Comments: Staying Starbucks-Free in St. Charles


It's funny that one of the casualties of the coffee revolution has been the loss of a place where you can sit all afternoon and drink coffee.

Starbucks look comfortable, but aren't, not for any appreciable length of time. And if you have to keep paying for another, and another, and another refill, well, it gets expensive to sit and read the newspaper.

One of the things I miss about Evanston is that it's one of the few places I've lived where I felt like I could sit all day at a coffee shop. Sure, there are three Starbucks there, but there are also six independent coffee shops (and a diner) in downtown Evanston. Such places still exist there: I used to sit for three, four hours sometimes poring over a newspaper and talking with my friends at the Italian Coffee Bar, at Sherman and Grove, in case you're in the area.

I suspect things will swing back the other way someday, too. More local coffee shops will open. But the days of bottomless coffee are probably dead, except where full meals are served.

I live in the U.S. midwest and we just don't have many coffee shops of any kind around here. By now, if we started getting some, they'd be Starbucks I'm sure. Almost everything we have (stores, restaurants, whatever) is a chain or franchise.

I've had the bottled Starbucks frappucinos. The mocha and coffee flavors are okay, but the vanilla is so sweet it makes me almost ill. The one time I went to Starbucks, I had a "real" frappucino, which was even sweeter and I couldn't drink it. It was like straight bosco over ice. So I don't even know why the Starbucks product is so popular.

My wife and I just moved to Everett, WA, wich is about 20 minutes north of Seattle, birthplace of Starbucks. They are literally on every block up here. The odd thing is that there are still a lot of these little street corner vendors who have drive up service, and we have actually found several little cafes that have free wireless internet where you can go for an afternoon, sit down, drink some coffee, have a donut, chat with the owner, and check your email.

I'm not even a fan of Starbucks coffee. In my opinion it is way too bitter.

I remember going to my first Starbucks, 11 years ago in Lincoln Park. Then I moved to Seattle and didn't go to a Starbucks because there were just so many little coffee stands that you could just drive through. They were great. These stands would have wonderful pastries, punch cards, and employees that really seemed to care about you.

Then I moved back to Chicago and Starbucks are on ever corner.

Now my husband and I drive out to St. Charles for the monthly flea market and beg for a Starbucks.

In the more rural part of Rhode Island where I live, there's only one coffee shop within 15 miles of my house, and it's a Starbucks -- but it's located in the only bookstore within 15 miles of my house. The bookstore is a big draw, and the coffee unavoidable. My Starbucks rebellion? I always order the old fashioned way -- small, medium, large.

Way back in some day immemorial, I'm sure Starbucks had good coffee. But as is the nature of any good-thing-gone-too-big, quality control is the first thing to go. Now, the coffee is super, super OLD (has to be to sustain the volume), so stale you can SEE it in the oily beans that they still (why?) display in some stores. I imagine that has to be why they've gone with that uber-sweet-with-whipped-cream-and-sprinkles-and-more syrup-on-top tactic, because neither the joe nor the espresso can stand on their own anymore. Plus, the stores are dirty, no one who works there really CARES....
I had the great privilege of working with a local roaster here in the Pac NW and we, EVERYONE who worked or bought there, took enormous pride in our product. We loved our people, we loved our regulars (90% of the clientele), and our product was outstanding. FRESH every day, because the owner woke up at 2.30 every morning to roast. When he refused to be bought out, a Starbucks opened up ONE BLOCK AWAY.
Evil is right......I fully support anyone who boycotts.
Although, they are reliable public bathrooms when you’re stuck downtown and really need to go.....

I only go to Starbucks when I am with a group of people and that is their choice of a place for coffee. I always order a cafe au lait which brings on an interesting discussion with the servers because they have no clue what that is - Starbucks calls it some fancy name that no where else in the world would recognize. On my own I know every independent coffee shop between my house and work which fortunately are quite a few. This is a beach city along with a couple of universities and many colleges which thankfully support independence. I like tables, mismatched chairs, couches, good scones, time to relax and read while sipping my coffee. Starbucks is just too corporate for that.

I see that you live in Paris & have roots in St. Charles, IL. Me, too! I enjoyed your article immensely & could certainly relate to your sentiments.

One thing in Paris that has surprised me greatly is that Starbucks are popping up all over the place! And not just tourists are pouring in....locals seem to love the place. I asked my french teacher WHY?! Why is Starbucks doing well here when you have interesting cafes, many historic or mod if you prefer, on every street corner that serve incredibly great coffee!! Her response didn't satisfy me: "just the latest formula" (meaning fad). Yikes. This fad I can live without. And I do quite happily!

I see your point about Starbucks. But I live in a third world country where getting a decent cup of coffee is rare. Everyone uses instant and the one real coffee shop in the capital is often crowded and prices for some cakes are quite pricy for the local salary. This is why I relish Starbucks when ever I have the opportunity to visit one abroad. The standard is across board, so you know what you get at one outlet is the same as another outlet. Point taken about the squeezing others out of business, but Starbucks does do good coffee and cake.

Thanks for the reminder again. I mean, every day I know that I hate Starbuck's and yet there I find myself again and again (although 6 days out of 7, I drink Peet's at home). It's just so darn tricky the way they are everywhere when you need something really really fattening. Ack, they're taking over the world and loads of space in my jeans.

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