Roger Marolt
Snowmass Village, CO, Colorado

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December 24, 2012
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Roger Marolt: Deck the halls with the stench of coffee

Dear Starbucks,

They say you should begin a critique on a positive note for it to be effective. I'm not sure who "they" are, but my guess is that "they" work in a complaint department in some large corporation that makes such obscene profits that it can afford an entire division whose mission is to placate and shut up the customers who are on to its scam. Perhaps you work with some of "them."

So, here's the nice thing I want to say about your company: Caffeine is good, and I like it.

Now, the real reason I am writing: I have a problem with your Vanilla Coffee With Other Natural Flavors. Henceforth, I will refer to this steaming swill as VCWONF. My problem with VCWONF might not be on par with the disappearance of the polar ice caps, but it certainly has had a greater impact on my life lately.

I don't want to hurt your feelings, so I will state my complaint succinctly to avoid the prolonged agony of you being beaten around the bush by me. Here it is in one solid punch: VCWONF tastes as nauseating as it smells while brewing and leaves me with the most splitting headache I have endured since the time we were kids and found a motorcycle helmet in the ditch next to the road and then took turns wearing it while the others whacked at it with a board we found in a vacant lot.

Maybe it will be easier to understand this kind of pain if I describe a common adult experience that results in similar cranial damage. You know that febrile state that occurs after sweeping out your garage a few days after a snowstorm when all the slush saturated with magnesium chloride ice-melting compound from the highways that fell off the cars has evaporated and left a coating of dirt the consistency of used baby powder over the entire floor that makes your nose run brown after breathing it resulting in boogers that resemble lava rocks and the inside of your entire nasal cavity feels like the Mohave desert looks in July during an extraordinarily hot and dry summer? Well that's how I felt after drinking just one cup of VCWONF.

I admit that I am partially to blame. I forgot what Christmas is about. One day in the grocery store I went completely off the list because of a yearning to make this Christmas the best ever. My oldest daughter was coming home from her first semester at college and it snowed, so it certainly had all the makings of a unique holiday already. Why I thought I needed to enhance what was so beautiful naturally, I don't know.

Maybe it was the enticing holiday packaging you put around that vile concoction. I'm not blaming you; I'm only explaining a possibility. The next thing I knew that stuff was in my basket heading for the check-out stand.

This next part should make you cry. I woke up an hour early in the pitch-black December morning excited beyond reason to fill the house with the rich aroma of VCWONF, hoping that the rest of my family would awaken to the sweet smell of holiday cheer and get in the mood for shopping. I sat in the breakfast nook Googling for another hour before anyone stirred. Looking back, I suppose I should be thankful that the fire alarms didn't go off. My son came rushing down the stairs thinking there was a gas leak. Nobody loitered casually around the kitchen that morning trying to preserve the moment.

Don't worry. This is between us. Although I think you would agree that I have sufficient grounds to do so, I have no intention of taking this case to the FDA. That would serve no purpose other than to save mankind from this misery I've suffered, and I think a better lesson will be learned if they actually buy some of this stuff and find out for themselves.

Believe it or not, I am thankful for what I have learned from this near-death experience. Christmas is not special because you brew a pot of flavored coffee; different certainly, but not special. The magic of Christmas is built in. It is the day our Savior was born, and I've discovered you can ponder that more profoundly over a cup of regular old Cafe Verona.

Just out of curiosity, though, what do you hear back from customers about the caramel-flavored stuff? I was just thinking, with New Year's coming and everything...

Roger Marolt wishes everyone a happy holiday season, even the people at Starbucks. He's always brewing something up at

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The Aspen Times Updated Dec 24, 2012 03:25PM Published Dec 24, 2012 03:23PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.