Local Chain Wins Coffee Challenge

We’re in the midst of Starbucks season. As soon as people start wearing the Uggs, leggings, and infinity scarves, it is an unmistakable sign. Every morning no less than nine students will huddle across the quad with a steaming cup in their hands.

These individuals are keeping warm, more significantly, feeding the parochial paradigm of Starbucks supremacy.

Were I to be more forward about my Peet’s Coffee allegiances I would be shunned by my peers.

Starbucks is a phenomenon, as indicated by scores of Instagram photos in hashtagged-reverence to it. The company has corporatized itself into the international economic system and, more significantly, into people’s hearts, which is perhaps the reason why they’ve become an emblem of the American holiday season.

Starbucks is a staple of the “white-girl” stereotype that we suburbanites have the fortune to uphold. While these girls may be incredibly narcissistic in the face of world hunger, human trafficking, and war, I’m forced to conclude that they have terrible taste in coffee.

Take the typical after-school Starbucks experience. After walking for 15 minutes in the biting cold from campus to Moraga Starbucks, you find that the line weaves through the packed store and into the parking lot.

20 minutes later, you finally reach the cashier. You are not in the mood to yell your order three times because you can’t hear yourself speak over the din of the blenders and chatter. So much for a soothing holiday beverage experience.

As you wait, each time a name is incomprehensibly announced, you get your hopes up that it might be yours. It never is.

The fact is, when you finally go to drink your concoction, it’s not worth the wait and it doesn’t meet the hype. It’s watery, ultra-sugary, minuscule, or some unpleasant combination of the three. In short, it’s a symbol of mediocrity, stuffed inside a tall (correction: small) cup.

And the expense is unreal.

Thank our lucky stars for the free Wi-fi, anyway, one of its few redeemable attributes.

Peet’s, on the other hand, albeit a coffee chain, values integrity instead of world domination. According to news website DCInno, Peet’s has a total of 300 stores while Starbucks caps out at 20,000 world wide. Clearly, Peet’s is better equipped to maintain control over its quality and adhere to its standards than the corporate giant.

Starbucks has more faults than just a lesser quality latte. According to the Tumblr blog Your Barista Hates You, Starbucks faced a lawsuit in 2011 for distributing tips equally to supervisors and baristas when the two perform different tasks and the position of a barista there has a reputation as being harsh, demanding, and extremely low-paying to boot. Starbucks coffee was ranked just behind McDonald’s Premium roast in a 2007 Consumer Reports article. That burns worse than spilling scalding coffee down your front.

Take a considerably popular drink option, a chai tea latte. The Starbucks version, due to its undoubtedly hasty preparation, is too spicy, yet inexplicably without flavor. Peet’s beverage, on the other hand, is perfectly blended with just enough steamed milk, and rich in flavor. It tastes much more like an artisan drink from an independent cafe.

In addition, Peet’s tribal atmosphere is calming and peaceful. Evidence of Peet’s quality exists in the fresh coffee; they don’t need to add “guaranteed fresh” to their bags to convince me.

Peet’s is a Berkeley tradition. Its first shop opened in 1966 in the iconic city. Peet’s has more of a neighborhood coffee joint aesthetic: cozy, warm, and comfortable. Starbuck’s exudes a “we seek global domination and wish to build an omnipotent empire on coffee which we might be slipping mind control drugs into to ally you with our corrupt ways” vibe.

I don’t expect the tables to suddenly turn, nor do expect die-hard Starbucks junkies to give up their daily “caramel blonde skinny tall non-fat frappe whip with no foam and skim milk.” I only suggest that were people to abandon the notion that just because something is popular it is good, and join the Peet’s crew, they’d finally taste real coffee and, more importantly, delay Starbuck’s impending world domination for at least a couple of years.