I walked into my local Starbucks recently and had to stop short.
Was I in the wrong place? I didn’t recognize it. Instead of the warm, welcoming earth tones of wooden tables and chairs, I was confronted by icy arctic whiteness; stone cold counters; and — worst of all — not a coffee bean or french press in sight!
What had happened to my local Starbucks? Was it, in fact, still a Starbucks at all?
The answer is, it has had a “makeover.” I suppose that’s only to be expected when a longstanding CEO and Chairman (Howard Schultz) finally steps down, and a new one must show he’s in charge.
But — alas for me — the makeover at Starbucks has made it into a place I don’t want to visit, anymore. Perhaps that was the point.
It’s just one more episode in the continuing saga of “Fixing Things That Weren’t Broken,” brought to you by the Sears Catalog and Classic Coke.
I had seen this before. The Elizabeth Claiborne store where I used to find great outfits got “renovated” and hard to shop in. Then they knocked down the building. My local King Kullen got “remodeled,” and suddenly I couldn’t find a single thing in the store. Before I found things again, they had closed it altogether.
So when the barista told me that my local Starbucks was scheduled for “renovation,” I knew there was trouble ahead.
My lifestyle depends on a steady supply of coffee. And not just any coffee. It needs to be Starbucks’ Gold Coast blend, ground at one notch finer than “paper cone”.
Anything else and my brain slows to a halt.
“We’re going to do a total makeover, and then we’ll be bringing some coffees back,” the barista said.
“But not Gold Coast, I don’t suppose? Because already I can’t find it.”
“Um, no, probably not.”
“And let me guess — nothing’s going to happen to Verona.”
“How did you know?”
Because that’s the one I can’t stand. It’s like Merlot. Or spinach. I can always spot it because I never like it. So, of course, that’s the one thing they’re going to leave standing. They might as well call it “Vendetta” coffee.
So now my entire lifestyle was under threat.
But suddenly, I got a reprieve!
One weekend, traveling up and down the New Jersey Turnpike, we found a rest stop that hadn’t received its order of execution yet … and they still had a whole shelf of Gold Coast one-pound bags! I grabbed as many as I could hold, without dropping them onto the floor (the pesky things are slippery) and stood there, looking around nervously while I waited in line at the register.
I expected that at any minute, someone was going to pop out of the woodwork and say, “Hey, you — those are rationed, you know! Two to a customer!”
But no one stopped me, and I made off with half a dozen pounds. My plan was to keep them in the freezer and make them last as long as I could.
“But sooner or later you’ll finish that, and what then, Judy? What’s your plan?”
“I have no plan! Who knew I needed one, until this makeover nonsense? And you wonder why I don’t like change?”
Alas, even with the reprieve, time for me is running out. I can’t go back to cans of Maxwell House; and I haven’t found anything I can rely on either among the Peet’s brands or at Whole Foods.
“What about Dunkin’ Donuts?” asks my friend, who actually prefers their coffee.
“I can’t do it,” I tell her. I have never yet made it out of that place without buying half a dozen donuts, and eating all 6 of them before reaching the car.
No, I can see I’m going to have to take this to the streets. Or maybe even — gulp — online! “Looking for Gold Coast. Uncut or ground. Cash only if authentic with a receipt from July 2018 or before.”
Then I’ll meet with whoever I hear from — “Call me Chuck” —on some moonless night, behind the swings at the Pine Street playground.
“You got the cash?”
“You got the beans?”
Then I’ll slit the bag open with the manicure-size Swiss Army knife off my keychain, and rub the grounds on my gums. “Ah,” I’ll say. “That’s the stuff!”
My Gold Coast “jones” taken care of for another month…no thanks to Starbucks!