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While third spaces are critical to community vitality I personally don't think consumers in Spokane should resign themselves to relying on a major corporate entity to fill this need. Independently owned coffee houses out-perform Starbucks in all of the following ways:

*Many Starbucks locations around Spokane are unwilling to maintain community resource and recreational bulletins. It conflicts with their image of sterile uniformity. Boo-hiss!

*Starbucks do little to nothing to support local musicians and artists. They favor centrally marketed merchandise from third party retailers that are foreign to our region and reinforce bland, pre-packaged mass culture.

*I resent that Starbucks charges customers for wi-fi access. Lame!

*The menu is laden with sugar and ingredients that are not locally sourced.

*Quality is also a problem. In attempting to run through customers as fast as possible, I've experienced three separate instances of scorched milk at three different Spokane Starbucks. Never again!

*The bigger the corporate structure, the smaller the local investment. Do we really want our coffee dollars to be siphoned off to Seattle in the form of corporate franchise fees? I think not!

So let's support our numerous local coffee shops instead: Cafe Dolce, The Empyrean, Brews Bros, Thomas Hammer, Cabin Coffee, and countless many more.


Add the Rocket Bakery to that local list - venerable, local and fantastic!

Silent Bahb

As a former Barista, let me address a few of your comments, Mariah. While I agree that Starbucks does little to support local arts/music, mostly due to company policy set so far back no one remembers who wrote it, they do foster an expectation in their employees that community service should be a component of their employment with Starbucks. Or, at least they did when I worked there some years ago. We were not only encouraged to volunteer in charity events and the like, it was an unspoken requirement for advancement and schedules were constantly being adjusted to allow employees to volunteer.

Also, while I agree that Starbucks is not so great when it comes to purchasing/selling local products and goods, they have done a whole lot for their farmers and growers - especially in poorer countries. Starbucks has been known to purchase a batch of beans that doesn’t meet their standards from their regular growers if the grower would be put out of business or unduly harmed by losing Starbucks’ purchase. Starbucks is spectacularly bad at promoting their fair-trade and agriculture support efforts. I actually think that is a plus, as I detest companies that donate $10 and spend $1,000 advertising it.

As for quality, I can say definitively that quality has been dropping over the last few years as Starbucks has continued to expand at an exponential rate. Sadly, as much for that reason as any other, I have given up my Starbucks habit for the sublime offerings of Mr. Thomas Hammer (et al.).


Mariah, you're right that Starbucks isn't an ideal public space in a lot of ways.

However, I suspect that for a lot of suburbanites, it's the gateway drug of public space. We can learn how fun it is to hang out in a cafe and become a regular, using it as a meeting place.

Then, at some point we inevitably discover that Starbucks doesn't teach its baristas much about the concept of making a decent espresso (anymore?), and we head for greener pastures.

But yeah... in the past couple of years their pastries have really gotten cruddy, haven't they?

And now I have a craving for one of the Rocket's raspberry oat bars.

Silent Bahb

Starbucks defined themselves by the third place early on - sadly they have strayed from the path of the righteous and have begun to give less and less care for that aspect of their business. While new trainees may still be coached in the concept of the third space and their responsibility for providing it, the follow through leaves much to be desired (on all levels).

And I totally agree, Kate. Their new pastries are just plain awful.


Silent Bahb, really? They taught you that Starbucks is an important third place?

That is pretty darn cool, even if the follow through is obviously lacking.

I'm left wondering what would happen if *all* businesses schooled their trainees on the social importance of the spaces their workers deal with.

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