I’m not a big fan of Starbucks. The shops aren’t that comfortable for writing, the coffee is a bit too bitter, the music is hit or miss, and I don’t like how the phrase, “hey, ya wanna go for coffee?” is almost always answered by, “Sure, which Starbucks?” It’s annoying. I go once a week because I meet with a group of friends and if I had my way we’d be at The Water Shed Cafe (shameless marketing plug), but it works for now so Starbucks it shall be.
One of the posters or “art pieces” hanging on the wall has caught my eye not so much for its aesthetic beauty (I’m sure it’s hung in hundreds if not thousands of ‘Bucks around North America) but for what it says. Whether the company believes its own slogans I can’t say, but sloganeering is something they do well.
The picture is of a tree where the roots are labeled with what I assume are the core values of Starbucks. Coffee, care, passion, place, people, community (in larger letters), are underground and support the tree and the slogan:
“The Stronger the Roots, the Higher the Reach”
It’s a great statement. It has great meaning….but not for Starbucks. Don’t get me wrong, the people at the Starbucks I go to are friendly and nice but a community place? It’s a coffee drive through with a few uncomfortable chairs and two comfortable ones. I don’t know the owner (I’m picturing a guy that lives someplace far away in a mansion on a hill with a wide-brimmed hat fanning himself with a palm leaf) and I don’t get a sense of any real personal connection to place. The decor is stock art and well placed products that change with the season…side note: if you’re there when they do their seasonal change-over, they give you free stuff…which you take even if you don’t want it. Maybe that’s why my cupboard is stuffed with mugs?
My coffee shop of choice is The Water Shed Arts Cafe. I know the owner, I like her, I can tell she puts her heart into the business of creating a coffee community experience, and I get to make fun of some of the staff from time to time. They even changed the music to classical for my morning writing sessions. It’s not just a coffee business but and artistic expression of how business meets community. And the food is damn good.
It is probably fitting that the stock art piece in the Starbucks is in the bathroom because what is written on it is not “front and center” in the store. Coffee, care, passion, place, people, community, these are front and center at The Water Shed Cafe and with those kind of roots, how can they not reach high?