Burned Beans — The Shame of Starbucks

There are two major varieties of coffee beans: arabica and robusta.  Robusta coffees are easier and cheaper to grow, but they taste harsher and more bitter.  Arabica coffees, from Mocha, to Java, to a dozen other varieties of more costly “gourmet” beans, have a range of subtle and rich flavors.  However, there is more to coffee’s taste than the type of bean used.  The way the coffee is roasted ultimately determines how it will taste to the drinker.

CAFFEINE MUGS GALORE!!!!

Coffee is generally either medium roasted, dark roasted, or burned.  (“Light roast” properly refers to a special German and Viennese roast that has little currency.)  When coffee beans are medium roasted, the full range of their abundant and satisfying flavors is brought out.  When coffee beans are dark roasted, they lose much of their subtle flavor but attain a deep richness that some enjoy, for example, in espresso.  When coffee beans are burned, their refined flavor is destroyed.  What remains is bitter and unpleasant.

Most fine coffee beans should be medium roasted.  Junk beans are often burned, because, once you burn the beans, you can no longer tell what sort of quality they might have had if they had been properly roasted.  The fact is, all burned beans taste the same: burned and bitter.  Starbucks coffee is burned and bitter.  You can tell when beans are burned because they take on a black color.  We can only assume that Starbucks starts with the worst possible beans.  After all, burning better beans is just a waste of money.  Unfortunately, through the vagaries of marketing, not only has Starbucks become virtually omnipresent, but nearly every other coffee roaster has jumped on the burned bean band wagon.  That is why, when you visit a shop selling a variety of whole coffee beans, most, if not all, of the beans have been burned black as hell.

Battling Coffees

In the ultimate coffee smackdown, it was yuppie Starbucks vs. Ronald McDonald and the Dunkin’ Kid.  And the clown and the kid won!

Consumer Reports magazine said that in a test conducted at two locations of each emporium, its tasters found McDonald’s coffee to be “decent and moderately strong” with “no flaws.” On the other hand, the Starbucks brew “was strong, but burnt and bitter enough to make your eyes water instead of open.” The March, 2007 issue of the magazine, advises, “Try McDonald’s, which was cheapest and best.”  Several other more recent blind taste tests have consistently rated Dunkin’ Donuts and MacDonald’s as the best tasting and Starbucks as the worst tasting coffee sampled.

So, if you want to find decent arabica coffee that is properly roasted and that therefore boasts subtle and satisfying flavor, you should shun Starbucks and try Dunkin’ Donuts and MacDonald’s.  And, by the way, blind taste tests, for example, those conducted by Consumer Reports, consistently rate Dunkin’ Donuts and MacDonald’s as the best tasting and Starbucks as the worst tasting coffee sampled.

Dunkin' Donuts: Best Tasting Arabica

To see the valiant efforts of coffee lovers to debunk the myth of Starbucks Coffee, check out The Great Starbucks Coffee Mystery -The Starbucks Free Speech Campaign, a web site in which people who love good coffee explain and discuss the inferiority of the Starbucks product.

 

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81 Responses to Burned Beans — The Shame of Starbucks

  1. Tim says:

    You can get very similar flavor profiles from high quality single origin coffees that are 1/3 the price of those. They have just been using their reputation (which is well deserved) to artificially inflate prices to beyond what 99% of roasters can afford to use in any significant proportion and not scare off their customers. I’ve bought beans that you would be hard pressed to distinguish from those in in a brewed cup. Some of the best Ethiopian and other African/Arabian peninsula beans brew a complex, sublime cup, full of fruity and winey notes. I’m drinking some Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Misty Valley Grade 1 at the moment, city roasted to bring out the subtleties of the flavors. If you don’t buy green beans and roast them yourself do yourself a favor and find roasted beans online, there are plenty websites that carry similar coffees (but probably not this one). Keep in mind that if they are very fresh they taste far better than coffee that has been sitting around for months. If you prefer earthy, chocoaltey flavors try a high end southeast Asian bean, Papua New Guinea, Sumatra, and Sulawesi beans in particular are standouts. (PNG Purosa is my current fav). Sulawesi Toraja is the first high quality coffee I had (although I admit it was in a roadside “restaurant” less than 50 miles away from the source and served Turkish style). Also India Monsooned Malabar has a very different profile that is a result of leaving the beans out under an open air warehouse during the monsoon season, which allows some moisture into the beans (they swell to about twice their size) and produces a very unique cup, so nutty and earthy it’s instantly recognizable.

    Blends are using a small percentage of Hawaiian or Jamaican beans and properly blended and roasted have a very nice flavor profile, but if you haven’t taste these in absence of other beans you still don’t know how sublime they can be. To a coffee connoisseur a cup brewed from 100% of either of these is like ascending into heaven at the rapture, trust me. If Philippine coffee has any of the better origin beans I’ll eat my own week old grounds with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

  2. Glenn says:

    It’s a choice. Just like everything else. If your taste tells you that it’s good then why would you taste something else. I concur that most of Starbucks’ coffee are not of best quality but do people specifically look for that? Interest is primarily done by taste and consumers of Starbucks coffee seem to enjoy what they put in their mouth. Therefore, they keep drinking Starbucks coffee. Hence, why they don’t complain about the coffee being highly roasted. Y’all are too much being always negative.

    • OK. If you like drinking bad quality, bad tasting coffee, then Starbucks is definitely for you! This is not “negative,” it is positive– I’m asserting positively that Starbucks coffee is bitter, cheap Robusta coffee. End of story.

      • Scotty Harris says:

        Bennett, your absolutely right. Unless people that go to Starbucks go to a roasting cafe and experience what fresh coffee is, then ignorance remains bliss for them. My wife and I both recognize that coffee anywhere else has virtually no caffeine present proving it is stale and expired. But if people only drink for the taste, then who an I to educate them on experience.
        The coffee at our cafe, Orchard Valley, brings in large hemp sacks of fresh beans from the source. They roast it on site then grind and serve…the caffeine is experienced almost immediately.
        We have found that coffee beans are like fresh fruits or vegetables…the sooner you use it, the more benefits you will receive. The coffee bean is no exception.
        Agreed Bennett….most people are ignorant and asinine anyway.
        Thank you for sharing!

  3. Ron S says:

    So true, Starbucks coffee is horrible. Its a wonder they’ve been so successful- likely only because most who go to Starbucks get some sugary variant that drowns the bad flavor of the beans. Bad for your physique, bad for your pocketbook. The only chain with passable coffee seems to be Peets, now privately held. It appears to be making inroads and taking away significant business from Starbucks- which grows mainly because it opens more outlets, not because people are spending more at the ones they already have.

    • Jo Taylor says:

      Ron – let’s try to keep it real. Starbucks reports same store sales – year over year comparisons for stores OPEN AT LEAST A YEAR. Excludes the impact of new stores. And those comp store sales are further broken down by transactions and ticket, so you can see a) are more people visiting / more often, and b) are they spending more per visit. They get healthy growth – and always have – from existings stores. New store sales are frosting on that cake.

      Please explain your source of information supporting your statement that Peets is “taking away significant business”, and how that jibes with Starbucks record revenues and earnings.

  4. Jim Woods says:

    I wonder how many coffees are actually roasted by the same companies just under different names. Many companies including Proctor and Gambles etc do so with laundry detergents. I enjoy reading posts of how people prefer a detergent over another when they are identical from the same company with different names. Expectations i.e.. perceptions affect our taste buds. Also, medications and biases. Biases are powerful. Starbucks certainly have great marketing. However, if they were as poorly brewed as noted in the above claims they would not be as profitable. Again, unless you are purchasing from a local roaster, I suspect our perceptions not reality make many brands distinct. On the other hand, there is certain prestige carrying a coke than a store brand and Starbucks over another, Again marketing impacts our biases whether we realize it or not. Which is masterful marketing.

    • mdnomad says:

      The article doesn’t say the coffee is poorly brewed… its talking about how they are roasting their beans. They burn it. Most people who order a plain coffee at SB… go straight to the sugar and creamer… If not… chances are they got a coffee beverage that comes loaded with sugar and syrups and dairy… all these things cover up the burnt ashy taste.. I can promise you… go to your local roaster… and ask for a light roast… Grind it properly… brew it properly (aeropress or pour over) Drink it for a week… then go try Starbucks. This enlightenment has just happened to me. We have a local roaster here in Nevada called Colorado River Coffee Roasters… None of their beans are dark roasted. In fact most of their beans are light roasted. The Ethiopian Sidarmo Ardi in particular tastes like a blueberry muffin. One sip and you will understand that adding sugar or creamers will actually ruin the cup. It was like Morpheus gave me the red pill to swallow. My taste buds are awake!! Every cup of coffee I get at a coffee shop now tastes burnt to me. I am now way too far down the rabbit hole to drink bad coffee.

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  6. Eyal says:

    you all live in your american bubble.
    I am a coffee snob. and I dont need to roast any beans. Starbucks is horrible but give me a break! McDonnalds and Dunkin are just slightly better. the brewing and milk steaming are terrible too.Just try to buy Lavazza Super Crema, grind and brew with a good italian espresso machine. froth the milk like a pro and enjoy every sip of real MEDIUM high quality, reasonably priced coffee. try it, practice and you wont step into a typical american coffee chain anymore.
    I have so many fans that tasted the shots I get out of my Rancilio…..
    happy new year.

    • I still think McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts are pretty good, though they are obviously not gourmet coffees.
      Thanks for the tip!

    • Tim says:

      True, an Italian espresso machine seems to be the norm among people who like espresso that is kinda comparable to what the $5,000 machines put out. Mine was $350 and makes an acceptable cup. Acceptable espresso grinders are north of $100. There’s a reason they are so expensive, and that’s because they simply make the best espresso, the more expensive the better ((usually, anyway). There is a $20,000 machine on the market that I for one would love to taste samples from all day, of course the price may be so you can impress your customers more than any advantage it moght have over less expensive machines.

      I see StarBurnts is spamming the TV with their “new Blonde Roast”. I’d like to hear from someone who has tasted it what they think. It may be an acceptable alternative to roasting your own beans. Also I didn’t say that roasting your own beans is the only way you should make coffee and certainly isn’t necessary. If you can find fresh roasted, city roast or close to it, from high quality beans, you are miles ahead of the big chains. Now guaranteeing the freshness of the roast and the quality of the beans is a challenge. Old coffee tastes like musty old coffee no matter how you brew it. Slightly better than diner coffee IMO. And if they don’t specify the origin of their beans you can bet they’re cheap. There are several online sellers who look legit. One is Coffee Bean Direct, I haven’t bought anything from them since they don’t sell green beans but the website looks promising. If you’re looking for something to try, I generally prefer southeast Asian and north African coffees, for different reasons. The former is earthy, nutty, fragrant, chocolately, and the Toraja from Sulawesi, Indonesia was the only good coffee I had ever tasted in my life when I worked there 20 years ago. The Ethiopian highland beans in particular are from the “land of the birth of coffee” and are very fragrant, bright and fruity with a bit of earthiness & chocolate undertones. Of course you could go with just about any Jamaican or Hawaiian beans if you have $30+ to blow on a pound. They do taste like heaven in a cup tho :) Watch out for cheaper, they usually mix in 50-90% inferior beans.

      • Matthew Wagner says:

        Starburned’s blonde almost made me gag as it is still very burned! I would like to find an actual number test for caffeine content and I would quite rapidly put them out of business or become a multimillionaire as they would probably pay me to keep quiet but they have somehow taken them all off the market..

  7. DEECEE says:

    Tim Horton has good coffee in my opinoin, better than McD and comparable to Donk’in.

  8. The only true coffee is black add cream or sugar and you have a coffee beverage more akin to other flavoured coffees.

    • You don’t add anything to a fine wine either.

      • mdnomad says:

        If its good black coffee… you dont need the sugar or creamer to cover up the burnt taste. I used to load my coffee up with sugar and cream.. until I tried a light roast from Colorado River Coffee Roasters. The sugar and cream ruin its amazing natural taste

  9. brian says:

    Starbucks is vile. Over-roasted burned flavor is not what a perfect cup of coffee is made of. Not to mention, way overpriced. I cannot fathom why Starbucks continues to be popular. As for Dunkin Donuts coffee, well, it is decent, but again way way overpriced. If you want a very good cup of coffee at a very reasonable price, the you have 2 very clear choices. 7-11, which uses Mother Parker brand coffee is absolutely delicious, and for about a buck, is a bargain. McDonalds comes in as a close second for flavor and price. These comparisons are for PLAIN UNADULTERATED coffee, without ANY flavoring, of any kind. I don’t consider “flavored” coffee, coffee. It’s a flavored drink. period. A true coffee drinker, will only settle for black, cream, or cream and sugar. That’s the ONLY way to judge a good cup of coffee. Over the counter brands are all over the map. The ones to avoid are found in those “dollar” stores or odd job lots stores, selling discontinued , outdated, and just plain awful coffee, with many of the brands offered you’ve never heard of. Some coffees, for example, Maxwell house, add “filler” to their blend, with ingredients like chicory. God awful taste and aroma. I can smell Maxwell house brewing from a mile away. If I see a restaurant serving this crap, I find another restaurant. A good cup of coffee should be smooth, rich, and satisfying to the senses. As far as Petes, or Seattles best, I have no opinion, as I have never tried either. Yes, there are many other brands found at your local grocer, all of which you need to try to determine which is best. I have found that Melita Classico, at my local grocer, is pretty decent, at a very fair price. Under 5 bucks for 12 ounces. (Remember when coffee was sold by the pound?)…HA! try and find that today. Most store-bought brands are 10-11-12 ounces at most. Can you say rip-off? Don’t forget the old A&P brand 8′oclock, Bokar and the rest. Still sold in that distinctive packaging today, sans the A&P logo., and not the same taste or flavor that it used to be. That’s all for now.

  10. Tim says:

    The fact of the matter is, if you know how to roast coffee, you would burn beans to match Starbuck’s and countless other boutique coffee whole bean coffees. There are two outstanding resources online that can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about coffee roasts, coffeegeek.com and coffeesnobs.com.au. Both have tens if not hundreds of thousands of posts on everything under the coffee sun (which is not burnt LOL). If you accept the fact that there are “roasts” with names (which there aren’t, it’s just a convenient way to group different levels of roastings into categories), you can google many images of what the different levels look like. The pictures with level 1 through level 16 instead of names are more the standard in the world of coffee roasting. If the pictures show anything other than black beans under any roast lighter than “Full City or Full French” or level 12-13, they aren’t accurate. Starbucks standard roast, the last time I saw the whole beans (admittedly, more than 5 years ago now), was blacker than Full French, which I used to strive to achieve in my home roasts but now that I have experienced many roasts from many varieties I reserve for only certain espresso blends, mostly for that after-dinner shot to ward off the turkey coma :) Some people call Starbuck’s “dark” roast “Volcano” roast, which to me means that the beans were roasted in a volcano :)

    If you buy Starbucks or many other brand whole beans at the supermarket (Peet’s, Seattle’s Best are two that are locally abundant), you really can’t find a roast that isn’t burned. I was desperate a couple weeks ago when I ran out of green beans to roast and got a bag of Seattle’s Best no. 4 roast, supposedly their lightest. It was a Full French Roast but a little on the dark side. “Light” means Cafe roast to me (as you pointed out standard light roasts are almost never available commercially, but they do have their place, just not in my cup).

    I for one got sick of Starbucks and other chain coffee cafe’s disgusting flavor, and when I could no longer get an unburnt cup within 6 blocks of my work in a city pretty well known for boutique coffee shops I gave up and started home roasting my own. I turned to coffeegeek for help getting started and quickly found out that practically ZERO people on the forum roasted their coffee so dark as to approach the big chain’s black beans. My best roasts ever were all level 12 and lighter, roughly equivalent to City roasts. They were also from expensive, extremely high quality beans, there are several suppliers of high quality beans out there. Many “boutique” roasters use only high quality beans and offer many roasts lighter than Full French, it all depends on the characteristics of the beans and the taste they are shooting for.

    Oh and one more thing, robusta beans are from a different species of plant that while closely related to arabica isn’t the same plant, many people don’t realize this. There are at least 3 species of plant that are grown to make coffee, Coffea arabica, C. canephora (robusta) and C. liberica. Each has its place and each can be roasted and brewed to produce coffee. It’s just a matter of preference, in many countries coffee isn’t made from arabica simply because robusta (and rarely liberica) because the beans aren’t readily available or the people are simply used to other species. I’ve had wonderful brews of all three in other countries, with very different characteristics, but the common thread is that NONE of them were burnt.

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  12. Fatah says:

    The worst expresso is in sturbucks ,I gave a try in different locations but I came to conclusion
    That sturbucks expresso is horribly bitter ,even the managers that I complain to agree .

    • All of Starbucks coffee products are horrible junk. But, unfortunately, their worst aspect is the way that nearly the entire coffee market has been destroyed by the misplaced effort to jump on the burnt and bitter bean bandwagon!

  13. ibamberger says:

    I agree with everybody on Starbucks coffee if you buy a cup of it at Starbucks. But if you buy their beans and brew it, tastes way better and depending on the beans you get, you usually don’t get as much of a bitter taste. I recommend their Organic Yukon Blend which is medium-roasted.

  14. Chip says:

    This blog is spot on. Starbucks is one the worst coffees I have ever tasted and I will never cross the threshold of one of those shops again. I have been ordering beans from a small roaster on line and have had great tasting coffee since I discovered them. The five pound bags of beans have been fresh and sparkling with the sheen of the oils. I even ordered a bag of dark roast Sumatra beans that while stronger than my usual medium roasted beans it still had complex dark chocolate flavor, not the bitter swill of Starbucks. I will be honest and say that I would buy 8 “O” Clock Colombian beans before I would any bean from Starbucks.

  15. Jake says:

    I personally prefer Dillano’s out of Sumner WA

  16. Jake says:

    Maybe Starbucks doesn’t literally ‘burn’ their beans but rather just roasts them extra-extra-extra dark.. so dark in fact that they taste burnt and bitter when brewed (as opposed to mixed into sugary, whipped cream topped faux coffee drinks) The word chosen to describe that extra-extra-extra dark roasting process makes little difference to me… the taste is still burnt.

  17. George says:

    Burnt beans? Debunked. http://consumerist.com/2007/06/22/confessions-of-a-starbucks-barista/

    I understand it’s not everyone’s taste, because most folks prefer light-to-medium coffee roasts.
    I’d bet a months salary that in a blind taste test, Starbucks “Morning Joe” would beat Dunkin Dark roast (at the very least) with 7 out of 10 dark roast lovers.

    Either way, although i like Starbucks better than Dunkin, I rarely go to either one. I brew better coffee at home (Peet’s, Dean’s Beans, Death Wish, Deadly Grounds, Trader Joe’s, etc.)

    • Starbucks beans are burned, no matter what their employees claim. And I would agree that people who like burned beans will prefer Starbucks to Dunkin’ Donuts.
      However, if you want to really taste the wonderful flavor of different coffees, a medium roast is simply the only way to go.

      • George says:

        I’ve done medium roast. Not my style. You can keep repeating that SB burns their beans. Doesn’t make it true. There are different levels of roasting. Burnt, is when you go even a little bit beyond the darkest acceptable roast, no coffee company sells burnt coffee.

        Furthermore, they also sell medium, and even light roasts. You claiming that they burn them over and over, does not make it true. Show me just one reliable source (key word; reliable) that shows they burn their coffee.

        People perceive strong, dark roast coffee as burnt, if they prefer light to medium roast, and/or don’t make their coffee as strong as most coffee experts reccommend.

        • My saying it doesn’t make it true. What makes it true is that Starbucks buys cheap beans and burns them. Most people know this. If you like burned coffee, enjoy!

          • George says:

            “Most people know this” Is not a credible source.

            That is a rumor. If you can’t substantiate it, or admit that it’s not a fact, than you are incorrect.

            French roast is the darkest acceptable roast, it is very, very dark (darker than any SB coffee, besides – obviously – their french roast), but not burnt. Read the official coffee roasting guidelines from one of the companies that sell home roasters sometime.

            And I do enjoy my dark roast, thank you.

            :)

            BTW – I realise that without tone or inflection, this could come off as snarky, or argumentative. It is meant to be neither. Just stating facts and exchanging opinions. No sarcasm or malice intended.

          • OK. You are certainly entitled to your preferences. I don’t know any way to “substantiate” what I and tens of thousands of others say about what they taste, see, and smell in Starbucks coffee– after all, Starbucks is certainly not going to confess that it uses cheap, burned beans. But, as they say, each to his own taste.

          • George says:

            Well, Starbucks would not admit it, if it were true. But someone would prove it and out them, just like all the cheap filler in McDonalds products, and Yoga mat chemicals in Subway buns.

            Claiming that “tens of thousands of others agree” is also just rumour, hearsay, and internet search based confirmation bias.

            I agree with you on the “to each their own”. But the burnt beans claim is nothing but a rumor.

            The burnt flavor is a matter of perception. To dark roast lovers, light roast is watery, and medium is weak.

          • The testimony of tens of thousands of people is not hearsay or rumor! It is what is legally called “testimonial evidence,” that is, people reporting what they have experienced! “Hearsay” is the attempt to testify to something that you heard someone say but which you have not perceived yourself.

          • Jk says:

            “Testimonial evidence” only works if you are providing those testimonies. You’re not. You are, in fact, backing yourself up with hearsay as you’re claiming you’ve read or heard these claims but are not actually collecting them or using them in your argument. I’ve tried every Starbucks core range coffee and I can identity which is which by smell alone, as the flavours are so drastically different and unique in each and that’s before the pleasure of even taking a sip. You also claim that the reason Starbucks apparently burns their beans is because they buy cheaper coffee and, when you mention the difference between Arabica and Robusta in the beginning of the article it gives the implication that Starbucks gets Robusta. False. Starbucks buys 100% Arabica for all their blends. That is an undeniable fact you cannot dispute with “actually, lots of the people I know somewhere who get coffee from someplace say this”
            Also, you keep diverting arguments away from the actual claims in the article people are disputing in the comments and you keep repeating your opinion which, to be honest, is the bulk of your evidence. So I ask you, when’s the last time you actually bought a Coffee from Starbucks?

          • Let’s end this dispute. You believe whatever Starbucks tells you about their coffee, no matter how much what they say apparently contradicts the obvious fact that they serve Robusta bean coffee. I don’t provide the testimonies — these testimonies are widespread and blanket the Internet. And of course I haven’t bought a coffee from Starbucks for a long time, because the last few times I tried I had to throw the coffee away because it was so horribly bitter! There’s my testimony, take it or leave it!

        • Michael Tighe says:

          Have you ever tried Dunkin’ Donuts Dark Roast? It’s very hard to imagine that it is Dark Roast, cause it is the best Dark Roast 10x over than any I’ve ever tasted. I made the mistake once and bought Starbucks and another time bought McDonalds neither of which were Dark Roast, and Starbucks and McDonalds were both equally so bad, I will never buy ever again. Anything Dunkin’ blows away Starbucks by far. Regular Starbucks and regular McDonalds were both very bitter. I always regarded coffee as all being nasty, where I’m from there is a coffee house on every corner practically, and all probably are Starbucks quality, cause there are no Dunkin’ Donuts. Hadn’t had a Dunkin’ where I’m from since the mid-90s, where I reside now has Dunkin’ and OMG, Dunkin’ is the absolute best coffee, whether it be regular or dark roast, if it says Dunkin’ it is the very best. If it says McDonalds or Starbucks it means WORST. Starbucks being burnt beans is a very good assessment, that is exactly what it tasted like to me. Why people would deliberately burn beans for coffee is beyond me. Then again some people go out and buy the worst vehicles ever made consistently time and time again no matter how many times their domestic breaks down. If you know any better you buy the worst product.

    • Bob LaMonta says:

      Debunked? Hardly. The “myth” in question at that link reads “Starbucks coffee tastes burnt.” Tastes. That has nothing to do with “IS burnt.”

      Starbucks coffee *tastes* burnt. This is not one person’s opinion, it is the opinion of countless consumers. Whether it is scientifically quantifiable is immaterial: taste is subjective, and subjectively speaking it comes across as burnt.

  18. jim govoni says:

    Lighthouse Coffee Roasters on Phinney Ridge in Seattle hands down best cup in the city or anywhere

  19. Jake says:

    Here in Seattle, if the length of the lines to get coffee are any indication, there’s still a high demand for Starbucks Coffee though L-rd knows why… Probably just because they’re everyplace you look and worker bees only have 15 minutes or so to grab their cup and get back to their cubicle. But from what I’ve heard from a Starbucks employee (no names) the coffee is burnt so the strong taste will stand out in their myriad foo-foo whipped cream covered specialty drinks… which at $4 to $5 bucks a pop are profitable as opposed to the brewed stuff which isn’t…

  20. grintch says:

    A few years ago I bought a cup of Starbuck’s coffee, plain type, at a trade show where there was no other alternative.
    After a few sips, I dumped it out. It tasted burned.
    I thought it was me, or that they made their “plain” coffee taste bad to accentuate their fancier brews.
    Now I feel better, Knowing it’s not me.

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  22. Bob Schectman says:

    The world is filled with 2 types of people when it comes to both food and drink. Those who live to eat & drink and those who eat and drink to live. Starbucks caters mostly to the section of the population that eats and drinks to live. Those who only allow the most pleasing drinks and foods to interact with their palate try Starbucks only once. Starbucks main strategy has been to monopolize the retail coffee market by opening up as many locations as possible rather than emphasizing quality. As a result, Starbucks was forced several years ago to close many locations due to lack of demand for its product (or too much confidence that everyone in every town would become hooked to its product). Everyone’s taste is different, however, most seeking a great cup of coffee roasted properly eventually stop going to Starbucks. I have found a superb family run coffee roaster (& retail chain) in Louisiana called Community Coffee. Go to their web site and order a sample—their pricing will leave you yelling at Starbucks. By the way, for those who have fallen victim to the Jamaican Blue Mountain myth, be advised that it is the PEABERRY variety of Jamaican Blue Mountain beans (smaller size) that is the smoothest and worthy of the price. Too much bad Jamaican Blue Mountain is pushed off on Americans. And yes, good “light roast” coffees are getting harder and harder to come by—a shame since they can be very smooth and quite appealing if the right bean is used. Once again, Starbucks has been a major player in bringing this about.

    Search for the smaller, quality driven coffee roaster or chain(s). You’d be surprised what’s out there when you look.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments on Starbucks debased coffee. I agree with everything you’ve said. The saddest thing is the fact that, as you say, Starbucks has been “a major player” in seriously curtailing the availability of good coffee. By the way, “light roast” is generally a misnomer. Good coffee is medium roasted. Properly speaking, “light roast” refers to an unusual Viennese or German roast that has little currency.

    • colealoramommy says:

      Yes! I agree. Quit wasting your time in those long lines and money on the glamorous and romanticized, over-priced coffee beans burnt to a bitter shame and covered in refined and sometimes synthetic sweeteners and flavorings (at a hidden additional charge).

  23. dan says:

    I was at Starbucks recently. I avoid places that offer the Budwiser of coffees. I much prefer the micro brewed beer equivalent of coffee. I asked if they had any roasted bean blends that were not burnt. All of the [well trained] coffee monkeys said ‘oh you mean roasted, yes all coffee beans are roasted. That is how they get their flavor.’ After they proudly offered their Pikes Place or Blond Roast, I asked if they knew where the beans came from. This question seemed to perplex them. I had a ‘ding light bulb goes on’ moment. None of these [well trained] coffee monkeys drink coffee and if they did, it would be a non-coffee coffee drink with crushed ice and whipped cream…

  24. Alan says:

    I have travelled quite a bit and what a joy it is to find a coffee shop (such as in Europe) where the emphasis is still on quality, with wonderful smooth coffees and delicious baked goods tempting a daily visit. I am so tired of these businesses being copied and corporatized with the resultant “quick buck” quality being forced upon me. My case in point with Starbucks new Laboulange pastries which are frozen and good until well into 2014 and their awful burnt coffee, which for some reason in the last couple of weeks has just gotten worse. Honestly we only have ourselves to blame by supporting these companies as I like many others have herded into a long line of customers at the local Starbucks only to throw my unfinished drink away as I walk into work.

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  26. lombausch says:

    True coffee lover never go for Starbucks ashes in boiled water with sugar. True coffee fan would end up belly up after drinking starbucks espresso. It’s disgusting and tastes like an ash tray in auto-camping in east germany. The only guys who can beat them is Insomnia coffee. I think they brew their coffee of used tyres.

  27. Jheri Cravens says:

    I have been off coffee for about five years, due to a problem with my colon. I was overjoyed to find that, on my new eating plan, I could drink coffee again, without colon problems. So I started out with an old jar of instant Yuban which had never been opened but which I hadn’t been able to get myself to toss. Omigawd, it was delicious! When I ran out of that jar, I bought another one for backup to a new bag of Peet’s. To make a long story short, the Yuban, the Peet’s, and a bag of Folger’s that I bought in desperation, all taste like burnt beans. Is this the coffee nowadays? I really hate that burned nasty taste and I am so afraid that is all there is. Can you suggest something I could try that isn’t burnt? I know the whole country can be trained to eat (and drink) stuff that I can’t just because I remember when it was good, like the green bananas that the whole country has been retrained to eat. With bananas, I can buy what everybody else eats and let them sit for a couple weeks until they are ready to eat. But how do I unburn coffee beans? Is ANY brand not burning the beans these days? If it possible to get some raw and roast my own without burning?

    Granted I am ignorant. This is my first try at finding something drinkable on the internet. Thank you for any ideas.

    • There are still some good coffees around. Dunkin’ Donuts and MacDonald’s sell excellent Arabica coffee that is not burned or bitter. Try them! They’re excellent and beat Starbucks burned beans in every taste test that has been conducted.

    • Mr Disagreement says:

      Although you can roast your own beans at home (I have friends who do this), it is time consuming and takes time to learn. Honestly, I’d recommend getting some Starbucks coffee. Much more recent reviews of Starbucks have shown a great improvement in its flavour in the last few years. It’s what I drink and I can always pick out the subtle flavours of nut in the Columbian blend, and the cocoa and spices in the Guatemala. It’s never bitter or tasteless.
      There are of course others to try, Douwe Egberts does a good pre-ground and I’ve heard good things about Gevalia. Try a few different brands and blends and see what you like.

      • I don’t think Starbucks coffee will ever lose its burned, bitter character. But, obviously, some people disagree with me and with the many surveys that have confirmed my point. Each to his own!

        • Mr Disagreement says:

          You’ve yet to provide a survey that’s current but, if that’s your opinion, that’s fine.
          Personally, I go for Starbucks BECAUSE I can’t stand the burned, bitter taste of other (lesser) brands.

    • Matthew Allen says:

      Any Arabica beans are going to be smooth and not bitter, which I think is what you are looking for. America as a whole has ruined coffee, I get most of my coffee from foreign lands…

      • William says:

        You get your coffee from foreign lands? That’s the only way to ensure that you have gotten even LESS fresh coffee than at Starbucks or any other huge coffee brand. America hasn’t ruined coffee and it is stupid to say so. There are SO many roasters in cities all over the US that make amazing fresh coffee.They just don’t distribute in the massive supermarket chains and they dont have storefronts on every corner. you have to LOOK for the coffee.

    • William says:

      The five year old instant Yuban coffee was not good. It was disgusting and you were just excited to drink coffee again. That being said, afterwards, you bought more disgusting coffee. Also, Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds make disgusting coffee. Don’t try and make it seem like those coffees aren’t gross. Just because it’s medium roasted doesn’t mean its good. The brewing of the coffee is arguably as important as the roasting of the coffee. None of these places take either seriously.

      • Michael Tighe says:

        Let me guess William is a burned coffee Starbucks connoisseur. Dunkin’ is the best. With regard to the 5 year old Yuban, go buy Dunkin’ and you’ll be happy.

  28. It is of course fine if you prefer the burned flavor of Starbucks coffee. Each to his own, as the saying goes. But Starbucks does burn its beans– that is not a myth! And your snobbish mockery of average American tastes doesn’t alter the fact that almost every one who took the many blind taste tests liked McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and found Starbucks coffee bitter and unpleasant. In my experience, gourmet coffee drinkers invariably agree with these assessments.

    • Matthew Allen says:

      I liked the comparison done the other day on ABC where Starbuck’s won with 20 mg per cup; that is not very much caffeine! lol Like the same amount of Coke would have something like 40 and Mountain Due like 60. Now do not hold me to those numbers, those are just examples. Anyone that knows anything about coffee, caffeine, or caffeinated beverages knows how little 20 mgs is. Most eregy drinks nowadays are well into the hundreds..

  29. Frank Sullivan says:

    Bennett,

    I liked the story on “burned coffee”:

    “The fact is, all burned beans taste the same: burned and bitter. Starbucks coffee is burned and bitter. You can tell when beans are burned because they take on a black color. We can only assume that Starbucks starts with the worst possible beans. After all, burning better beans is just a waste of money.”

    I have always hated Starbucks coffee and now I know why. While I am not a true coffee connoisseur, I do have my favorites. Two of them are Jamaican coffee and Kona coffee.

    100% Kona coffee is in particular very mild and flavorful. Something to do with the volcanic soil and mountains I guess.

    As far as suggestions, I guess I’d find an article on the best coffees to be interesting. As is obvious, I tend to favor mild coffees. Another one I like is Guatemalan coffee.

    Your friend,
    Frank

    • Matthew Allen says:

      Those are my two favorites also Frank! Blue Mountain Jamaican and Hawaiian, hands down! They are available in an Arabica bean as a blend that is far less expensive and not too bad. My father is a missionary and always brings me a bag or two from wherever he goes and the best to date was from a small village in the mountains of the Philippines that was very smooth and like rocket fuel!