Commerce I love Starbucks. I can't help it. I know that it's a multinational conglomerate, but I can't imagine how I got by without the little mermaid in my life. The cafes are almost always comfortable and they always seem to be staffed by people who genuinely care about their job and I haven't yet been through a Starbucks were I haven't feel like I was made welcome. You feel like a guest. Example:

As I was passing the Bold Street Liverpool shop today I noticed that their new Christmas blend was being advertised and even though I don't actually have any disposable income to spend on the probably inessential, I knew that as I curled up with When Harry Met Sally... again tonight I wanted to be drinking this year's version. Pick up a pack, queue up, pass it to the sales person and she takes the money, then passed the beans to a colleague who is beavering about in the background to be ground.

I stand at the end of the counter while she works. She asks if I'm buying for Christmas. Caught unawares by the small talk, and possibly with a drone-like minion intensity say:
'Actually, it's because I love Starbucks coffee.'
She continues to grind.
'Have you tried this one yet?'
'No. But I liked last years.'
'It's a blend of ... Venezualan, Ethopian ... everything. It's new every year.'
I nod. She walks away. She picks up a small take away cup and fills it with the Christmas blend they already have on the brew. She passes it to me, and suddenly I feel like I'm in a coffee version of the film Sideways. I'm surprised. I take drink.
'It's nice.' I smile. It is nice. 'I doesn't have that nasty, bitter after taste some blends have.' I'm suddenly the Paul Giamatti of coffee ('I'm not drinking fucking Maxwell House!').
She finishes the grind. She pops it into a bag and passes it to me.
'Well I hope you enjoy it.'
'Thanks very much' I say. We part company.

The point about this conversation is that it didn't need to happen. I could and would have simply waited and have in other places. But the barrista filled the pause with small talk despite my usual idiocy and gave me a free taste of the coffee I was buying. I haven't had that kind of service in (m)any other corporate coffee shops and I think that's probably Starbucks' secret weapon, they're a big chain but usually they seem like the local independent were you're always welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:08 am

    I absolutely agree. I love Starbucks too. For me, it's the atmosphere. It's like Breakfast at Tiffany's. I always feel positive, successful and inspired in Starbucks (I think because it reminds me of New York - I feel that way when I'm there too).

    And, of course, they gave me loads of free stuff when I had a bit of wrapper melted into my sandwich.