Starbucks Does Brisket

by Daniel Vaughn · July 13, 2015

Here I sit, a contradiction personified. I’m typing in a Starbucks in Dallas wearing a t-shirt that reads “LOCAL” and drinking hot coffee on our first true 100 degree day of the year. I just finished the last bite of a sandwich I abhorred before I ever bought it, one that I swore to myself I wouldn’t bother “reviewing.” I use the quotation marks because who really needs me, or anyone, to tell them that the brisket inside any sandwich sold at Starbucks is questionable? I still spent the $6.45 just to make sure.

Their own description should be your first warning. “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.” Emphasis is mine.

Starbucks Brisket 04

It doesn’t look like this.

Besides the editorial worth, you’d buy this sandwich not because you have a craving for San Francisco barbecue, but because your home wi-fi is also down inexplicably and indefinitely, and Starbucks can give you that wi-fi (which was required for this entire post), and a jolt of brain energy. #Contradictions. Or maybe because you work at Starbucks, and in the words of Chris* who runs the register “I’ve eaten [the BBQ Brisket Sandwich] every day this week because I’m sick of everything else.” Then his coworker  fished one of the last sandwiches out of the fridge (Damn, that was close. Almost sold out!) and placed it in the warmer. Chris told him to “Set it to breakfast sandwich, then hit it at the end with croissant to heat it through in the middle.” Chris assured me the sandwich was pretty good, but the other guy warned “don’t expect Texas brisket. It’s more like Carolina brisket. It’s more tangy than sweet.” I nodded.

They presumed that the briskets are cooked in San Francisco at La Boulange along with everything else in the glass case, at least it all comes in the same packaging. I can imagine the big boss coming into La Boulange last week telling one of the bakers “Put down the poppyseeds. You’re moving over to brisket duty.”

At least they’re not claiming this is any sort of Texas brisket. The only smoke comes in liquid form, the sandwich relies on the onions for heft much like the Taco Bell 99 cent menu relies on beans. The squishy layer of meat and onion paste is more of a distraction from an otherwise decent grilled cheese. The sourdough was crisp, and the Sonoma Jack™ was generous. In fact, their was no discernible need for this to be any specific cut of beef. They could have just as easily slow-cooked something that doesn’t affect the cost of my smoked brisket addiction. So maybe don’t try so hard Starbucks. You could have stopped with a simple grilled cheese sandwich and made everyone happier, but hey, thanks for the wi-fi.

*Not his real name.



    Leonard Bolton says:

    Just when you start to see lower brisket prices some huge corporation comes along and screws everything up.
    The end result will be higher brisket prices.
    No telling how many great briskets they ruined.

    Jeff says:

    Thanks for taking one for the team.

    Ron Burr says:

    Had one the other day just for giggles. I thought the same thing about the beef not actually being brisket. The sandwich was fine for Starbucks.

    Willow says:

    Now try the Costco brisket sandwich.

    Steven says:

    Mmmmm. Pastrami and swiss. I can’t wait to tr…. wait. That’s supposed to be barbecue?

    Brian Earle says:

    Taco Bell comparison…Ouch!

    John from Texas says:

    Uh, no!!! A big N-O!!!!!

    Adrianne says:

    La Boulange was just fine before Starbucks bought it. Now they are closing all 22 La Boulange locations. Not that I would have eaten brisket there either…

    Jimmy Don says:

    Who would have thought…
    Next, Aaron Franklin will have a 100 person line to get a “Baby Back Frapachino”

    Neil says:

    Yuck. An insult to anyone who knows anything about real brisket. A smear of semi-solid meet in the middle, but mostly creamy paste. This sandwich is a huge disappointment compared to sbux others, and at over $6 here, totally not worth it. Sbux needs to remove this, or call it something besides brisket. It ain’t.

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