[via 6togo] www.delocator.net (won’t hotlink since I don’t want to reward them with a referral) is one of those pursuits that I just don’t get. It lists “non-corporate” cafes based on your zip code. I guess the idea is that they are trying to generate business for mom & pop type establishments that can’t compete with large corporations.
My issue with anyone who won’t frequent a corporate establishment is two fold. First, these zealots fail to realize is that they are really anti-competition. The main reason any establishment becomes corporate is through success. If a mom and pop cafe has a hard time competing with Starbucks, it is because they suck, are overpriced and fail to deliver an experience that sets them apart and above what you can expect from Starbucks. It is one thing to make the personal choice to do business with an establishment, it is another to try and convince others to refrain from making their own personal choice. The website listed above is an attempt to do just that.
Secondly, Starbucks isn’t great coffee, but it has something I have never found at a small cafe. Consistency. I like my coffee the exact same way everytime I order it. At a cafe, depending on which disgruntled hippie is currently taking a break from simultaneously rolling a joint and weaving a hammock from hemp to make my coffee, I can be sure of only one thing. It will suck. It’ll either be too bitter, too hot, too cold, too weak, too strong, or just too damn bad. The reason why Starbucks (which started out as a local coffee maker in Seattle I believe) has become a behemoth isn’t because they get poor guatamalan children to pick their coffee cheaply. It definitely isn’t because they do things better than other coffee houses. It’s because they provide you, the customer, with a known entity. Reasonably priced coffee, served in a clean environment, with a higher than average chance that the coffee lives up to a set standard of quality. That’s it folks, it isn’t rocket science.
When Jerry the dreadlocked hippie slacker scenester can make a consistently flavorful cup of joe, I’ll sit my ass down in his establishment. Until then, I’ll drop dime in corporate establishments. At least I won’t have to listen to ani d’franco or stare at tie dye and that’s always a good thing.