Why I fucking love Starbucks

Why I fucking love Starbucks

Here is a somewhat well-known fact about Starbucks, actual baristas hate them.

The barista that taught me how to brew a perfect coffee told me to “stop drinking that crap unless you wanted to die.”

So, I know how to pull a supposedly perfect latte that’s not too harsh or acidic and all that coffee mumbo jumbos. I do not have to spend $3.65 for a latte.

I love Starbucks though.

It’s a deeply shameful secret of mine.

Regardless of your opinion of Starbucks, I actually think coffee brewing has a lot of similarity to any artistic endeavour. An actual good cup of coffee takes a lot of work surprisingly.

Which is why it is baffling how in blind taste tests, even McDonald’s is reported to have better coffee than Starbucks.

So what happened there?

Once upon a time, there was a guy named Howard, who was struggling to make ends meet. One day, he was drinking a cup of coffee in Milan when he realized something: the owners there knew customers by name. The café he was at was homely, and the customers were encouraged to lounge and enjoy their time. The skies opened up and the angels sang to him.

Hallelujah!

Just kidding.

But something similar did actually happen when Howard Schultz (who was struggling to make ends meet) was drinking a cup of coffee in Milan when he realized that the café there was simply nice. And he decided to import the culture of that coffee shop to America. And that was the beginning of Starbucks as we know it.

Yes, Howard Schultz went into the coffee business wanting to focus on bringing a certain lifestyle to America. He wanted to show how you could enjoy a cup of coffee instead of just downing it as a source of energy. As many marketing gurus would say, he wanted to sell an “experience”.

Now many people go to Starbucks, knowing that they can spend $3.65 for a cozy seat and a table (if it’s not packed) for their own purposes. People go to Starbucks to work, to read, to study, to catch up with an old friend.

As one of my friends said, “Where else can I pay $3.65 and spend four hours at the same table without being shooed out?”

Coffee might be what Starbucks sell as a product, but it isn’t why people buy it.

You might be asking… how does this apply to you as an artist?

As people that love our craft, we run into a very similar situation as the baristas that hate Starbucks. We have a great appreciation for our craft perfected. It’s why we became artists after all.

However, it is important to remember — art is only a medium to what we really want to say. And we are doing ourselves a huge disservice if we don’t learn from the people who succeed. No matter what their technical skills are.

We all went into art and stuck with it because we have something inside of us that we want to show the world. But in the pursuit of perfecting our technique, we forget that people simply just care more about the message that your art has. Of course, a perfectly polished art piece is only one of the many ways you can showcase your message.

The truth is unless you are planning to sell your art to other critical artists, you only just need to be good enough.

For example, look at xkcd comic.

Stickmen.

It’s simple, but yet it has won awards simply because the artist understood that geek humor is the focus. People don’t care if it is stickmen or a properly rendered comic, their audience only cared about the jokes.

Why should people care about you? Why should they look at your work when there are so many other artists out there?

Of course, you can always wait for social media jackpot to choose you, but why should you when you can do more to create more exposure for yourself?

What is the experience you are trying to sell? What is that little extra something that will connect you to your prospective clients?

Think outside of the art you create.

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