Judging Java: Shops that “Proudly Serve Starbucks Coffee”


A coffee paper holder from Point Perk | Photo by Jake Dabkowski

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Editor-in-Chief

Stop saying that you proudly serve Starbucks Coffee. You don’t. Almost anytime I get coffee from a coffee shop that “proudly” serves Starbucks coffee, it is just a worse version of Starbucks. This does not apply to all shops that “proudly brew” Starbucks coffee, but rather to the ones that are lying about it.

In my experience, most hotels and resort areas tend to “proudly” serve Starbucks coffee. In the Western Pennsylvania area, ski resort Seven Springs opened up a new coffee bar that “proudly” serves Starbucks coffee. I went there and confirmed that they did, in fact, proudly serve Starbucks coffee. I was very impressed by the caramel macchiato that I was served, and would gladly purchase a cup of coffee from them again.

On the other hand, most other shops that “proudly” serve Starbucks coffee do not proudly serve Starbucks coffee. I’m speaking, of course, about our very own coffee shop, Point Perk. I feel as though Point Perk serves as a great metaphor for the concept of “proudly” serving Starbucks coffee.

On the surface level, Point Perk is a delightful coffee shop that feels truly at home on our campus. Beneath the surface, however, it is nothing more than a lower-quality Starbucks that, for some odd reason, costs more than the average Starbucks. The drinks are significantly worse, the food offerings constantly change and are, for lack of a better term, not good. I mean no disrespect to the staff, they are hard-working and have to deal with the average Point Park students on a day-to-day basis, but let’s be honest, no one has ever said “I loved the coffee that I got from Point Perk.”

“Proudly” serving Starbucks coffee makes no sense. Why would someone want to drink Starbucks coffee somewhere that isn’t Starbucks? The entire purpose of Starbucks is that it is an easily recognizable chain. The mass production of their coffee and the corporate hegemony behind it ensures a consistent level of quality, or what I would refer to as a baseline of quality.

That, if you think about it, is all capitalism is. A consistent shuffling towards one uniform product and/or corporation that controls said product. The argument against communism is that it siphons individuality, but I would argue that Starbucks proves that capitalism also removes traces of individuality.

Why is a coffee shop like Point Perk, which deserves to have its own unique atmosphere and identity, forced to tack the Starbucks logo to everything? It is directly hindering them from being what they can be.

This mentality can be applied to so many things. Take the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for example. The first Ant-Man movie was developed by Edgar Wright as a standalone film, with a unique directorial style. He was fired and replaced with a director who would be more willing to make the film a product that fits into their style. Wright was directly quoted as saying “I wanted to make a Marvel movie, but I don’t think they really wanted to make an Edgar Wright movie.” That is frustrating to me because the best parts of the movie all exude Edgar Wright’s distinct style.

The follow-up film, Ant-Man and The Wasp is one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life. That’s no disrespect to director Payton Reed, the movie is very funny and I have faith that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will be good, but there is a clear and distinct example of a corporation stifling someone’s art so that the product can be more easily identifiable with the masses.

Coffee is also an art form, and Starbucks is doing the same thing.