drink rant Starbucks

Thumbs down to Starbucks’ Green Tea Frapp in the US!

As a follow-up to my entry about Starbucks in Japan, today during my lunch break I went to the nearest Starbucks (not hard to find–there’s one on nearly every block here in San Francisco) and ordered the Green Tea Frappucino to take back with me to the hot dog stand.

Sigh, needless to say, I was sorely disappointed. I was expecting there to be a difference, yes, but I wasn’t expecting such a horrible misrepresentation of green tea.

The main complaint I have is that this “green tea” frappucino does not even taste like green tea. I took the first sip and thought that it tasted like a melon drink instead–did they perhaps mistake the name of the drink and mean to call it “Melon Tea Frappucino” instead?

I couldn’t stand to finish the drink and had to throw it out, despite the fact that I paid $3.30 for it. The small-size Japanese Green Tea Frappucino is smaller, costs more, yet tastes much better. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll take the Japanese Frappucino over the American one anyday.

Oh, but that’s only for the Green Tea Frappucinos. I still like the other drinks that Starbucks provides here in the US, i.e., Double Chocolate Chip Frappucino and the usual espresso drinks. But you can’t win ’em all, can you?

#foodie drink Japan sweet treats

Red bean desserts.

I had my filling of red-bean desserts today. Red bean is a very Asian sweet–I know there are red bean breads in China as well–so, I decided to eat some desserts with red bean to experience the flavors.

Granted, I have had red bean before, but not in the way that I had it today. First, for lunch, I had the dessert pictured on the far left–I forget the exact name of it, but it was warm and the white balls were similar to mochi textures. Apparently this dish was rather healthy.

When I met up with my former classmate in the evening, I tried this “Frozen Green Tea Drink” at Doutor Coffee. It came with red bean and the same mochi bit on top.

I really need to learn how to make these desserts for myself! I imagine they’re a bit complicated, but probably not impossible.

drink funny Hot Dog Days My San Francisco Chronicles observation

Spare me an ice cube?

After work today, I just remembered an amusing incident from yesterday’s shift:

I was working my last hour at the hot dog stand with a co-worker, and a guy approached our cart, looking like he was going to order something. After a minute, he approached my co-worker and asked, “Can I just have an ice cube?”

Co-worker’s response: “Err, okay…”

Man: “I am so thirsty but I don’t have enough money to buy a drink..”

Co-worker: “Oh, okay, sure dude.”

Reaches into the soda cart, gets an ice cube, and hands it to the guy.

Man: “Thanks dude, I’ll just suck on this.”

He walks away.

After that little episode, I chuckled a little to my co-worker. He smiled, shrugged, and said “Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.”

drink friends stores

Quickly USA

(Source: Quickly USA website)

I quite like Quickly, even if their drinks are a bit on the sweet side. On a beautiful spring-like Sunday afternoon, I spent a couple hours at Quickly with my friend, chatting about various topics. I like the atmosphere inside–relaxing yet also lively. The particular location that we went to had a lot of seating, so it was set up more like a cafe. They had some armchairs there that looked like big gloves, which was fun to look at.

I was studying the menu and was trying hard to figure out what I wanted to drink and whether or not I wanted something to eat, too. I’ve tried several of their milk teas before, and even their avocado snow (smoothies) with tapioca; however, I was not sure if I should go for the “tried and true” or experiment a little with different flavors. I decided I should go out of my comfort zone and buy something different. After all, I rarely get tapioca drinks these days (high in calories, I’m sure)…might as well experiment a little and see what I like.

I ended up choosing the Almond Milk Tea with large tapioca. Sweet and delicious; my friend and I were studying the food menu as well, but I wasn’t sure if I should waste my appetite on fried snack foods or not. Maybe next time, I guess.

I think I could have stayed at Quickly the whole day if it were up to me; I just really liked sitting there enjoying my drink and chatting with my friend. I also liked how they had some magazines that people could flip through at the store; pretty much like a salon or a library. Ah, relaxation on a Sunday afternoon: nothing quite like it.

drink Starbucks

Starbucks re-training employees.

Well, what can I say? It’s about time, in many ways. I was completely unaware of how automated everything was at Starbucks until my friend and I were discussing our barista experiences at local cafes….and she mentioned how, despite our working at lesser-known places, we were probably “more qualified” to make espressos and espresso drinks than most people who have only had barista experience at Starbucks.

Anyway, after finding out about the processes at Starbucks, I felt a little less excited about going to a Starbucks store. Learning to use a manual espresso machine has really helped me appreciate the art of espresso-making more; and it has helped me understand what people mean when they say that Starbucks has become a “fast-food chain”. Even when I went in for an interview at Starbucks a few weeks ago, the manager who interviewed me asked me about my barista experience, and I mentioned using the manual machines. He in turn responded, “Oh, we don’t do any of that around here; all we do is push buttons.”

Anyway, needless to say, I was not hired at Starbucks (more or less due to my limited availability). It’s not that I am glad that I was not hired; I still like going to Starbucks. But, it’s good to see that the CEO/Founder has made some effort to try to get employees to understand the art of coffee once again. Maybe some customers don’t care, but I know I do. I’m not sure if Starbucks can really go back to being a “neighborhood cafe”, but it can at least try to do so.