5 posts

Here’s Why Starbucks’#RaceTogether Initiative is Misguided

When Starbucks announced their new race initiative, #RaceTogether, that would see baristas attempting to hold conversations with customers surrounding race issues, the Twitter backlash was swift and conclusive. Downgrading the importance of race relations — or patronizing the efforts of those who work tirelessly to discuss race in more fitting environments by suggesting it can be easily dissected while waiting in a Starbucks line — proved laughable to most and just short of offensive to others.

Were it not for our collective eye-roll when it comes to the gimmicky nature of the corporate sanitization of various issues affecting our society, the outcry in response could have been relegated to just Black Twitter. However, given the diversity of social media, a community of citizens that is an actual microcosm of the world over, many, regardless of race, were unified in their expression of distaste. And that should tell Starbucks something. Continue reading

Maggie Gallagher Is a Loaded Diaper

Maggie Gallagher, founder of the National Organization for Marriage and all-around bigot, wrote an opinion article for uExpress about the recent Starbucks annual shareholder meeting. Not one to bury the lede, she titled her piece “DUMP STARBUCKS.” Obviously she’s got a thing or two to learn about subtlety.

She name-checks a Baptist preacher, then goes on to say that one of her minions, Jonathan Baker, attended this meeting and asked if the board really approved the statement that gay marriage is “core to the Starbucks brand.” She reports that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz replied in the affirmative, and was applauded. Continue reading

Rowen’s Coffee House: Put Your Best Foot Forward

Let’s say you’re walking past a Starbucks, or a whatever, and you decide, “Fuck man, I’m thirsty! Well, actually, not really thirsty, because if I was, I wouldn’t drink something that’s gonna dehydrate me. But, I’m going through withdraw and need something caffeinated, and probably loaded with sugar and carbs.” So, it’s time to go in and get yourself some coffee, or coffee-like beverages.

Before you do, though, you need to prepare. If you’re not used to this, it might be time to step to the side of the sidewalk and collect yourself. First thing, are you on the phone? Well, before you go inside, you might want to finish that conversation up. Why? Because you aren’t that interesting and the people inside don’t give a shit about what you have to say. Harsh, I know, but it’s true, and like Tania and Rhonda, I tell it like it is.


So, you’re done with your phone conversation and have hung up and are interested in entering the store. First, though, take a look inside. Is there a line? Can you see how many folks are working behind the counter? These all will affect how things go later on. Also, are you in a rush? We’ll get to ordering later, but if there’s a really long line and only 2-3 people behind the counter, chances are that no matter what you order, it’s going to take a while. Also, unless you’re sleeping with one of the baristas, your demands of being served first will only end in more time being wasted and possibly receiving a decaf drink.


Now open the door. Feel that nice breeze coming from the rush of temperature controlled air blowing past you to the outside. Isn’t it nice? Well, it’s not nice to us inside. Usually, the inside is nice and temperature controlled so that if it’s hot outside, then it’s cool inside, and vice versa. You, however, are standing in the doorway for no reason and screwing that delicate balance up. While there are times this can be excusable (aka, you’re holding the door open for a wheelchair bound elderly orphan with a puppy with sad eyes), sometimes, you’re just holding it open for no reason. Maybe you’re finishing up that phone conversation you should have finished up outside. Maybe you’re trying to decide if you left your vibrator on. Maybe you have temporary blindness and don’t realize that there are two doors to a set of double doors (though, in your defense, sometimes one door IS locked, even if it is against fire code). Either way, it’d be swell if you could just hurry up and get inside, instead of blocking other people and causing a general nuisance. Get in, or get out. Shit or get off the pot. Don’t be a dog in a manger.


You’re inside, now. Breathe. Relax. See, that wasn’t that difficult? It’s not like this is rocket science, righ. … wait, um, you seem to have something on your face. No, really. It’s around your eye region. What? You can’t see it cause it’s so dark? Here, let me help you with that. Yeah, I’m just gonna take those off… Better right? As Sister Mary Clarence put it, “There is no sun in this room. You will not get a tan. Take off those sunglasses. That goes for you too. If they’re not prescription, I don’t wanna see ’em. I want to see you. I want to look into your eyes. I want you to be able to look into mine.”


So, you’ve managed to navigate how to physically enter the store without being a total douche. Congratulations! Unfortunately, you have another hurdle. You have to place your order without being a total jerk, but we’ll deal with that next time.

Rowen’s Coffee House: Grand Opening

Welcome to Rowen’s Coffee House! Feel free to pull up a chair, enjoy your free range/shade grown peppermint chocolate cappuccino, and chill out to the groovy lounge jazz!

I’d like for this to be a place to discuss the trials and tribulations of working in the customer service industry, especially the coffee industry, which is where I work now. I’d like to keep this scathing, but I’d also like to not have this turn into Barista Rant. So, let’s get started. Many people out there have no clue what’s in their cuppa, so here’s a quick intro to just what you’re drinking (and you can impress your friends with your esoteric coffee knowledge!!)

There’s quite a lot of ways to grind and prepare coffee, but unfortunately, your local Starbucks doesn’t serve them, so, in the interest of not confusing the hell out of you or allowing you to sound like a total douche, I’m going to keep it simple. Please note that I WON’T be covering crap like the frappucinos and the chai-teas, since that would be like including a Strawberry Sunrise Surprise Frozen Martini in an article about whiskey.

1)      Brewed (non-espresso) – This is the type of coffee Americans think of when they think of coffee. It’s the acidic shit that the bitchy waitress serves you at IHOP, and gives you a glare whenever you request a refill. Variations include

a.       Black Coffee – Just What It Says on the Tin, you idiot.

b.      White Coffee – I’ve never heard anyone say this, but Wikipedia claims that this is coffee with cream. Or, ya know, coffee.

c.       Café au Lait, Café Ole, Coffee Misto – Equal parts coffee and steamed milk. The poor man’s latte.

d.      Red Eye –Black coffee with a shot. Two shots is a black eye. People have stupid names for more shots (Blue eye! Green eye! Brown Eye!) but that’s, once again, going into douchebag territory.

e.      French Press – This should get its own section, but since it’s so rarely done, I figured I’d put it in the brewed section. French press coffee is more coarsely ground, and then scooped into a French Press. It’s allowed to steep for a few minutes, after which you press down on this plunger thing which pushes most of the grounds to the bottom. Personally, I find this to be the best tasting style of brewing coffee, as it has much more flavor then drip style. You can get a French Press for about 20 bucks and it doesn’t require a filter.

2)      Espresso – This is a dark roast coffee that’s been ground much finer then your regular mud, and then packed into a small little puck called a “puck” which is then inserted into one of these magical espresso machines where hot water is forced through the coffee, to slowly dribble into a tiny cup. It’s a very sexy drink. . .

a.       Espresso – This is your basic espresso with nothing added. True snobs will tell you that it’s supposed to be drunk almost immediately after being brewed , before the sweeter small topping, or crema, dissolves. However, this person is usually the dickhead “experiencing” their espresso right at the coffee bar, blocking everyone else from getting their 2/3’s caf, venti, 3.4 pumps no foam skinny vanilla latte. You can get regular espresso or you can have it in one of these two styles”

i.      Long (or Lungo) – More water is added to the espresso, but it’s added as it goes through the espresso machine (compare to the Americano). This allows more of the bitter flavor to come through.

ii.      Ristretto – Less water is used, making the drink smaller in volume, but sweeter in taste.

b.      Café Americano – This style came from Europeans trying to mimic American drip coffee during WWII. Hot water is added to the espresso (destroying the crema).

c.       Long Black – The inverse of the Americano. Hot water is poured first, and then the espresso is added, thus preserving the crema.

d.      Espresso Macchiato – The espresso shot is topped off with a scoop of foam.

e.      Latte – The espresso mixed with mostly steamed milk, and a topping of foam. Some places, not Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, teach their employees how to make shapes with the foam, which is cute in a ceramic cup in Snotty McCoffee Bar in Williamsburg, but who really has time for that?

f.        Cappuccino – After the espresso, this drink has equal parts steamed milk and foam, meaning it’s supposed to have a thick layer of foam in it (yes, I have had people order a cappuccino and then bitch about the presence of foam. Please don’t be that person.)


So, there you have it! A quick list of what the hell is being served at your local Starbucks. Until next time, enjoy! And remember, if we didn’t make your drink right the first time, then fuck off.