An Introduction to the Series and Example: Starbucks
I LOVE chai tea, and while I was in Europe this summer, I really started to enjoy trying different cafes and their take on this delicious sugar/caffeine boost. When I came home, I decided to start exploring all the different options that my home town has to offer, and I wanted to build a guide for anyone else who might be as enchanted by this tea as me.
To get us started, I want to make a calibration post (forgive the scientist in me!) using a standard coffee shop that we all know (and love?), Starbucks. This post will cue you into my chai tea tastes, so that you know how your own preferences for flavor compare, and walk you through how these little guides will work.
Reviewer(s): Aireona (the sugar-lover)
Brand: Tazo Tea
Flavor: On a scale of sweet to spicy, Tazo’s take on chai tea makes an effort to balance traditional flavors with American preferences for sugar, but it is definitely leaning on the sugary side. Based on past conversations with people, I would even go so far as to say that those of you who really love traditional chai probably dislike Tazo’s version (or consider it to be in its own category altogether, like… Taco Bell is to Mexican food). Since I am a sugar lover myself, I find Starbuck’s chai tea to be a good comfort chai when I am on the go and I want to know just want I am getting into. I would describe it as being light and sugary with a slight hint of spice, but mostly sweet and milky.
Atmosphere: Starbucks is pretty standard, and has what I would consider to be the corporate distillation of coffee shop decor. With plenty of dark colors, most Starbuck’s have a professional feel, but most of their character comes from all the marketing that is carefully arranged in all directions. It’s actually not my favorite place to work, since it is just insanely busy in the morning, but once again, it’s a great place to go when you are still getting the lay of the land and need somewhere familiar and safe to charge up on caffeine.
Staff: The staff at Starbucks are like the rest of the chain in my opinion, professional and pleasant. Their product is pretty reliable, their baristas know their stuff, and you are almost always guaranteed a warm smile, if nothing overly friendly (perfect for us introverts out there).
Pros: If you need chai tea and are lost in a strange city, there’s likely to be a Starbucks within walking distance in all directions. You know what you will get in terms of taste and the coffee shop feel. Starbucks is also known to treat its staff well which earns it a plus from me, even if it is a giant corporation.
Cons: Starbucks won’t offer you a unique expression of the local coffee shop scene or local culture, and it often competes with smaller cafes.
Want to see the rest of the guide? Check out Your Guide to Phoenix: Chai Tea Adventures.