist it. Hmm. This might be an excellent alternative to torture if authorities wished to coerce prisoners into revealing secrets.

     During the summer months, delicacies reach new heights: for then, you see, the orange mocha is produced from some delightful, well-hidden recipe. These are the chornillamons of which I have frequently spoken; certainly, ‘tis only my version that contains chocolate, orange, vanilla, and cinnamon. However, the orange syrup and the chocolate are both present in vast and exquisite quantities. The mere contemplation of this beverage causes me to wish that it were summer and that technical writing lingered as a distant memory.

     Certainly, Starbucks' standard mocha is equaled by no other in the coffee department. This rich blend of chocolate and coffee, topped with creative swirls of whipped cream, is one of the most unequivocally addicting of Starbucks' options. Excuse me while I attempt to recover from the need I have now acquired for this coffee of dessert-like proportions...

     Even during the summer, I have a propensity for ordering hot beverages; I simply cannot comprehend the meaning of being too hot. Outward existence always strikes me as being frigid. However, for those who do not wish to partake in the mochas or hot chocolate that Starbucks so delightfully offers, mochas may be ordered in iced formats. Similarly, there exist a number of frapaccinos. My sister seems quite fond of the Java Chip Frapaccino, while I have occasionally enveloped my senses in the refreshing splendor that constitutes the Mint Java Chip. Mint. Chocolate. Need I say more?

     Certainly, for those who wish to enjoy Tea-Units, there do exist a number of options. Never mind that a T-unit is defined as an independent clause and all of its modifiers. For all intents and purposes, I reserve the right to designate a paper cup filled with a brewable hot beverage a Tea-Unit. Of these, there are many: green teas, that thoroughly-perfected Earl Grey, and even English Breakfast Tea. Now, where is the mint tea that I so desperately crave? For, you see, no Tea-unit is complete without a bit of mint. Whatever shall be done?

     Yet, one day as I pondered this woeful lack of mint, I found the solution. It lies within a multitude of delicacies commonly known as "the pastry section". Here, you can obtain anEspresso Brownie--but only if you wish to be incapacitated by the sheer flavor. Yummalischamousness! (I dare you to pronounce that word without either requiring one of those brownies or having your notions of language entirely destroyed for the day!) Blueberry and cinnamon coffee cakes, old-fashioned cake doughnuts, chocolate-chip cookies the size of a large saucer, banana-nut bread, pumpkin-spice loaves, Cranberry Bliss bars, lemon pound cake, muffins of every conceivable variety--these and other goods are to the palate what Dickinson is to the intellect. I would write more, but am overcome by a desire to purchase an espresso brownie. Now, you wouldn't want me to wander out-of-doors on such a cold night as this, would you?

     If the world were run according to more minute principles, life's major institutions would be regulated much more harmoniously. Women should never be forced to wear high heels, in order to preserve the safety of all concerned; abridged books should be relegated to the rubbish bins, in order to provide the best opportunities for the circulation of detail and character development; and, above all, cheese should be mandated in every household save vegan residences, wherein garlic would make a tolerable substitute. Concerning the latter proposition, Starbucks does not disappoint. There exist, you see, a number of sandwiches and pastas from which to choose. Although they contain no cheese, I am rather partial to the chicken-salad and turkey-cranberry sandwiches. Starbucks does offer an egg-salad sandwich--one of the few choices that is likely to be horribly detrimental to their business. In that grievously-departed era of bruschetta and Brea, there existed a luncheon luxury known as the Goat Cheese and Mushroom Sandwich. Search though I might, however, it seems to have vanished from existence during the past three weeks. Did I dream it into being? Was I simply fantasizing that such a morsel of magnificence could exist? Perhaps, for there is much room for imagination in that café known as Lots-of-Bucks--or as the case may be, Starbucks.

     Oh, my! Whatever am I doing? Error I: I have discussed financial principles in a section devoted to enjoyment. Error II: I ought to have been discussing the Chop-Chop Pasta. Let us rectify this situation, shall we?

     Sadly, the Chop-Chop Pasta seems to have taken the route of the aforementioned mushroom sandwich. It has vacated the premises, at least at the Starbucks I am wont to visit, leaving behind it a gaping void. Just as well, though, for the pasta defied all rules of what may be considered healthy. It contained salami, chicken, olives, tomatoes, and a delectable blend of cheeses. Furthermore, the lack of nutrition was exacerbated by a rather juvenile name. "Chop-chop Pasta?" Whoever conceived of such a name? Why, "Chop-Chop", chopsticks, chop suey... I really ought to "chop" that title into its phonemic parts, bring my fifty-page analysis to Starbucks, and demand the origin of that name! Be that as it may, however, the Chop-Chop Pasta seems to have disappeared at my local Starbucks. If you wish to enjoy the pure nutrition of the tomatoes--with a few "extra" ingredients thrown in, of course--you may have more success than I.

     Perhaps I should be filled with gratitude at the abrupt vanishing of my favorite pasta. At the condiment bar, there existed no parmesan to sprinkle liberally atop this pasta. And, of course, we all know that pasta must be adorned with parmesan. However, that is neither here nor there. The condiment section is more useful to those ordering beverages. Such individuals are provided with an apparently endless number of options including the standard cream and sugar, artificial sweeteners, honey, nutmeg, extra chocolate, cinnamon, cinnamon, cinnamon...

     For those who wish to render their experiences somewhat less unhealthy--I shan't say "more nutritious", as this sort of restaurant renders complete nutrition impossible--for those, as I said, who wish to reduce calories, there do exist a number of possibilities. Mochas and lattes may be ordered low- or non-fat, and customers may choose to decline whipped cream. Now, I may order a beverage non-fat on occasion, but forsaking whipped cream is akin to requesting a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich without the peanut-butter. Know, though, that this accommodating restaurant does provide the opportunity. Moreover, certain of the pastries come in reduced-fat versions. My mother's favorite consists of the reduced-fat Blueberry Coffee Cake, a confection that actually seems to contain real blueberries.
     Of course, one cannot render all things nutritious with a few less sugars and a bit more imagination. Medicine must be taken as is. In this case, medication may be defined as coffee beans covered in a rich layer of dark or milk chocolate; pure chocolate bars; chocolate-covered cherries; or coffee mugs, cups, or other containers. Oh? You do not believe that ceramic coffee mugs bearing elegant designs may be classified as either edible or medicinal? Very well, I stand corrected. Suffice it to say that all of these items may be found in a section of general merchandise at the counters of many Starbucks establishments. I had better cease describing the chocolate-covered coffee beans, however, for I have class tomorrow. Continuing would result in a sleepless night, for I should be lying awake for many long hours simply considering the complexity that these flavors may evoke.

We Don't Talk to Gazelles Using Asterisks!

     One afternoon, my mother and sister decided to visit one of Starbucks' competitors--a local restaurant specializing in iced drinks. Posted near the counter was a sign that read, as well as I can recall, "We don't speak * [image of a deer]". What on earth could this mean--that they did not speak to antelope using various bizarre punctuation marks? Of course not! This was a polite means by which the competitor was attempting to say, "We do not speak the language of Starbucks"!

     And, yes, the language of this café is quite intricate. Please abandon any concepts that you may have entertained concerning "small", "medium", and "large" sizes. Starbucks' beverages may be ordered in "tall", "grande", and "vente". Please note that, if you are purchasing an iced mocha, you will almost certainly want to order a grande or a vente; tall iced mochas consist primarily of ice. By the way, a vente mocha and a pastry make an excellent treat following the receipt of an Epinions check. Am I addicted, or have I simply found that Epinions seems to blend beautifully with hot, chocolatey loveliness?

Without Geometry, Life Would Be Pointless

     Thus reads a bumper sticker--one of the few pieces of automobile attire that I have ever considered worth applying, whether or not I agree with its message. For you see, life would be without points were it not for geometry; however, life would easily be without finances were it not for numbers. Who would not celebrate that? As we do have numbers, though, and as these figures occasion finances, it is likely mandatory that I provide an approximation of prices for purposes of this review. This is, admittedly, a deplorable state of things, for as we all know:

When finances invade the coffee shops,
At what point will the mathematicians stop?
‘Tis better, so say I, to write in verse,
‘Ere such atrocities consume my purse!

     I have warned you that I am an English major; did you expect less than a digit-related rant? However, that is neither here nor there. It is with monumental effort that I inform you of the following: Americanas currently cost about $2, while mochas cost about $3.50. Sandwiches and other lunch items may cost between $4 and $6, and the price of pastries you do not need to know. Perhaps this is because I myself, never having been in possession of a Braille Starbucks menu, do not know the average price of a pastry. But let us ignore that unpoetic possibility in favor of the notion that any of Starbucks' baked goods is worth $20; since no pastry costs over $5, there is no need to worry.

Whet Your Whistle!
     You may consider that I am discussing the merits of sharpening your palate with Starbucks' coffee. My dear reader, your naïveté in this case knows no bounds! I am speaking literally; whetting is an act of sharpening, and whistling is an act in which birds regularly engage.

     One afternoon, my mother and I, together with my sister, had decided to order a number of beverages using Starbucks' drive-through. (Why a café of this calibre would denigrate itself to the status of McDonald's, I do not know. However, that is neither here nor there.) After greeting us pleasantly, one of the employees asked to take our order. We were not quite ready, having been compelled by a number of delicious menu items.

     "May we have just a moment, please?" my sister inquired.

     "Of course. Take your time and... Make your best bird-call sound when you're ready!"

     Now, this called for imagination. An ordinary chirp or whistle would never do, and we certainly couldn't imitate a crow. A dove? No, we decided, it must be a cuckoo.

     All of this to say that Starbucks' employees are generally personable and entertaining. Contrary to modern standards of the business world, they are human beings first and workers second. Certainly, if you are not in the mood to participate in such joviality, I am sure that employees are trained to detect this and treat you without a level of sheer silliness. However, my family tends to attract ridiculously amusing remarks, much to our delight.

     For the most part, the employees are tremendously accommodating. Would you like five extra pumps of peppermint, a double shot of coffee, and cinnamon sprinkles on your decaffeinated beverage? Likely, they will provide it. One evening, my sister and I decided to put a bit of spice into the experience by approaching an employee and saying, "Would you please surprise us?". Now, if we all invited such random acts of laughter into our lives, we could revolutionize the coffee business!

C.A.R.E.: Creating a Relaxing Environment

     During my fifth-grade year, I was enrolled in a course known as D.A.R.E. Drug Abuse Resistance Education, as it was known among the officers who taught it, instructed children in the various approaches that might be used to refuse unwanted substances. I do believe that a similar program ought to be implemented among Starbucks' employees--this one known as C.A.R.E. The abbreviation might stand either for Caffeine Abuse Resistance Education or, as aforestated, for Creating a Relaxing Environment.

     Many individuals are wont to suggest that they are hopelessly addicted to Starbucks, then excuse their love for coffee by stating that "it must be the caffeine". I happen to know that this is not accurate, for I have not voluntarily ordered a Starbucks beverage caffeinated in nearly five years. I know, I know, I don't know what I'm missing. Yes, "decaf" probably does mean "defun". However, I can guess what I'm missing. I'm probably severely lacking in heart palpitations, headaches, nausea, a general feeling of panic, the feeling that my body consists of springs, sleeplessness, and terror. Sounds fun to me!

     All of this, to state that there does exist an exception to the exemplary customer service that my family and I have received. This past Election Day, free coffee was being given away to those who had voted. Upon ordering our free Americana, my mother and I both requested decaffeinated coffee. The representative, a new employee, either ignored or failed to hear our request. This resulted in a miserable, caffeinated day for both of us--complete with all of the symptoms outlined above. I can easily forgive an error and put it behind me, but for what took place the next day. When my mother and I ventured to complain, we received nothing save a snide remark and a reluctantly-provided free mocha. I am gratified by words, not by objects. I certainly would have preferred an apology to a free beverage.

     Other employees, particularly of late, seem to be displaying an increasing amount of professionalism. Rather than acting in genuine friendliness, they ask the "correct" questions, then treat us as any Burger King server might treat his customers. I would write a poem about these woeful circumstances, but words do not come easily when cordiality usurps compassion.

Maalox Is to Oranges as...

     Ambiance is to caffeine. The two lie in such extraordinary opposition to one another that I can pardon the unwelcome caffeine upon considering Starbucks' seating. Aside from the drive-through found at many establishments, there are also a number of standard tables at which customers may sit. Best of all, though, are the sofas and armchairs, with the occasional coffee or end table between them. On several occasions, I have seen magazines or even books on these tables. Hint: If you want to share your poetry or creative nonfiction anonymously, just to lighten another's day, print several copies and leave them in random locations on tables throughout the room. They will blend in with the rest of the décor!

     Although musical preference varies among establishments, no instrumental accompaniment interferes with conversation. Several CDs are available for purchase--about $15, for the analytical--and are generally quite enjoyable. I once purchased a French recording from Starbucks; this was certainly an entertaining exercise in translation.

If Socrates Knew Starbucks...

     Philosophy would take on an entirely new air. Perhaps these sorts of cafés would become the standard for demonstrating one's knowledge of truth, discussing worldviews, and generally engaging in intellectual debate. In fact, Starbucks does allow for much of this; many of the coffee sleeves were once emblazoned with a brief quotation by the customer entitled "The Way I See It". Thoughts vary so vastly that it is difficult to even consider penning them here. Suffice it to say that one is seldom bored and generally either entertained or engaged. I should have contributed while this freedom of speech lasted!

    Actually, if Starbucks existed during Socrates' lifetime, very little would ever have been accomplished in the way of philosophical musings. Rhetoricians would be too busy describing the pathos-laden conversation of employees who sincerely cared, analyzing the ethos of Starbucks' community outreach, and commenting on the logos of the prices. Why, something that tasty must surely be worth more than the current price!

     Now, if you'll excuse me, I must retire with notions of chornillamons dancing throughout my entire being. Then, ‘tis off to history class. Hmm. If I bring mochas, will there be a discussion of the manifold ways in which coffee has enriched the United States over the past century?


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review by . March 04, 2009
Before I quit drinking coffee (it was an addiction) I would frequent this spot only when with a group of people who wanted to go there because going there by myself would make me feel guilty I am spending so much money on a cup of coffee. Now that I am not a coffee drinker I don't waste my time there unless:    a) Someone gives me a Starbucks gift card   b) I have arranged to meet someone there because it is a convenient location      Now I tend to think …
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Quick Tip by . January 17, 2011
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Quick Tip by . August 11, 2010
If you have a Starbucks addiction, like me, or even if you only stop by a couple of times a month, make the investment in a Starbucks card. Register it online, for free, and after only 5 drinks, the rewards start to build up. Free soy milk, free flavor shots. Using my registered card makes the price of my drink (Tall, Cinnamon Dolche Latte) drop from $3.76 to $3! Plus, you get a postcard from a free drink of your choice after 15 visits and for your birthday!!
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At Starbucks the service is usually quick. My order during the winter is always a chai latte with skim milk.
Quick Tip by . March 06, 2010
I know they're corporate... but they're so tasty! :D I still try to go to mom 'n pop places though.
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Sometimes its all you have, and I have to say, my skinny cinnamon latte today was not bad...not GOOD, but not too bad.
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Nicole ()
Ranked #1532
I am, first and foremost, defined by my faith in Jesus Christ. All else is secondary. I am passionate about writing; this is akin to worship, and I strive daily to use this gift to glorify Him.   … more
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Starbucks is an international coffee and coffeehouse chain based in Seattle, Washington, USA. Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world, with 16,120 stores in 48 countries, including around 11,000 in the United States, nearly 1000 in Canada and more than 800 in Japan. Starbucks sells drip brewed coffee, espresso-based hot drinks, other hot and cold drinks, snacks, and items such as mugs and coffee beans. Through the Starbucks Entertainment division and Hear Music brand, the company also markets books, music, and film. Many of the company's products are seasonal or specific to the locality of the store. Starbucks-brand ice cream and coffee are also sold at grocery stores.

From Starbucks' founding in Seattle as a local coffee bean roaster and retailer in 1971, the company has expanded rapidly. In the 1990s, Starbucks was opening a new store every workday, a pace that continued into the 2000s. The first store outside the United States or Canada opened in the mid-90s, and overseas stores now constitute almost one third of Starbucks' stores. The company plans to open a net of 900 new stores outside of the U.S. in 2009, but has announced 900 store closures in the US since 2008.

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