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There’s a pressing question that continues to fuel debate among my friends — is Starbucks overrated? Two members of the Fulcrum’s Editorial Board have decided to tackle both sides of this controversial discussion.

I find Starbucks overrated, and I don’t care who knows it.

Sure, there will always be something enjoyable about ordering a drink at a café — regardless of the location. You get to decide your order, and it’s made by someone more capable than you and your suspiciously old Keurig. Is the drink better than what you make at home? Not always. But sometimes it is, and that’s enough to make the whole experience worthwhile. 

Starbucks, however, has become an exception to this. Recently, I have been let down by my friends from Seattle way more than I have been satisfied.

I begin with an easy target — the prices. I recognize that nowhere in their branding does Starbucks refer to themself as cheap. However, I would argue that some of their prices can border on excessive. To be a consistently good franchise, I need to be able to rely on service. Relying on Starbucks is difficult when my girlfriend makes me pay $5.45 for a grande salted caramel cream cold brew every time. Even the $2.75 for a grande blonde roast makes me cringe whenever I buy it.

Starbucks’ high price point would be justified if their drinks were worth it. I won’t call their coffee bad, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t overrated considering the price. Is a coffee from Starbucks really better than a Tim Hortons coffee that’s almost half the price? I’m not convinced. And sure their specialty drinks taste good, but the idea of paying almost 6 dollars for any drink that doesn’t have tequila in it doesn’t sit right with me.

Also, why does Starbucks pride themself on “that first sip feeling” when 80% of the time, that first sip tells me that my order has been messed up? This isn’t necessarily a gripe about the employees of Starbucks — I actually find their upbeat energy to be wonderful. However, it would be a shame if I didn’t mention that my expensive Starbucks orders have been messed up an unfortunate amount of times.

Whenever this does happen though, I should note that the employees are usually quick to apologize and happy to correct the order. Still, though, having to return a drink is always annoying, especially if you’re on the go.

There’s also something too complex about Starbucks. To even order a drink, you must be partially versed in Italian; what sizes do tall, grande, and venti even refer to? Each of these titles could refer to a large, but instead only one does. As an infrequent Starbucks customer, I frequently question whether or not I even selected the proper size for my order. And if I accidentally commit the fatal flaw of calling a grande a medium, I feel like everyone in the restaurant will stop what they’re doing and laugh at me. People might call this unreasonable, but I call having a confusing Italian-size guide to be even more unreasonable. 

I have a problem, though: I will probably never fully stop going to Starbucks. Despite their price, and despite their cheaper competitors and their complex sizing system, I will continue to give them my money. There is no question in my mind that Starbucks is overrated. And I have no doubt that every time I order from Starbucks, I will continually ask myself, “was this a sound financial decision?” But this is the exact reason why Starbucks is overrated — we acknowledge its faults, but are complacent despite them.

Matthew McConkey, opinions editor

Starbucks is a reliable and affordable luxury.

People call Starbucks overpriced and overrated — I call it an affordable luxury. I don’t have the money to drink specialty coffee from cute cafes every day, nor can I wait ten minutes for my morning cup to be ready. Starbucks is reliable like fast food, but also offers unique drinks and customizations to your coffee. 

Sure, Starbucks can be relatively expensive compared to other franchises, but I can’t resist the famous seasonal drinks like their pumpkin spice lattes and peppermint mochas. While I’m walking outside in -30 degree weather, what keeps me going is the gingerbread latte that I know will warm me up. Since everything on their menu tastes good, I never run out of options. It offers the perfect balance between fast-food and gourmet coffee, and it’s usually only a few blocks from wherever I am. 

I always feel safe in Starbucks because I know good and reliable customer service is their defining characteristic. I’m always greeted with a “good morning,” and if I change my drink last minute, I don’t hear a gruntled sigh from any employee.

I’ve worked many customer service jobs in my life, and I know how hard it is to be in a good mood all the time — especially when dealing with difficult customers. And that just makes it all the more impressive when Starbucks employees don’t completely lose their mind after a customer asks for 15 drink modifications. 

A cheerful employee isn’t the only reason why I like Starbucks. I’m loyal to them, and they reward me for it. Enough stars on the app gets me a free pastry or drink, and they even cover the cost for me on my birthday. It makes me feel… appreciated.    

As somebody who goes from work to class throughout the day, I can’t always make it to most specialty cafes that close before 4 p.m. I know you’re not supposed to drink coffee in the evening, but most university students know that this isn’t a feasible rule to follow. Although Tim Hortons and McDonald’s are also open late, they don’t provide the same ambiance as a Starbucks, since they’re fast-food restaurants before coffeehouses. Simply put, Starbucks is reliable. They fuel my late-night study sessions, and they’re a great place to either study, work, or meet with friends.  

Of course, as a Canadian, I still enjoy ordering from one of their biggest competitors, Tim Hortons. On occasion, I’ll run to Tims to get an iced cap and Timbits. But if I had to choose one coffee shop to visit each morning, it’s Starbucks. What can I say? It’s an ideal coffeehouse for busy people who still appreciate a decent cup of coffee.

“To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time” is the Starbucks mission statement, who wouldn’t want to go there?

-Grace Kim-Shin, Staff Writer


  • Matthew is a fourth-year student studying philosophy and political science at the University of Ottawa. This is his first year as the Fulcrum’s Opinions Editor, and he looks forward to hearing opinions from all his fellow students.