Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Starbucks as Starter Home

The Man Without Qualities has an Italian friend (well, actually, his family has lived in Turkey for almost 100 years in Istanbul's "Western Quarter" and he's considered a "Turk" on his American immigration papers, which he's really annoyed about - but that's another story) who denounces Starbucks' coffee as "Cheap, burnt, over-priced, over-roasted, undrinkable swill!"

But I point out to him - with apologies to Mr. Allen - that, yes, it is cheap, burnt, over-priced, over-roasted, undrinkable swill, of course, but as cheap, burnt, over-priced, over-roasted, undrinkable swill goes it's some of the very best! The Starbucks niche is a kind of "starter home" for serious coffee drinkers. After a while, once the exoticism of the espresso-based Starbucks drinks wears off, many Starbucks patrons will want to move further upscale and drink good espresso. They may even learn not to drink any kind of milk in their coffee after dinner and that a double espresso just before bedtime can help one to sleep (an old Italian trick)!

Of course, not every Starbucks patron will move upscale or want to. But the net effect should be more and better coffee and more and better coffee houses!

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