Monday, March 22, 2010

Starbucks Society

When I was a senior in college, a Starbucks opened in town and my roommates and I would go every few days for a fancy drink.  Sometimes, my friends' boyfriends would even bring us back drinks.  Starbucks weren't new but they were new in this town.  Everyone acted like they had been deprived by not having one nearby.  I had grown up in a town where the nearest Starbucks was fifteen minutes away and never felt like I was missing anything.  Even now, my town only has a Starbucks in the Stop and Shop, and I've never gone there for a beverage.  It just seems wrong to have a cafe in a store where people get charged $5 for a hot chocolate when some shoppers are really having trouble buying food for their families.

 (Image courtesy of Scott's Coffee House)

Anyway, I remember stopping at a Starbucks with my mother after I graduated from college, about 5 years ago.  She stood with me in front of the menu, confused and not knowing what to order.  I eventually got her a vanilla latte, which she said she liked.  For me, I was a mocha or caramel mocchiato kind of girl. These frothy drinks were a treat for me--and even though my mother told me a few weeks later that she hated Starbucks, I was happy at the time to introduce her to the land of designer coffee.

That was a long time ago.  She goes to Starbucks all the time now and loves it.  I'm not sure what changed for her--the drinks still taste the same.  I myself only go when I am with my roommate from college.  She visits one of the 4(!) Starbucks in her town daily and when we get together (we see each other about every other week since she lives 40 minutes away) it's a treat to go with her--I get a lovely drink and we sit and talk, and I almost feel like we are in college again.

This weekend, we spent Saturday evening hanging out and when we went to Starbucks after dinner, I tried their new drink, a dark cherry mocha.  It was delicious, even with the skim milk that I substituted in for the whole milk, and I recommend it if you are looking for a little change or a liquid dessert of the non-alcoholic persuasion. 

All this said, I still prefer an independent coffee shop.  I love coffee from different regions of the world.  I love the way that the high school or college kids that work at small cafes get to pick the music that is playing instead of putting on a CD that has been approved by management.  The baked goods are usually better and there is real art on the walls.  And no one will make you feel dumb if you mispronounce 'frappuccino.'

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