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Straight Outta Caramel Macchiatos - De File — LiveJournal
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Straight Outta Caramel Macchiatos
I remember reading a story describing the "first urban Starbucks" back in the late 1990s with bemusement. As far as I could tell, there were already hundreds of urban locations. But this new store was in Harlem and therefore "urban" in a different sense.

I don't think that location was a collaborative venture between Starbucks and Magic Johnson's Johnson Development Corporation, but most subsequent "urban" stores have been. And now that partnership has come to the home of N.W.A.:
Mayor Eric Perrodin said the Starbucks ``was like a stamp of approval for the city of Compton'' and is symbolic of a new and prosperous time.
Fans of the green medallion from the days of its Pacific Northwest exclusivity or even when the sole location in the San Francisco Bay Area was at 51st and Broadway -- me, that is -- may tighten their sneers -- quantity almost always goes downhill with quantity -- but I think Alexis De Tocqueville would have regarded the mayor's statement as an accurate expression of American reality, even while not so secretly lamenting the demise of specialosity.

While I realize it may be stretching truth to the point of transparency to term Starbucks a "civic organization" in the sense of Democracy in American, there is something interesting about the way in which mainstream café culture reorganizes private "public" space. All those people sitting at their Wi-Fi laptops half-working in their office away from the office or, increasingly, their only office are engaged with other citizens in a way that people who don't work in public are not.

Mode: bemused
Muse: Gin And Juice - The Gourds

7 comments or Leave a comment
From: batdina Date: July 25th, 2004 10:41 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
once upon a time I was waiting for the Elizabethan stage to open in Ashland, and I found myself in conversation with someone about Berkeley. She was saying that in the years she lived in Berkeley, (I think she got an MBA), there was, and I quote "Not a single cafe near campus where she could get her latte."

Upon further questioning (I, no doubt, probably looked at her like she was the idiot I still believe her to have been), what she really meant was that "there was no Starbucks", all other places (numbering in the dozens) being places she didn't trust to give her the latte she was desiring.

While I have been known to get myself a latte at Starbucks on occasion, I have also been known to smile with glee every time I realise that there's a Peets near campus now, but still no Starbucks on the southside.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 26th, 2004 12:46 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Peet's seems to have lost something too, what with all the expansion and the selling of coffee in Safeway. But I still prefer Peet's over Starbucks by a wide margin.

Where's that Berkeley Peet's?

The Starbucks at Center and Oxford is pretty close, convenient for the BART-bound.
cpratt From: cpratt Date: July 25th, 2004 11:27 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
quantity almost always goes downhill with quantity

Come again?

Seriously, do you think the quality's gone down at all? I head for Starbucks at least twice a year, and it always seems pretty much the same; at least, the lattes are the same [it might interest you to know that Starbucks uses just about the highest milk to coffee ratio of any coffee shop, at least according to a Guardian article from this Spring].
kdotdammit From: kdotdammit Date: July 25th, 2004 11:35 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Well, the quality I guess can go down hill in so much as overpriced mediocre swill can be either more or less mediocre though consistently overpriced.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 26th, 2004 12:44 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Some of my former students worked at Starbucks. I got the lowdown on some compromises made by the company over the past year or two that troubled seasoned baristas. Apparently, the training issue has caught up with Starbucks. It's not the product - which was never the best, as Kim rightly points out -- that has changed but the ability to staff stores with people who can master the technique of making decent espresso drinks. To compensate, they've switched over to simpler machines that take the subjectivity out of pulling espresso and foaming milk, but at the expense of taste. Or so my former students tell me.
From: sittinginaroom Date: July 26th, 2004 04:46 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Your former students' departure from Starbucks has also resulted in a decline in my gratis Starbucks consumption. And regardless of its middling quality, free coffee be free coffee. I've also found, at least around Tucson and Phoenix, that the quality of any particular coffee shop's product varies inversely with its clientele's cleanliness. Take Epic Cafe -- gross, dumb hippies outside, delicious pastries, decent coffee and free WiFi inside. I remember sitting outside Epic one day when a local hippie who I knew for a fact worked at Brooklyn Pizza, and who had many friends in common with myself, looked at me with a pathetic, forlorn expression and told me she forgot her name and identity. She served me a slice two days later.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 26th, 2004 06:29 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I haven't been to Epic Café in a long time. But I should check it out, once my laptop is working right again. It's funny, but there's actually better free Wi-Fi here than I found in the Bay Area. Or, rather, it's in places you want to hang out.

I'm not sure about your formula, though. I think Raging Sage is pretty great -- the beans certainly are, even if some baristas get the milk too hot, especially in the morning -- and also very clean.

But it's not really a place to spend more than an hour, I feel. Kim and I once spent hours at an awesome, sofa-filled café in Calgary back in June, 1993. That one was awesome.

Our favorite, though, is Pannikin in Encinitas, where we spent the better part -- along with Disneyland, naturally -- of our last two So-Cal trips.
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