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Gaby Soutar: Scrooge you, Starbucks

UK tax avoiding Starbucks is the business equivalent of Ebeneezer Scrooge, writes Gaby Soutar

Published: December 4, 2015

I’m the coffee Grinch and I’m here to steal your caffeine-fuelled Christmas joy.

Last month, Starbucks swapped their usual white take-away cups for their festive red cups, something they’ve been doing since 1997, as well as launching a menu of themed drinks. All the Whos in Whoville were Tweeting excitedly, using the hashtag #redcups (which, thanks to a “branded emoji” bit of computer wizardry, turned into tiny cartoons of red cups with the green logo).

This year, they’ve even invested in a social media powered light installation in London’s King’s Cross Station that gets brighter the more people use the special hashtag. It’s in the shape of a Christmas tree, made of stacked Starbucks cups and, like a giant Magic Tree, is scented with their hero drink Gingerbread Latte. Urgh.

I hate to pop everyone’s bubble, but isn’t UK tax-avoiding Starbucks the business equivalent of Ebeneezer Scrooge? Also, their festive drinks are pretty rank, even to a sugar and lard lover like me.

I did try one a few years ago, just for an experiment, and it gave me heartburn for 18 hours straight.

This year, this coffee chain’s menu of drinks includes Honey and Almond Hot Chocolate, Toffee Nut Latte and Gingerbread Latte. (There have not, nor ever will be, more realistic Christmas drinks than Sherry Trifle Latte, Supermarket Mince Pie Hot Chocolate and Nobody Likes Christmas Pudding But Here it Is Anyway Mocha).

If you want to make a version of one of Starbucks’ drinks, here is my swiftly cobbled-together recipe. Ingredients: a whole cake, ice-cream, a knob of butter, five Oreos, squirty cream, hundreds and thousands, a cup of icing sugar, one doughnut and half a thimbleful of espresso. Pack them all into a Nutribullet and blend until the liquid is the consistency of Dulux emulsion.

Anyway, in protest, up until Christmas Day, I shall be drinking unadulterated espresso out of a plain white cup. Bah Humbug (Latte Mochaccino).

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Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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