I'm going to come right out and say that I'm a Starbuck's employee, part-time on weekends to pay my way through college. That said: A)As to the burnt-coffee thing, I think it's not SO much a result of the beans(there are beans at the Bux ranging from pale brown to jet black), but the fact that brewed coffee sits for AT LEAST an hour, and if the baristas are lazy(guilty, occassionally), two or three. B)I grew up drinking French roasts from a Bialetti stove-top and cafezinhos in Brasil, so the darker, the better for my taste. C) Espresso - once upon a time, starbucks used the Marzocco, a manual machine that can make great espresso IF USED CORRECTLY. They have now switched over 90% of ops to the Verismo, a boring, bland, and easy-to use automatic that makes sub-par straight espresso. Fine for concoctions, crap for people like me who like small, strong cups. Fortunately, the store I work at has not upgraded, so I still get to use the manual machine. D)The starbuck's business model is admittedly brilliant, and for all their faults(read, pushing out local stores), they are pretty high up in the list of "good" companies. Not at all like Walmart.