Monday, May 08, 2006

Starbucks Showdown

US News and World Report Starbucks Rankings

But, first, a brief word from franchise owners ***

Dear Starbucks Patron,

Choosing the best Starbucks for you is critically important to your short-term and long-term future. Getting quality information about the stores that interest you will require some time an effort, but you will be rewarded by expending that time and effort now. Several commercial enterprises promote “ranking” systems that purport to reduce a wide array of information about these operations to one simple number. These ranking systems are inherently flawed because none of them can take your special needs and circumstances into account when comparing java shops.

The idea that all Starbucks can be measured by the same yardstick ignores the qualities that make you and these stores "unique," and is unworthy of being an important influence on the choice you are about to make. In choosing the best shop for you, we urge you to get information about all the locations in which you might have some interest. Seek information directly from these stores, including catalogs or bulletins and other materials that will answer the specific questions relating to your special needs and interests. But, there is no substitute for on-site visits as you reach the end of the selection process. All Starbucks locations may have met the same standards of quality to become accredited, but they are quite different from each other. The unique characteristics of each will inform you why one may be best for you and another best for someone else. We want you to make the best choice for you.


1. Menlo Park, Santa Cruz Avenue - (A). Located just outside the blast zone of Stanford's campus, this large Starbucks is conveniently located in the heart of Menlo Park. Tucked a few blocks down off El Camino, this site offers plush seating, ample natural light, and it's own parking lot out back. Perhaps most notably, law students and other campus types comprise almost none of the clientele. Conducive for studying or chilling out, this is a tight run ship. Drinks are assembled by experienced professionals.

2. Palo Alto, El Camino Real - (A-). Gerald's favorite place to get his shaken iced tea, this site somehow ties easy access, parking, and tranquility together. It hardly needs to do so, but there's enough seating to satisfy a crunch of mid-morning Moms and after-school bookish types. This site has surged as of late for withstanding the corrosive effects of the growing Stanford bubble.

3. West Menlo Park, Alameda De Las Pulgas - (B+). Truly off of the beaten path, this site is a must for a law student desperate to find study space away from a library and those people that remind him of one. Though the place requires an added effort to reach, it's comfortable, quiet, and friendly.

4. Palo Alto, California Avenue - (B+). Aside from the daycare function the store seems to play during business hours, this store meets the bill. Staffed by help that sing out orders and keep lines - if there are any - quickly moving. There's comfortable seating indoors and a patio full of tables outdoors. As an "off campus" location, the trendy Stanford types are often nowhere to be seen.

5. Sharon Park, Secret Location - (B). The "Secret" Starbucks has gained much popularity among law school students recently. This result has contributed to a slight dip in the rankings. However, with floor to ceiling windows, the store basks in natural rays and receives maximal sunlight. Indeed, this is a necessary feature since the thermostat consistently hovers at a brisk 57 degrees. Located in a small center of commerce with a large chain supermarket, there is never a problem parking and the foot traffic is quite low.

6. Palo Alto, Middlefield Avenue - (B-). Baseline. No grade inflation here.

7. Palo Alto, Stanford Avenue - (C). In the end, this location is a victim of it's own popularity. As a favorite of Stanford students, the place doubles as zoo in which to observe the sorority girl, neurotic lawyer in wait, and loud talking cell phone woman in their natural habitat. Too far for a walk and not enough parking spots to legitimate a drive, the Stanford Avenue store puts some of our nation's brightest into a shoebox of psychological warfare.

8. Mountain View, El Camino Real - (C-). What happens when a postage stamp sized plot of land goes up for sale in the Bay Area? The Starbucks virus spreads, of course. This strange triangular location awkwardly provides customers with seating for about six people. Located on a major thoroughfare, please allot time for a wait should you plan to grab and go from here.

9. Stanford, Stanford Shopping Center - (D+). This mall site defines suburban hell. I have routinely seen lines fifteen or twenty people deep pouring out the shop's door. Afterwards, enjoy your cup of coffee on the outside patio. Unless, of course, the hoard of designer sunglass wearing wives have clogged the tables.

10. Palo Alto, University Avenue - (F). If you enjoy circling for a parking spot a good fifteen minutes, waiting on a mind numbing line with a hoard of college students and locals, and taking your coffee to go for lack of seating, then this location is right for you. The throng of homeless people flanking the doors in sweet repose make the whole package simply unrivaled.


At 2:30 AM, Anonymous PG said...

But isn't the truly crucial question that of "Which of the two Starbucks across the street from each other in the River Oaks area of Houston, TX is better?"

With your list, it seems that it would often just come down to which was closest and thereby most convenient. Or is that the last two years of being a car-less pedestrian that's talking out of my mouth?

My apartment is equi-distant between two Starbucks on Broadway. The one on 115th is always slightly worse because it's where all the undergrads go. 110th is a little more of a walk for them.

At 4:19 PM, Blogger SLS2L(@YLS) said...

It's not all about convenience for me. I'd rather travel a little bit to find a quieter or more comfortable place. It's a totality type calculus. But, certainly running into less of "them" is one of many factors...


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