Disclaimer: I work for Starbucks as a barista. This probably affects my viewpoints a bit, but not as much as you might believe.

Starbucks, like any other business, will only do what appears to be profitable. They create this so-called monoculture because the market allows it. Some towns, like my hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts have multiple coffee alternatives to Starbucks, even beyond Dunkin' Donuts. They exist because residents choose to patronize alternatives. In other examples, the present cafe may have been faltering, and selling out to Starbucks was the only alternative to closing down. Without Starbucks, there may not have been a cafe remaining in town.

If you really believe that Starbucks is so bad, patronize alternate cafes. Find a no-frills cafe with an emphasis on coffee, and leave behind the frappuccinos, merchandise, and gaudy pseudo-hip posters. If there is no alternative present, why not do something about it? Open your own, beat Starbucks with style and small-scale excellence of service. If you fail, think long and hard about whether it was predatory business practices, or just a superior product. There's plenty of small hamburger joints that survive in the face of McDonald's, and plenty of small bookstores in the face of Barnes and Noble. They don't compete on price or global reach, but quality and service are unmatched, as well as atmosphere.

For every person who rants about monoculture and homogeneity, there are ten that want to fit in. People buy butt-ugly Louis Vuitton bags because they are the hip thing, without regard to the fact that they're ugly and a 20 dollar bag might be nicer. People go to Starbucks because their favorite TV character did.

Lastly, if you are to complain about a mega-corporation, you could find many more worthy targets than Starbucks. Few large companies care as much for the environment, the fair price of their source product, or their employees as Starbucks. Ranting about Starbucks is like complaining about jaywalkers when there's a serial killer on the loose.

di5tortion says: re Starbucks, monoculture, and American Imperialism: interesting wu but whats so wrong with frappucinos I love those :)
Nothing is intrinsically wrong with frappuccino, but it's definitely a departure from the basic cafe. More time spent on other products means less time spent thinking about coffee.

oakling says:re starbucks' concern for its employees - what about all the prison labor they use?
I inquired further from oakling, got a slightly broken link that I was able to follow to:


In response to the general idea, prison labor is out-sourced. The laborers aren't Starbucks employees, any more than an espresso bar manufacturing plant laborer is a Starbucks employee. Past that, these laborers are being paid minimum wage, which is 6-20 times higher than the prison standard, according to the article.