Of soy and Starbucks

Posted by Stacey McLachlan on Wednesday, July 13 1 comments


I'm hitting the coffee pretty hard these days. Sometimes I spend my lunch break hiding in a cafe because it's far, far away from the small-talk hell that is my staff kitchen; other times I'm there because I legitimately need some caffeine if I am going to summon the energy to write passive aggressive emails to the office about the dirty dishes in said kitchen. It's pretty hard to avoid coffee shops in this neighbourhood, even if you wanted to. It's a mecca on South Granville, really: a Korean-owned Parisian-style cafe; Dose, a shop that combines raspberry puree with espresso for reasons beyond my comprehension; Cafe Crepe gives out tiny, brimming cups for free to the shoppers strolling by. But among this thriving cafe culture, Starbucks, that corporate-yuppie-behemoth, beacon of branding, enemy of "the little guy", has somehow become my go-to, despite the well-thumbed copy of No Logo on my bookshelf. In my defense: I did it all for the soy.

I've been desperately avoiding becoming a regular: I don't want any chipper barista welcoming me by name. It would draw too much attention to the amount of time and money I've been spending on this habit. Luckily, there's literally 5 locations within walking distance, so I can mix it up and play coy. It's not that I am that much of a coffee snob that I necessarily prefer Pike Place to whatever organic-free-trade-hand-ground-by-endangered-Pandas is available anywhere else. It's what goes IN to the coffee that counts. Soy is expensive when you go to a coffee shop. You're punished for living a milk-alternative lifestyle with 50 cents every time. That adds up fast. As my mom says, "Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves!" She's a smart lady who would probably not approve of me buying coffee almost every day, so let's take her wisdom but maybe not mention this post to her.

I was resolving to just bite the bullet and learn to enjoy my brew black (once you go black, etc., etc.), when Leanne discovered that if you register a Starbucks gift card online, you get free soy. Free! Soy! Every two soy lattes, you are saving a whole dollar! I am no accountant, but according to my abacus, that is an annual savings of approximately $212,302,183,102. As somebody who was NOT my mom once said, "You have to spend money to make money." I think this is an excellent example of that. Now a proud(ish) card holder, I'm strolling right on by stupid ol' Blenz, flipping the bird to Wicked Cafe, and sheepishly placing an elaborate order to an enthusiastic, green-aproned teen. It feels so good to see "$0.50 DISCOUNT" pop up on the till display every time. I think it makes the drink taste better, too.

Recently though, my love affair with America's most popular inexplicably splay-legged mermaid started to turn sour. When you spend what probably adds up to hours every week waiting in line in front of a display case of cakes on sticks that are certainly just delicious blobs of butter, you start to resent that the Merm is doing things for her other lovers that she isn't doing for you. Snack-wise, I mean. There's this lunch pack they sell that is actually just a box of cheese. Some days, gazing at pink icing and/or brie, I want a little something-something to go with my soy-mocha-extra-hot-derpa-derp, too. Luckily, as a vegan, you can enjoy treats as diverse as dry bagels or . . . some oatmeal I guess? Or if you're feeling really crazy, perhaps a $4 box of fruit will pique your interest. Dig in, kids! Om nom nom!

Luckily, coffee is an petite suppressant.

Being vegan and vegetarian is often a life of making do -- choosing between a veggie burger and a heavily edited salad at a restaurant, or driving for 40 minutes to find fake cheese -- and despite their advanced views in the soy department, Starbucks food menu is disappointing at best for a vegan who is a competitive snacker. I thought they were different from all the other cafes and fast food restaurants who live under the oppressive thumb of Big Milk, but oh, I was wrong.

OR WAS I?!

With the introduction of their new "bistro boxes", those loveable sons-of-bitches are bringing us both tofu AND milk-free treats in one adorable, over-priced package. The Sesame Noodle box looks like a real, wholesome meal, with protein and everything, complete with a nice piece of dark chocolate to finish it off. Apparently in the UK, they've got some sort of falafel sandwich going on, so perhaps this is only the beginning of the corporate giant providing options to sheepish vegan regulars.

I'm pretty excited to feel guilty about spending money on something I could've easily made at home. Isn't that what buying your lunch is all about?! Although with all the money I'm saving on my coffee, it'll basically be free. Basically.

One Response so far.

  1. Jayme says:

    Stacey, Salt Spring Island Coffee on Main will make your latte from your choice of three different milks that are not from cows! You should write Starbucks a letter to let them know they are no longer cutting edge with their one type of vegan milk.

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