Give Me Some Humor With My Cup Of Joe Please!

January 27, 2012

By Desiree A. Krautkramer

Now I am not one to speak lowly of the corporate giant Starbucks, but I have to say that when any business becomes larger and starts to want to give its customers a corporate defined experience, there tends to be something missing from the overall experience for the customers who want a sense that they and the people serving them really matter. I love my Starbucks but not the uniformed contained flow of how things are supposed to be. I want to experience diversity with my cup of Joe, not get the sense that the straightjacket experience of my place of employment has been further expanded to other sections of my life. And so I shall share with you the story of my favorite Barista…

I met Brento the Barista at a Starbucks Barnes and Noble side area location and it was a laugh at first meet. He put the experience in my Starbucks experience as no one had ever done before or since. You see Brento was a pretty over the top gay guy with constant desire to make people laugh and he really let his light shine. By day he was Brento the Barista – by night sometimes he was Brento the drag queen. And the only thing not likable about the dude was that – that bitch was the size I used to be when I was starving myself in the midst of an eating disorder and Brento was that thin with hardly any work! He was my ideal size 8!

Now Brento didn’t wear his make-up by day – But he put the flame in flame. His manager didn’t appreciate this, they wrote him up a couple of times and finally he was axed. It wasn’t until he was gone for good that those above seemed to appreciate what they had in Brento the character. You see I was far from the only one who used to drive out of my way to have my Brento experience. It seemed that numerous other customers after his firing approached the manager to complain about the missing Brento. I still remember the one person commenting to me that they had no idea that others had really valued him so much as to drive out of the way to go get coffee at that spot just to experience him. Such is corporate culture I suppose. Let’s all be the same and let’s all be predictable. Yet, I personally think it sucks to the core that this is more valued than the joys of unique human expressions.

I stopped going out of my way to get coffee at that location. It has lost its unique experience. Sometimes when I go into a Starbucks I even feel guilty pondering if it is even right for me to be buying coffee with an organization that wants to put it’s people in uniforms and to dictate what color they have their hair. I have met the CEO/President of Starbucks, and I wish when I had met Howard I had pulled him aside and told him – please give me a coffee experience like no other – Please let your employees and the various locations be unique. I want to be able to say to my friends yeah you might have Starbucks where you are-but you don’t have what I have at my Starbucks. Yet, I doubt that Howard would listen to me even though he signed his book for me. And maybe that is why companies like Zoka’s exist. Zoka’s was founded by a couple of former Starbucks partners and can be seen on the web at Though by what I have written you can probably guess I don’t do web shopping with them. I go in person to Zoka’s to have my experience with my cup of joe. Last time they had a bunch of comedians in to do live skits – and I laughed as I hadn’t laughed since the last time I saw Brento.

Written and copyrighted by Desiree A. Krautkramer March 2003. Desiree is a freelance writer living in Seattle WA. She writes for, Kate Harper Designs, and is in midst of writing a screenplay all while sipping coffee!

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