I failed to question everything. I can trivially make a better cup of coffee at home than I can get in the shop, and I simply assumed everyone else can do the same.
Seriously, who can't make a better pot of coffee than Starbucks?
Well, Einstein, guess what...
Problem 1: every American is a temporarily embarrassed genius, because egalitarianism.
Problem 2: in school, Americans learn never to learn.
Problem 2.5: they don't teach you how to make coffee in school; it's not Official Americanism.
Result: Americans try to make a pot of coffee once, typically without so much as reading the instructions. As they are a genius, obviously they can figure out how to make coffee without being told, right? Well, no, actually. You do, at least, need to calibrate. Even if you really are a genius. Their coffee sucks. They weren't told in school, and they can't learn now, because they learned not to learn. Result: they decide to buy coffee at the shop instead. Ironically, as the not-learning thing is indeed a fixed point, they're not even wrong.
Starbucks is an idiot tax. Sorry, you're too stupid not to pay $5 for 10c of coffee.
Also too stupid to work out coffee isn't a worthwhile trade at $5.
Can't trade up for a better brain, though, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
A fool and his money are soon to part, and praise be.
That's not to say Starbucks et al are good places. Parasites are still parasites. Mosquito shops with mosquito employees.
It kinda looks at first like Americans are getting jacked on wages.
They're paid peanuts. This is not the case though; they're still being
paid too much. They can afford to waste large amounts of money on useless crud that's not even good for them. They're not responsible enough to safely handle the money they already have, let alone having more. Basically the Eccles Building would like to steepen the Cantillon gradient, so their inflation-theft doesn't leak to regular Americans so much, but can't figure out how, because they're kinda dumb. If they were genuinely smart they would make money without using rents, so...
P.S. Re:(2), geniuses don't have to learn, right? They already know things. How can you be a genius if you're not already smart? Hence, you can't be a good American if you have to learn anything. In extremis, you absolutely can't get caught learning anything. Best to avoid the risk if at all possible.
P.P.S. At very high IQ everyday performance decouples. Real geniuses are particularly bad at stuff like driving and making coffee. Not that we could expect a Temporarily Embarrassed Genius™ to know such factoids.