Starbucks satire has grown increasingly stale as Americans slip into quiet acquiescence to the fact that the omnipresent Starbucks stores are now as much a part of our landscape as stop signs. Even though the coffee giant closed 600 stores in 2008 and then another 300 stores in 2009, it's roared back since then and now plans to open an additional 3,000 locations for North and South America -- with over half of those in the United States.
But how long has it been since you enjoyed your Starbucks experience? At the Starbucks closest to my home and office, half of the tables are occupied by homeless men snoozing or Internet workers who have turned the cafe into their office away from home. The other tables are usually dirty and sticky, prompting me to take my pumpkin spice latte to-go -- but not after struggling to get the latte from the lackadaisical employees in the first place.
When Starbucks first invaded Houston, I recall distinctly my friends who wore their green aprons with pride. They called themselves baristas and took their jobs seriously. They learned to tamp and steam and operate sleek Italian espresso makers whose interfaces verged on heavy machinery. They took trips to Seattle to visit the mother ship, attended coffee conferences and knew their beans with the sort of focus now only found at far smaller, independent operations. Indeed, many local coffee shops are staffed with ex-Starbucks employees who grew disillusioned with the coffee king as it grew larger and paid less attention to its stores and employees.
The current state of Starbucks stores -- those sticky tables, for example, and the employees who could care less about either you or their product -- are still ripe for parody. And in one of the funniest Saturday Night Live commercials I've seen since "Colon Blow," the SNL writers skewered the stores sharply and keenly this past Saturday evening. If you didn't see it live on Saturday, you can check it out above. (Bonus points if you give your name as "Amorfa" during your next visit.)
In the immortal words of Homer J. Simpson, "It's funny 'cause it's true."
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