Starbucks Buys Coffee People
It is the end of an era.
Starbucks has purchased Coffee People Coffee.
I’ll say it again for Lindsay, who no doubt by now has fallen onto the floor in fits: Starbucks has purchased Coffee People Coffee.
We went there when we were thirsty. We went there when we weren’t. We went there to sit all night and watch the city unfold like a fan before our eyes, from dusk to twilight, Portlanders never stop drinking their espresso. We went there when skipping class. We went there for crushes, for education, for bathroom grafitti (also educational), for people-watching, for anonymity (when we wanted it), for a friendly face (always there and waiting), for hot and for cold, on good days and bad, for shelter and adornment, for the smell of the beans, for the feel of them, to gaze at our reflections in the chrome trash cans or giggle ourselves piss-silly-gone after smoking a fat joint. We went there because the slogan, “Good Coffee, No Backtalk,” not only spoke for itself, it simultaneously spoke against the encroaching trend of Starbucks. We went there because Jim and Patty started it on a dream in Eugene, Oregon so many years ago and like a Mom-and-Pop-Shop story should go, they were all set up for their fairytale ending.
Can I request a candlelight vigil, please?
In the Pacific Northwest, coffee is the third parent. Much more than the beverage, it is the culture and experience of sitting, sipping, slowing down, watching, and listening that influenced everyone I knew, came to know, and now remember in that city. This feels like one of the parents having an affair. A buyout I could handle – after all, Coffee People suffered its first blow back in 1999 when Diedrich (based in California) bought the chains, though they vowed not to change a thing. Avid fans like myself put up with California owning our beloved OREGONIAN chain only because it was better than a huge buyout and because we knew Jim and Patty were still around the coffee scene, bound to pop up again sooner or later.
But Starbucks? Starbucks is Darth Vader.
Sure, Starbucks carries soy milk (two points). They insure their part-time employees (fifty points – though one must ask at what cost). They recognize domestic partnerships (fifty more points for being PC, but they had to – they started in Seattle, after all). But they also have a limit on the number of tattoos a barista can flash when on the clock (minus fifty points for censorship). They park their green mermaid signs across from eloquent Mom-and-Pop Shops all over the WORLD and commence to dominate (minus 5,000 points plus seven lifetimes in hell). In a nutshell, they symbolize the capitalistic gluttanous monarchy that some twisted minds in this world define as “success.”
I’m horrible and irrational and snobby, I know. But, the third parent, I tell you! It’s hard to understand unless you’re native, so try this article out for the inside scoop:
Need further persuasion? I spend seventy-five dollars cash on Coffee People coffee beans the day before my flight left Portland this June so that I could gift my coffee-loving friends back in North Carolina with some of the finest beans I’ve ever brewed. Seventy-five dollars!. For someone who buys goat cheese with saved-up dimes and calculates how much certain foods cost per gram of protein, that’s no small investment. The point: I didn’t even flinch when I placed my order at the counter that day.
A Portland woman knows her beans. She also knows the end of an era when she sees it, and this is the biggest one in the coffee world yet. Flags at half-mast. A round full of house blend on me for all the loyal beanies out there. R.I.P. Coffee People, your aroma lingers in my memory like a coffee stain, forever.