Bad Flavors

Every morning I walk past a Starbucks, and every morning I groan at the latest disaster that has been concocted in the “flavored coffee” category.  Ii think any form of flavored coffee is bad enough, but the current offering of “maple pecan latte,” which apparently comes with colorful sprinkles on the foam when served hot, sounds like a truly tooth-curdling combination.

Somewhere there is a Starbucks food sciences laboratory that is charged with coming up with some new flavor to entice patrons back into the coffee shop for a new slug of joe.  Their job is becoming increasingly difficult, because the available seasonal “flavor palette” is limited due to the strong taste of coffee itself and the fact that the really desirable flavors, like chocolate, are permanently featured on the menu because Starbucks patrons want to savor them year-round.  And, the flavor scientists have obviously exhausted virtually every combination that includes pumpkin as an element; for years, Starbucks marked the arrival of September with some new pumpkin spice concoction.  But the pumpkin well has apparently run dry, and it’s time to move on to other flavors that evoke the arrival of fall.  Apparently, maple pecan is the best they can come up with.

The maple flavor is good on pancakes and waffles, of course, and you can even make a reasonable argument for maple flavoring in oatmeal — although if somebody heats up maple-flavored instant oatmeal in the office microwave, you’ll be smelling it, and regretting it, for hours.  But a cup of maple and pecan-flavored coffee sounds like a treacly catastrophe, like drinking a hearty cup of steamed syrup with nuts in it.  It would take hours of water-guzzling to finally rinse the flavor out of your mouth.

What’s next in the bizarro world of Starbucks fall flavors?  Butternut squash latte?  Hey, how about a turkey and cranberry dressing frappucino?

Flavored Coffee Follies

Office coffee should be . . . well . . . office coffee.  People shouldn’t be expecting Starbucks quality, or Starbucks flavor.

Office workers aren’t like the people in a coffee commercial, having deep, meaningful conversations over their steaming mug of cafe au lait.  Instead, they just want to slug back a potable shot of caffeine at their desks to help them stay awake and alert during the work day.

So why is there this push on to foist flavored coffee on those of us who are used to the basic swill?  At our office, they are always experimenting with new flavors that bring unwelcome smells to the coffee station.  One day recently, for example, they were brewing some kind of cinnamon-scented blend.  Cinnamon-flavored coffee?  Hey, folks . . . this isn’t Morocco, nor is it the North Pole.  I don’t need my cup of joe to smell like a Christmas cookie or pumpkin pie.  The same goes for chocolate-flavored coffee, or any of the other spiced-up concoctions that the coffee sellers are peddling.

Office coffee is, by definition, an institutional beverage.  It is, or should be, basic no-frills stuff.   Can’t we just leave it that way?