Friday, July 13, 2012

Guest Post by Erin Strother -- Coffee: Fear and Loathing

Erin Strother is an amazing jewelry artist.  You've probably all seen her work in a multitude of magazines.  Here's one of my current favorite from her store:

And she won the BeadStar 2010 Grand Prize with this piece:

But she doesn't have a blog.

She does, however, write HILARIOUS things she shares with friends from time to time, and I begged her to let me post this one.  It's about coffee -- and since my favorite local coffee shop has a mention in my book (for keeping me awake enough to write!), and I've indulged quite often in the Coffee That Shall Not Be Named,  this particular story really had me rolling.


My favorite local coffee shop, Rise Up!
They. Are. Awesome.

So today’s abby-normal topic is COFFEE. And my hatred of the most behemoth, ferociously beloved coffee seller in the universe. I don’t want to name names here, since said coffee company has many, many more lawyers than I do, but in case you need a hint, their initials are S_ _ _ BUCKS. (I just realized you might think their name is “Shitbucks” due to way I wrote the hint, but no. Although I think that name actually suits them better, so lets just roll with that)

So why do I hate S_ _ _bucks? Well, truth be told, I had never even been to a S_ _ _bucks until long after they become the totally cool kid on the block. I admit, I was intrigued to see what all the hype was about. So one day I was with a friend who wanted to stop and grab a coffee. As we walked in, I took in the atmosphere—loft-style exposed brick, cool oversized art, college kids wearing tweed hats, stylish executive types carrying laptops, world music playing in the background (no doubt produced in an organic rainforest somewhere). We got in line behind 27 people, all of whom were supremely more hip than me, and it went down something like this.

My friend: “I’ll take a jumbotron mocha blueberry caramel iced blended Sumatran Ethiopean macchiato with organic soy milk and aloe vera, extra hot, with low fat whipped cream on the side. Hold the anchovies.”

Barista: (unfazed) “that will be $37.42.”
(Barista looking at me expectantly.)

Me: (totally baffled, to Barista) “Ummm, I just want a small latte.”

Barista: “A what, now?”

Me: “A latte. You know—like, coffee with some milk in it. Small.”

Barista: I have never heard of that, but whatever. What size?

Me: “Small.”

Barista: “We don’t have small. We have mega-huge, gigantoramic, and jumbotron.”

Me: “what size is the smallest?”

Barista: “I don’t understand what you are asking.”

Me: (pointing to the smallest cup) “What size is this?”

Barista: “mega-huge.”

Me: “OK, a mega-huge latte.

Barista: “that will be $19.57.”

Me: (to my friend, after emptying the contents of my wallet and tasting the coffee) “Why does this taste like burnt fish heads?”

My Friend: “Oh, I forgot to tell you--if you don’t want it to taste like that, you have to tell them to hold the anchovies.”

Me: “I see. Let us never speak of this again.”

And so my first experience with S_ _ _bucks did not make a great impression on me, given the fact that they were clearly pandering to the great huddled masses, yearning to be cool, and cared nothing about the actual coffee, which was horrid. Plus, I already KNOW I’m not cool, and I also don’t enjoy nasty, burnt tasting coffee with 12 flavorings in it that costs more than my car.

So, although it is beloved by nearly everyone but me, I choose to avoid S_ _ _bucks and buy my coffee from smaller boutique sellers who embrace the philosophy that anchovies and coffee really don’t pair that well.

About Erin Strother:

Erin Strother is a graphic designer with an obsession for jewelry design living in southern California with her long-suffering husband George and their disobedient dog Swiffer. She writes a secret fake blog called "I am Abby (normal)," and has won 6 Pulitzer prizes, an Academy Award for “Best Sound Editing,” $4 in the California State Lottery, and other prizes too numerous to mention. She is currently working on her second novel, “Sarcasm for Fun and Profit.” Visit or to see more of her work.


Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack.  Visit her shops by clicking here.  She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party tm  and author of the book Bead Soup.

Join her at the Facebook group Bead Soup Cafe for bead chat, swaps, challenges, and lots of eye candy!


  1. Well expressed, Erin. I live in Seattle and we have a lot of S___bucks around here (one on every corner - yes, really, they multiply like rabbits). I don't drink coffee or latte's or whatever, so try going in (with friends, I would NEVER do in on my own...) and ask for a non-coffee drink.

  2. Funny! I don't patronize sb's myself.

  3. And all this time I thought I was the only person that felt that way about S___bucks! LOL

  4. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I can relate to paying way too much for something just because of a logo, or because it's supposed to be cool (a catetory of which I am most definately not included). Now if I could just get my jewelry to sell like that I would be one happy gal.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. That is hysterical!! She really should have a blog.

  6. Just TRY asking for real milk.

  7. Gee, what an awesome post! I couldn't have said it better myself! Oh, wait...
    Seriously though, thanks Lori, I'm honored to grace your blog!

  8. Yes, Yes, Yes! I thought it was just me for the longest time. Why does everyone like this stuff? (I said.) Then I realized it was mass hypnosis, subliminal advertising, and of course fear of being un-hip that kept people coming back.

    Because. They. Burn. The. Beans!

  9. crazy funny! I only drink tea, so S___bucks doesn't work so well for me. I've tried their Chai, but it tastes like liquified pumpkin pie vs the real thing (which I had in India). I make my own now. I do like Pete's who has the best selection of tea I've ever found - even vs. England.

  10. Fantastic post! I laughed so much it hurt.

  11. LOL! That was hilarious! Thanks for sharing!

  12. What? Anchovies with coffee? Never heard before =DD
    But I must to admit that I love that S...buck in here. Althought they have already changed their original recipe (no rum or something with alkohol in here) into a taste that familiar with the most Indonesian prefer.

  13. Ohh btw...I love Pete too =) ohh I miss the bay already.

  14. *correction*
    It's Peets not Pete's =)

  15. OMG!! so funny, It's a crime she doesn't have a blog

  16. I just wanted to write a note and tell you how much I enjoy your blog. Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your life with us.


  17. if I can ever stop laughing ,I'll comment....LOL LOL LOL !!!!!
    great post!!!
    m.e. :D

  18. Ha! I like my coffe black and as dark as I can get it. My first trip to the unnamed shop involved me having to repeat multiple times "just give me the biggest and blackest!" note a crowd will start to snicker after the umpteenth time

  19. Funny! And so accurate! I'm not a coffee drinker. Sometimes I think because it's too intimidating to figure out all that jargon.

  20. I hate Shitbucks, too! I think I've only found one person who actually likes their coffee. I don't normally buy coffee out because it's cheaper at home. Unfortunately, at my local Barnes and Noble, that's what they sell. The coffee is so putrid that by the time you put enough creamer in there to cut the burnt flavor, the coffee is cold. A while back I met a friend at a different Starbucks at 7 p.m. I wanted just a simple decaf coffee. Hummm, what do you mean you stop making decaf at noon?!! Isn't that backwards? So I waited about 15 minutes for them to make a cup of decaf, which again was so putrid and cold by the time I diluted it with creamer. I truly do not understand their popularity.

    I love Erin's jewelry. I always notice her pieces when they are published. Fantastic designs. And now I know she has a great sense of humor, too.

  21. I love this piece.I laughed so much.Thank you for the medicine.Tanya

  22. Oh this was great! My coffee drinking husband has the same opinion of them. And well they don't make my tea drinking heart any happier. They have the worst teas and yet they just opened up a tea cafe in Seattle.

  23. hilarious - thanks for posting!

  24. Hilarious! I go there maybe once a year when we are traveling or something and that's what is available. I prefer to brew my own coffee where it's cheap and I control what goes in it.

  25. This is hilarious! I am forwarding this post to my husband; he roasts his own beans and brews his own coffee and thinks S---bucks is the reason that most Americans have no idea what a good cup of coffee tastes like!

    I too loathe them. A. Because they add caffeine to their coffee beans B. because of the reasons you mentioned and C. because drinking their coffee unsettles my digestive track in ways that no regular cup of coffee would. Not pretty.

    Erin, I hope you start a blog soon!


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