In an internal memo divulged last week, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz fretted about "stores that no longer have the soul of the past," citing automatic espresso makers and the lack of aromatic open coffee bins. Worried that the traditional old handmade experience and texture have disappeared from his fast-growing global chain, he resolved, "we desperately need to look into the mirror and realize it's time to get back to the core." Judging from our informal inspection of many downtown Starbucks outlets, however, the soul may have already left the building. The evidence:
Orders now processed as either "to go" or "stay as long as you like for all eternity; it makes no difference to us."
In-store music rotation now heavily skewed toward operas Faust, Orpheus and Eurydice, and Don Giovanni.
Also on play list: AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" and "Hells Bells" and Poison's "Valley of Lost Souls."
Newest coffee blend: "The Flying Dutchman."
Unlimited Wi-Fi, completely free, for customers willing to sign certain binding contract.
Zombie baristas decline tips, ask only to feed on brains, brains, brains.
Green mermaid logo changed to render devil, eternal flames of hell.
Part-time employees do get health care, but terms don't cover conditions lasting beyond one mortal lifespan.
Baristas, when asked when their shifts end, reply dolorously, "End? The torture never ends. We're damned to work here forever, don't you understand? And would you like a little room in your Americano?"
House-blend drip coffee still leaves endless bitter aftertaste. Because some things, at least, never change.