Starbucks, Bring Back My Carbs !

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Starbucks treats

Those of you who are regular readers of The Wimpy Vegetarian will no doubt have run across various references to Susan’s spouse, the resolute carnivore.  That’s me.  I am really an omnivore, but lean (no pun intended) towards the meat-eater side of the table.  But I digress.

This is a post about Starbucks, and more specifically, about carbs (an addiction Susan and I share and resist together) and about the role of expectations in fast food consumption.  “Hardly an appropriate topic for ‘The Wimpy Vegetarian !” you might be thinking.  That’s exactly why this is a guest post:  one I begged Susan to allow me to submit for her consideration.  This is because I am on a mission:  to get the Starbucks Corporation to reinstate my favorite Starbucks foods in their Bay Area coffee shops.

You see, I did not earn a Starbucks Gold Card by being a coffee aficionado:  for me it’s either a decaf latte when it’s cold outside, or a mocha light frappuccino when it warms up.  I don’t indulge in those elaborate caffeinated concoctions that it takes longer to pronounce than drink.  But I regularly walk a mile to Starbucks because I have come to consider Starbucks carbs as second only to ice cream as a favorite way to transiently opt-out of healthier fare and indulge my darker carbivore side.

There’s the chocolate chunk cookie.  This cookie is scrumptious, really thick and generous in size, and a single cookie (or its next door neighbor, the double chocolate brownie) can fuel half the drive up from the Bay Area to Tahoe.

Chocolate Chunk Cookie, Starbucks

The original chocolate chunk cookie is on the right. The new version on the left. Can you see why I want my chocolate chunk cookie back?

For a hasty breakfast carb, there’s the soft and fluffy marble cakes, the pull-apart and melt in your mouth apple fritter, several different types of coffee-cake with wonderful crumbles on top, and the impossible to resist chocolate croissant.

Starbucks Chocolate Croissants

You may think the new chocolate croissant is on the right, but no. It’s the one on the left which has less chocolate in it. The original croissant on the right is full of chocolate nuggets.

I am sorry if I am spoiling your plans for this evening’s kale surprise, or lovingly created vegetarian bean and spinach kerfluffle supreme, but I’m in crisis mode here.  You see, some VP of Snack Foods at Starbucks convinced the company to make a capital investment in its own bakery and begin swapping out all of my favorite carbs for a bunch of substitute wanna-be unmunchables from this fancy-schmancy Frenchified pastryhouse.  He (or she)  undoubtedly thought they would be able to offer ‘high quality’ consumables to Bay Area Starbucks customers who would jump at the chance to go upscale in their choice of fast-food munchies.

The new chocolate chip cookie looks like an old Spanish doubloon dredged up from the sea bed, the half-a-loaf cakes taste like they were frozen and re-thawed (twice), the chocolate croissant’s chocolate has a pasty consistency, and there was an assortment of strange-looking square savory croissants that are only palatable when warmed (ok, I have to admit the ham and cheese is decent despite the lack of eye appeal).

Starbucks spinach pastry

Susan likes this one, but I’m not even trying it.

They even replaced my favorite sandwich (thyme chicken salad) with a new version that had as much lettuce as chicken and some inedible gristle to boot.  The new sandwiches may not be from the same recently purchased bakery, but it is still an unwelcome change in my book.

Maybe they did a taste testing before making these moves, but I really doubt it.  As carb splurging goes, Starbucks went from a B+ to a C-, at best.

Starbuck's blueberry muffins

The new muffin is the one on the left – the one with almost no blueberries inside.

The thing is:  when you look to make a quick escape from healthy foods to indulge in a carb or two (hundred), you go one of three ways: (1) If you’re looking to experiment, you go for the fabulous-sounding dessert at a great restaurant.  (2) If you need some comforting, you go for your favorite ice cream from your own freezer.  (3) If you don’t have the time for the full course hoopla, and you are out and about on errands, you opt for a treat you know you can count on, something that you know will not disappoint.

Fulfilling one’s expectations and consistency is a big part of the reason why fast food companies have succeeded; and if you are going to make a major change in the lineup, it had better be demonstrably better, incontrovertibly more yummy and visually appealing.  Starbucks, I can get my decaf latte just about anywhere.  Susan, I am counting on you for a tasty tart or two until Starbucks gets its act together and BRINGS BACK MY CARBS.

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  1. CaptDave says

    It’s nice to meet a man with a passion! I assume that Susan is now hard at work developing a “Spinach Kerfluffle Supreme” for a future post.

  2. says

    Now that we are moving closer to town, that’s exactly my plan, but I sure will miss that chocolate chunk cookie.

  3. says

    I am so boring – all I ever order at Starbucks is a grande iced latte…I had no idea you were being so deprived 😉 Susan can fix that, dear Myles…

    • says

      Even Weight Watchers puts carbs in their meals. On the other hand, portion control….well……that’s another blog altogether.

  4. Robin says

    Starbucks is still bringing it old-school style here in Portland! I got a cookie the size of a salad plate yesterday. Next time you visit we’ll do a ‘Starbucks crawl’ and load up on all your faves. Bring back the carbs! Bring back the carbs!

      • says

        I was thinking of opening a Kona Coffee House in Sausalito, right on the waterfront, serving Hawaiian pupus, Kona coffee varieties only (Susan and I did a taste testing once on the Big Island), with palm trees on the beach and a volleyball net. Unfortunately, someone beat me to it (minus the Kona and with a bocci ball court instead of the net). The pastries are so-so, but the beer is good.

  5. says

    I think your husband did a fine job of posting, the photo’s are pretty dramatic. I don’t frequent starbucks but i have to say that chocolate chip cookie (the original) looks really good. Why would they alter their recipes, I guess they figure people will buy it anyway and they save money. Susan, your husband is a gem!
    apuginthekitchen recently posted..Rhubarb Simple SyrupMy Profile

  6. says

    I feel for you man. I was much the same when the SB here eliminated my adored pumpkin pound cake in favor of something called pumpkin loaf. I’m not sure what made it a loaf – except it was devoid of that sexy sugar-laden icing… and flavor.
    I offered to show them how to make pastries that taste good – they weren’t amused.

  7. says

    Myles, you made me laugh with the fear of ‘chickpea flour and carob bits’ chocolate chip cookies. Sounds like what my teens and young adults have said about some of my creations! But hey, they were raised on tofu so I get away with a whole lot. I did happen to see in today’s Sunday Seattle Times an article about what’s going on with Starbuck’s pastry:

    Looks like you in the Bay Area were lucky enough to get the rollout of the new pastry and the Seattle area will be next, on June 4th. I encourage you to share your feedback with Starbucks corporate, I’m sure they will be interested in it!
    Mary @ Fit and Fed recently posted..Mother’s Day Picnic Salad with Edible FlowersMy Profile

  8. says

    Nice to meet Susan’s resolute carnivore! Reads like you are as fun and good of a writer as Susan is. I’ve never been much of a Starbuck’s fan so I can’t relate here but I can relate to a restaurant or business changing a good thing to a not so good thing. Very frustrating! Enjoyed your post and hope you do get your tasty cars back.
    mjskit recently posted..A Festival of Strawberry Salad RecipesMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks for the compliment. Susan’s blog is much more fun to read than mine – which is mostly serious and technical. I usually don’t poke fun at typos since I tend to make so many, but ‘get your tasty CARS back’ gave me a chuckle, and now I think Susan will have to gin up a new ‘Tasty Cars’ recipe to go along with the vegetarian bean and spinach kerfluffle supreme.

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