‘Dumb Starbucks’ a work of parody art, or a ‘dumb’ idea?


Karissa Allen, Impact Staff

Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts? That is usually the question that is asked among frequent coffee drinkers. In Southern California the question was Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts or Dumb Starbucks?

That’s right, you read that correctly. Dumb Starbucks.

Dumb Starbucks was a small parody coffee shop in Los Angeles. The coffee shop looked so much like a regular Starbucks, from menu options to sizes to the logo on the front of the store. The only difference, the word ‘dumb’ was in front of everything.

“Dumb Iced Coffee”, “Dumb Brewed Coffee”, “Dumb Tall, Dumb Grande, and Dumb Venti” are only some of the few things offered at Dumb Starbucks.starbucks-hits-back-at-dumb-starbucks

This bizarre imitation coffee shop was open at 1802 Hillhurst Avenue and they thanked the “parody law” according to their Frequently Asked Questions list.

According to the list, “By adding the word ‘dumb’ we are technically making fun of Starbucks, which allows us to use their trademarks under a law known as ‘fair use.’”

The list continues to explain that they are in fact a functioning coffee shop, and for legal reasons they categorize Dumb Starbucks as a work of parody art. Except that is something that their lawyers needed to worry about they say the only thing the customers need to do is enjoy their coffee.

Dumb Starbucks claim they look up to Starbucks as role models, but the only way they could use their logos for marketing purposes was to add the word ‘dumb’. They called it a necessity. They say they are not affiliated at all with Starbucks.parody law note

Dumb Starbucks then flooded social media. If you search the hashtag ‘#dumbstarbucks’ on Instagram over 2,000 posts are found. The twitter account has over 15.5 thousand followers.

Nathan Fielder, the founder of Dumb Starbucks, made a YouTube video explaining what Dumb Starbucks was. Toward the end of the video he says “Many of you probably know me as a comedian, but this is no bit or joke. This is a real business I plan to get rich from.”

According to USA Today the Los Angeles Health Department shut down Dumb Starbucks after Fielder revealed that he was behind the parody. ABC 7 of Los Angeles said it was shut down for being open without a valid public health permit.

I myself am not a huge Starbucks fan. I always quote the shirts “Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks”. I would much rather go to Dunkin Donuts. I think Dumb Starbucks is just plain dumb. Obviously they are getting away with this because of the ‘parody law’. My question is how do they get away with using all of Starbucks menu items as well as their logo?

There have been rumors that Fielder is going to try to open another branch in Brooklyn, NY. Do you think this is going to happen? Do you think Dumb Starbucks is going to continue to sell “Dumb Vanilla Blonde Roasts” and “Dumb Iced Café Mocha”? I’ve asked myself, is this a smart way to make a lot of money fast, or a fast way to become broke because of a lawsuit that may come because of this. A question I will now ask you is, If a new branch opens in Brooklyn, will you go and buy a nice hot cup of dumb coffee or will you just say its dumb and walk away?