Ron Rosenbaum

Tentative, Temporary Starbucks Victory?

Well it seems JUST possible that we may be able to roll back the 2% tide at Starbucks. After my conversation with a surprisingly understanding Starbucks p.r. person the new “2% default” experiment may be defunct. At least the version of the “default” policy that would make “default” de facto.

As you might recall I discovered that some addled nutrition nut at Starbucks, one of those tunnel-vision ignoramuses who believe all food must be robbed of flavor, had convinced their New Agey management to replace steamed whole milk in their lattes, cappucinos and mistos with the watery diminished taste of 2% milk, which is not only less flavorful but steamed up with a nasty, stingy edge.

And they were in effect doing it secretly! There was blackboard announcing that 2% milk was the “default ‘” choice which meant that if you wanted the richness of whole milk, you had to specifically call for it. If you wandered in groggy in the morning and didn’t notice the blackboard annoucement and asked for a steamed milk beverage you would be served the burnt-milk tasting 2% version.

And even if you were sharp enough to notice the switch and asked for whole milk they were likely to be out of it because as 3 baristas confirmed to me, they were told by the manager to order only a single gallon of whole milk, which meant they’d run out early and the “default” choice would be the only choice. Cheap trick. Starbucks, you’ve been busted.

Well the Starbucks p.r. guy seemed to recognize the inequity of skewing things toward the “default” choice and suggested that the manager may have misunderstood things.

And lo and behold the next time I visited the branch, a barista told me that they “had a whole bunch” of gallons of whole milk just come in, because the 2% default solution “wasn’t working out”.

I won’t claim credit entirely for this tentative, temporary victory (which I’ll bet they’ll find some way of getting around I’m sure). In fact I have a feeling that there was a customer rebellion against the food puritans and their war against natural richness.

My only concern is that our intervention and rebellion may have saved Starbucks from financial suicide. By 2%ing the flavor of their core drink (meanwhile serving profoundly crappy sugary pastries, far more nutritionally lethal) they would have made the “Starbucks experience” even less appealing. Millions would be less willing to put up with kitschy-cute cultish New Agey Starbucks culture to get this 2% experience.

But don’t let up. Don’t let them off the hook. don’t settle for anything less than whole and make it clear to the managers of your branch that you won’t settle for less.