To put it simply, the Starbucks espresso beans are terrible.
They are oily, over-burnt, light, and crispy. The espresso coming out them is dirtily dark, without much crema, and taste like bitter water waste coming out of thin charcoal.
I actually like Starbucks stores a lot. It is a place I often like to go for some idle time and normalcy. The green siren is the same everywhere, the decorations are all similar, the music always has the same vibe, the brewed coffee tastes the same balance everyday (Pike Roast is actually pretty good coffee), people in and out are also doing the same routines over and over again everyday, lining, waiting, ordering, sitting, drinking, reading, typing, smart-phoning, chatting, window-dressing, people-watching.
However despite all the consistency, the stores are alive. Familiar or strange faces, machine grinding and brewing, milk spilling over, someone asking if seats are available while another rushing to the bathroom. Somehow all these make the stores are alive. They are consistent, but vibrantly so.
Not the espresso beans though. They are a sorry and disappointing bunch. They are sadly produced, they never talk to you,they never state their existence to you. Actually it is more than sorry and disappointing, they are simply dead. No matter how you play with the pressure and grind, it always comes out consistently dead.
Come on Howard Schultz. Time to save the Starbucks espresso beans. Please.
(Picture courtesy of http://www.home-barista.com/)