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No "Laissez Faire" at Starbucks:

Starbucks allows its customers to purchase somewhat customized Starbucks cards. As David Boaz reports, it's okay to get a card emblazoned with the slogan "People not Profits" or "Si Se Puede," but not "Laissez Faire." The former is just fine, but Starbucks finds the latter to be "inappropriate." Apparently the folks at Starbucks (and Arroweye, the company that processes the cards) find it unacceptable that some of their customers want to celebrate the economic system that has allowed for their success. Makes me wish I'd gone to Caribou Coffee this morning instead.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Starbucks Now Accepts "Laissez Faire":
  2. No "Laissez Faire" at Starbucks:
alias:
Maybe they're anti-French
4.7.2008 9:52am
another anonVCfan:
Maybe they're afraid that if people start thinking about free-market economics while drinking Starbucks coffee, they'll start to wonder how that burnt, overrated dreck clawed its way to the top of the market heap. And that would put everyone one step closer to the truth.
4.7.2008 9:57am
whit:
schultz is quite a hypocrite. he has fought tooth and nail any unionization for baristas, yet supports overwhelmingly liberal causes and candidates, as well.
4.7.2008 9:57am
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

he has fought tooth and nail any unionization... ...yet supports overwhelmingly liberal causes and candidates, as well


if the coffee thing bottoms out, he has a future producing movies.
4.7.2008 10:16am
Laissez Faire Warrior (mail) (www):
Perhaps we should all visit the website and request a card emblazoned with "Laissez Faire?" Maybe the message will get through and they'll change their policy, or hopefully it will annoy someone (although it's probably automated).
4.7.2008 10:40am
b.:
4.7.2008 10:42am
merevaudevillian:
Of course, Caribou is run by Saudis, a bastion of free-market economics....
4.7.2008 10:43am
taney71:
I love Caribou coffee because their is no burnt taste in your mouth after you drink it.
4.7.2008 10:48am
David Chesler (mail) (www):
That's silly, Taney, it's not about the taste, it's about the experience, and the political statement.
4.7.2008 10:57am
skyywise (mail):

I love Caribou coffee because their is no burnt taste in your mouth after you drink it.


/me wholeheartedly agrees while sipping his morning dark roast.

Also, the trivia at the Caribou on 17 &L in DC this morning: "What television host has more hours on air than any other?"

I'll comment back later in the day w/ the answer, and this is an "of all-time" not just current TV hosts.
4.7.2008 10:58am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
I wonder what the card policy would be in an Absolut world :-)

Time for some Folgers.
4.7.2008 11:15am
Keith in Dallas (mail):
Bob Barker?
4.7.2008 11:20am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
McDonald's coffee is better and cheaper than either.
4.7.2008 11:26am
Cold Warrior:
I am deeply offended by reading those French words. I suggest that from now on we refer to them only as "the L-F- words."
4.7.2008 11:26am
rbj:
Joe Franklin?
4.7.2008 11:30am
Al Maviva (mail):
Starbucks is a bad joke played on the Bourgeois Bohemians in the 'urbs, and the great unwashed in the suburbs and exurbs. The coffee sucks but they play new age music and tout the "fair trade" nature of their business, to assuage white liberal guilt, seculare 'be nice' ethics being a substitute for organized religion these days.

In the D.C. area I highly recommmend Murky Coffee, now only operating at its Arlington location. The Eastern Market shop had to close because the shops are owned by a sales tax-dodging liberal, who is maybe getting screwed by the District government, an equal opportunity screw-er. What's nice about Murky is that the owners' politics are irrelevant because Murky is really about making very good coffee, rather than operating as a money-grubbing bad-coffee slinging BigCorp posing as a Bo-Bo lifestyle choice / political statement. Yeah, they're fair trade, but their coffee is actually good.

Dean &DeLuca is a pretty good second choice, albeit a little pricey; but the location and clientele tend to be quite scenic and worth the extra buck per cup.
4.7.2008 11:32am
ChrisIowa (mail):

McDonald's coffee is better and cheaper than either.


McDonald's you have to be careful, sometimes the coffee sits awhile and gets old.

For just Coffee go to Quick Trip.
4.7.2008 11:39am
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
I always wonder why, if Starbucks has such bad coffee, so many people still go to them when there are usually many other options close by.

I've been working at a Starbucks for just over 2 years (I'll be done in less than 2 weeks, thank god) and we have people who drive past 3 or more other coffee stores who come to our store daily for their cup of coffee.

Personally, I don't like coffee (irony, I know), so I can't really judge accurately the taste of other stores' coffee beyond my scale of bad to really bad. So I'm curious. Leaving aside possible bad business practices, or potential connections to Israel, etc., why do people have such a rampant dislike for Starbucks?
4.7.2008 11:45am
GSP (mail):
@ skyywise--

Hugh Downs?
4.7.2008 11:50am
frankcross (mail):
bornyesterday, you've come full circle. Real coffee folks (like the top 1% who drink french press) think that its coffee is mediocre. But it's clearly better than what was available pre-Starbucks.

However, it's a giant company. People don't like those, for whatever reason. See WalMart, GM, etc. It's actually smart for a big company to have an antiestablishment attitude, because it helps negate the anti-big company feeling to some degree.
4.7.2008 11:54am
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
bornyesterday, you've come full circle. Real coffee folks (like the top 1% who drink french press) think that its coffee is mediocre. But it's clearly better than what was available pre-Starbucks.

However, it's a giant company. People don't like those, for whatever reason. See WalMart, GM, etc. It's actually smart for a big company to have an antiestablishment attitude, because it helps negate the anti-big company feeling to some degree.


Fair enough. Gotta hate the folks who worked up from nothing and made themselves the best. If you can't be the American dream, I suppose your best bet is to attack it where ever you find it.
4.7.2008 11:56am
Wallace:
A friend of mine worked at a small independent coffeshop in Burlington, VT. He overheard the owner talking with another employee one time, when the owner said "Now, I'm no capitalist. . . "

So, in socialist Vermont, owning and operating capital does not make one a capitalist.
4.7.2008 12:01pm
The Mojo Bison (mail) (www):
Starbucks is like Coca-Cola in that it has an absolutely huge brand image generated by hefty advertising/image construction (paid for by the end users, natch). There are a limited number of big competitors (Einstein Bros? Panera???). Smaller, more generic regional competition may exist and be of higher quality, but no one thinks about them because of brand loyalty. Starbucks is also ubiquitous and of generally consistent quality, and people tend to enjoy that stability/familiarity.

Oh, and it does taste burnt a lot of the time.

I generally either shut out the "No one I know voted for Nixon" vibe or I eavesdrop and see how many inanities get spouted. I'll never forget one time, at a Starbucks in Houston, I struck up a conversation with some locals and was told, point-blank, that I had no business being in the gay Starbucks when the straight one was only two blocks down.
4.7.2008 12:09pm
Al Maviva (mail):
Fair enough. Gotta hate the folks who worked up from nothing and made themselves the best.

Please. That's like saying people who dislike Pizza Hut pizza, or Budweiser, are envious. Is it just possible, that maybe Pizza Hut pizza and Bud kinda suck, but the masses aren't exactly discriminating in their tastes?

Just because they sell a lot of grapefruit-flavored MD-20/20, doesn't mean the product is good. All it means is they found a market for it. If quality is a matter of democratic process, then surely Bud, Pizza Hut (or maybe Dominos), Chevrolet, USA Today and Ryan Secrest are the highest quality products in their respective arenas. You really think that's the truth? All that market success means for most of these trademarks is they found a least common denominator market niche for their product. They are *great* at marketing. It doesn't mean their product is any good.
4.7.2008 12:10pm
Anderson (mail):
No accounting for taste, folks. What you and I think is "burned" coffee, others think is delicious.

My wife &my ex-girlfriend have little in common, but both are/were addicts of the Starbucks French Roast, the burnedest of the burned. Tried "better" coffees, went back to French Roast.

You can find people who'll swear that bourbon is disgusting, that lager is undrinkable, that Diet Coke is foul -- and plenty of people who hold the contrary.
4.7.2008 12:11pm
Anderson (mail):
As for "laissez faire," I think they probably saw it was French, inferred "laid" from "laissez," and decided it was some kind of sexual remark -- you know, like in that "Lady Marmalade" song.
4.7.2008 12:14pm
TaxLawyer:
Can you get "Laissez les bons temps rouler"? It'd no doubt offend the AF, but it's a Cajun expression, not real French.
4.7.2008 12:18pm
JBL:
I'd bet an overpriced latte they'd allow a card that said "Let it be."

If so, then Alias is on to something. They really are just anti-French.
4.7.2008 12:21pm
homman:
@Skywise

Regis Philbin!
4.7.2008 12:28pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

Starbucks is a bad joke


and noisy.
4.7.2008 12:37pm
spaceman65:
homman's got it. like it or not Regis is the "King"(?)
Not sure what that makes Cathy Lee or Ripa.

as a non-coffee drinker, I marvel at the amount of money spent on the liquid, in whatever form. Of course, my expensive micro-brews are entirely beside the point.
4.7.2008 12:56pm
EKGlen (mail):
That is just bizarre - I wonder if they even know what the phrase means.
4.7.2008 1:06pm
Constitutional Crisis (mail):
Surely if the market demanded such a personalized card, it would provide one.

Seriously, who cares?
4.7.2008 1:12pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
But it's clearly better than what was available pre-Starbucks.

Before Starbucks hit this market (Boston) we had the Coffee Connection (which then became the Coffee Connection at Au Bon Pain, excuse the double preposition, before it disappeared.) I like Dunkin' Donuts coffee, and I liked McDonald's coffee before they switched to Paul Newman's by Green Mountain. I just had some pretty badly burned McD's at the Connecticut rest stop used by Lucky Star bus. Best coffee I've had (tasted as good as it smelled) was at a truck stop, also in that little square state between New York and Boston.

If 1% use French presses, what portion like fresh-ground Brazilian beans in their French presses? (And why are some people unable to make a good cup of coffee at all?)
4.7.2008 1:16pm
qwerty (mail):
they probably just didn't understand what it means and assumed it was offensive by default. as a control, boaz should have tried to get other libertarian slogans in english on the card. how did this incident make it onto the op-ed page of the WSJ?
4.7.2008 1:20pm
Viceroy:
This story is missing some details for sure.

Starbucks has bad coffee anyway.
4.7.2008 1:30pm
microtherion (mail):
boaz should have tried to get other libertarian slogans in english on the card

I don't think they'd have a problem with "A is A" or "Vices are not Crimes".

Actually, the latter sounds like a great slogan for a Starbucks gift card.
4.7.2008 1:35pm
taney71:
I am trying to switch to hot tea myself. Any tips on how to kick the coffee habit?
4.7.2008 1:52pm
...Max... (mail):
French press is OK, but nothing you do with it makes the coffee strong enough to really qualify. Nothing beats the old copper pot.

Oh, and freshly ground beans are an absolute must (I'm partial to Colombian though). Now, if you said freshly roasted that would be a seriously exclusive definition.
4.7.2008 1:54pm
wph (mail):
One more reason to go to Dunkin' Donuts.
4.7.2008 2:00pm
Cornellian (mail):
Anyone else find it ironic that "laissez faire" and "entrepreneur" are French words?
4.7.2008 2:06pm
WHOI Jacket:
I like Pie in the Sky, which unfortunately has only one location. Their "Ahab's Revenge" roast is excellent.
4.7.2008 2:07pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
I don't understand why some people hate Starbucks with such a fury. I've heard people say that they don't want that kind of thing in their neighborhood as if it were a porn store. A Starbucks under construction in Portland was the target of an attempted firebombing. The bomb simply bounced off the Lexan window and ignited harmlessly in the street. It's not just that Starbucks is a big company, lots of companies are as big, but don't get attacked in the way Starbucks does. Peets Coffee, which tastes no better and is more expensive, is de rigueur in Berkeley. Yet the original founders of Starbucks actually owned Peets before selling off Starbucks under a non-compete agreement. My daughter says it's the commercial success that provokes the ire. So-called progressives hate success. They feel more comfortable in slums with crack houses and porno shops.
4.7.2008 2:12pm
NotStarbucks:
It's not that Starbucks is offended. It's that Starbucks doesn't want cards to be produced that could be used by anti-Starbucks protesters as a symbol of Starbucks's perceived failings. Starbucks wouldn't be "offended" by a card reading "Corporate Hegemon," but wouldn't sell such a card because it'd be all but an invitation for an enterprising activist to hold it up as an example of Starbucks's supposed "true" values.
4.7.2008 2:15pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Adler:

Do you realize that the First Islamic Investment Bank, now called Arcapita still controls Caribou Coffee? Moreover those who run Arcapita do so under shari'ah business practices. If Caribou had a "Caribou Card" program do you think you could have "Zionist" on your card? Or even "Shalom."
4.7.2008 2:23pm
gab:
Laissez-faire is "the economic system that has allowed for their success(?)" In what alternate universe is that true? That's certainly not the economic system practiced in the US. Or did Starbucks reach the heights of success first in some other country of which I'm not aware?
4.7.2008 2:25pm
anym_avey (mail):
I don't understand why some people hate Starbucks with such a fury. I've heard people say that they don't want that kind of thing in their neighborhood as if it were a porn store.

Three words: preening social signaling.

Myself, Starbucks was the first opportunity I had to obtain specialty cofee drinks, and they were largely responsible for establishing a coffee culture in this state. Thanks to Starbucks, I now both have and am aware of alternative options, including Dazbog franchises and several good local shops. But I still have access to Starbucks for longer hours and at more locations than any other store, and fortunately, I have no need to engage in preening social signaling, so I still enjoy Starbucks coffee, even though there are now other options that I enjoy more when available.
4.7.2008 2:40pm
Bpbatista (mail):
Why does fresh ground coffee smell delightful, but fresh brewed coffee (of any type) taste like old battery acid?
4.7.2008 2:45pm
Ex parte McCardle:
The greatest coffeehouse ever was the late Blue Sky Coffee in Athens, GA, and the best coffee was their house blend, Dancing Goats. Just thought I'd add that because I miss it so much.
4.7.2008 2:48pm
Perseus (mail):
I don't understand why some people hate Starbucks with such a fury. I've heard people say that they don't want that kind of thing in their neighborhood as if it were a porn store.

Reminds me of a South Park episode: Gnomes.
4.7.2008 2:56pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
McDonald's you have to be careful, sometimes the coffee sits awhile and gets old.

Better than them serving it hot and it spilling on your legs and scalding you.
4.7.2008 3:05pm
Anderson (mail):
I don't understand why some people hate Starbucks with such a fury.

Maybe this article will explain.
4.7.2008 3:05pm
ras (mail):
Somebody oughtta try "minorities for "laissez-faire", or "laissez-faire against global warming", or perhaps even "equitable laissez-fare wages for all".
4.7.2008 3:07pm
Brian K (mail):
Peets Coffee, which tastes no better and is more expensive,

but peets coffee has a very wide selection of teas...something that starbucks lacks. that alone guarantee's my patronage.


I'm surprised no one has mentioned seatle's best yet. one of my favorites. and since all the ones i know of are in a bookstore, usually much more quite than your average starbucks.
4.7.2008 3:14pm
hattio1:
Can I hate Caribou Coffe because the caribou on the picture look so unnatural? Or is that not a good enough reason? That being said, I'm not a coffee drinker, but Starbuck's Chai teas suck.
4.7.2008 3:26pm
Frater Plotter:
I like Pie in the Sky, which unfortunately has only one location. Their "Ahab's Revenge" roast is excellent.

Well, that clinches it -- your alias isn't just a coincidence. So, posting here on the NSF's dime, or the Navy's?
4.7.2008 3:27pm
Guest101:
So we're living under a laissez-faire system now? I must have missed that news. I guess Starbucks can stop worrying about all those pesky health regulations now.
4.7.2008 3:39pm
Jim Anderson (www):
Ex parte, that "Dancing Goats" blend is the concoction of Batdorf and Bronson, and still available. (I purchase B&B all the time out here in Olympia, WA--they're bicoastal.) Check 'em out.
4.7.2008 3:48pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Si Se Puede is actually more neutral, like "It could happen!" But I would guess that whoever looks at those things knew some high school Spanish, but didn't know any French. He should try, "Free markets, free people."

When I hear it, "Yes we can" reminds me of the Sammy Davis, Jr. story, "Yes I can."
4.7.2008 3:50pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
gab, Guest101 - come on guys. What categories do you use to label economies, which label to you apply to the US economy, and which economies do earn the coveted 5-star laissez-faire label?
4.7.2008 3:50pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Bob the Builder: Can we build it?
4.7.2008 3:51pm
KeithK (mail):
I'm not a coffee drinker and have rarely ever spent a dime in a Starbucks. (Actually, I agree with Bpbatista.) But I have to respect Starbucks for convincing people to spend three bucks on something they used to buy for about fifty cents. Just like the folks who convinced people that they needed to buy bottled water instead of drinking it from a tap. It's all about lining your pockets by wringing excess wealth from the economy.
4.7.2008 3:54pm
Guest101:
David,

I'm by no means an economist, but if the current U.S. system is a laissez-faire one, what have the libertarians been whining about since the New Deal? I'm one of those wacky liberals who thinks that a completely unregulated free market is not something to be "coveted" in any case, but Adler is way off base to suggest that Starbucks owes its success to such a system when that company has a particularly strong tradition of rejecting the appearance of such things as employee and farmer exploitation that (rightly or wrongly-- I have no desire to get into that debate here) are often associated with a truly laissez-faire system.
4.7.2008 3:57pm
whit:
Starbux coffee is (imo) mediocre... but

1) they have (and have had) great marketing. that helps. just ask Bill Gates.
2) their burnt style coffee ONCE SOMEBODY GETS USED TO IT becomes an acquired taste. so, while coffee snobs may hate it, for those that start drinking starbux, they start to seek that burnt type flavor, and thus starbux has a loyal customer. for an analogy... see: cigarettes
3) starbux falls under the category of (so called) "affordable luxury". a starbux cup is a status symbol.
etc.

i love the way they try to be all PC and New age and stuff. it cracks me up. i just want a frigging cup of coffee. i make my own.
4.7.2008 3:59pm
Smokey:
Want some Starbucks?
4.7.2008 3:59pm
whit:
"McDonald's coffee is better and cheaper than either. "

yes, but they used to weaponize their coffee, which had the unintended consequence of causing burn lawsuits...
4.7.2008 4:01pm
A.C.:
taney71 -

Best way to kick the coffee habit is to develop a taste for lots and lots of good tea. Purists brew the stuff from leaves, which I do when I can, but I think the better grade of teabag is fine for most purposes. Just don't try to boil the water in a microwave. It never comes out right.

Check your local snooty grocery store for a selection of teas to start you off. Specialty shops and catalogs can also be good sources. Ideally you want to find someone who used to be a big wine snob but has decided to shift some of that obsessive energy into tea. Get into the habit of exchanging holiday gifts with such a person (mine is my brother-in-law), and you'll never lack for interesting tea again.

And one of the best things about tea is the cost. If you make it yourself, even the expensive kinds work out to around 10-20 cents a cup.

Does anyone know if that thing about caffeine protecting against dementia also works for tea?
4.7.2008 4:03pm
common sense (www):
Starbucks owns Seattle's Best. Same company. Similar coffee.
4.7.2008 4:09pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
if the current U.S. system is a laissez-faire one, what have the libertarians been whining about since the New Deal?

That we're getting further and further away from that ideal.

Adler is way off base to suggest that Starbucks owes its success to such a system when that company has a particularly strong tradition of rejecting the appearance of such things as employee and farmer exploitation that (rightly or wrongly-- I have no desire to get into that debate here) are often associated with a truly laissez-faire system.

Rejecting something, or rejecting the appearance of it, doesn't mean you don't benefit from it.

Starbucks didn't bribe government officials into making them the only supplier; they didn't use force; they didn't even convince those who (in this case) really do know better. People chose to overpay for would-be-good-if-it-weren't-so-burned coffee in a good atmosphere. They were free to buy it, Starbucks was free to sell it. (Of course they had some constraints.)
4.7.2008 4:48pm
ras (mail):
Laissez-faire - or let it be - can be roughly translated in the economic context as "leave us alone."

Or to be more precise - if you don't need to regulate, don't. Stop trying to engineer results via micro-management, cuz you hurt us, not help us, when you do.

If we take that definition, which is pretty much what it originally meant, then a laissez-faire economy is not totally devoid of regulation; it is one that simply allows as much economic liberty as possible, where the Invisible Hand makes decisions instead of having a Central Planner do so.

We can debate around the edges of the "how much regulation is necessary" part, but in general the US has been more laissez-faire than most other countries and this has worked in its favor. To say that the US is laissez-faire is simply to say that its economy has been relatively decentralized as compared to most others.

Other examples confirm as much: e.g. Hong Kong, or - for those who like control groups - East and West Germany, North and South Korea. Laissez-faire works better than top-down, and should be encouraged.
4.7.2008 4:51pm
Qwerty:
Si Se Puede is actually more neutral, like "It could happen!"

About as neutral as "Tomorrow the World!"
4.7.2008 5:00pm
whit:
"Starbucks owns Seattle's Best. Same company. Similar coffee."

this has been mentioned here before (in another thread).

may in fact be true. there is (at least imo) a difference in the taste of their coffee. maybe MCd's just doesn't do the "burn it" thing. but there is at least in my experience, none of that burnt flavor thang with the Seattle's Best coffee i have had.
4.7.2008 5:06pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Starbucks is trying to approximate the European konditorei. A place you go for coffee and pastry and can sit comfortably for several hours if you want. They fail on the pastry part and for some, the coffee part too, but in many places the atmosphere is fine. I once held a small technical meeting for a project at a local Starbucks just to give the guys something different. We spread out all our documents on tables and nobody bothered us. I sometimes go to the Starbucks near my house to sit in the big leather sofa and smooze with the people who come in. That's what I get for that $3 cup of coffee. I don't see why anyone dislike them. The staff is usually pleasant and I enjoy myself. What's wrong with that?
4.7.2008 5:37pm
Brian K (mail):
Starbucks owns Seattle's Best. Same company. Similar coffee.

I find that seattle's best coffee lacks the burnt taste of starbucks (or at least i notice it less) and some serve a different brand of tea that tazo's, which is definitely a plus.
4.7.2008 5:45pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

A place you go for coffee and pastry and can sit comfortably for several hours if you want.

Yet they incongruously use the Italian names for their drinks. The Italian coffeehouse model is (1) Pay (2) Order (3) Drink (4) Get the hell out.

Starbucks and other American coffeehouses should serve Brauners and Einspanners, like the Austro-Hungarian joints they try to emulate. Chicago has a branch of Julius Meinl if you want to see an authentic place.
4.7.2008 5:55pm
darelf:
Why I hate Starbucks, summed up by a scene from Family Guy:

(Scene with two guys typing on their laptops in Starbucks.)
Guy #2: Hey, getting some writing done there buddy?
Guy #1: Yeah, setting up in public so everybody can watch me type my big screenplay.
Guy #2: Me too. All real writers need to be seen writing otherwise what's the point, right?
Guy #1: You should totally write that down!
Guy #2: Okay, will you watch me?
4.7.2008 5:57pm
WHOI Jacket:
Fratter,

Heh, I've been exposed. Don't you know whoi is a Polynesian dessert?

I do live still live on Cape Cod, but I'm no longer with the Institution.
4.7.2008 6:08pm
occidental tourist (mail):
So I've been waiting for a starbucks thread to see what emplyment lawyers make of the controversy over whether "shift supervisors" (who,as best I can understand are essentially barristas paid not much more than the regular variety who work hourly and serve customers and have been recognized for being exceptional barristas)should share in tips or whether the california court that awarded a 100 million judgment against Starbucks is right.

On the substance, I'd say that a degree of laissez faire is still practiced in the United States and that has allowed the meteoric rise of starbucks and I have nothing against them and like their coffee. Thank god I can view buying a cup of their coffee the same way I can view ordering sword fish - the special people don't like it, I'll have more.

My affections for the product notwithstanding, if you don't think this is the funniest video linked on Volokh in a while you just ain't got a sense of humor. (caution adult language involved. The F word as opposed to the LF words)
4.7.2008 6:38pm
Porter:
I don't know if anyone has shared this, but I have never tasted better coffee in the US than here: http://www.dunnbros.com/

They roast in the store. And date each batch.
4.7.2008 9:46pm
Brett:
I don't know why anybody would partake of the undrinkable swill they serve at Starbucks when there's perfectly good Dunkin Donuts coffee to be had, where the person behind the counter actually understands what you mean when you ask for a large regular with extra sugar, and doesn't chirp, "Will that be a grande or a venti?"
4.7.2008 9:50pm
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater (mail):
Forget Charbucks, make mine Contra Cafe.. Ground and brewed at home, saving me $$$...

http://www.contracafe.com
4.7.2008 9:57pm
Watts (mail) (www):
People who dislike Starbucks on "corporate ethics" grounds dislike it for the same reason they they dislike Wal-Mart — the perception that they succeed by creating an environment where smaller independent shops have a lot of trouble succeeding. You may not agree with this perception, or you may agree with it but think it really isn't an issue. Fair enough. But "liberals just hate it when companies succeed" is about as logical as "conservatives just hate the poor," which is to say that it's really smug, lazy thinking.

Personally, I don't buy that. Starbucks may certainly saturate markets (there are 22 locations within a five-mile radius of my apartment complex near San Mateo), but ain't nobody ever accused them of undercutting the competition, and there's some evidence that Starbucks actually increases the density of competing coffee stores in some markets they move into because they're introducing people to the novel idea that you'll get better coffee if you pay more for it. While Starbucks arguably isn't even the best gourmet coffee chain out there, they were a quantum leap over what you could get in most places a decade ago, and have been a gateway to the world of real coffee for a lot of folks.

As for the original topic of the article — I'm sorry, but unless there's more evidence offered that this rejection was born out of explicit animosity to our buddy Milton Friedman and pals, I'm inclined to think it was due to illiteracy, someone who figured that laissez faire wasn't French for either a rude dismissal or an exotic sexual position. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to conclude this is The Man yet again oppressing the beleagured capitalist minority.
4.7.2008 10:02pm
Fearless:
Laissez faire is not responsible for our economic success. If anything, laissez faire has nearly resulted in the destruction of capitalism.

The Great Depression was caused by rampant speculation and laissez faire. The current housing bubble was caused by laissez faire.

Clearly, laissez faire is a stupid idea, advocated by half-wits lacking any historical sense.

That is not to say that unlimited regulation is a good idea either.
4.7.2008 10:12pm
Bleepless (mail):
Starbuck's was founded, and is headquartered, in Seattle, which is run by a tight little group of totalitarians and the super-rich.
Tully's first shop was in downtown (high-rent) Seattle, with a fireplace and Internet capability. Their second shop was in Beijing.
Howard Schulz got in some trouble for running his personal garden across city property. Since he is both a Fidelista and wealthy, the newspapers stopped carrying anything at all on the topic. I have been unable to ascertain what became of the problem.
4.7.2008 10:16pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I don't know if anyone has shared this, but I have never tasted better coffee in the US than here: http://www.dunnbros.com/"

That's great. The nearest outlet is a mere 1068 miles from me in Rapid City SD.
4.7.2008 10:16pm
Fearless:

Apparently the folks at Starbucks (and Arroweye, the company that processes the cards) find it unacceptable that some of their customers want to celebrate the economic system that has allowed for their success.


By the way, our economic system is NOT laissez faire.

Duh.

Capitalism and regulation are not contradictions.

Duh.
4.7.2008 10:19pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"People who dislike Starbucks on "corporate ethics" grounds dislike it for the same reason they they dislike Wal-Mart — the perception that they succeed by creating an environment where smaller independent shops have a lot of trouble succeeding."

That's not my experience with Starbuck haters. They hate the very sight of the stores. They know nothing of their corporate policies.
4.7.2008 10:19pm
Carlos (mail):
Starbucks coffee is delicious. The darker the blend, the better it tastes.

True, as with Scotch whisky, there are many weenies who can't handle it. They pretend that lite-er coffees are better than dark, that vodka is better than Scotch, that Pepsi is better than Coke.

It's a free country, and they're free to be wrong.
4.7.2008 10:21pm
Dan Bongard:
Anyone else find it ironic that "laissez faire" and "entrepreneur" are French words?

Most of the English language is derived from French.
4.7.2008 10:22pm
GL:
A.C.:
I'm not certain whether tea can protect you against dementia, but what I know for sure is that tea has antioxidants and thus improves your health - unlike coffee. :-P

Personally, I'm a caffeine junkie and have to have my daily fix, but I'm not really into coffee. Coffee, tea and sodas/energy drinks all work differently on me. *shrug* Strange, I know. I usually make my own tea at home, but I absolutely love the "maple oat nut scone" pastries at Starbucks. :)

I hope they'll fix the L-F issue soon - if they continue to ignore it, it'll raise even more questions, and if they allow the use of L-F on their cards, they might get more people to purchase the said cards.
4.7.2008 10:24pm
maxxman:
1. I've heard that Starbucks jolts its coffe up with extra caffiene. Don't know if it's true or not.

2. The very best coffee in the world is 'toddy' or 'cold drip' coffee. The kits are available online. The coffee is not cooked and has a clean fresh taste like no other.
4.7.2008 10:25pm
cirby (mail):

The Great Depression was caused by rampant speculation and laissez faire. The current housing bubble was caused by laissez faire.


Actually, both were caused by something they called "laissez faire," but which was "let it be in certain fashions, but ignore the illegal and fraudulent things many people are doing, especially the really rich ones at the top."

"Laissez faire" has the bad rap of "don't stop any thing that claims it's capitalism under any circumstances," but true LF capitalism has safeguards built in to keep people from stealing their way to the top. When too many people stop trusting the guys who have control of the money, you get things like the Great Depression (where a screwed-up monetary policy led to a stop in spending and a general fear of the system, which then led on to a fairly-preventable depression instead of a recession).
4.7.2008 10:34pm
ras (mail):
Fearlesss,

The Great Depression was caused by rampant speculation and laissez faire
Incorrect. It was initiated by a slow collapse in govt bonds worldwide. That's why the stock mkt went up; then, as now, the bond mkts were an order of magnitude larger than the stock mkts, and as even a fraction of bond investors grew increasingly skitterish a sort of reverse flight to quality occurred. Zoom, up went stocks, only to inevitably crash back down.

Govt overreaction - e.g. trade barriers - then extended the problem, all occurring just as country folk were moving into the city, and while a drought struck.

Fearless, the tone of your comments is generally contemptuous, and this is very much a grown-up board. There is no need for the attitude, and as even just this current topic indicates, your knowledge is, shall we say, incomplete. You would do better to discuss and learn rather than insist and stagnate.

/free advice in the laissez-faire spirit
4.7.2008 10:34pm
The Cabbage (mail):
About as neutral as "Tomorrow the World!"

I was thinking, "What is to be done?" but yeah. Same point.


More generally: http://www.aerobie.com/Products/aeropress_story.htm

/HT Insta
//helluva cup of joe
4.7.2008 10:38pm
Former Belgian (mail) (www):
We have complimentary Starbucks at work (Chicagoland). Being a certified coffee addict, I drink the stuff. But nobody who's used to Italian espresso will think much of Starbucks.

Which is why they never got off the ground in markets like Israel (where Italian espresso makers Lavazza and Illy captured most of the market). Note that this is as Americanophile a market as you can find outside the USA.

Starbucks had the good fortune to be mostly competing against "Americano" brown water when they started.

Maxxman; if Starbucks jolts up the coffee with extra caffein I haven't noticed it ;-)
4.7.2008 10:43pm
Brian K (mail):
True, as with Scotch whisky, there are many weenies who can't handle it. They pretend that lite-er coffees are better than dark, that vodka is better than Scotch, that Pepsi is better than Coke.

your mostly right there. a good bourbon beats out a good scotch most any day. and what roast you use depends on what you want to do with it.
4.7.2008 10:44pm
Faith+1 (mail):
"The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the asshole. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a 'decaf grande half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one sweet-n'-Low, and one NutraSweet, oooh, you're a huge asshole." -- George Carlin
4.7.2008 10:44pm
Brett:
The available evidence suggests that Carlos has taken complete leave of his senses, and should be confined inside a padded cell for his own safety and that of others.
4.7.2008 10:45pm
Former Belgian (mail) (www):
I wonder if I could order a card that says "Freedom is not free".
4.7.2008 10:45pm
Emkay (mail):
Regis Philbin
4.7.2008 10:48pm
Prof. S. (mail):
Porter - I can't believe it took someone this long to mention Dunn Brothers. If this whole lawyer thing doesn't work out, I'm going to buy a Dunn Bros. instead. I buy my coffee there and grind it at home every morning. My bag has the date on which it was roasted (3/18 - I've been traveling).


As for the card, how about "Vote No on Proposition 10-289."
4.7.2008 10:52pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
The Starbucks should have a card for all its lefty customers.

Si, se pudenda.

BTW for all those with a dirty mind - pudenda means ashamed.

But the other meaning could work too!
4.7.2008 11:14pm
Fearless:
ras,

Im sure that the lack of the FDIC and the failure of the government to provide liquidity thereby allowing laissez faire to go out of control had nothing to do with the Great Depression.


Fearless, the tone of your comments is generally contemptuous, and this is very much a grown-up board. There is no need for the attitude, and as even just this current topic indicates, your knowledge is, shall we say, incomplete. You would do better to discuss and learn rather than insist and stagnate.

/free advice in the laissez-faire spirit


On the contrary, rather than have contempt for you, I am in awe of your laissez-faire advice that is free of charge. Who said there was no such thing as a free lunch?
4.7.2008 11:17pm
countertop (mail):
Heh

Laissez Faire indeed.

I go to Dunkin' Donuts instead. Double the volume, half the price, and triple the taste.

Plus, I don't have to fear I'm wasting my hard earned money on some pseudo socialist scam.
4.7.2008 11:26pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Yep. French Press.

Or even better: camp coffee made in a thermos with boiling water. It keeps its heat and although it gets more bitter as it sits it is never burnt.

I can't stand coffee makers unless I get the very first cup when the dripping stops.
4.7.2008 11:26pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Let me add that I like my coffee double strength.

And with the thermos method I can pour a 1/4 cup when I want it so I don't have to drink the last bit cold.
4.7.2008 11:30pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Most of the English language is derived from French.

Something about that 1066 thingy.
4.7.2008 11:34pm
Fearless:

Most of the English language is derived from French.

Something about that 1066 thingy.


Cursed French. First they corrupt the English language, then the Irish potato with their French fries. When will it stop?

Usurpers. I am tired of French thingies.
4.7.2008 11:48pm
Steve Martinovich (mail) (www):
They prefer "People over Profits"? The same guys who two weeks ago had a judgment against them for $100 million for ripping off their poorly paid baristas by giving managers a portion of their tips?

Not only are they anti-capitalists, they're hypocrites.
4.8.2008 12:21am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Confession. I usually make my own coffee with a French Press, which I believe is the best way to make coffee. I love Blue Mountain Coffee, but it's too expensive. I recommend Montana Coffee Traders as a source for whole beans. I go to Starbucks mainly to sit around and smooze.
4.8.2008 12:39am
vincenzo (mail):
I think they're just ignorant dummies, but they think they're being subversive - just not in the manner you're thinking. To wit:

"si se puede", in the best Beavis &Butthead fashion, may strike the "barista" genii as something referring to playing show and tell with one's privates, i.e. "see see pud".

On the other hand, "laissez faire" may be interpreted by these PhD types as "lazy fairy", which would be a verboten anti-gay slur.

Are we beginning to understand the minds at work here? What a complete gaggle of morons!

v
4.8.2008 1:01am
Dyema (mail):
Starbucks, like other international name brands, sells predictability. Through economies of scale and all the techniques of industrial uniformity learned over the 20th century, a Starbucks coffee - and more importantly, latte - tastes pretty much the same no matter where on the planet you are. That is a remarkable and valuable feat. Personally, I dislike the coffee, finding it burnt. But I recognize that this is a 'common denominator' effect. Its easier to make coffee beans from divergent locales and growers globally uniform by burning them a little bit. Otherwise, some starbucks would taste decidely better than others. As a personal matter, I prefer almost any other "gourmet" coffee over Starbucks. And here in San Francisco we are lucky enough to have Blue Bottle, which is the best coffee I've ever had. But if I am traveling, and in desperate need of palatable caffeine, when I see the Starbucks sign I at least know exactly what I am getting and how it will taste.

In response to the comment from "Wallace" about the small coffee shop owner in Vermont starting a sentence with "I'm no capitalist but. . . " - I can explain that. He was not using 'capitalist' in the traditional economic sense but in the 21st century New England leftist sense: as an ambitious 'climber' who can't be satisfied just having a nice store or two, but who has to grow something enormous and global. They're perfectly happy with small scale, local, face-to-face capitalism - its the 'grow a global behemoth' thing that they're against

Re: Schultz, everything he does makes good sense. There is no social or business cost associated with rank hypocrisy. The leftists who really appreciate Starbucks 'fair trade' efforts don't know or care about the unionization status of Starbucks employees. They, like Schultz himself, are about "daily life choices". In other words: you will perfect the world through the righteousness of your shopping and driving. Its the most painless religious satisfaction one can possibly obtain. Relatively low-cost and pain-free. Big efforts - like mass unionization of barristas, or, for that matter, the liberation and democratization of tens of millions of people - are anachronistic distractions from stickers-on-priuses lifestyle superiority.
4.8.2008 1:01am
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
With regard to everyone who mentioned Dunkin' Donuts here.

Krispy Kreme makes better donuts. [/gauntlet]
4.8.2008 1:09am
TokyoTom (mail):
A tempest in a coffee cup.

Is the customizable gift card a Starbucks innovation? That they should need to have some editorial control is understandable. I suspect that in the face of popular pushback they will back-pedal from blocking political statements - even campaign statements - in favor of simply blocking expletives and possible infringing words.
4.8.2008 1:36am
neurodoc:
BTW for all those with a dirty mind - pudenda means ashamed...
You are aware, are you not, that this refers to the female genitalia. Check it out...in a medical dictionary (Dorland's or Stedman's).
4.8.2008 2:03am
Watts (mail) (www):
A. Zarkov: well, the people I know who hate Starbucks on ethics grounds usually do seem to base it on perceptions of corporate policy, whether or not those perceptions are correct or fair. I know a few people who won't go to them because they're convinced Starbucks' proximity to their favorite coffee shop made it go out of business, and people who won't go there because Starbucks doesn't really have much in the way of Fair Trade-certified or organic beans.

Sort of amusingly given the SF Bay Area's liberalism, all of the folks I personally knew who refused to go to Starbucks on "they're killing the independent coffee shop" grounds were people I knew before I moved out here. Everyone here says they refuse to go to Starbucks because they just hate the coffee. (Given those 22 locations in the 5-mile radius I mentioned, clearly everyone is lying, but that's another issue.)

I like French Press coffee too; I've been tending to buy fresh-roasted beans from one of a few (very much still in business) independent coffee shops in these parts -- Barefoot Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee, and Ritual Roasters. I think all of them do mail order.
4.8.2008 3:33am
Ian Watson:
Thought I'd throw in a couple of thoughts, being that this is one of the few things I know a bit about (Boalt student; worked at Starbucks for years and have friends who still do).

First: Don't get a card. Just don't. It is silly. Your credit card swipes, and doesn't need to be signed. Don't use them as some coffee purchase bank. Silliness.

Second: Walk around the store. Look at what they are selling (Ethos water, fair trade coffee). This card bit doesn't surprise anyone... does it? A corporation that has a double standard (markets one way, acts another) is hardly eyebrow raising.

re: snobbery

Come on. These sort of stories (while I believe are COMPLETELY true) are no different than any other coffee shop. In fact, since the perception regarding Starbucks has changed I think the snobbery has moved on. Go to your local 'independent' 'free thinking' 'not the corporate machine' cafe if you want some REAL snobbery. (Note: I live in Bezerkly; and I know that McDonalds and 7-11 probably wouldn't count here.)

re: hatred

This has been done to death above, but I'd like to say one thing. I think that they made a big mistake pushing this sort of 'life experience' deal; movies, games, music, etc. I think that if they just sold coffee, and didn't try to make an experience out of it, a lot of irritation would slide. The pretentiousness of it all just makes me gag.

re: the coffee

They sell the dark ('burnt') coffee because, frankly, thats what the folks that go there want. I remember that at my store the lighter coffee was routinely ignored and undersold. I would guess that straight drip coffee doesn't account for a majority of their sales anyway (I'd put money on that). Especially during the summer. Summers were a bloody nightmare (everyone at your local Starbucks hates working during the summer... I promise you that. Watch their faces when they have to make a dozen Frappachinos).

Anyway, sorry for the long post. (PS: Commenter Folks: love reading the comments here.)
4.8.2008 4:12am
Perry de Havilland (www):
Starbucks has diabolical coffee, so I have no need to boycott them as I avoid them like the plague already
4.8.2008 7:21am
tehag (mail):
When I owned Starbucks' stock, I tried to pass the gift card that was sent to all stockholders to a student from a 'progressive university,' only to be told that she wouldn't take it 'cause Starbucks was owned by Jews! The lecture that followed indicated to me she was an ISM member. That hidden belief more than accounts for the Progressive hatred of Starbucks: it's not because it's big; it's not owned by their sort of people.
4.8.2008 8:05am
David Chesler (mail) (www):

BTW for all those with a dirty mind - pudenda means ashamed...

You are aware, are you not, that this refers to the female genitalia. Check it out...in a medical dictionary


I thought that was his point. It means, almost literally, "the naughty bits". (I have been trying to teach that word -- I prefer it to vulva -- to my kids, explaining that you generally can't "see" a vagina. I've also been trying to teach them that it's more polite to wear clothing, even at home.)

Starbucks, like other international name brands, sells predictability.

That's way over-rated. People are not insects. Why bother traveling, or trying to learn and grow, if everything is going to be predictable? (About 15 years ago, at the same company where I learned about Armano coffee and Melita cones, and habaneros and Scotch Bonnets, a field rep told the story that when he was traveling to various sites he would ask people "While I'm here, what should I see?" and they would inevitably tell him "We've got a mall." And he would say "No, I want to see whatever it is that makes this place unique. I want to see what you've got that nobody else has." And they would tell him "But it's a really good mall.")

And I like dark coffee, such as a Vienna roast, and thick coffee, like Turkish. I like most foods cooked to a golden black. (Long story, but Saturday I had a $100 steak, and I ordered it well done. My companions scoffed at it, so I had a piece of their similarly priced steak cooked "medium" -- yes, it cut like butter, but I prefer my meat cooked.) I like dark chocolate. Nevertheless, dark coffee is not the same as burnt coffee.
4.8.2008 8:33am
Chester White (mail):

"A friend of mine worked at a small independent coffeshop in Burlington, VT. He overheard the owner talking with another employee one time, when the owner said 'Now, I'm no capitalist. . . '

So, in socialist Vermont, owning and operating capital does not make one a capitalist."

You ought to try being a used/rare book dealer. I'm about the only politically conservative one in the whole friggin' country.

They all talk about socialism and "the people" and how great Communism is. Then they go to a library book sale and buy a book for a quarter and try to sell it for $50.

99.5% gross margin! Then they gripe for days about ExxonMobil making 7-8% or whatever it is.

I once pointed out this, ah, cognitive dissonance, to a book dealers' email list and you'd have thought I uttered the most vile slander in the history of the world. "Us liberal book dealers? CAPITALISTS? You conservative troglodyte SOBs SUCK."

And you'll notice most book dealers don't have two dimes to rub together. So they are LOUSY capitalists. Damn funny.
4.8.2008 9:33am
skyywise (mail):
@ GSB

You got it, Hugh Downs indeed, though my guess was Johnny Carson.
4.8.2008 9:56am
Shawn Levasseur (mail) (www):
@ skyywise, et al..

Merv Griffin?

Wait let me rephrase that:

MERV GRIFFIN!!!!
4.8.2008 12:03pm
Sligobob:
If you buy one of the regular white cards, and don't add the smiley face or the three exclamation marks after your name, you can write whatever you want on it with a Sharpie pen. The truly hostile will write something like "*uck Starbucks" or "Starsucks" or "Burn it some more" or some other obnoxious witticism. Then the question is will the Registerista accept an obnoxious, offensive, but truly personalized card as payment? Try this out when the district manager is working the register.
4.8.2008 12:05pm
JBL:
A note on market dynamics:

Perhaps surprisingly (or perhaps not), the coffee preferences on this thread are neither as numerous nor as vehement as the preferences expressed on the pizza thread a while back.

There's gotta be an opportunity there somewhere.
4.8.2008 1:11pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
FWIW, Starbucks is giving away samples of its new blend, simultaneously, coast-to-coast, right now (late breakfast in the west, lunchtime in the east.) I heard about it on the newsradio, where an analyst apparently scoffed that Starbucks was just trying to get its name in the news. Which means (on the "there is no such thing as bad publicity") those on this thread who dislike them are doing just what they want us to do. (I like Starbucks; it's their coffee I dislike.)
4.8.2008 1:16pm
pst314 (mail):
According to this press release, "Starbucks is a non-political organization and does not support political causes." Except, I guess, when the cause is sufficiently left-wing.
4.8.2008 1:23pm
A.C.:
I thought "pudenda" could refer to the external genitalia of either sex.
4.8.2008 1:43pm
WHOI Jacket:
I thought we were talking about coffee.
4.8.2008 2:43pm
Joe Maller (mail) (www):
Just tried buying a card, $19 says they're smart enough to start approving the thousands of "Laissez Faire" cards that will be attempted as this story spreads. But I'll post back if I do get a rejection.
4.8.2008 3:15pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
As a caution: I remember reading that something in French press coffee can raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol, but paper filters it out.
4.8.2008 3:24pm
SGT Ted (mail):
Sneer at Starbucks all you like, but Starbucks paved the way for all the newer indy coffee shops that we have these days. Before SB, it was percolators or flatbottom drip machines with Folgers or Tasters Choice. Be glad.
4.8.2008 5:39pm
Incensed Barista:
Starbucks pretentiously evokes an anti-capitalist aura to placate those who inhabit America's wealthiest, most liberal enclaves. Yet, current press reports show Starbucks has been caught skimming tips from its lowest-paid employees, the baristas. As a proud capitalist, even I don't want a corporation to take tips from minimum wage employees. The irony here is that Starbucks projects a socialist image while secretly practicing a voracious brand of capitalism.
4.8.2008 7:47pm
Brett:
SGT Ted, I was drinking terrific Dunkin Donuts coffee before Starbucks was so much as a twinkle in someone's eye.

bornyesterday, sure, if your definition of "donut" is "flavorless half-cooked pastry drowned in a substance purporting to be icing". If you actually want, you know, donuts, then you go to Dunkins.
4.8.2008 9:16pm
Fub:
A. Zarkov wrote at 4.7.2008 1:12pm:
Peets Coffee, which tastes no better and is more expensive, is de rigueur in Berkeley.
Speaking from experiencing Peet's coffee off and on for forty years beginning in Berkeley, just to check if they've changed their ways -- Peets still doesn't roast coffee beans. Peets burns coffee beans. Back in the day I preferred the Med or the Forum, but they're long gone now.

Dyema wrote at 4.8.2008 12:01am:
... a Starbucks coffee - and more importantly, latte - tastes pretty much the same no matter where on the planet you are. That is a remarkable and valuable feat. Personally, I dislike the coffee, finding it burnt.
Starbucks burns its beans too.

A couple of Bay Area recommendations when you're on the road locally --

First, the best coffee on the peninsula is Main Street Coffee, Redwood City. Bob studied with Alfred Peet long ago. Bob's an engineer, so he designed some sophisticated temperature controls for roasting as well, and he didn't follow Peet's footsteps in roasting. I've been drinking Main Street coffee since it was actually on Main Street by the SP tracks. Bob has the best coffee I've ever found on the peninsula.

Second, the best coffee in Santa Clara (just across the line from San Jose) is Mission City. They don't over roast either. And they have a large venue where you can spend as much time sipping coffee and using their wifi as you want.

Neither of them will give you a hassle about inscribing "Laissez Faire" on your purchase card. And both serve coffee I find many cuts above Starbucks or Peets.
4.9.2008 2:49am
neurodoc:
"Laissez faire" is not allowable; "People not Profits" and "Si Se Puede" are. How can any very certain conclusions can be drawn as to what is and isn't OK by Starbucks based on this limited information, even when it is complemented by Starbucks' general, rather vague statement about what is acceptable? What "probes" would be most telling? Well, not "Si, se pudenda" as a variation on "Si Se Puede."

My first try might be, "Profits not People," to test whether it really is any anti-capitalism thing. ("Laissez faire" is more a libertarian sentiment, isn't it?) If that were rejected, then my next try would be "Mean People Are The Greatest" if it could be about misanthropy rather than political philosophy. Through a number of such carefully crafted "probes," I would seek to break the code. (I wonder if there is one person in the company, perhaps sitting in Seattle, functioning like the network censors in years gone by, who has the ultimate say as to what is and isn't acceptable to put on one of their cards.)
4.9.2008 3:33am
Chris J. Breisch (mail):
I did:
"God Bless America!"
"Support Our Troops!"

went through fine. Just got confirmation that my card has been shipped.

So, maybe they've relaxed a bit on their political restrictions.
4.9.2008 10:09am
neurodoc:
So, maybe they've relaxed a bit on their political restrictions.
Or, they may never have had a very tight policy, if indeed much of one at all. Certainly not much data brought forward to confirm one.
4.9.2008 1:07pm
Joe Maller (mail) (www):
My Laissez faire shipped this morning. Congratulations to Starbucks on the windfall. I bet someone got a good reaming over this one.
4.10.2008 11:30am