Controversy was brewing along with the coffee this morning at Our Favorite Starbucks. It seems that my blog has rubbed the "Powers that Be" the wrong way. "Corporate Policy is that we don't allow photographs to be taken inside Starbucks," said Barista X, who requested anonymity, "You can take as many photographs as you want outside, but photographs inside are not allowed by Starbucks." I was flabbergasted. Can it be that Starbucks on a corporate level is so controlling that they have a policy prohibiting customers from taking photographs inside any of their locations? If so, how can such a policy be enforced? I mentioned my encounter with Barista X to several friends and it didn't take long for one of them to send me information regarding Starbucks' approach when it came to another blog, starbucksmelody.com. In that case, Melody, the author of the blog, actually contacted the press office at Starbucks headquarters to inquire about the policy and she received the following statement from them in reply: "Customers may take photographs for personal use while in our stores. Members of the media may not take photographs or film in the store without permission from Starbucks Media Relations." According to Melody, at one time Starbucks had a strict policy against anyone taking any photographs in their stores, but that policy recently changed ... and rightly so, in my opinion. Controlling any photographs that an amateur photographer or blogger like me might take in any Starbucks location anywhere around the world would be like trying to control the tide. You simply can't do it and why would you want to? A quick online search of "Starbucks interior photos" yields close to a million photographs on Google, alone, many of them from blogs like mine. Professional media, of course, are a different breed entirely and it only makes sense that Starbucks -- like other businesses -- would require them to go through formal channels before allowing them to film or shoot photos. So, where does that leave us? It would appear that Barista X might be wrong given that my blog is not a professional or commercial media outlet, but I am going to abide by the request just the same. Who am I to argue with a Barista about Official Starbucks Policy? However, starting today, I'm adopting a new Policy of my own. One-by-one, I'll start visiting the various cafes up and down Montana in order to compare and contrast them with Starbucks. I'll continue stopping by 7th and Montana to get the daily scoop and my usual grande half caff, but I'll also start visiting the competition regularly to broaden my horizons. Granted, visits to multiple cafes might start to get expensive, but that's no problem. I'll simply spend a lot less money at Starbucks to make up the difference!
To start the ball rolling, I paid a brief visit today to Peet's Coffee & Tea at 14th and Montana ... and what a pleasure it was. "Welcome," said the Barista who was taking advance orders from the many happy customers in line, "How can I help you?" For the second time this morning, I was flabbergasted. Such a smile, such a winning personality, such poise. It was as if an angel had descended from the heavens, just to stand in line with me and take my order. I kept it simple. "I'll have a small coffee, please," I said. Minutes later, I was drinking the smoothest house blend imaginable, without a trace of the bitter aftertaste or coffee grinds one occasionally finds elsewhere. "Finally," I said, "Now I know what the nectar of the Gods tastes like!" As for the ambiance, between the wood-paneled walls, the squeaky clean floor and the granite tabletops, I thought I was in heaven. "I just can't get over it," I said, "Everything is so pristine!" I was so impressed that I asked one of the Baristas to take a photo for me using my Spycam ... and he happily obliged. Refreshing, eh? Stay tuned for in-depth coverage of Peet's extraordinary pastry collection ...!