Beverage Leverage

Recently, I found the courage to share on my Facebook page a letter I wrote to Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. Here's why:

I am a self-professed Starbucks geek and have been for more years than I wish to admit. People in my congregation have often rolled their eyes at the amount of times I mention Starbucks in a Sunday lesson .  Some people like Disneyland but Starbucks has been my 'happy place.'  Love the smell and the taste of coffee. I taste and drink coffee like a caffeine oenophile.  I also love the fact that I can travel anywhere in the world and feel connected, safe and at home when I pop into a Starbucks.
My cupboard is filled with Starbucks cups, mugs and tumblers, and other paraphernalia.

My Starbucks Card Collage

So, it has been difficult for me in that as I continue to get more conscious about what I do in my life and that in particular, refers to what I consume.  For the past two years, I have eliminated certain foods from my diet: wheat, gluten, soy, dairy, corn, and most sugars.  This caused a great upheaval in where and what I can eat; and the emotional enjoyment I would get from going to Starbucks and sit with my beloved soy chai lattes.

Around the same time frame, Starbucks began to change the food items offered and there were fewer items that I could eat or drink.  Concurrently, I began to post my concerns and requests on the website for the Starbucks Community. I am after all, a card-carrying Gold member since 2005.  I would read the hundreds of other comments from people just like me asking Starbucks to offer almond or coconut milk instead of soy; and to please offer some gluten-free pastry items.  Almost on a monthly, basis I would visit the site and hit the "thumbs up like" icon on others' comments or make my own.

Fast forward to present day and there has been no improvement in what Starbucks offers.  I now only infrequently visit my local Starbucks store--a place that for me, is much like the "Cheers" bar on T.V. "where everyone knows my name..." and I miss seeing my barista pals.  At first, it felt like I was cheating on my beloved Starbucks, when I would sneak into Peet's Coffee or local coffee houses who offer almond milk for my lattes and even several gluten-free options when I want to splurge on a bakery treat.

At the bottom of this post is a copy of the letter I posted both on the community website and on their Facebook page.  Within hours of my post, they pulled the letter of the Facebook page--which is of course, their right to do.  This saddened me as I do not feel my letter was unwarranted or mean. See for yourself.  Feel free to re-post or share with others if you feel the same.

Here's to a healthy, happy new year to one and all.

à votre santé

"Dear Mr. Schultz,
Legions of my friends could attest to you how deeply devoted and what a long-time Starbucks fan I am...they have intimated that I am being secretly paid by your company because of my daily testimonials especially during my sermons on Sunday mornings.

However, it is breaking my heart that I can no longer endorse or really even enjoy going to Starbucks anymore. I usually go every day--sometimes, more than once. (Just ask the baristas at my local store).

Because I no longer consume dairy or soy, for over two years,  I have been posting on the Community website and requesting that you please add almond milk as an option for your lattes. Even Oprah writes in her magazine that she uses almond milk in her chai instead of soy.

Also being gluten-free, the only pastry option you offer is the flourless yet sugar-laden chocolate cookie. Although I have occasionally indulged in this treat as a special dessert, it is not a good choice for a breakfast meal.

And now, sad to say, you have recently stopped selling the tasty Tazo tea choices. Instead, the Teavana teas for me, have a metallic taste and offer fewer flavor options. I already miss the Vanilla Rooibos and my favorite combination of Zen and Refresh.

I am now patronizing independent local coffee houses; and your competitors, such as Peet's because they are hearing the clarion call for these healthy alternatives.

Please, oh please, hear my cry. Starbucks has always been the front-runner for coffeehouse fare and now I think you are running way behind. I will miss seeing my favorite baristas who know me by name; and I will forego buying yet another siren-log mug or tumbler; but mostly I will miss what you had written about as the "ultimate coffee house experience."

Thanks for listening.
Gold Card member,
The Lady of the Latte


Anonymous said…
Glad that you are taking a stand. There are so very many people who have begun to recognize how much better they feel when they make healthier choices. It isn't a trend, it's the new reality. Let's hope Starbucks moves into the 21st Century mindset and offers what growing numbers of people want.

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