Starbucks and Coffee

Starbucks and coffee

It is hard to define Starbucks role in coffee culture since people has very strong opinions about it: they either love it or hate it

To be honest, nowadays I almost never go to a Starbucks, unless it is an emergency of course (i.e. I’m at the airport and it is the only coffee place available).  However, I believe that just like me, a lot of people were introduced by Starbucks to the World lattes, macchiato, mochas , ice coffees and all the different ways you could enjoy this beverage. 

Several books have been written about Starbucks and their success. More than the coffee, I believe that the Starbucks brand provides and sells an experience to their consumers.  

People who claim to know about coffee complain about the mass-production of the beverage and all the flavors and combinations they add, where you can taste from caramel to ginger and lose every trace of coffee.   It is always funny to watch the person in front of you to order an "iced decaf tall sugar-free vanilla" (??)
My main complain towards Starbucks is because of their baristas. If you go to a real coffee place each cup seems to be unique, handcrafted by an artist and in Starbucks you will never see this. I agree that it looks more like an assembly line manufacturing coffee-like drinks in paper cups. You don’t believe me? Watch the following video and compare what you normally drink at Starbucks with this one:

Does it look the same to you?
However, as I said before, it was thanks to them that I started drinking other variations of coffee, and once that I started, I said goodbye to brewed coffee, no more Cafe Americano for me!
For many years I was happy drinking only Starbucks, until I travelled to Japan…

The Journey..

...of discovering coffee

I started drinking coffee in a regular basis probably when I was around 16 years old. At that time I used to think that a good cup of coffee meant hot water with one teaspoon of instant coffee, sugar and some milk; two teaspoons if I needed to stay awake through the night (?). Hey! it had a better flavor than ground coffee!!! At least that what they said:

Eventually, my family bought a coffee maker and we started drinking brewed coffee, and for many many years, that is what I used to drink.  We never had an espresso machine at home, and now that I think about it, no one I knew had one at that time.

Every now and then, if we went out to celebrate someone’s birthday, I was able to order a cappuccino; Oh my God, so delightful! They were mainly reserved for special occasions, and since they were so scarce, I really enjoyed when I was able to have one. However, for many years it was a mystery for me what made it so different to the coffee I drank at home; was there something in the milk?  Was it made with a different type of coffee, a sweeter one? Do they put a spice on it? Was there a secret ingredient on it? Why there’s a monkey called Capuchin and how is it related to coffee?
This is how I look in the mornings before my first cup!

It was until years later, when I got my espresso machine, that I learnt that a cappuccino starts with an espresso shot and that many factors contribute to its really flavor: the type of coffee, the roasting, the grinding, the barista’s skill, etc. There was no secret ingredient after all!

It is important to note that I wouldn’t have bought an espresso machine if it wasn’t because I was introduced to the world of lattes, macchiato, mochas and more by a very controversial player in the coffee world: Starbucks! Everything changed after they came to town...