Having been raised in Seattle I always root for the hometown boys; that makes me a fan of Olympia Beer, Boeing jets, the Screaming Trees, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, the Sounders and, formerly, Starbucks coffee.
My problem with Starbucks, aside from their “shop on every corner” mentality, is Howard Schultz, that detestable, skinny rat who overwhelmed the caffeine world and then took down the best thing Seattle ever had, the Supersonics. I watched it happen; Howard doing jumping-jacks next to his sidelines seats to fire up the crowd and team; Howard fighting with GP (Da’ Glove) and Rashard over contract issues; Howard slumping in his chair when his team went down the toilet. It was a spiral from the start.
After purchasing the Sonics Schultz weaved behind-closed-doors deals with an Oklahoma investment group headed by Clay Bennett. According to numerous reports in The Seattle Times and national newspapers, including embarrassing leaked e-mails, Bennett never intended to keep the Supes at home. The Oklahoma Thunder, with players that used to comprise the Seattle Supersonics, now play ball in Oklahoma City.
I remember a June day in 1979 when the Supes won the NBA title. That highlight ranks as Seattle’s only major sports championship. It’s one of my best memories. As the game ended and Gus Williams chucked the ball skyward, my sister and I ran onto the deck. The temperature hovered at 80 degrees, the salt air tasted delicious, and we shouted our lungs out while passersby’s hollered back and cars raced by with horns pushed down to solid scream. We felt important. Seattle had arrived.
To see the Sonics go, to see the young billionaire let the Sonics go with no offering of personal monetary support for a new stadium, tore at the core of my youth; I dream about sticking Howard in one of his own machines and pointing the knob to course grind. The thing is, over the years, I’ve continued to drink Starbucks coffee; my parents told me not to cut off my nose to spite my face. I like the taste of Starbucks. It’s consistent. So I was pretty excited when Howard recently announced a new product line—instant coffee. I’ve survived in the outdoors on Folgers Instant Coffee Crystals for years, so this was a cool new adventure.
This morning, I brewed two cups of Starbucks VIA Ready Brew. I took one sip, said, “Well, I don’t think this is a good as drip, but it’s easy, for sure.” X took a sip, scrunched her nose and said, “You’re right.” I took another sip and moaned, “There’s some weird flavor that hits you right when you start to sip.” X took another sip and said, “It’s bacon.” I took another sip and said, “You’re right, it is bacon.” Then I added, “Think of the possibilities. No more need to wash plates and pans. Just pour hot water on your VIA and enjoy a full meal in a cup.” And then the bacon flavor got worse with each sip until X finally bowed to the swill and said, “I’m making a pot of real coffee.” I said, “Please. Do so. This stuff is rat piss.” So there’s fair warning camping friends: stick with the Folgers Crystals; don’t trust Howard Shultz; and raise a digit toward the Oklahoma Thunder’s bus if you see it drive by.