Friday, February 20, 2009

The Starbucks conundrum

Back when he was easily pleased *

Thank goodness for Peter Mandelson. With one swift expletive-laden outburst, Britain's business secretary has cleared up the Starbucks conundrum that has been bugging me ever since we arrived in the States - the conundrum being whether or not to stoop to a Starbucks' mocha-frappa-cino (or whatever nonsense they sell in the name of coffee). For now that the UK is officially at war with the bully boy of the coffee shop world, I can resume my one-Mom boycott of the tussle-haired green siren. 

(In case you missed it, Mandelson hit out at the Starbucks' chairman, Howard Schultz, after he wrote the British economy off as a basket case on national TV. An irate Mandy, never one for mincing his words, later told a group of British hacks: "Why should I have this guy running down the country? Who the fuck is he? How the hell are they [Starbucks] doing?")

In the UK, the case against Starbucks is cut and dried. Their coffee is lousy and I don't like the way they do business. Hence I avoid their stores. Over here, though, and the waters are a little muddy - a bit like Starbucks' coffee. For starters, its ubiquity - I can think of five within a short stroll of our apartment - can make it hard to avoid, especially for a new Mom desperate for a caffeine shot. Many a time has the call of the green siren proved simply too strong for my sleep-deprived resolve to withstand. Then there's the added complication that even Starbucks' coffee starts to taste pretty good compared with the rest of the dishwater that gets brewed up Stateside. Even the (cafe) creme of the coffee shop chains tend to serve ropy "drip" coffee. 

You have to blame Louis, though, for the real reason why I have succumbed to a Starbucks in my time. Back in the day, when he was but a little baby, he was in love with the Starbucks' lady. I jest not: one glimpse of her flowing locks and he was all smiles. An iced venti frappawhotsit became worth its weight in gold when it cheered him up. Sorry Mandy.

*In the old Blue Peter parlance, that's one I took earlier. 

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