Espresso News & Reviews gives us the startling low-down:
The best baristas in the country are not lured to work for the big chains to prefect their craft and their love of coffee. And even if they were, Starbucks espresso delivery system™ would put their baristas behind equipment and supplies that place them at an extreme competitive disadvantage: no barista trained on a push-button Verismo or Mastrena machine, using pre-packaged beans purchased in bulk supply for chain consistency, would have a chance against the competition.
The truth is that Starbucks and Caribou don’t want an event to prove to the public how woefully inadequate their coffee standards are — especially when compared to the level of competition that comes to these championships. If millions of their customers realized how much coffee quality they were being cheated out of at $4 a pop, it would be a boon for many independent coffeeshops and it would scuttle corporate coffee with long-lasting damage. Big corporate coffee may not be that great, but they’re not so stupid as to give away their dirty secrets.