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From the Publisher's Desk – One large latte with two snowflakes (Nov. 18, 2015 issue)

What’s next? As I wrote in an earlier column, “this is the year everyone is offended by everything.” The latest craze is with Starbucks. It seems coffee isn’t the only thing brewing inside the store. There is also a strong cup of anger, which is being served in a plain red cup.
The company’s typical holiday cup was red with snowflakes, reindeer or some other type nonreligious symbol. This year it is red with no decoration and consumers are accusing them of being anti-Christian. I don’t remember snowflakes and reindeer in the Bible to make a big deal over them being omitted.
The topic also entered the political realm when Donald Trump weighed in on the Starbucks Christmas cup controversy during a recent rally in Illinois.
“No more ‘Merry Christmas’ at Starbucks. No more,” Trump said, noting that the coffee giant is among his tenants at Trump Tower in Manhattan. “Maybe we should boycott Starbucks. I don’t know. Seriously. I don’t care. By the way: That’s the end of that lease. But who cares? Who cares? Who cares?,” he added.
I read that a former television and radio evangelist, Joshua Feuerstein, also spoke out on the cause. I have never heard of him but evidently he has more than 1.8 million followers on Facebook that also have some beans to grind.
“Starbucks removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus,” he wrote, asking followers to use the hashtag #MerryChristmasStarbucks and to ask patrons to write “Merry Christmas” on their cups instead of their names.
So, let me get this right, he’s saying go ahead and patronize the store but write your own message on the cup? That will show them who’s boss.
I find it even more amazing that customers don’t complain over the excessive price of the coffee, but rather the cup it’s in.
So let’s look at some “bold, full-bodied” facts about this chain. It turns out they have opened an average of two new stores per day since 1987. A few years back, Starbucks had 137,000 employees, which is twice the population of Greenland.
There are over 87,000 possible drink combinations at Starbucks. How could they possibly train all those employees on the right combination for so many drink possibilities?
In my mind, this must require four years of training at a special Starbucks University. You enter the program as a fawn and graduate as a “buck.” This is not to be confused with a reindeer, which might represent Christmas to some. Your entry coffee skill is making a cup of instant. You graduate with the ability to exquisitely whip up a Grande, iced, sugar-free, vanilla latte with soy milk.
I usually steer clear of the chain myself because I am horrible with making decisions. That many options is beyond my capability to compute. After I ordered, I would be second guessing my decision. I usually do that. The person beside me at a restaurant usually has a plate of food that I wish I had ordered. It wouldn’t be any different with coffee.
Regular customers at Starbucks have their favorites and many make daily purchases to satisfy their cravings. Can you imagine telling your ancestors who have been deceased for years, that a business is worth millions selling coffee? Ancestors would also get a kick out of the fact we now buy bottled water. Yes, that water they had for free all of their lives now costs $2 because it is from a special “spring.”
I have several friends who are loyal Starbucks fans. One will drive from Erwin almost on a daily basis to get his coffee favorite in Johnson City. Another friend gets a double shot of espresso just to start the day.
There is a Trenta size, with a capacity that is slightly bigger than your stomach That has to be a comforting, bloated feeling.
A Starbucks Grande coffee has 320 milligrams of caffeine, over four times the amount of caffeine in a Red Bull. I have tried Red Bull a few times. I recall trying to steady my hands on the keyboard while typing, to keep from hitting the wrong keys. A Grande would be like me swallowing a Taser.
The Starbucks cinnamon chip scone has more calories than a McDonald’s quarter pounder, with 480 calories. I feel McFatter.
Starbucks uses over 93 million gallons of milk per year, enough to fill 155 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Look out Bessie! You’re going into milking overtime.
Santa Fe Springs, Calif. has the highest concentration of stores, with 560 Starbucks within 25 miles. No wonder those folks drive like crazy and are high strung. That’s some serious road rage about to happen.
I don’t know about you, but I will stick with Erwin’s Steel Rails Coffee Shop. Owner Ben McNabb offers enough options to keep customers satisfied for a long time and it sure beats Starbucks’ prices. Steel Rails also has a relaxed atmosphere with no red cup controversy. I’ll drink to that. Happy Holidays! Oops, I mean Merry Christmas!