Category Archives: Miscellaneous Monday

Because sometimes it’s none of the above.

Open Plea to Peet’s Coffee and New Partners Intelligentsia and Stumptown

Dear Peet’s… and Stumptown and Intelligentsia,

I don’t know to whom to address this, and therein lies the reason I’m writing. I want to address this letter to Peet’s Coffee & Tea, as well as Stumptown and Intelligentsia, whom you (Peet’s) recently acquired. Yet, you intend to keep your partners operating independently, so do I address you separately? Or are Stumptown and Intelligentsia automatically cc’ed under the umbrella of your company?

Knowing, as I do, nothing about corporate operations, acquisitions, buyouts, sellouts and the subtle differences between corporate partnerships and corporate ownership, I am in no place to predict whether you intend to absorb and conquer all your competition (in the footsteps of Starbucks), or stand by your promise to preserve the quality and individuality of your new partners. That remains to be seen, and I’ll be watching. All I can do is fear you follow Starbucks’ lead, and hope you don’t.

I wrote to Starbucks a few weeks back shaming them for their decision to close all La Boulange cafes. Starbucks acquired La Boulange in 2012, when I first worked there. My understanding of the acquisition at the time (although I had my suspicions otherwise) was a sort of exchange: Starbucks serves La Boulange pastries if La Boulange serves Starbucks coffee. Fair enough. And here we are three years later and not a single La Boulange remains.

Unless you count the six San Francisco locations original owner Pascal Rigo managed to salvage and re-open under the clever guise of a slightly different name: La Boulangerie. Fine save, Pascal, atta boy. I’ll be heading there soon for some almond croissants. But the point is, Starbucks bought La Bou in 2012, and three years later, Starbucks holds the hammer that nailed the boards on the doors and the lid on the coffin of Pascal’s vision, his baby, La Boulange.

I wasn’t in on the deal, so I don’t know what Starbucks promised or led Pascal to believe about the future and security of his prosperous and steadily-expanding cafes when he entered the deal, but I’d be willing to bet he would never have signed if he knew he was condemning all of his cafes to close. As the future owner of my currently imaginary coffee shop, I know I’d never sell for any sum of money if it meant my company would be in anybody else’s hands, because with passion comes possessiveness. Ask anyone who’s ever been in love. Centuries from now, above the doors to my cafe, no doubt still standing, will be the words “Family-Owned Since.” And “Not for Sale.”

The way I see it, the Peet’s-Stumptown-Intelligentsia partnership will play out in one of three ways:

  1. Intelligentsia and Stumptown, you have naively and unknowingly agreed to the same tragic fate as La Boulange, and come three years from now, your original locations will close when you no longer serve the greater needs of your new parent corporation, Peet’s.
  2. You (I & S) have knowingly sold out to Peet’s at the expense of the businesses / brands you built, for the personal financial gain of the individuals who signed their x’s on the line.
  3. You (Peet’s) stand by your promise to preserve Intelligentsia’s and Stumptown’s independence, and these deals go down in history as the budding seeds of a revolutionary business model, one which deviates 180 degrees from the absorb-and-conform model Starbucks follows, and instead accommodates diversity and quality, as you profess it will.

I have my doubts about the likeliness of the third scenario, but a girl can hope… and plead, and write a letter you’ll never read. And although I have my money on 1 and 2, I dare you — prove me wrong. Tyler Ricks, your (Peet’s) CMO, assures us in an interview with Sprudge that you (Peet’s) are, “not interested in rolling it up in one big brand.” Likewise, Intelligentsia co-founder Doug Zell states in the same interview that this partnership “really just allows us to pursue our mission further.”

Peet’s supplies the financial resources and customer-base to expand Intelligentsia and Stumptown to reach a wider audience, while Stumptown and Intelligentsia supply the variety Peet’s has been lacking, until now. A fair exchange for everyone. Win-win. But I can’t help but notice some striking parallels between this and the deal between Starbucks and La Bou. So what’s the catch? Is there a death sentence sealed in the fine print of this deal?

Too soon to say. Let’s wait three years.

Ultimately, I believe true pride in one’s company renders it priceless, so no sum of money is enough to justify its sale, which is why I’m skeptical of the profit-incentive that dominates corporate decision-making. The way I see it, there are two kinds of companies: The first is a vehicle for money; the second is a vehicle for someone’s vision. Something personal, precious and loved. I know which kind mine will be, even if it means that it never breaks even, but I’ll always find satisfaction in knowing my coffee will never be served in a Peet’s coffee cup.

Congratulations on your acquisitions.


Dakota Snow

5 Things Dogs Do Every Day That No Human Could Ever Get Away With

Having been my dog for Halloween this year, I feel I speak from experience when I say this. It’s funny how strictly bound we are by social norms, while our pets are free to be as wild as they please. Just think about all the disgusting things dogs get away with every day that we humans never could.IMG_0037

Handling of Business Anywhere

The other day, I crossed a busy intersection with my dog, and she stopped suddenly halfway across the street as traffic started moving toward us, shitting in the middle of the crosswalk. Not a care in the world.

Not that I’d want to pop a squat in public, but it’s the principle of it. I don’t have that kind of freedom. If I dropped my bottoms and relieved my bladder on my walk to work, I’d be arrested for indecent exposure. That piss would be on my permanent record. My dog, on the other hand, has taken more public dumps than I could count, and she’s never been arrested, judged or gawked at. Not at all. On the contrary, she’s been adored and praised, mid-dump, by total strangers.

Eating Fallen Food Off the Floor

We humans are only legally entitled to five seconds’ worth of fallen food. However, despite this right, there is an undeniable stigma associated with people eating fallen food, and quite frankly, sometimes five seconds just isn’t enough. What if there’s more than five seconds’ worth of damage?

Dogs, on the other hand, are encouraged to eat their owners’ fallen food. It’s unfair. Dogs can eat fallen food, but humans can’t? Why must we discriminate? I personally sneak a lot of fallen snacks, but it’s a shame that I should need to be so sneaky. Can’t a clumsy girl enjoy a dirty snack without receiving looks of judgment and disgust? I mean, I only eat it if it looks safe to eat. If there’s no saving it, I leave it to the dogs.

Sniffing Each Others’ Asses

Generally, people, and particularly men, are liable to be slapped for so much as ogling too long at someone’s ass, while dogs are free to plant their snouts eye-deep in any ass they please. Standard procedure.

Again, it’s not that I enjoy the smell of booty; it’s the freedom that I envy. Not only are humans taught to keep our distance, but on top of that, we barricade our asses underneath layers upon layers of clothes, so even if we manage to sneak a glance (or god forbid, a handful) of a fine ass passing by, we’d have to do considerable digging before we reach the real thing, and by then, we would have several legal offenses on our hands. Dogs, however, flaunt their asses openly, invitingly and proudly—totally commando, tails up, which leads me to my next point.

Simultaneously Sustaining Multiple Romantic Relationships

Humans do this too, but it inevitably tends to get messy. Somehow, dogs get around without the drama. How they do it is a mystery to me. Trust me, I’m trying, but it’s difficult to juggle several gentlemen at once. We humans get so hung up on our emotions—jealousy, possessiveness, entitlement. In the meantime, dogs are free to jump the bones of anyone or anything. Ironically, dogs are famous for their loyalty and faithfulness, while humans who engage in multiple relationships at the same are labeled cheaters. Very strange.

Licking Their Privates

Dogs groom themselves in public, and I mean thoroughly. Anywhere their tongue can reach is liable to get a meticulous licking, and that includes their privates. Not only could I never get away with this, but it’s physically impossible for me, a human, to get my head or tongue anywhere near my nether-regions. It would be quite a shock, if not a heinous crime, for me to perform such an act in public. However, dogs are spared the shame, humiliation and disgust I would undoubtedly receive for such behavior.


Why do dogs receive such preferential treatment in our homo sapien society? We do their bidding—feed them, bag their waste, adore them, walk them, praise them for “tricks” as simple as sitting, and let them get away with what would otherwise be classified as unacceptable behavior—but because they’re four-legged and furry, they’re allowed? I think we humans could do with becoming more forgiving and accepting of each other. Humans should be entitled to the same wild, shameless tendencies as any other animal. It’s only fair.KissKiss

Originally published on The Daily Quirk

Open Letter to Starbucks

Dear Starbucks,

You must have the smallest cock in corporate history. It’s obvious you’re compensating for something. Not only do you have the nerve to call your small a “tall,” but I can’t drive a mile in any direction without passing a dozen of you on my way. There is nothing you can say to justify the fact that the first thing I see when I walk into Safeway is a Starbucks, and the first thing I see on my way out of the same Safeway, less than fifty feet away, is another fucking Starbucks.

But all that aside, I write to you today in regards to the closure of your recent acquisition, La Boulange. I worked for La Boulange before you bought them out in 2012, and again last fall, after the buyout. I was never a huge fan of La Boulange, to be honest, but I don’t support your choice to shut them down. It’s the principle of it. You saw an opportunity and took it. That’s just good business, you might say. You saw a profitable product, swooped it up, implemented La Boulange pastries in every Starbucks pastry case, and simultaneously shut your competition down.

You acquired La Boulange in search of “something special,” according to Brian Kelly, a Chicago retail consultant who told SFGate that:

“The problem with Starbucks is they weren’t generating enough revenue… They brought (La Boulange) in to add some brand power, and to suggest a more premium product…. Often in mergers and acquisitions, the larger company winds up negatively affecting the smaller company by squeezing out the very thing that made the smaller company desirable” (Lucchesi).

Now, the claim that you weren’t making enough money to begin with is bogus as far as I’m concerned. Nothing necessitated the acquisition. You just wanted it, and your rich daddy bought it for you. And the fact that you felt the need to “suggest a more premium product” in the first place tells me you’re well aware you’re serving total shit. Be real, Starbucks. You’re not selling quality. You’re selling consistency. People are loyal to your company because, despite the diabetes, they know that anywhere they go, they can get the same venti “nonfat” quad-shot, half-caf mocha with extra whip and chocolate drizzle on the top. Your success is founded on conformity, not quality.

But ultimately, the joke’s on you because the whole reason you conquered La Boulange was to offer a higher quality product, yet in doing so, that very quality you sought has suffered. As usual, you’ve taken something that’s supposed to be gourmet and mass-produced it, compromising its excellence and artistry. So now we’re left with a global infestation of Starbucks coffee shops, plaguing our planet with substandard pastries and espresso.

It’s corporate colonialism. It’s like a losing game of, and your circle is the last one standing, now that it’s swallowed all the competition. Ever since you took the throne, your sovereignty has marked the dawn of a Holocaust against the moms and pops, a genocide of independent coffee shops. The little guys are easy targets. We all know they don’t stand a chance, but all my worst fears are confirmed when you go dissolving entire chains in one fell swoop. Almighty Starbucks, I ask you: If corporations are people, does that make you a murderer?

Illustration by Dakota Snow
Illustration by Dakota Snow

The La Boulange that paid my bills (the one I worked at), the one on University in downtown Palo Alto, closed its doors for good last month on Thursday, September 3rd.

Adieu, LaBouGone without a trace. The famous ceramic bowls in which La Boulange served their lattes will be displayed in antique stores. Old macaron boxes will collect dust under the beds of grieving La Boulange customers. The friendships that formed between the staff and customers will fade to memories. Buildings will be vacated. Ex employees will be jobless, or worse yet, forced to work at a Starbucks.

I’ve always suspected that your expansion plan extends beyond the reaches of this earth, and ultimately, “Star-bucks” will eventually become intergalactic currency exchanged across the universe. The massacre of La Boulange cafes is just a preview for what’s to come, no doubt, but I’ll fight to the death to preserve the diversity and dignity of independent coffee shop culture. Years from now, in a coffee shop of my own, justice will be served.


Dakota Snow