Red Cup Blues: 7 (Real) Reasons to Step Away from the Starbucks

Red Cup Blues: 7 (Real) Reasons to Step Away from the Starbucks November 9, 2015

Lots of good things start with imaginary Christian persecution.

For instance: My first viral blog post– the one that made me think maybe this could be a thing and I should keep writing–was about the so-called “war on Christmas.”

ACPC (Affluent Christian Persecution Complex) has also resulted in a completely free marketing campaign for Starbucks! Christmas has sure come early for them this year. Because they chose to go with a minimalist holiday design this year, featuring a solid red cup without further embellishment, the “Everybody Hates Jesus” camp has rallied in full force. Resulting in the most effective seasonal social media saturation that Starbucks could possibly have hoped for. Have you ever seen so many red cups floating through your newsfeed? I can just see the advertising exec–a suave and super-caffeinated Don Draper type–watching all of this unfold from the comfort of an art-deco office haven… grinning smugly and adding a little bourbon to his peppermint mocha. He is an evil genius, I tell you what. He planned this all along.

The outcry, from the predictable “KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS” camp, goes something like this:

But where, oh where, is the festive snowflake to assure me that my deeply held beliefs have been sanctioned by the culture at large?! I am outraged. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, for surely we are a fallen and wicked people, drinking from unadorned secular vessels. ‪

If you are a person of faith–or any kind of person, for that matter, looking for a healthy, happy, meaningful holiday season, then there may be some good reasons to avoid Starbucks. The fact that the baristas don’t preach a sermon as they fix your latte ain’t one of them. Think instead about:

1. Doing the math. $5 for a Gingerbread Latte? And that’s if you get the reasonably-sized one. The enormous one will run you about the same as a car payment, or a semester of college. I don’t know how often you got to Starbucks– once a week? Twice a month? Twice a DAY? Whatever the scale of your vice, add it up, and figure how much you could save if you skipped the red cup for the next 7 weeks until Christmas. What could you do with the $25, $65, or $125 that you save? Dig a well in an African village, adopt a local family for Christmas, take your kids to the zoo… Etc.

2. Drinking fair trade. I know that, technically, Starbucks has some fair trade options. But. They are still a corporation, and most of what you spend there will still wind up in the American retail till. Explore some coffee places and brands that support sustainable agriculture in the developing world. Not only can you feel ok about the labor that went into your cup, you can also feel good about where your money goes. Check out Equal Exchange, or Fairtrade USA for ordering options. If you just really want the whole festive coffee shop experience, find a locally owned place that discloses their sources and supports farmers. KC favorite RevoCup brews and sells “single origin” Ethiopian coffee. It smells and tastes like a little piece of heaven, so I’m sure baby Jesus would approve.  Meanwhile, when you choose these kinds of places over the Starbucks Monster, you also

3. Support Local Business. There is no better way of sticking-it-to-the-man during the holidays than withholding your dollar from the consumer machine. Not to mention, supporting local business is also good for your community–its economy and its spirit. Some members of the extended RevoCup family have recently opened Ayda Coffee –in my very own neighborhood! Not only do they have the same heavenly-smelling brew… they are also lovely, hospitable people. They hold weekly, authentic Ethiopian coffee ceremonies at their shop. It lasts for like an hour (or longer) and neighbors actually show up and hang out and visit and INTERACT WITH PEOPLE THEY DON’T KNOW. It’s kind of a Christmas miracle, actually, because that just does not happen in the suburbs. For my money, I would far rather contribute to the family that is building community–and the African farmers that supply them.

4. I’ve got one word for you: Landfill. Wait… is that one word? Or two… However many words it is, it’s a bad place, and one to which you don’t want to contribute if’n you can help it. Where does that festive red cup go the minute you drain the last drop of espresso? Yep. So how about use your own dang coffee mug. And if you need it to be festive, wrap some tinsel around the handle.

5. The Liturgical Police. Red cup, blue cup, white cup, I don’t care… It is TOO DANG EARLY FOR CHRISTMAS. I love fall. And Thanksgiving. And my second-favorite holiday, Pie For Breakfast Friday. (Some people call this Black Friday, but whatev. I am shopping online in my sweatpants, and having pie for breakfast. And coffee. Which I drink out of my own dang mug most of the time.)

6. Do the math again. Only this time, count the calories. Sugar, cream, whip cream, etc.  Santa is not the only one getting fattened up for the season…

7. Set your holiday on slow drip. Think about it, you mostly only need that giant latte to fuel the frenetic pace that you’re trying to maintain this time of year. Nothing but a triple shot of whatever is going to get you through all the school programs, shopping sprees, cleaning and decorating marathons, baking days and endless cycle of festive gatherings that will fill these weeks of your life. Double check some priorities there. I am not suggesting that we all give up caffeine for the season. (LOL–it is ADVENT. I will not sleep again until January). But I do strongly suggest that we set some intentions about how much of that ‘stuff” we are willing to cram into a single season; and what could be let go for the health and spiritual well-being of our families and churches. If we move with a little more awareness–saying no to some of the buying of things and running of places, and yes to that which gives us life–then maybe we will need fewer venti whatevers to get us to the new year. Maybe we can enjoy a few more cups of coffee at home, with our family. In our sweatpants.

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