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WEB WATCH

Foament brews on java blog's mutual ground

April 30, 2006|Christine N. Ziemba

FOR some coffee drinkers, Starbucks is an addiction. But for an elite class of "javanistas" the Seattle-based company -- which helped bring beverages like "the soy caramel macchiato" and "a half-caf caffe misto"" to the American palate -- is an obsession. These usually overcaffeinated folks can be found coffee-talking online at Starbucksgossip.com.

With its mission to "monitor America's favorite drug dealer," the blog was created in August 2004 by Evanston, Ill.-based Jim Romenesko who, like countless other writers, uses Starbucks as an office away from home. (If the name sounds familiar, Romenesko is better known as a media watchdog and Web columnist for the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit school for present and future journalists.) In an e-mail, Romenesko writes that he launched Starbucksgossip.com as a "way for Starbucks employees, and Starbucks lovers and critics to carry on a conversation about the chain and its products."

Its nearly 35,000 weekly visitors do use the site as a kind of coffee klatch. Hot-button issues include laptop stealing, conspiracy theories about why stores are always cold and the flashpoint: Starbucks' ever-changing menu.

Anyone who's recently set foot in a Starbucks knows that it's green tea latte and blackberry green tea frappuccino season (in addition to marketing season for the Laurence Fishburne-Angela Bassett movie "Akeelah and the Bee").

"The new spring and summer drinks seem to bring in a lot of comments. I only drink drip coffee, so I don't have any opinions on the new 'fancy drinks,' " notes Romenesko. "I let readers weigh in on them."

The beverages are drawing colorful comments from the site's posters, many of whom are present and former baristas. "Kristablair" writes: "Blackberry Green Tea Frap. is 8th wonder of the world! Love It, Absolutely LOVE IT.... " Others, including poster "Ryan," disagree. He compares the green tea powder to "soilent (sic) green."

Now while we don't believe for a second that (insert Charlton Heston voice here) "green tea latte base is people!" -- we'll stick to our grande drip, with room for cream.

-- Christine N. Ziemba

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