Starbucks is pretty good at the coffee thing as they've specialized in their brews for the last 44 years, but a classic BBQ joint it is not, nor will it ever be.
Geoff Kutnick and I went for a quick coffee run at the mega-chain next door to Foodbeast HQ, and we noticed that "New BBQ Beef Brisket on Sourdough" was written down on their colorful chalkboard of recommendations. Geoff looked at me and said, "I'm getting it. You have to be curious what it looks like."
Arby's does the fast food BBQ thing, and we've seen Wendy's try it, so we thought maybe Starbucks could create something halfway decent.
"Slow-cooked beef brisket with smoky BBQ sauce, Gordon Biersch beer-braised onions and Sonoma Jack cheese, then layer it on toasted sourdough bread to give you the ultimate taste of San Francisco."
So, we ordered it, and the barista reached into a mini fridge and unwrapped the sandwich. That was the first thing that made us cringe as we're used to brisket being smoked, or oven roasted, not taken out of a plastic wrapper.
We took that bad boy back to the office and had the Foodbeast squad give their first impressions of the BBQ sandwich.
Geoff was the curious one, so he got first dibs:
"It tastes like mush. If I was taking a blind taste test, I would not guess that this was brisket."
Of course, we forced the intern, Kyuhyun Choi, to try it against his will and he was not impressed either:
"What is this? Even the bread is s**t."
Rudy "Rudeluv" Cheney was a little nicer about it, but wasn't super stoked to try it:
"It taste like it's a brisket sandwich from Starbucks. I'll just leave it at that."
Our other intern Alex Valentino wiggled his way out of it:
"That just sounds wrong. I think the consensus is pretty clear. You really don't need my opinion."
I took baby steps and tried a little piece of the mushy beef, but I knew I couldn't write this article without taking a real bite. I took off a big chunk and immediate sadness overtook my body. All my past fears, failures and regrets flashed before my eyes.
Well, not really, but it was wet, sour and didn't resemble anything close to good BBQ.
Starbucks reinvents a lot of things, but they definitely didn't unlock some secret to delicious fast food brisket.
The coffee shop should be mindful that no one has ever walked into Starbucks hoping to get some ribs, brisket or pulled pork.
Starbucks tries to juggle a lot, like breakfast sandwiches, teas and even pastries, but it just can't do everything.
Hopefully this sandwich will be a reality check for them. Just make solid coffee that gets us through the day.