Friday, January 21, 2011

Supersize Me, Starbucks

My love for coffee -- caffeine really -- began as a student at the University of Texas at Austin. It was the perfect introduction to civility and to cheesecake, which became my favorite dessert at Cafe Camille, a little house-turned-restaurant nestled on Kerbey Lane.

During the late 70s, enjoying company and conversation over a cup of coffee was far from both Wall Street and Main Street. Our culture's taste buds and high octane lifestyle were fast asleep, and the brew from Seattle was merely beginning to perk.

Fast forward to our current "fast food nation" and the epidemic spread of Starbucks. After our long collective gasp of disgust over the audacity of McDonald's to supersize practically everything, the company responded by downsizing its portions of poison so deliciously deep-fried or coated with special sauce.

Meanwhile, a growing number of consumers were settling comfortably into the soft seating of a neighborhood Starbucks, feeding our addiction to the coffee bean. Starbucks was the fast-food cultural trendsetter; its corporate social responsibility platform made its coffee smoother, worth the price. Forget the jumbo fries and extra-large drink. Ordering in Italian was all the rage. Americans wanted Grande or Venti.

The wise Solomon got it right when he penned, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." In the nothing-new-under-the-sun category, Starbucks supersizes its coffee. The only thing new is another Italian word in our vocabulary. Can you say, Trenta?

Starbucks turns its back to the customer while pouring us an extra large serving of joe. It's as if the new Trenta and its supersize price point signal salvation for Starbucks, which means salvation for our country. The over-caffeinated will lead the way to our economic recovery. After a couple of Trentas, our energy level for business will be like a frenzied day on Wall Street.

The new Trenta by Starbucks will eventually supersize the heart rates of our obese nation, and we will find ourselves dying on the dotted line before our jittery hand can sign on it. Do you smell a bad deal?

I think I will stick with Grande, thank you very much.

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