Breaking Down Everything That's Wrong With Starbucks

You might think that smaller coffee companies would be pretty scornful of industry giant Starbucks, and in some ways, you would be right. Mashed spoke with Tony Konecny, co-founder of direct to consumer coffee roaster Yes Plz, and he did have any number of criticisms to level at this oh-so-mainstream chain. He told us, "It's fashionable but totally valid to hate on Starbucks from the coffee snob perspective," and, as a coffee roaster, he doesn't think too much of the quality or the freshness of the coffee beans Starbucks starts with. He also objects to the way they roast all of their coffees, saying their uniform dark roast makes all their blends and varieties taste pretty similar.

Konecny also throws a little shade at Starbucks by saying "perhaps on account of their unpleasantly dark roast style — they've made a lot of... uh.. innovations on the many ways to doctor your drink." He points out that many of their most popular drinks are more like dessert-in-a-cup than coffee and have the nutritional profile to match.

Smaller coffee chains do have something to thank their rival for

The one thing Konecny really doesn't object to is what he describes as the perception that "Starbucks...[took] something as ordinary and blue-collar as a simple cup of coffee and turn[ed] it into a low key status symbol." He says while many of us may object to Starbucks' high prices, the fact that this chain has normalized people's willingness to pay a lot more for coffee has been a boon to his business. "As a coffee lover," Konecny tells us, "I'm grateful Starbucks opened the doors for a much more interesting coffee world we're now enjoying." He says indie coffee shops can now be found in most cities serving up a product much better than the one Starbucks offers at comparable prices.

Konecny goes on to lament, though, that smaller roasters and coffee shops are paying more for their beans since they don't order them on such as scale as does Starbucks. According to him, "It's a wonder they can even survive charging merely what Starbucks does. In fact, even the busiest hip coffee bars are typically struggling to keep the lights on." Sadly, the past year has been really for the restaurant industry as a whole, and even Starbucks isn't immune from feeling the effects as they, too, will be closing hundreds of stores as they look to streamline their business model toward a more to-go-oriented model. Could the age of the coffee shop be coming to an end? Only time will tell.