Dumb Starbucks: Four things you didn’t know about the mystery shop
On Monday morning, about 100 people lined up waiting to get into Dumb Starbucks, the coffee shop/maybe art installation/maybe entertainment hoax that quietly popped up Friday on the corner of Hillhurst Avenue and Melbourne Avenue in Los Feliz.
There’s still a lot of mystery surrounding the shop, which includes a small indoor area with an automatic drip coffee maker behind a counter, a display case for Vons pastries, a stand with milk, sugar and stirrers, and a small display with reusable coffee mugs. According to informational fliers available inside, it’s a coffee shop acting as an art installation for legal purposes. And there is no affiliation with Starbucks.
“So in the eyes of the law, our ‘coffee shop’ is actually an art gallery and the ‘coffee’ you’re buying is considered the art,” reads the flier.
Starbucks has stated that the pop-up shop cannot use its name, which is protected by trademark.
What we do know so far is that the minimal pastries in the display case, including muffins and croissants, are from a nearby Vons market. The coffee beans being used to make the coffee are poured out of nondescript black bags with no discernible brand or label. And everything is free.
Barista Jeremiah Page, 27, of Los Angeles, is one of two people working behind the counter. He heard about the job from a vague ad on Craigslist asking for someone who had experience being a barista for a short-term job.
“People are acting like Willy Wonka opened his gates,” Page said, standing behind the counter, wearing a green apron and a black hat that reads Dumb Starbucks. His hair, the left side spray painted green, is peeking out.
“I didn’t really think anything of the Craigslist ad,” said Page. “But this is insane.”
Page says he’s unsure who the organizers are, but they come in about twice a day to restock beans, syrups, etc. And although the menu lists more than 25 drinks, the baristas are only making regular coffees, lattes and iced coffees with some flavored syrups, including Hershey’s chocolate syrup.
And those cups that look like Starbucks cups? They’re plain white cups with Dumb Starbucks stickers on them.
Some of the people waiting in line Monday had been waiting for more than an hour and a half to get in.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Johnny Marquez, who was there with his wife, Lizette. “It goes with L.A. You got to stand out and be different.
The couple ordered two coffees and two chocolate chip muffins.
Lizette, who is an avid Starbucks drinker, could tell the coffee wasn’t Starbucks with the first sip.
“It’s pretty good, but we came more to say that we came, not for the coffee taste,” said Lizette.
Have you visited the Dumb Starbucks? Share your experience in the comments below.
Want more quirky food news? Follow me on Twitter: @Jenn_Harris_
Eat your way across L.A.
Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.