Today, if you wear leggings and drink out of a white cup with the familiar green Siren logo, you run the risk of being called basic. It could be that your go-to comfortable outfit just happens to be well-worn black cotton, because it goes with everything in your closet, and your daily caffeine fix just happens to be on the way to your 9-5. So why is almost everything considered “basic” and why is Starbucks always at the top of that list?
Okay, so Starbucks is expensive. If you break apart the compound word, you literally get star and bucks…you know what you’re getting into by entering this coffee chain.
Does it burn a hole in your wallet? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Well, that begs the question, is it worth it to spend money on coffee anywhere? When you could just as well buy in bulk at the grocery store and make your own? It rakes in $28 billion a year (that’s only in the U.S. by the way), so clearly people just want their dang coffee without having to lift a finger.
And yet, America’s choice coffee joint still receives its fair amount of backlash. That’s to be expected with any large business, but at least on social media, this chain takes the cake. The infamous fall favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte has basically turned into an adjective to describe someone’s personality, i.e. “She’s like a Carrie Bradshaw-worshiping PSL drinker.” And proud, FYI.
But before you fall down the rabbit hole of eye-rolling and criticizing self-proclaimed Starbucks loyalists, know that we know it’s expensive, can be unhealthy, and isn’t really all that different from the place next door. Except…it is. Call it good branding that results in an ego-boost in the customer or a “cool” factor, but to some, it’s the difference between ordering a “Venti Dirty Chai” and “a large chai latte with a shot of espresso” anywhere else.
What’s more, Starbucks cares about their employees. Just recently they announced a pay increase by 5 to 15 percent, giving long-term employees a well-deserved raise and newbies another reason to stay and thrive. And thrive you will, especially as a college student. Their plan with Arizona State University provides full tuition coverage to employees pursuing a bachelors degree.
And don’t think they aren’t putting that billion-dollar yearly revenue to good use; since their inception, Starbs has made a conscious effort to partner with organizations to “cultivate change, one relationship at a time.”
Their humanitarian efforts stretch far and wide, such as helping with stewardship with the International Youth Foundation, ethical sourcing alongside the National Recycling Coalition, promoting agricultural sustainability with the World Cocoa Foundation, and many more (read up on it here for the full breakdown).
Plus, people love drinking here because it’s familiar. You know you’ll be faced with the same chalkboard menu, same green-apron smiling barista, and same cozy atmosphere everywhere you go. Just like people know Dunkin’ for their classic choices and local coffee spots for their uniqueness, Starbucks has its thing too, and people like it.
You can get work done without having to block out the world with your headphones thanks to the relaxing playlists. You can people watch and listen to the interview happening next to you when you need that motivation on a research paper. You can relax with a book while sipping from a ceramic mug. Most importantly, you can connect with people you know and people you don’t.
And to some, it’s really not that complicated. There’s one on every corner everywhere you go. Starbucks is like the coffee version of a bank. So next time you see someone sipping on a green straw loud and proud, reflect on why you care that much about their choice of go-to coffee. We all need a little Starbs now and then.