Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Starbucks junkies

Remember that scene in You’ve got a mail, when Tom Hanks writes to Meg Ryan  : “The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is, for people with no decision ability whatsoever, to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, de-caf, low-fat, non-fat…So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing, or who on earth they are, can for only 2,95$ get not just a cup of coffee, but absolutely defining sense of self . tall!! De-caf!! Cappuccino!!!”
For me Starbucks is a personal, and worldwide phenomenon. It is a bit better quality fast-food for coffee. Anywhere in the world, if you pop in Starbucks it looks more or less the same, tastes the same, speaks the same language. It’s called Dolce Latte language. Special marks  : wooden chairs, if you’re lucky,  a couple of deep armchairs; cups, thermoses, cans of tea, bags of coffee, on black shelves, cakes and cookies behind the glass, flavors of coffee written on black board above them. When you add cosy light, and kind of music that doesn’t exactly make a difference if it’s played or not, you get a perfect mixture of sweet nothing. Even coffee itself, compared to the REAL Italian espresso, or cappuccino, served in Italian//French cafés seems as bad, as pumpkin scone for your waist.
There more - not until a couple of years ago did they bring in some changes, Starbucks, seemed to be awful for the environment, with their waste of water, paper cups and napkins, and above all leftover coffee grounds.
I don’t go to MacDonald’s because of the environment, I can’t give up my coffee, I’m sorry. Or deep, green suede, armchair, or tiny round table in the corner, where I look so poetic sipping vanilla tea, reading a book when trains to Grand Central are passing by.
And what’s most important the smell of coffee.
I enter and order, cappuccino//pumpkin latte//plain black. Depends on which stage of diet  I actually am. When I come to write, I always order coffee in a ceramic, (not paper!) cup.  It is a well-known scientific fact, that different things taste differently when served in glass, not plastic. No self-respectable European, would drink their coffee in paper cup if they don’t have to. I make myself comfortable, open my laptop, put books on its side. Headphones on. Jazz, perfect, allows me to focus. Grande cappuccino is gone after five minutes, I just sit there and wish I had a spoon so I could finish thick layer of  foam, that is left at the bottom of my cup. I can hear the rhythm of the base and melody of the trumpet in my ears, watching world go by.
After going to the same Starbucks for a while customer service knowsyou. God, wasn’t I happy when I got four, Outrageous oatmeal cookies, for free, cause they were closing. Anybody fits in here, but if you take a closer look at people around, they seem to have something in common. Students with laptops, girls and boys with books on their laps, a businessman who just popped in for a quick caffeine shot, well-dressed moms with Fendi bags around them and de-caf Carmel Macchiatos in front of them. Even bold weirdo in the corner who keeps staring at me for half an hour now. It is not only fashion, even though, it’s another well known fact, that you DO look cooler with Starbucks cup in your hand, the same as you do with  a cigarette. It is not only addiction to caffeine, but also, to what paper cup with green mark on represents. Strange, kind of surreal unity of Starbucks addicts.
Got a text from M. who is in desperate need of Cranberry BlissBar. She can’t get one herself being stuck at home, sick. I can understand her desperation.
What makes Starbucks so special is its personal character. Because it’s so characterless, you make it your own, as you wish.
I remember first time when I got to New York. I sat in Starbucks on the corner of Madison Av and 42nd St, with fresh Vogue on my lap, and New York Times waiting in the bag on the floor. I felt like I was finally here. Quoting my favorite New Yorker - Whatever Works – Bottoms up junkies !

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