Starbucks vs. Red Bull
November 10, 2005 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Starbucks vs. Red Bull. After reading this article, you will think twice about drinking Starbucks Coffee. It's utterly shocking just how much caffeine is in a single cup!
posted by merc (176 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Self-link. Jesus, you're a douche. -- cortex



 
Um, yeah. That's exactly why I drink Starbucks coffee.
posted by notmydesk at 10:14 AM on November 10, 2005


How much taurine is in a cup of Starbucks coffee?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:15 AM on November 10, 2005


What an absolutely mindboggingly fascinating and incredibly informative FPP.
posted by agregoli at 10:15 AM on November 10, 2005


Caffeine-Content Database.

Starbucks is the best... I drink about two or three Ventti coffees every weekday.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:15 AM on November 10, 2005


I love the taste of coffee but it dries me out. As in cotton mouth, and dark urine. Even if I drink water along with it.

Red Bull (sugar free!) gives a much better buzz, IMO, but the taste is a little funky. And I find i burp up that same taste for hours afterward...
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:19 AM on November 10, 2005


There's caffeine in coffee? Then why am I drinking Mountain Dew and snorting NoDoz to start my days?

What's the cost per milligram of caffeine break down to? I bet Starbucks is a bargain looked at that way. 'Course, I'm still not going anywhere near Starbucks, I'd rather go to Trader Joe's and get a smoothie or Defense Up. Or just bring my own coffee from home that tastes better.
posted by fenriq at 10:19 AM on November 10, 2005


Red Bull (sugar free!) gives a much better buzz, IMO, but the taste is a little funky.

It's probably the bovine semen. They don't call it Red Bull for nothing.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:22 AM on November 10, 2005


Caffeine pills are cheaper.
posted by meehawl at 10:23 AM on November 10, 2005


Wouldn't that be a reason to think twice about drinking Red Bull? I mean, how much money are you wasting on crappy cans of pop and not getting enough caffene to keep you awake?
Grumble, grumble, kids these days and their fancy sugar water
posted by octothorpe at 10:26 AM on November 10, 2005


I typically order 16 shots of espresso in a single venti cup, whenever I visit Starbucks. 12 if Iced. The stuff is great for the occassional extra-long shift at work...
posted by yeoz at 10:26 AM on November 10, 2005


I love Starbucks. I buy a grande long Americano every morning. I appreciate and enjoy the fact that my Starbuck's beverage contains caffeine. As an added incentive, I know that I'm also supporting the enterprise of global corporate monoculture, at the expense of independent little coffee shops that sell inferior product and offer snooty service.
posted by slatternus at 10:26 AM on November 10, 2005


Grande halfcaff to take the edge off of the afternoon slump.
posted by grateful at 10:29 AM on November 10, 2005


As an added incentive, I know that I'm also supporting the enterprise of global corporate monoculture, at the expense of independent little coffee shops that sell inferior product and offer snooty service.

I'll give you the snooty service, but Starbucks chars its coffee. It is rarely better than the independent places.
posted by brittney at 10:29 AM on November 10, 2005


yeoz - yowza!
posted by grateful at 10:29 AM on November 10, 2005


How much caffine is in a normal cup of home-brew coffee?
posted by odinsdream at 10:30 AM on November 10, 2005


It's probably the bovine semen. They don't call it Red Bull for nothing.

This is true actually, taurine was originally found in the testicles of bulls.

That said, after slamming 4 red bulls I feel a whole helluva lot more cracked out then a after a grande or even venti coffee.
posted by WetherMan at 10:31 AM on November 10, 2005


I love Starbucks. I buy a grande long Americano every morning. I appreciate and enjoy the fact that my Starbuck's beverage contains caffeine. As an added incentive, I know that I'm also supporting the enterprise of global corporate monoculture, at the expense of independent little coffee shops that sell inferior product and offer snooty service.

I'm detecting a hint of snark, but I think you're serious, as well. On one block in my town in OR, we have two independent coffee shops and two STBX on opposing corners. I go to SBX because they make a consistently decent Americano the way I want it, every time, and they're happy to get it right, no matter how arcane or anal your request. The other places, after trying for years to indulge the slow service, derisive service, inconsistent quality, no more.
posted by docpops at 10:32 AM on November 10, 2005


According to the internet, the Grande is 16 oz and a Redbull is 8.3, so that makes it seem slightly less ridiculous. Starbucks and Red Bull are both the most ridiculously over priced consumeables I've seen in recent years.

You could buy a pound of freshly ground organic coffee for $6, cold-filter it and make literally dozens of drinks to your own taste and preference. Or you could pay that much for one drink from an unknowledgeable barista with a bad attitude, watching in horror as he pumps various syrups and flavorings into a monstrously fattening drink. Tough call.
posted by prostyle at 10:33 AM on November 10, 2005


Looking at the caffiene database, I was always taught that an americano was a shot of expresso with hot water added to make a coffee. It should have the exact same caffiene as a capachino of the same cup size.

http://www.cspinet.org/nah/caffeine/caffeine_corner.htm

This link seems to be correct.

As well, 500 mg / 16 ounces is the maximum measured in a 5 day study of starbuck's breakfast blend. The minimum was 239mg. The average was 384.

IMHO, 'caffinated' energy drinks were always more about hype then anything else. Since the comany's are artificially adding caffiene, they'll always be wary about overdoing it and being labeled a drug.
posted by jboy55 at 10:34 AM on November 10, 2005


As an added incentive, I know that I'm also supporting the enterprise of global corporate monoculture, at the expense of independent little coffee shops that sell inferior product and offer snooty service.

Honestly.. I don't think I could have said it better. I sneak starbucks to my local indy cafe. Starbucks isn't pretentious, I don't have to wait in line for 10 minutes because the guy in front if me is trying to get the coffee shop girls digits, and I don't have to deal with stale tea or cafe moto (yuck) crap coffee.
posted by Milliken at 10:35 AM on November 10, 2005


I'll give you the snooty service, but Starbucks chars its coffee. It is rarely better than the independent places.

I hear that all the time and suspect it's apocryphal. Peet's looks exactly the same, and Tully's too, though I like them better. The indies routinely churn out inconsistent brew that routinely tastes like it was brewed in a Space Shuttle booster rocket.
posted by docpops at 10:35 AM on November 10, 2005


MetaFilter: It's probably the bovine semen.
posted by NationalKato at 10:37 AM on November 10, 2005


I'm interested in docpops response. True, Starbucks does produce something of consistent quality. But it is consistently crap. Anyone who wants a decent espresso (or at least something that isn't a pint of warm beige milk) should look elsewhere. Starbucks is McDonald's with pretensions.
posted by rhymer at 10:37 AM on November 10, 2005


The indies routinely churn out inconsistent brew that routinely tastes like it was brewed in a Space Shuttle booster rocket.

You live in Flyover, don't you?

Huh, no, looks like you don't. You must live in the one good-coffee black hole in the Northwest.
posted by gurple at 10:40 AM on November 10, 2005


OH MY GOD, YOU MEAN THERE'S CAFFINE IN COFFIE

I'm shocked, SHOCKED!!!

550mg is about what you'd get in a vivarin. According to wikipedia you'd need to drink about 27-40 of these in one day to have a 50% chance of killing yourself.
posted by delmoi at 10:40 AM on November 10, 2005


Wow, I've always felt sort of guilty for liking Starbucks and being annoyed at the crappy "too cool" smaller places. No more. Metafilter can be so validating.
posted by yodelingisfun at 10:41 AM on November 10, 2005


I used to live in London, i now live in Seattle. I regualrly go into Starbucks because, ironically, "It's just like it is at home*".

I like Ikea for the same reason.

Viva Globalisation!

* With better service and different baked goods.
posted by Artw at 10:41 AM on November 10, 2005


I won't think twice about drinking Starbucks. In fact, I won't even think once. I like coffee, but I've never seen Starbucks coffee as something to be desired.
posted by Doohickie at 10:42 AM on November 10, 2005


I worked for a while in Mexico with coffee growers in the foothills of the state of Veracruz (thus the screen name, long story...). I worked with their transition from traditional slash-and-burn-then-bring-in-the-chemicals style to organics and shade grown varieties. The goal of every farmer making the transition was to get in with one of the big Starbucks contracts. Starbucks really would come in and certify a farmer as doing things right and sustainability and then they would leave.

After Starbucks would leave, the farmers would start getting the orders, ever growing orders. Eventually their yields would begin to fall short of orders. The farmers would face the dilemma of losing the big money contract or turning back to the high yield, destructive old ways to keep up with Starbuck's demand. it was a sad story. I'd still rather ingest any brand of coffee before putting the untested pharmaceuticals of an "energy drink" into my blood stream.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:42 AM on November 10, 2005


(Actually, amounts of caffeine over 300mgs may be bad for pregnant women).

Finally, I'd be willing to bet that you could actually poor 7 cans of Red Bull into the cup they use for that coffee. I mean, come on. Those things are tiny.
posted by delmoi at 10:43 AM on November 10, 2005


Exactly. Starbucks is the coffee of last resort. Although interestingly I don't mind McDonald's coffee - the stuff that's brewed for about eight days. In fact, I think I prefer it to Starbucks; we all have our secret food perversions.
posted by rhymer at 10:45 AM on November 10, 2005


True, Starbucks does produce something of consistent quality. But it is consistently crap. Anyone who wants a decent espresso (or at least something that isn't a pint of warm beige milk) should look elsewhere. Starbucks is McDonald's with pretensions.

See, this is the sort of opinion that I always find amusing. Because a lot of people love Starbucks, and yet they're probably discerning enough to know a shit meal from a good one, a decent wine from not, and the generally sublime in lots of areas where there are lots of inferior competitors. But when it comes to coffee, this sort of comment is as common as an unclaimed fart. I guess we must just be morons with palates that wouldn't know if we were consuming day old stool or caviar.
posted by docpops at 10:46 AM on November 10, 2005


Charing the coffee beans ensures that the coffee is of mediocre quality, but it also ensures that the taste of the coffee is consistent at every starbucks across the country, every day of the year. So what you get from Starbucks is a guarantee regarding how the coffee will taste, even if it's not as good as the local coffee place that serves Batdorf and Bronson, which is better but might have a slightly different taste from month to month. From coffee shop to coffee shop, you might be able to find good quality forms of gourmet coffee, but you won't have a guarantee that it will be the kind you've accustomed yourself to.
posted by deanc at 10:50 AM on November 10, 2005


A lot of people love McDonalds too, docpops.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:50 AM on November 10, 2005


To make a long story short for the kids too young to remember, coffee in general -- outside of making it at home -- was undrinkable bitter toiletscum in Flyover Country until Dunkin' Donuts started making decent coffee sometime in the late '80s, if I recall. And it's still pretty atrocious out there, but now you can at least depend of getting something that vaguely resembles a latte at, yes, Starbucks. I wouldn't dream of going to a Starbucks here in San Francisco, where I visit my privately-owned neighborhood cafe twice a day, but when I'm in Normal, Illinois, Starbucks is a godsend.

Red Bull? Please. It's disgusting. It's some sort of hype for the myspace kidz who want to mix it with cheap vodka so they can be both hammered and hyperaggressive. No one will be drinking Red Bull in ten years, but good coffee is forever.
posted by digaman at 10:51 AM on November 10, 2005


*depend on
posted by digaman at 10:52 AM on November 10, 2005


I guess we must just be morons with palates that wouldn't know if we were consuming day old stool or caviar.

That's one option, and I admit, it's quite possible.

The other option is that Starbucks has hooked you poor souls with its ubiquity, like McDonald's does with even sadder people. You drink enough of the stuff and that's the taste you start to prefer. Like the ex-Londoner says above, it tastes the same everywhere.

I just made myself a turkish coffee with some dutch cocoa powder and a pinch of sugar. Now THAT is a drink.
posted by gurple at 10:53 AM on November 10, 2005


I love Turkish coffee! -- the hashish of java. Try adding a little cardamom to that brew, gurple.
posted by digaman at 10:55 AM on November 10, 2005


Charing the coffee beans ensures that the coffee is of mediocre quality, but it also ensures that the taste of the coffee is consistent at every starbucks across the country, every day of the year.

Precisely. It isn't apocryphal, it is good business sense.
posted by brittney at 10:56 AM on November 10, 2005


... but Starbucks chars its coffee ...

Can I get an AMEN! The stuff gives me a headache, it's so burnt.

deanc's got a point, but I'm not sure it's clear: The consistency of Starbuck's coffee is consistent mediocrity.

digaman and Pollomacho have very relevant datapoints: McD's coffee is a little weak for me, but it's consistent and it's reasonable quality and, most important (for me), it's medium roast. That's the beauty also of Dunkin Donuts, I believe: The medium roast lets you actually taste the coffee. DD and McD's get their consistency the old fashioned way: Through consistent buying. They don't have to burn it all to a uniform crispness.

As for the snarking at token small shops: Hey, don't get coffee there anymore if you don't like how they make it. I only get coffee from places where I like the taste, and that still leaves me plenty of independent options.
posted by lodurr at 10:59 AM on November 10, 2005


Aw man, that Turkish coffee sounds good.

Sometimes I go to Starbucks specifically because I want to be an anonymous person in a corporate environment. Sounds weird but ever since I've been freelancing full time it's been an occasional urge. (Also they make good milkshakes.) On the other hand I've never had a barista in an indy place act snotty to me. Never seen it. I mean, they may look like record store clerks, but... they're not.
posted by furiousthought at 11:00 AM on November 10, 2005


I love Turkish coffee! -- the hashish of java. Try adding a little cardamom to that brew, gurple.

Aww, yeah! I've tried it all. Cardamom and clove is one of my favorites. I prefer cardamom powder to the seeds. Allspice is all right. Cinnamon and clove, or cinnamon and cocoa powder, is a good one.

I even wrote a few web pages about it.
posted by gurple at 11:01 AM on November 10, 2005 [1 favorite]


Starbucks "chars" its French Roast, like everyone else who makes French Roast. French Roast is, by definition, charred coffee, which adds a pleasant smokiness if you're into it, and an ashtray taste if you're not.

Starbucks does not char its lighter blends. There's nothing insidious about Starbucks serving French Roast -- it's not only a taste that many Americans associate with better coffee, it's a way of making coffee that lasts longer in the pot without tasting burned, since it's pre-burned.

Don't like French Roast? Order Joni Mitchell Fair-Trade Sunshine Lite, or whatever the fuck Starbucks calls their other stuff.
posted by digaman at 11:01 AM on November 10, 2005


Is it wrong that I walk into a Starbucks, and not order coffee? Generally, my beverage of choice there is a coffee-less Frappucino, or a caffeine free tea.

But then, I don't drink caffeine, not since the days of obesity and 12 cans of Coke per day.
posted by benjh at 11:02 AM on November 10, 2005


delmoi: Huh? Vivarin contains 200mg of caffeine per tablet, with one tablet every four hours as the indicated dosage.

It doesn't take much to overdose on caffeine - about 750mg or so starts the process for most folks, but as little as 250mg can have some rather unsettling effects.
posted by FormlessOne at 11:03 AM on November 10, 2005


In defense of the starbucks drinkers, I grew up in a faceless residential suburb with not coffee shop culture to speak of. We were big on delis and diners where I grew up. My family has long since moved away from that neighborhood, but no doubt a Starbucks has opened up nearby, filling a niche that would otherwise have been empty.

...ok doing some checking, the nearest Starbucks to where I grew up is more than 3 miles away. Not exactly walking distance, but better than nothing.
posted by deanc at 11:05 AM on November 10, 2005


gurple, that's a delightful little webguide, thanks!
posted by digaman at 11:05 AM on November 10, 2005


... now, as for Red Bull: If I need something to absolutely, positively keep me going, sugar free Red Bull is about third or fourth on my options list. (Can't deal with teh sugar, it makes me crash.)

First would be mate. Second woudl be Morning Thunder (which is black tea blended with mate). Third would be some "mateine"/"guaranine" (i.e., theobromine) based energy drink -- I don't recall what brands there are, as I stopped drinking that stuff. That said, sugar free Red Bull does the job.

But coffee is really only partly about the wakefulness. it's teh experience that matters. And SBX just doesn't do that for me; it leaves me dissatisfied and irritated and the all the free-radicals from burned beans give me a headache and make me dehydrate. Given the choice in Normal IL, I'll look for a DD over a SBX. Hell, I'd drink McD's, before SBX. But then, I'm not hooked on the fancy stuff; coffee light, no sugar, black in a pinch.

That said, turkish with cocoa and sugar does sount mighty appealing....
posted by lodurr at 11:06 AM on November 10, 2005


I've yet to see a "lighter" blend at a Starbucks. Every coffee I've ever had there tasted like it had cigarette ashes in the filter basket. And I've had a few; for some reason, people around here like to have preliminary business meetings at SBX stores.

It seems to me that the people leaping to the defense of SBX are engaging in unreasoned defensive behavior, just as the SBX-bashers are engaging in unreasoned behavior. Charring your beans to hide the taste of an inferior grade would indeed be dishonest; since even the "medium" roasts available at SBX are over-cooked, I think it's fair to characterise their coffee as generally "charred." And if they're marketing consistency a la McDonalds, one shoudl expect get them to be given more or less exactly the same treatment as McDonalds. (I eat McD's food, btw.)

Starbucks is not about the coffee. It never was. It's about the experience around the coffee. It's about marketing. It's about making money. Which, after all, is the American Way. [shrug /]
posted by lodurr at 11:12 AM on November 10, 2005


I will say that in defense of Red Bull, depending on your body chemistry, it can really cut through a hangover. Like feel much better in a few minutes. I suspect it's the B vitamins and the vasodilation. I view the occasional Red Bull as medicinal, not something to be enjoyed like coffee. It also tastes so bad that you can look at it as pennance.

I don't really like starbucks coffee, which doesn't make it bad. I'll drink it if I have to, but I usually don't have to. I like both good indie coffee place coffee and New York deli dishwater coffee, it just depends on my mood. This is also why I prefer to hang out with foodies rather than gourmets.
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:15 AM on November 10, 2005


Starbucks? Red Bull? Bah. Give ME Pimp Juice.
posted by ColdChef at 11:17 AM on November 10, 2005


Yeah, it's probably stupid to defend the indefensible. I really never liked the coffee there, which is why I get an Americano. But truthfully, if I could pick a chain coffee for my morning routine, Peet's wins hands down. I have just grown to hate the nightly routine of getting the coffee ready and always having fresh half-and-half around. But lodurr, it is about the coffee. I never hang around those places. But after a few sips of my Americano I'm suddenly able to face the rigors of 0530 hospital rounds and keep going through a day's patient load. So yes, the actual coffee is paramount.
posted by docpops at 11:17 AM on November 10, 2005


my beverage of choice there is a coffee-less Frappucino

What the heck is a coffee-less Frappucino? I'll tell you what it is-- it's a milkshake.

Divine Who : I will say that in defense of Red Bull, depending on your body chemistry, it can really cut through a hangover. Like feel much better in a few minutes. I suspect it's the B vitamins...

I find that Guiness is good for getting over a hangover for the same reason.
posted by deanc at 11:18 AM on November 10, 2005


You really don't need to worry about the people lurking in small snooty coffee shops looking down on you. The people that hang out there are, for the most part, unemployed students (and/or communists).

*shotguns another Red Bull*

Just get your coffee to go and hop back up in your safe Escalade. Diversity can't hurt you in there.
posted by dobie at 11:19 AM on November 10, 2005


... New York deli dishwater coffee ...

2:30am, nothing quite hits the spot like fresh hot java slung by a surly diner waitress....
posted by lodurr at 11:22 AM on November 10, 2005


I find that Guinness is good for getting over a hangover for the same reason.

...and by the afternoon, when I leave the bar, I've forgotten I had a hangover at all!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:24 AM on November 10, 2005


You leave by the afternoon?
posted by lodurr at 11:25 AM on November 10, 2005


gurple, I second digaman! I'm on fire to go exploring the local Middle Eastern groceries for the pots and powdered coffee you describe. Cardamom and cloves... mmm...
posted by tentacle at 11:27 AM on November 10, 2005


As the co-creator of the web's first (as best we can tell) death-by-caffeine calculators all I can say is "damn, I should have kept that up"
posted by m@ at 11:28 AM on November 10, 2005


But, but, but...I LIKE char. I go for the smokiest scotches, love the beef jerky, am a big fan of barbecue, make killer smoked salmon, chicken, and turkey. So, yes, Starbucks is burnt, overly-commercial, whatever--but I like it better than the insipid brew of our locally-owned place. If that makes me some sort of coffee philistine, so be it.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:28 AM on November 10, 2005


You leave by the afternoon?

i don't want to be late for happy hour.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:28 AM on November 10, 2005


From what I remember, Tim Hortons' coffee (in Canada anyways) has even a little more than Starbucks in the way of caffine.
posted by Quartermass at 11:29 AM on November 10, 2005


Pish posh. You're losing valuable drinking time by switching venues. Just find one place that does it all.
posted by lodurr at 11:30 AM on November 10, 2005


Just get your coffee to go and hop back up in your safe Escalade. Diversity can't hurt you in there.

I spilled a starbucks chai latte all over the upholstery of my Escalade, so today I just rode an Iraqi to work.
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:32 AM on November 10, 2005


The amount of caffeine in coffee varies dramatically, to an extent to which a pregnant woman should think twice about having more than one cup a day.

Who's marketing theobromine as mateine, lodurr? One crackpot mate-booster asserts that 'mateine' is a stereoisomer of caffeine (nonsensical -- caffeine can't have a stereoisomer.) Other sources have accepted 'mateine' as another name for caffeine. This seems to me to muddy the waters more than saying "no, matiene doesn't exist" would have, but there's precedence with theine, sort of.

But I haven't heard anyone say mateine was theobromine.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:32 AM on November 10, 2005


Starbucks is a godsend to a traveller, the only place on earth that reliably has a decent bathroom for all, customer or not. As to coffee quality, those with discerning tastebuds blend their own beans and make their own coffee. Nevertheless, when you need the lift Starbucks is a decent choice. The absolute best coffee I've had in the past 10 years was at Cafe Trieste in Berkeley, though their San Francisco spot is as good, depending on the barista on duty.
posted by semmi at 11:34 AM on November 10, 2005


Starbuck's: Last-best resort. Though, I've had issues with finding any reliable local non-chain indie shops around that know how to do a proper cup of dark, black coffee. They might as well subcontract to McDonald's. Note: I've found plenty of indie shops that run easy, lazy circles around Starbuck's. Just not here. Guh. Unrepentent bastards. No, I don't want a ice blended mocha sugary abomination, you emo fool. Yes, I know it's 95 frickin' degrees outside. Hot. Black. Fucking. Coffee. No sugar. No moo. I don't even want you thinking about refined sugar or dairy products while you pour it, goddamnit.

Favorite chain: Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. But only because Peet's are far and few where I've been for some reason. They might as well not exist, for me, unfortunately.

Circle K / 7-11 / Gas station of choice: Absolute last resort, on the road for hours and hours, with hours more to go.

Truck stop coffee: Avoid. Bad mojo. Smells like dead things and tastes of sweaty trucker butt. Solution: Self inflicted face slapping and loud music. Stop somewhere else, posthaste.

Turkish Coffee: Coffee hashish, indeed. Best when made by a real Turk - whom seem to be able to make it out of any kind of coffee at all, as long as they have a proper grinder handy, if needed. Or a mortar and pestle. Liquid crack and ambrosia, all at once. Recommended, especially if it comes with deft fortune telling and a well-stoked hookah.

I brew and drink most of my coffee at home. 7-8 bucks for a huge 20+ oz can of French Roast beans from Trader Joe's. Hell yes. Brewed just like I like it at home. No problems. Tasty and cheap.

If I lived in San Francisco I'd never have to drink Starbucks. That place is just overflowing with indie shops that know what a good cuppa is all about. One of my most favorite single cups of all times came from some tiny little spartan place way South of Market down in/near the warehouses, bayside. Absolutely perfect.

I actually have two full-pot glass vacuum carafes. I use 'em at home and on the road. Left unopened they'll keep a full pot nice and hot for over 24 hours. Awesome for road trips, camping, and taking to workplaces.

Combine that with my insulated mugs and I'm an on-the-go coffee lovin' fool. LA to Phoenix and back with fresh coffee all the way, no sweat.

Self link: Why can't Starbucks sell "small," "medium," and "large" drinks?
posted by loquacious at 11:34 AM on November 10, 2005


this story would be useful if it compared Starbucks to another brand of coffee. The larger point being that Starbucks' coffee is particularly over-caffeinated, possibly from their over-toasting which sometimes brings out the caffeine.

My theory is that they spike their coffee with pure caffeine itself.
posted by destro at 11:37 AM on November 10, 2005


Starbucks is the best... I drink about two or three Ventti coffees every weekday.

Two to three a DAY? I think I love you.
(unless you're one of those people who hogs the cream & sugar table, then it's a wash).
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:39 AM on November 10, 2005


I'm glad that the entire point of the link was presented in pictographic format so that I didn't have to think too hard. WORDS MAKE ME DIZZY!
posted by jenovus at 11:39 AM on November 10, 2005


I didn't really join the down-with-Starbucks cult until I saw that they opened one right in front of the Staatsoper in Vienna. wtf?

and yeah, I don't know if it's the French Roast's fault as digaman says -- it very well may be. but to this infidel Euro palate, Starbucks mostly tastes burnt
posted by matteo at 11:41 AM on November 10, 2005


I will say that in defense of Red Bull, depending on your body chemistry, it can really cut through a hangover.

The original Red Bull?
posted by badger_flammable at 11:41 AM on November 10, 2005


I spent enough of my youth working for indie bookstores/cafe's to know that the workers are looking down on you and secretly judging your choices. It's why I now do all my book shopping at MegaCorp Books.
posted by haqspan at 11:42 AM on November 10, 2005


until I saw that they opened one of their cafes right in front of

my bad sorry
posted by matteo at 11:42 AM on November 10, 2005


You really don't need to worry about the people lurking in small snooty coffee shops looking down on you. The people that hang out there are, for the most part, unemployed students (and/or communists).

*shotguns another Red Bull*

Just get your coffee to go and hop back up in your safe Escalade. Diversity can't hurt you in there.


I was going to respond to this statement, but Divine_wino made that unnecessary. Haha!
posted by brittney at 11:43 AM on November 10, 2005


I spilled a starbucks chai latte all over the upholstery of my Escalade, so today I just rode an Iraqi to work.

heheh.
posted by dobie at 11:45 AM on November 10, 2005


It's not coffee unless it's got a shot of brandy or rum in it.
posted by Joeforking at 11:47 AM on November 10, 2005


Since there is a huge variance in the actual caffeine content of a single shot of coffee or cup of drip, that page is basically contentless, as it presupposes that there is 550mg in a grande.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:47 AM on November 10, 2005


Excuse me, but in my family, we call the stuff boiled out of ultra-fine coffee grounds Greek Coffee.
posted by deanc at 11:53 AM on November 10, 2005


badger, from you link:

40 oz can... Pale yellow lager with a fizzy, white head. Nose of corn chowder and alcohol with a dash of black pepper. Sweet, alcoholic flavor. Full-bodied with a harsh mouthfeel and fizzy carbonation. Finishes alcoholic and dry.


Brilliant!


The best real life "Starbucks opens in Starbucks bathroom" joke is at Astor place in Manhattan, where there is a Starbucks in full view of another Starbucks across the square, you could hit one with a baseball on a long throw from the other one. Since both of those Starbuckses are always full of NYU kids and junkies waiting to push off or drop a two week old junkie poo the only good reason (the bathroom, right you are semmi) to be there is taken away. But I always want to go into one and ask someone, "Hey is there a Starbucks around here?"


I lived on turkish coffee though college (although I called it Armenian coffee and would have had my ass kicked for referring to it as anything else), I got really good at brewing it (with cardamom) it's really soothing to fuss over it on the burner, let it bubble up, take it off, let it bubble up, take it off. Yup, good shit.
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:54 AM on November 10, 2005


I'll give you the snooty service, but Starbucks chars its coffee. It is rarely better than the independent places.

I hear that all the time and suspect it's apocryphal.


I know an engineer who works in one of the huge processing plants that supplies Starbucks' coffee; they do, in fact, burn their beans.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:56 AM on November 10, 2005


Greek, Turkish, what's the difference?

*runs away very, very fast and hides for a long time*

Damnit, I'm gonna go get me a cup of Starbuck's right now. From one of those crappy grocery store mini-Starbuck's, no less. I've been out of coffee for like, a week. *scrounges up pocket change*
posted by loquacious at 11:57 AM on November 10, 2005


Combine that with my insulated mugs and I'm an on-the-go coffee lovin' fool. LA to Phoenix and back with fresh coffee all the way, no sweat.

Not to sound fussy, but half hour after brewing it no coffee is fresh. That is what's impressive about Peet's, after a half hour they dump what's in the urn and make a fresh batch.
posted by semmi at 11:57 AM on November 10, 2005


Another plug for McDonald's coffee here. It's not just for spilling in your lap anymore.
posted by alumshubby at 12:00 PM on November 10, 2005


I'm a Peet's man, myself. Starbucks'll do in a pinch, but Peet's is the real rocket juice. Plus, it tastes much better!

Oh, and for those of you who also enjoy a good frothy latte or cappucino now and then, Peet's is absolutely the best. I swear they must send their baristas to the University of Perfect Milk Foam.
posted by tritisan at 12:01 PM on November 10, 2005


I drink Starbucks only because it's the quickest way to get the thrash metal sound track in my head going.
I prefer panchino (Whiskey - preferably George Dickel - and espresso). But it takes a bit to make.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:01 PM on November 10, 2005


Greek, Turkish, what's the difference?

Same goes with the Armenian coffee reference above, in Syria you can tell if someone is a Muslim or a Christian by the number of times he lets the coffee bubble. Muslims do it once (and add more cardamom) Christians do it three times (for the "Trinity" but really because it's that much more potent). Many of the Christians are Armenians and Greeks, the Turks are all Muslims.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:04 PM on November 10, 2005


Yup let it bubble three times, that's very important hokis.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:10 PM on November 10, 2005


Since there is a huge variance in the actual caffeine content of a single shot of coffee or cup of drip, that page is basically contentless, as it presupposes that there is 550mg in a grande.

The variation comes from how much ground coffee is put into a shot, and from the quality of the beans, ie. if it's Arabica (higher quality but less caffeine), or Robusta (harsher coffee but higher caffeine content). The old roadside Denny's used to sell coffee (Robusta) that would easily propel you from La to Arizona.
posted by semmi at 12:10 PM on November 10, 2005


If you're in Louisville, Ky, this is the place to get your fix. I work in a Barnes & Nobles up here in New York, though, and get 50% off of cafe items, so it's Starbucks or nothin' for me; however, I've found that if you pour maybe an ounce of Bailey's Irish Cream into your travel mug before handing it over to the baristo or whatever a male coffee-slinger goes by, it really takes the edge off. Especially at 7:45 in the morning.
posted by 235w103 at 12:10 PM on November 10, 2005


Hooray for the eye opener! On the next MetaFilter - injecting heroin into your eye socket before noon.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:14 PM on November 10, 2005


Monmouth Coffee in London is the best I've ever had. Anyone else been there?
posted by nyterrant at 12:16 PM on November 10, 2005


I can't do a cup of regular coffee; I don't like drinking that much of something that hot. I will enjoy Turkish coffee though, as there's something about it that makes it easier to get down. And I like shots of espresso.

And, God help me, I like the rest stop coffee with the cards on the cup. I don't know why, but it makes road trips so much more fun.

I am amazed by all of the reflaxive indie-hate going on here. And yet from people who would probably look down their noses at Franzia straight from the box.
posted by klangklangston at 12:26 PM on November 10, 2005


In LA, I did Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

In NY, I (occasionally) do Starbucks and more often do Dunkin Donuts. No indie shops anywhere near my office... I've had Mudd Truck a couple of times, and it's phenomenal, but not my stomping grounds. Porto Rico is great too.

I prefer to brew at home, but I'm a lazy sod. Just got a batch from Intelligentsia in Chicago and Greenwell Farms in Kona... a hell of a lot better than anything I can buy locally. (For you Chicagoans, is Intelligentsia that great in person? Wow, really good stuff.)

Starbucks is strong and available pretty much anywhere. It's not super, but it's a lot better than deli swill or McDonalds' 1000 degree finest.
posted by fet at 12:27 PM on November 10, 2005


When I am in Toronto, I prefer to go to Tim Hortons over some place like Starbucks. The coffee isn't bad at all, and an extra large is less than a toonie. There's also a little Italian place on Yonge Street that I like to go to for a nice cappuccino and authentic panini. Last time I was in a Starbucks I was confused by all their size names. So I asked for a Double cappuccino. Boy were they and I confused. The server said "oh you mean a Venti" or whatever they call it. I asked what that was. He kindly points to the cup it comes in. I ended up leaving with something that tasted horrific. It's not just their french roast that's charred, it's their espresso blend as well.
posted by Eekacat at 12:28 PM on November 10, 2005


klangklangston:
And, God help me, I like the rest stop coffee with the cards on the cup. I don't know why, but it makes road trips so much more fun.


You sir, are not a well man. I had some of that brewed-by-the-vending-machine swill at 4am while driving across the country somewhere outside of Gary, IN... may as well have been a bubbling cauldron of sullen hatred.
posted by fet at 12:29 PM on November 10, 2005


Back with coffee. Oh yes thank you. Starbuck's "House Blend" whatever the hell that is. Whatever it is, it is indeed burnt, but better then the stale black tea I've been drinking all morning.

Not to sound fussy, but half hour after brewing it no coffee is fresh. That is what's impressive about Peet's, after a half hour they dump what's in the urn and make a fresh batch.

Yeah, that's fussy. Wonderfully fussy. Though when the choices on all-night long-distance drives are between "stale" home-brewed vacuum-flasked coffee and sweaty trucker butt-sex coffee, I'll take the former.

But then, in earlier times I've been one of those indie coffeeshop urchins that eventually ends up always getting free coffee because he spent so much money when hanging out there in the beginning, and then later was often there helping close up and police the HS kids and whatnot. So I'd often get the end of the pot stuff or leftovers. Then there are the complimentary espresso shot drinking contests and smoked bowls out back by the dumpster.

Hell, I've brought leftover home coffee in plastic water bottles when I didn't have a brewer at home. Throwing out any tolerable, fresh-roasted and ground coffee is just a terrible thing, sometimes.

But then, I'm obviously not a true gourmand, even just considering the SBX swill I'm sipping right now. *sighs gratefully, for a moment, for the convenience of corporate whoredom*
posted by loquacious at 12:32 PM on November 10, 2005


I've had Starbucks coffee and can certify that Starbucks coffee tastes as much like coffee as any other kind of coffee. But the flip side of that is, why would you pay extra for Starbucks coffee when it doesn't taste any more like coffee than any other coffee does?
posted by kindall at 12:33 PM on November 10, 2005


Starbucks has terrible munchies -- thats the main reason not to go there. But those of us old enough to remember the pre-ubiquity of Starbucks also remember a decent-coffee desert in much of North America. I reckon for every coffee shop driven out by Starbucks another five indies have popped up to serve the demand largely created by Starbucks in the first place.

and divine_wino made me laugh in that guilty sort of way
posted by Rumple at 12:36 PM on November 10, 2005


I've recently seen Burger King advertise some kind of hi-test on the TV. I think they call it Turbo or something. They sell it as an sexier 3rd alternative to regular and Decaf. Has any one tried this brew and I wonder how it adds up on the caffiene chart?
posted by firemouth at 12:38 PM on November 10, 2005


Glad to see so many are down with the Turkish coffee. My father-in-law, a Serb, makes it every time we visit, and although it looks simple, he has some uncanny knack for making it perfectly. I think the secret ingredient, as with many things, is patience.
posted by swift at 12:40 PM on November 10, 2005


I am amazed by all of the reflaxive indie-hate going on here. And yet from people who would probably look down their noses at Franzia straight from the box.

Eh, don't count me in that indie-hating group. I prefer my indie shops. Mainly because I'm able to hang out in them for so long and be a weirdo without having the staff call the cops on me. But they have to know how to brew a pot and not have crappy beans.

"Yeah, uh, he's been here for like, uh, 12 hours. He was here before I opened this morning - I'm not quite sure how. Yeah, all the doors were locked. No, no broken windows. What's he doing? Uh, twitching, mostly - but he also keeps ranting at the customers and... uh, playing chess. Yeah, uh, chess. Well, he's playing chess kind of... violently, I guess. He's scaring me. I just want him to leave."
posted by loquacious at 12:42 PM on November 10, 2005


I sneak starbucks to my local indy cafe.

LAME. It's been explained to me that people pay extra for "atmosphere" at bars and restaurants. Seems true. I hope you at least tip the workers at the cafe you're stealing from.

Red Bull and other energy drinks do little except make you fat.

Starbuck's is for chumps. But it's OK to be a chump.

I get my coffee for free at work. Snootily, it's Peet's. I would drink Starbuck's for free, but I don't like to see one on every block. I buy coffee out occasionally, but I will buy Starbuck's.

Starbuck's seems to be to coffee shops what Walgreen's is to drugstores. That is, a stone-cold killer. If you like homogeneity, go for Starbuck's. If you like diversity, skip it. I don't want *one* coffee anymore than I want *one* cable company or *one* currency. ;)

And yet from people who would probably look down their noses at Franzia straight from the box.

Too true. (Though Franzia gives lots of money to "conservatives") I love box wine. Wish it were more common here. Best way to drink it, IMO. Mmmmmmmm... vacuum-sealed.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:46 PM on November 10, 2005


To paraphrase a great philosopher: "If you have the means, I highly recommend picking some up. At $115 for 5 pounds, though, I don't have the means. I fell in love with Dunkin Donuts in law school (it was the only place open all night) and still harbor a strange fondness for it.
posted by The Bellman at 12:48 PM on November 10, 2005


I've always rather liked the smoky flavor of Starbucks' coffee... even back before it was all that popular. I liked it then and I like it now... it's a consistent product of good quality.

At the time it was introduced, it was WILDLY better than most coffee you could buy. At this point, because it's so ubiquitous, it's almost by definition average coffee. But the coffee didn't change...Starbucks pulled the average up.

Yes, you CAN get better coffee. You'll have to work at it some, usually, but you can find it. Ten years ago, unless you lived in a very big city, it was nearly impossible to find coffee as good as Starbucks' is now. Even gourmet beans for doing it yourself were hard to get.

So, you snobs discriminating lovers of non-Starbucks coffee... you still have them to thank for making your other choices so much better.
posted by Malor at 12:50 PM on November 10, 2005


Commenting
on the sizes of Starbucks' drinks is not sticking it to the man.
posted by dobie at 12:53 PM on November 10, 2005


I love my french press....
and on the rare occasions I buy hot coffee - it depends on the direction I am walking. I only buy it on my way home, so if approaching from the north it's an indie coffee shop, from the east it's a starbucks and from the south it's a dunkin donuts. I'm all about the convenience.
posted by gaspode at 12:57 PM on November 10, 2005


Sorry, but I have to take issue with the "..its the only/last/best coffe in (insert smalltowname)"
Every single time I've tried to have a coffee from either a Starbux that wasn't in the greater Seattle Metro area, it sucked so bad I threw it out (same for the "affiliate stores" (like the ones in Target stores)). For example, when I used to visit my mother in Denver, I tried on many occassions to get a coffee at the nearby Starbux - same thing - throw-away bad (milk burned, milk not hot enough, grounds floating in the coffee, you name it).
I've stood in line at Starbux (with co-workers) many times, and I notice that most folks don't really order "coffee" - they order some gawd-awful concoction that contains so many flavorings and so much sugar that the coffee in it could be weeks old and they'd never know.
Nearest me, I'll take Zeitgeist every time (great munchies, too!)
posted by dbmcd at 1:01 PM on November 10, 2005


"I just made myself a turkish coffee with some dutch cocoa powder and a pinch of sugar. Now THAT is a drink."

Jules: Mmmm! Goddamn, Jimmie! This is some serious gourmet shit! Me and Vince would be happy with some freeze-dried Taster's Choice, but he springs this serious GOURMET shit on us! What flavor is this?

Jimmy: Knock it off, Julie.

Jules: What?

Jimmy: I don't need you to tell me how fuckin' good my coffee is, ok? I'm the one who buys it. I know how good it is. When Bonnie goes shopping, she buys shit. I buy the gourmet expensive stuff 'cause when I drink it, I wanna taste it.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:07 PM on November 10, 2005


I'm with gaspode, except I call mine a cafetière.

(but I do like 'ducks for their latte from time to time - it's mediocre, but it's consistently mediocre)
posted by devbrain at 1:11 PM on November 10, 2005


The other option is that Starbucks has hooked you poor souls with its ubiquity, like McDonald's does with even sadder people. You drink enough of the stuff and that's the taste you start to prefer. Like the ex-Londoner says above, it tastes the same everywhere.
posted by gurple


Oh gurple, if only we could be as cool as you. Here's another option. You're a snob who, no matter what starbucks taste like, wouldn't give up your "I hate big bad starbucks" card. The other option is maybe everyone has their own opinions on what's good coffee. Yep, maybe that's it.

I'll give you the snooty service, but Starbucks chars its coffee. It is rarely better than the independent places.

Every time we discuss starbucks we have two mindless cliches thrown out. One, they kill independent stores (they kill BAD independent stores, but that's another story.

Two, they burn their coffee. Which I have seen, of course, but it's not every coffee, not every time, and I've had burnt independent coffee also. But if you repeat it enough, people believe it.

I tried on many occassions to get a coffee at the nearby Starbux - same thing - throw-away bad (milk burned, milk not hot enough, grounds floating in the coffee, you name it).

Grounds in the coffee? Never seen it, and I've been to more starbucks stores than you can count. And yet you tried many more times? Got ya.
posted by justgary at 1:16 PM on November 10, 2005


Turkish coffee tastes great because it's not percolated, it's boiled. That means that you get all the oils adding to the flavour, instead of just dissolved coffee bean bits. It's also why you can make it using the cheapest shit you can get at the grocery store and it'll come out OK.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:22 PM on November 10, 2005


But, but ... coffee is icky!

*takes another sip of Tetley's Apple Cinnamon tea*
posted by deborah at 1:25 PM on November 10, 2005


Every time we discuss starbucks we have two mindless cliches thrown out. One, they kill independent stores (they kill BAD independent stores, but that's another story.

Two, they burn their coffee. Which I have seen, of course, but it's not every coffee, not every time, and I've had burnt independent coffee also. But if you repeat it enough, people believe it.


Every time I try again to participate in a MeFi thread I get some mindless blowhard who thinks he can seperate fact from fiction by being insulting.

I remember now why I left.
posted by brittney at 1:29 PM on November 10, 2005


Starbucks has terrible munchies -- thats the main reason not to go there.

That is true of coffee shops in general though. One of the main things I bemoan about the rise of the high-priced coffee shop is the decline of the American pastry.

Also, it is horribly, horribly true that everyone has their own opinions on what good coffee is. I remember when I was at my old job in Texas trying to explain how bad the work coffee was to a coworker.

"But it... has... SUDS in it! Look! Bubbles!"

She looked at me, honestly puzzled. "What's wrong with that?"

They did finally get one of those cappucino coffee machines, which is way sub-Starbucks of course, but you could drink it if you tried, which was a plus.
posted by furiousthought at 1:38 PM on November 10, 2005


Milliken writes "Starbucks isn't pretentious"

Uh... then why the hell can't they use real size names for different sizes? I have gone to Starbucks before, and I refuse to use the stupid names. I ask for large medium or small. If I am corrected by the pretentious little barista, I leave.

I won't spend my own money at Starbucks unless there is no alternative. First thing I do when visiting a new area is try to find a local coffee shop, one that sells more coffee and less sugary crap with whip cream on top. (If you want coffee, order coffee. If you want whip cream and sugar, go somewhere else and order a goddamn milkshake.)

My own coffee shop has two advantages over Starbucks: First, fair trade, available all day, every day, and in more than one variety; second, real food instead of just sugar-laden frosted garbage. Sure, they have brownies, but they're not drizzled with extra sugar, and they also have fruit or yogurt-granola cups.

The people who work at this little place know and value their customers. They are responsive to requests, because their business depends on being responsive - they don't open another chain store every 6 seconds so they can't count on that income. They work with local companies to supply the fair trade, so I know that a buck in their pockets is a buck going back to my community. (They are a chain, but a relatively small one - 18 stores, mostly in college towns.)

Less than a block away, there is a Starbucks directly across the street from a Barnes and Noble containing another Starbucks. On the other side of the goddamn street. Seems damn excessive.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:42 PM on November 10, 2005


justgary - maybe you think the only way I can count is by using my hands and feet, but I too have been in a boat-load o' Starbux. I'm a self-described coffee snob, and have been going to coffee houses since I was a teenager. I've lived in Seattle for 20 years, and used to frequent them when they first started, and the coffee was marginally better. I "keep going back" only when I'm on the road; you did "get me" in that I am a hopeless optimist - every time I try again, I think "Maybe it's better now." Alas, it's usually worse.
posted by dbmcd at 1:43 PM on November 10, 2005


I go to Starbucks every morning at exactly 9am. Not because I like the coffee so much as; 1) the coffee in the office makes hot mopwater seem like nectar of the Gods, and, 2) there's a cute CSG there who makes my java-quaffing experience much nicer.

I cant drink too much coffee anymore - it wrecks my stomach - but at home on weekends I use my Toddy produced coffee, which makes a pretty damn great cup of joe. Mentioned at least once before its not a bad way to go, but not very cost-effective, as you only get about 10-15 cups of coffee from an entire pound.
posted by elendil71 at 2:00 PM on November 10, 2005


jboy55 : "I was always taught that an americano was a shot of expresso with hot water added to make a coffee."

I was always taught that an Americano was just a regular coffee, with extra water. Maybe it varies by country.

caution live frogs : "I refuse to use the stupid names. I ask for large medium or small. If I am corrected by the pretentious little barista, I leave."

I don't play the game quite so fiercely, but just pleasantly refer to the drinks as small, medium, or large. "I'd like a medium cafe mocha." "A tall cafe mocha?" "Yes, a medium cafe mocha." No snideness in voice, no look of exasperation, nothing to annoy the barista. It's not their fault. I'm not avoiding their terminology in order to make a point to them, or stick it to the man, but because I find it silly and don't want to do it. It's not rebellion, it's a simple win-win situation.
posted by Bugbread at 2:06 PM on November 10, 2005


There was always something a little too intense about Starbucks coffee for me. I thought they added just a hint of meth, which would explain why Starbucks coffee tastes like battery acid and cold medicine.
posted by kosem at 2:07 PM on November 10, 2005


Wow. More than an hundred comments on how we like our caffeine (I just had a cup from a machine, so I'm not qualified to join this conversation.) When I get around to it maybe I'll start a new thread about how we like our crack. Me, medium-sized rocks smoked out of a broken-off Cadillac antenna with a piece of Chore-Boy stuffed in there an inch or so.
posted by kozad at 2:07 PM on November 10, 2005


When I lived in New York I once stopped by someone who wanted to know if a StarBucks was nearby. I thought for a second and realized that there was actually one one block away in any direction. There are waaaay too many of these shops.

That said, I am hooked. It might be the charring or the xtra caffeine, but I definitely look forward to my StarBucks as a treat. The other coffeehouses coffee just doesn't do it for me.
posted by xammerboy at 2:11 PM on November 10, 2005


If you can get past the loud page design, Alex Fisenko has the skinny on good coffee.

In 1974, after reading an article on espresso written by Alex, a young man came down from Seattle wanting to buy an espresso machine and open a similar operation in Seattle. But not knowing the business, he asked Alex to train him in all phases of the operation. He went back and opened the first true coffee house in Seattle, the Caffe Allegro. His name was Dave Olsen. In 1982 he got together with Howard Schultz and opened an espresso bar in the Columbia Center Building in Seattle. That was the birth of Starbucks as we know it today.
posted by Lanark at 2:14 PM on November 10, 2005


Me, medium-sized rocks smoked out of a broken-off Cadillac antenna with a piece of Chore-Boy stuffed in there an inch or so.

Fuckin' crack snob. Why don't you just suck off The Man while you're at it?
posted by NationalKato at 2:15 PM on November 10, 2005


Seriously, all true crackistas know that the only way to fly, is pure bassooka, smoked on Roosevelt ave in Jackson Heights with a Dominican pre-op tranny named Miss Marfa. Otherwise you might as well be smoking readirock in Scarsdale.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:21 PM on November 10, 2005


You could buy a pound of freshly ground organic coffee for $6, cold-filter it and make literally dozens of drinks to your own taste and preference.

Anybody have any experience with the Toddy Maker or Filtron cold brewers?
posted by cl at 2:41 PM on November 10, 2005


I lived in a house that used them regularly. It's a pretty darn good cup of coffee, but slightly different. It's less acidic, which is nice, but it just tastes different.

With the Toddy brewed coffee you dilute it with water, about 3 parts water to 1 part coffee. It's great if you like iced coffees.

The only real drawback to the Toddy system is that you can't just go and brew a fresh batch within minutes. You brew a whole bunch at once overnight - about 24 hours of steeping time, usually - and then store the concentrated brew in a glass carafe in your fridge.

Another drawback would be if you like espresso crema or sudsy, crema-like black coffee. It doesn't really foam like that. I find it to be a bit flatter and less complex than hot-brewed coffee - but I like very dark, acidic and full-bodied coffee. It's just more subtle.

And the people I knew that used it didn't really use fresh-ground, fresh-roasted coffee. They used plain old pre-ground coffee in a can, usually.

But that they were using that stuff and getting a cup of coffee that I could enjoy drinking out of it should actually speak well for the Toddy system, and might explain why I found it a bit too flat for my tastes. I bet using good, fresh grounds would improve upon it immensely.

Also, don't drink it straight. It makes espresso taste like water. Seriously. I tried doing a few shots of it once and it was too much too fast for me - and from previous comments you can extrapolate what my tolerances and preferences are.
posted by loquacious at 2:59 PM on November 10, 2005


If *$ made lighter coffee (like Full City Roast) it'd have more caffeine than their French Roast stuff.

The Roasting process cracks the caffeine molecule apart - the longer you roast, the less of the holy alkaloid you get.

Of course, it's all Robusto beans, so it'd still taste like ass.
posted by Crosius at 2:59 PM on November 10, 2005


So, I hate to be the nattering nabob of negativism, here, merc, but how exactly did you find this? I mean, from what I can tell, the article in your post is the first--and only--entry on the whole dang bsong.com website. And it went up yesterday. And you've posted two posts and three comments total since you joined MeFi in June.

Very interesting.
posted by veronica sawyer at 3:00 PM on November 10, 2005


justgary - Oh gurple, if only we could be as cool as you. Here's another option. You're a snob who, no matter what starbucks taste like, wouldn't give up your "I hate big bad starbucks" card.

No and yes. I'm not particularly a coffee snob when it comes to drip or espresso (turkish is another story). I walk the dog every morning and often stop with him at a drive-up stand where the owner is very friendly but the coffee is dead awful.

Four reasons I hate "big bad starbucks":

-I'm anticorporate in general. Down with wal-mart, blah blah blah. I'm perfectly willing to admit that I'll stop patronizing corporation just because it's successful and ubiquitous. I like variety
-They put too much sugar in just about everything
-They took a perfectly good drink, the macchiato, and trashed its name by attaching it to some kind of big milky, caramelly concoction
-They strive to provide exactly the same kind of coffee drinking experience in every store.

Lots of people think that last one is a good thing. To me it's faceless, boring and sad.
posted by gurple at 3:09 PM on November 10, 2005


Intelligentsia is good coffee in person.
I feel bad going into Coffee Beans anywhere 'cause in my misspent youth I used to break into their warehouse and look around. Didn't steal anything, just being an idiot.

Re: Starbucks isn't pretentious - and - Uh... then why the hell can't they use real size names for different sizes?

I dunno bugbread, I like ordering in Italian. The whole thing: "Che cosa significate? Mezzo? Che cosa? Ok, give me a large then."
posted by Smedleyman at 3:10 PM on November 10, 2005


veronica sawyer raises interesting questions.

*arches eyebrow, steeples fingers *
posted by furiousthought at 3:18 PM on November 10, 2005


this Pepsi...it is blue?
posted by arialblack at 3:30 PM on November 10, 2005


Wow. Since when did MeFi get populated by tasteless little fucks?

Coffee, like beer & pizza, is something great that USians have managed to turn into bland, samey sludge. Well done. As long as it tastes the same across the whole country & there's loads of it why worry? The way that variety & diversity gets squashed in a country that is suppoesed to celebrate the very same is a bit strange but there you go.

The sooner the Chinese take over the better for all of us really...

[Only ever been to Starbucks 3 times, twice in Brighton, once in Bangkok, hated it 'cos it was crap, can get by on 1 cup a day, ususally around 9.30, free Americano at work, and a big cup at week ends - organic Machu Picchu in a cafetiere with goat's milk. Blah, blah, blah.]
posted by i_cola at 3:40 PM on November 10, 2005


Starbucks coffee is ok, but yeah, burnt like people have said. McDonald's is a much better choice--the price can't be beat.

Here in Japan we have the same things, SBX, McD's, and even Seattle's Best, but the biggest chain is called Dotour. Coffee's cheap but nothing special.

Red Bull is fun with vodka, but not too strong by itself. Also in Japan they have tons of energy drinks, or genki drinks you can buy everywhere. Zena (no, not the warrior princess) is the name of one that is the best pick-me-up I've ever encountered. Like being on an adrenaline drip for 6 hours. But with a price to match.
posted by zardoz at 3:52 PM on November 10, 2005


Does anyone know the chemical reaction that mellows the coffee when you put a few broken egg shells in with the brew?

With the Vietnamese Coffee (French Press?) it does something good to it.

The best coffee I've ever had was an iced coffee from a street merchant in Saigon with condensed milk - wow!
posted by tzelig at 3:53 PM on November 10, 2005


Vodka Red Bull is always good if you're on a bit of a sesh & you need a boost. And there is nothing like the original Red Bull as part of a set with ice, Sprite & Sang Thip. And nothing like the hangover it produces but you never really worry about that until it's waaaaaay too late...
posted by i_cola at 3:59 PM on November 10, 2005


I'm anticorporate in general. Down with wal-mart, blah blah blah. I'm perfectly willing to admit that I'll stop patronizing corporation just because it's successful and ubiquitous

What an absolutely brilliant stance. I equate a company that provides it's employees with 401K's and health insurance with WalMart, ergo, they are part of the corporate suck. Too easy.
posted by docpops at 4:05 PM on November 10, 2005


Well, of course. Corporations aren't evil because they do evil things, they're evil because they're big, and that makes people fighting them the underdog, and everybody wants to be the underdog. It doesn't matter if a company busts unions and pays under minimum wage, or if it gives employees health insurance and pays decent wages: it's primary purpose is still to let you show off how indie you are.
posted by Bugbread at 4:25 PM on November 10, 2005


What an absolutely brilliant stance. I equate a company that provides it's employees with 401K's and health insurance with WalMart, ergo, they are part of the corporate suck.

Wal-Mart and Starbucks are both part of the corporate suck, in that they are large, faceless corporations with installations everywhere that are causing the vanillization of America and driving out small businesses (yes, Starbucks helped create this particular market in a bygone era that today's highschoolers can't remember; in 2005 that is irrelevant). Since they have these characteristics, I hate them both.

I hate Starbucks with a "you guys suck and I enjoy flipping you off" kind of hate. I hate Wal-Mart with a "your stores all need to implode right now" kind of hate. Completely different levels of intensity.

But, yeah, one of the reasons I hate Starbucks is that they're a big faceless ubiquitous corporation, and I'm not fond of those. I work for one, I don't need to buy coffee from one.
posted by gurple at 4:27 PM on November 10, 2005


Heh. But is your OS Linux?
posted by Artw at 4:31 PM on November 10, 2005


dual-boot. :)
posted by gurple at 4:32 PM on November 10, 2005


Please don't make the Wal-Mart stores implode. The need to explode like pinatas - letting out all of their delicious, cheap, and bad for you candy.

I mean, if there's going to be a last hurrah and everything, it might as well rain flat panel TVs, video games and cheap bologna.
posted by loquacious at 4:37 PM on November 10, 2005


Really I'd rather Wal-Mart went into a slow decline, when you get right down to it. If they went belly up tomorrow they'd take half of our economy with them.
posted by gurple at 4:40 PM on November 10, 2005


What are you, a Mormon? What the hell is wrong with caffeine? Caffeine is the bloody POINT of coffee, for Christ's sake. I'm delighted to hear Starbuck's don't skimp on it as much as that nasty, nasty, NASTY-tasting cough syrup Red Bull. I don't usually criticise posts but man alive, what a thoroughly pointless post.
posted by Decani at 4:43 PM on November 10, 2005


gurple writes "I work for one, I don't need to buy coffee from one."

But you're nevertheless self-admittedly part of the problem?!
posted by clevershark at 5:02 PM on November 10, 2005


Not for much longer, actually. Nonprofit-land, here I come!
posted by gurple at 5:03 PM on November 10, 2005


When I moved to the US from Italy lo these many moons ago, the best coffee around was Dunkin Donuts. Seriously. To go from real cappuccino and espresso to that dishwater was traumatic and I nearly kissed the ground at the first Starbucks that opened. I still love the coffee there and I suspect much of the Starbucks hate is pretentious posturing. (Though I do always order a "medium" or "large" - fuck their ridiculous fake lingo.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:05 PM on November 10, 2005


Caffeine pills are *still* cheaper.

The taste of coffee nauseates me - burnt or not. How much of this apparent fondness for coffee results from an actual sensory/olfactory/taste perception, and how much from a plain caffeine addiction? The anticipation of an increase in adrenaline and dopamine levels is a powerful psychological push. I wonder if I took two groups, and fed half of them decaff coffee for a few months to break the conditioning, and tested both groups longintudinally for coffee appreciation, would I see a decline in the fondness. I suspect so.

Considering that Starbucks coffee seems so much stronger than many other coffees per mL, I wonder if the corporation addss caffeine during the manufacturing process. Similar to the way the tobacco companies added more nicotine to the leaves to enhance the addictive properties. After all, if doping with caffeine can make Irn-Bru drinkable then anything's possible.

My favourite alkaloid is theobromine.
posted by meehawl at 5:14 PM on November 10, 2005


Wikepedia says: "Taurine is one of the active ingredients commonly found in energy drinks such as Red Bull, and in pills which often feature caffeine and/or other stimulant ingredients. The manufacturers claim that taurine enhances the effects of caffeine, but to date there have been no studies performed to confirm this."

So there's that to consider...
posted by sdinan at 5:30 PM on November 10, 2005


I dunno, Decani. If i hadn't read through this thread, I might not have been curious enough on my own to find out that there are currently at least 73 cocktails in which Red Bull is an ingredient.

This has apparently been going on for some time now, and I never knew a thing about it.
posted by halcyon_daze at 5:32 PM on November 10, 2005


Nonprofit-land, here I come!

Got any extra room?
posted by mrgrimm at 6:02 PM on November 10, 2005


I hate a love/hate relationship with Starbucks. Back in the days of working doubles as a server, we'd go over to the Starbucks and I'd down one or two Venti frappacinos a day. Then, I headed to Athens GA for college where it was my second home. However, it was there that I slowly learned their hot beverages suck and I never drink straight-up coffee b/c my only experience was theirs. Then, I had Jittery Joe's black coffee and my life was forever changed. Then, I had the BEST dark-roast decaf at the local 24/7 coffee shop and now I inhale the stuff without having to worry about staying up all night (yes, yes, I know decaf has caffeince, but mind over matter, mind over matter!).
That said, I can't stomach STBX black coffee, though they still make the best damn milkshakes frappacinos around
posted by jmd82 at 6:18 PM on November 10, 2005


The crazy thing about the Starbucks threads is the way it brings out the bitterness in people. [must resist temptation to make dumb joke.] It gets surprisingly personal, surprisingly fast -- and what's surprising, to me, is the people for whom it gets most personal: the defenders of Starbucks.

Guys: It's just a store. It's a store where you buy prepared food. It's not even a restaurant. It deserves no more or less loyalty than McDonalds, Burger King, Timmies, or Duncan Donuts. It is neither evil, nor is it good: It is a profit-making enterprise, and as such does not hew to a human morality; our notions of "good" and "bad" (or "good" and "evil", for that matter) are irrelevant to it.

jmd82: I'm surpsised you drink dark roast and can sleep that easily. It's not the caffeine that gives dark roast its extra punch -- it's all the diuretics. As noted, dark roasts have less caffeine, but they are universally experienced as more stimulating. But I guess if you're hydrating, that probably makes a big difference.

So unlax, folks. Go make a cup of tea or decaf (or the hard stuff if you're on a third shift) and let this thread devolve into a bunch of harmless silliness about brewing methods.
posted by lodurr at 6:26 PM on November 10, 2005


so, brewing methods and pepsi blue. awesome.

anybody use a manual drip?
posted by scalespace at 7:06 PM on November 10, 2005


lodurr: See, I learn something new every day!
I didn't know that before now, so it never affected me. Now, my bladder's going to explode. Thanks. A lot.
posted by jmd82 at 7:24 PM on November 10, 2005


the best real life "Starbucks opens in Starbucks bathroom" joke is at Astor place in Manhattan, where there is a Starbucks in full view of another Starbucks across the square, you could hit one with a baseball on a long throw from the other one.

yes, I know what you mean. I really do.
posted by concreteforest at 8:08 PM on November 10, 2005


Hot. Black. Fucking. Coffee.
posted by dong_resin at 8:37 PM on November 10, 2005


When I was 14 I tried to get high by eating 12 or 13 Vivarins. The ER nurse asked me why I tried to kill myself.

For years I've avoided Starbucks, or any big coffee chain, whenever I can; the independent coffeehouse on 4th Street has good coffee, they're not pretentious at all, and lately they've been having live local bands (albeit of that kind of punk-metal-indie music 20 year olds play these days that gives my senile curmudgeonly self headaches).

And sometimes I use a manual drip cone, usually when I'm travelling and can't carry a percolator. And speaking of coffee makers, what was that thing Marlowe used in Chandler's books? (URLs please?)
posted by davy at 9:10 PM on November 10, 2005


Here's a story for you.

My great aunt and uncle used to drink coffee. Some neighborhood kids used to come by and pick up their coffee grounds for their earthworm farm. My great uncle learned that coffee was too hard on his system and he was advised to give it up, but he just loved his coffee. Instead, he read about the benefits of the Toddy (cold water brewing) system mentioned above and started making his coffee the Toddy way.

Soon after the switch, the neighborhood kids came by and asked "What are you putting in the coffee grounds? It's killing our worms!"

True story, if my great aunt is to be believed.
posted by al_fresco at 9:56 PM on November 10, 2005


I was always taught that an americano was a shot of expresso with hot water added to make a coffee. It should have the exact same caffiene as a capachino of the same cup size.

You are right about the ingredients of those drinks. You are wrong to assume that an Americano and a cappuccino must have the same number of espresso shots if they're the same size.

I was always taught that an Americano was just a regular coffee, with extra water. Maybe it varies by country.

The person who taught you that was wrong. It would only be correct if that person was from a country like France or Italy, where a normal coffee is an espresso.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:21 PM on November 10, 2005


Burnt. Blech. Fuck 'em.
posted by neuron at 10:37 PM on November 10, 2005


Novel/Anti Coffee Polemic and a hell of a read IMO
posted by kosem at 10:45 PM on November 10, 2005


When I moved to the US from Italy lo these many moons ago, the best coffee around was Dunkin Donuts. Seriously. To go from real cappuccino and espresso to that dishwater was traumatic and I nearly kissed the ground at the first Starbucks that opened.

Here in Melbourne, Australia we've been lucky to have an Italian coffee shop on just about every city street corner since the end of WWII. It has become an integral part of the city's culture. If a city has a circulatory system, Melbourne's is double-shot espresso.

We do have Starbucks, and the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf chains, and even our own copy called Hudson's (they were obviously trying to "sound American" when they chose the name). These chains don't seem to be very popular. As a matter of fact, if I walk into the office with a Starbucks cup, people laugh at me. Although the free wi-fi is very handy.

Compared to a proper Italian espresso, the coffee from these chains tastes to me like ... nothing! All I can taste is the milk (I drink flat white - no sugar). And they always leave me feeling slightly nauseous.

The one time I appreciated Starbucks was when I worked in California for a few months and couldn't find anything except that drip-feed stuff (percolated??), until I flew up to Seattle and found a Starbucks. That was many years ago.

So, my advice to you CunningLinguist, is take a trip back to Italy and try a real coffee again.... or visit Melbourne ;)

Oh, and if the coffee that McD's serve elsewhere is the same as here, it is much better than the Starbucks stuff, in my humble caffeine-addicted opinion.

Hello mefites! - Long time lurker, first time poster here.
posted by Diag at 11:55 PM on November 10, 2005




Guh, still awake. Coffee giveth, coffee taketh away.
posted by loquacious at 1:08 AM on November 11, 2005


Red Bull? Please. It's disgusting. It's some sort of hype for the myspace kidz who want to

GET OFF THE DAMN LAWN

You know what else tastes bad the first time you ever try it? Coffee.
posted by Tlogmer at 2:24 AM on November 11, 2005


Tlogmer wins.

Jaltcoh: From what I'm told you could expand that list of Americano-offenders to include Japan. Supposedly, "Americano" there means a "larger than normal cup of weaker than normal coffee, plus a plain hard roll."

On the earthworms and caffeine thing: I think your grandfather must be making that up. Caffeine is extremely water soluable. "Water-process" decaffeinated coffee is made by basically soaking whole beans in cold water. So it would really surprise me if there were very much at all left in the grounds.

Then again, a "cold" method like that Toddy thing would also be (as they say) leaving a lot of the oils in the grounds. It's possible the worms couldn't cope with those. Or the trace amounts that are left by virtue of the poorer penetration capabilities of cold water vs. hot, that could harm the worms. But earthworms are pretty tough. Maybe somebody else was giving them somthing bad.

Regarding the Toddy: I don't get it. I mean, the joy of a thing like a French press or Turkish method or steam-powered espresso pot or a single-shot brewer is that it does get all the nice oils out of the coffee. Those of us who like a nice oily bean just would never like something like the Toddy. We wouldn't be able to imagine what "flavor" you were getting that was so "full and rich" (quoting the Toddy website from memory). Might as well drink Postum, far as I can see.
posted by lodurr at 3:58 AM on November 11, 2005


matteo: I didn't really join the down-with-Starbucks cult until I saw that they opened one right in front of the Staatsoper in Vienna. wtf?

I have to admit, that's when I joined the bandwagon, too. I'll take a Mélange from Cafe Eiles, Landtmann, Alt Wien, Prückel, Hawelka, Demel, or just about anywhere else in Austria over Starbucks' lackluster offerrings. I've had plenty of good coffee in Austria, France and Italy, and my informed opinion is that Starbucks ist nur billig.

Just to tie up the Austria connection, Red Bull is an Austrian/Thai partnership, and its Austrian owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, is Austria's richest man, with a fortune in the billions.
posted by syzygy at 6:36 AM on November 11, 2005


Jaltcoh : "The person who taught you that was wrong. It would only be correct if that person was from a country like France or Italy, where a normal coffee is an espresso."

Lodurr guessed right, and maybe you did as well. That is, in Japan, an americano is a regular (that is, standard drip brew) coffee with extra water, and this is what brought up my question (hence Lodurr being correct). When I asked my mom (who is from Spain) "What is an americano", she answered "a normal coffee with extra water", but if she thinks of espresso as being "normal coffee", then her answer also made sense. So apparently the Japanese are wrong, and my mom was right, but based off a different assumption of what regular coffee is.

And I just, just, just now found out that this:

...is an espresso maker. It's what we made coffee with my whole life, so I thought it was just a coffee maker, and that espresso was something that came out of a big machine. I never realized, until just now, that what I've thought was just plain coffee was in fact espresso.
posted by Bugbread at 8:31 AM on November 11, 2005


...Just wanted to give extra thanks to this thread, and merc, for providing a situation where I found out that what I thought was normal coffee for the last 31 years was in fact espresso. I'm actually in a state of amazement. 31 years is a long time to get something like that wrong.
posted by Bugbread at 8:33 AM on November 11, 2005


Screw you guys, I just take my ex-roommate to cofee shops. Most places have decent equipment, and I've seen him coach supposed baristas or even walk around the counter to make his own damn espresso. Something about working in a coffeeshop for a couple years and having some spare time to work on the perfect shot...
posted by mikeh at 12:19 PM on November 11, 2005


lodurr wrote: We wouldn't be able to imagine what "flavor" you were getting that was so "full and rich" (quoting the Toddy website from memory). Might as well drink Postum, far as I can see.

Yeah, y'know, I was kind of mystified as well, until I had some.

But think about it for a second. How long do you steep/brew/perc/press ground beans in hot water? A few seconds at a time as it passes over the grounds/puck/whatever? Maybe a minute or three in a press?

The coffee steeps in a Toddy for 24+ hours. That's a lot of time for the essential oils and happy molecules in the coffee to get real friendly like with the water. The undiluted stuff is real strong, and pretty tasty, almost more like unseasoned Turkish coffee.

I think the only thing that I would modify - if anything - about the Toddy system if I was using one is the grind size and the type of filter used. The filter in the bottom of the steeping pot is a sort of felted fiber puck. It's reusable and washable. A few centimeters thick and a few more centimeters in diameter. It fits into a special recessed opening at the bottom of the steeper beneath the grounds and above the plug that holds back the water/coffee mixture until the steeping cycle is finished, allowing the coffee to gravity drip through the filter.

I could see using an espresso or finer grind, even maybe a Turkish grind, steeping for the same amount of time, and then using a very fine mesh filter in place of the felted fiber filter.

I bet that combination would be pure distilled rocket fuel capable of vibrating a water buffalo right into orbit.

But, otherwise, I agree with you. There's something magic released in good hot-brewed coffee, something that was probably given scientific creedence in the recent studies they did of anti-oxidants in brewed coffee, specifically freshly brewed hot coffee.
posted by loquacious at 1:57 PM on November 11, 2005


NSWF Starbutts NSWF
posted by ColdChef at 2:33 PM on November 11, 2005


Bah. Starbutts.
posted by ColdChef at 2:34 PM on November 11, 2005


It's water with 'close to burnt' organic matter in it (how close to burnt is 'best'?!?...who knows)....love the stuff... triple shot of espresso in iced coffee every morning...truly fuel for my rocket...til I find a place that can do it quicker, more pleasantly, and make 'near burnt organic matter in water' taste better...I'm a customer...it's just coffee...sheesh...never upsets my stomach like bad coffees do...I suspect a lot of people that don't know the difference between 'good' coffee and bad coffee don't know the difference between good wine and bad wine either...It's good coffee....not great...but good ...you drink enough gallons of the stuff, you acquire an ability to begin discern the difference...then if you have an interest in knowing the levels of difference you can explore some of the great coffees... Yemen, Blue Mountain, Pure Kona...like fine vintages there are always degrees of depth, complexity, balance, refinement...but pay your dues in the trenches...drink coffee every day for years...20 years, 30 years, 40 years...good coffee, bad coffee...long nights when coffee is your only friend...revel in a cup of occasionally great french pressed fresh roasted coffee made with spring water...only then will you have the acumen to really know that Starbucks is 'good' ... yeah I didn't say great...coffee...I suspect that in the 1940's and 50's when 40% more Americans drank coffee than do today, Starbucks quality coffee was an average cup of good Joe...that's back in the day when a 1957 Chevy Impala was just an average Joes car...McDonalds and Starbucks in the same breath? I don't think so....
posted by Muirwylde at 11:52 PM on November 11, 2005


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