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Starbuck's


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Starbucks does better coffee that the Fat Duck  :biggrin:

ps. will a mod please remove Michael's erroneous apostrophe from the thread title? thanks

If I did, half of this fascinating thread would make no sense at all.

I will however swap your that for a than.

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Excellent, BH. What were you having?

Since I'm from Seattle, let me pipe up to defend the evil empire. I think the product is okay. A lot of places do espresso better, and a lot don't. But I think Starbucks is bringing more than middle-of-the-road affected espresso drinks with it on its road to world domination. Here in Seattle many people carry around an image of life before Starbucks, with independent coffeehouses on every corner before they were crushed by the tail of the spread-eagle mermaid.

This is bogus, of course. Starbucks (along with SBC and Torrefazione, among other, but mostly Starbucks) created the demand for that type of coffeehouse, at least in the U.S., and as a result my neighborhood is full of corporate coffee chains, but also full of indie coffee spots, most of which are doing fine. One sells good donuts. One is aggressively punk-rock and puts out an A-frame with anti-Starbucks slogans. Many offer internet access. All offer near-clones of the Starbucks menu.

I certainly find it hard to imagine Starbucks turning England into a nation of coffee drinkers, and I think London can integrate a large number of American-style coffeehouses without losing its essential Londonness.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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In the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king. There is little doubt that the arrival of Starbucks (or even the threat of their arrival) in the UK certainly improved the awareness of coffee and we realised that the s**t we used to drink could be improved quite a lot. It's just a shame that having raised awareness their products are definitely on the low side of acceptable. And even halfway decent coffee does not need the addition of anything other than milk (on occasions) and sweetening (if we must). Caramel? What were you thinking?

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Excellent, BH.  What were you having?

I had the Sauteed Sugar Pea Vines with Black Mushrooms & Bean Curd Sheet (paper thin and rolled), and House Special Barley Green Hand Shaven Chow Mein with Shrimp, Chicken & Squid. I highly recommend both of these dishes. Howard was particularly eyeing my sauteed sugar pea vines, I think.

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  Miss J

Posted: Feb 13 2003, 08:38 AM

It's pretty amazing how much the coffee scene has changed here over the past eight years. :blink:

Holly Moore

Posted: Feb 13 2003, 08:55 AM I am curious. Is there a British equivalent (a national or empire-wide chain) to Starbuck's for tea? Should there be?

A couple of years ago, my daughter (then 13, already an adventurous traveller and eater) and I spent a week in London. We found ourselves unable to stop giggling when we ducked into a Starbucks to get out of the rain, and saw two other Starbucks, one diagonally across the intersection, and another across the street about halfway down the block.

We live in Colorado. We drink lots of tea; we live in a city that's the home of both Celestial Seasonings and the Russian (Dushanbe) Teahouse. We were looking forward to drinking tea in England, but were terribly disappointed. We were able to buy wonderful tea to bring home, but didn't find a good place to drink tea while we were there. We were on a limited budget, but didn't anticipate that that would mean we would only be served mediocre teabag tea.

It was enlightening, and a good topic of conversation, if not what we had hoped for, to find that Starbucks was a reasonable option.

afn

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...but didn't anticipate that that would mean we would only be served mediocre teabag tea.

I haven't been to Denver so I can't comment on the quality of your tea (or the water, undoubtedly much better than LA), but to a Southern Californian, British teabag tea is a tremendous improvement on that which most restaurants serve here. I have to say that the restaurants are trying, by providing better teas these days, however water quality has a LOT to do with it, as does water temperature, as well as the milk served with the tea....so many variables!

I guess I'm saying that tea is my beverage of choice when in Britain and no matter where its origin, it is always head and shoulders above that which I can generally get in the States (of coure there are always exceptions!)!

whoops -- guess I should at least mention Starbucks or this'll have to be moved to a tea thread!

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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I haven't been to Denver so I can't comment on the quality of your tea (or the water, undoubtedly much better than LA), but to a Southern Californian, British teabag tea is a tremendous improvement on that which most restaurants serve here. I have to say that the restaurants are trying, by providing better teas these days, however water quality has a LOT to do with it, as does water temperature, as well as the milk served with the tea....so many variables!

You're right, we have wonderful water.

The only problem these days, there isn't any. We're in the throes of what officials are calling the worst drought ever. Oops, sorry. Talk about veering into off-topic.

However, even when we have water, it boils at somewhere around 198º (?) at the mile high altitude in Denver, and at an even lower temperature in the mountains. Theoretically, (c'mon you scientists out there, please chime in) that should result in lousy tea.

The only good tea we had in London was in the home of an old college friend, an expat. We ate wonderful (and for London, cheap) food: Fish 'n Chips, Indian, Greek. For lunch, Pret was great for sandwiches. We were delighted to find it. But I've learned, here on egullet, that McDonalds now has a stake in Pret, (as it does in Denver-born Chipotle).

Starbucks, McDonalds, egads. A frightening scenario!

afn

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Starbuck's product is little more than a high calorie and desperately unhealthy caffieneated milkshake.

I'm surprised at the number of people who enjoy Starbucks coffee :blink:

Although I've not tried their 'short' coffees, the Latte and Cappuccino are exactly as LML describes. Where exactly does the coffee come into it? A Latte and Cappuccino may have a large percentage of milk but that doesn't mean that they have to be so incredibly weak! :sad:

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Matthew, you can adjust. Try asking for a double tall dry cap. I'm not saying the coffee's good, but the proportions are infinitely fixable.

And there lies the con! to get a decent coffee, you can't order standard, you have to pay extra to get it to have any taste! I notice that Monmouth, gives an extra shot for free if requested.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Matthew, you're absolutely right - Monmouth serves better coffee. But that's not the point. Before Starbucks, coffee in this country was really, horrendously bad, instead of just generally bad. The fact that we can pick out ONE particular company that offers good coffee ought to be a sign of that. (Insert sad little sigh here.)

Like it or loathe it (and I'm delighted to note that so many Britons loathe it, as they've obviously gone waaaay beyond the instant-coffee-made-with-hot-milk experience), Starbucks has made a positive - though hardly gourmet - contribution here.

So there. :wink:

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Matthew, you're absolutely right - Monmouth serves better coffee. But that's not the point. Before Starbucks, coffee in this country was really, horrendously bad, instead of just generally bad. The fact that we can pick out ONE particular company that offers good coffee ought to be a sign of that. (Insert sad little sigh here.)

Like it or loathe it (and I'm delighted to note that so many Britons loathe it, as they've obviously gone waaaay beyond the instant-coffee-made-with-hot-milk experience), Starbucks has made a positive - though hardly gourmet - contribution here.

So there.  :wink:

This would have been the case whether or not Starbucks had glommed its way onto our high streets.

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My single contribution to this thread is from the point of view of an avowed espresso drinker. To the extent that I do not believe I have ever had a capuccino/latte in my life. The worst espresso I have ever had was in Starbucks, opposite Richmond station.

v

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I am a straight espresso drinker too. No sugar, nothing but a doppio, or trippio.

There are occassional Starbucks that aren't good because the machines are off, but the average espresso at a Starbucks is quite good. And better than at most 3 star and up restaurants in NYC.

The thing that ruins espresso is extra bitterness, and with their method of timing shots, they get the flavor out of the bean without going too far.

beachfan

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I don't see how a Starbucks in a neighborhood is a bad thing. The people that want to go there will, and those that don't want to can go somewhere else. Simple.

In my neighborhood we have Starbucks and Tully's within about a block of each other. Both seem busy. I go to either place only rarely. Both are good neighbors of the community though, and contribute generously with charity, goodwill, donations & community service to the communities they are in. They have also gone into some neighborhoods in an attempt to revitalize them (ie the Harlem & Seattle Central area Starbucks come to mind). Good businesses lead to more good businesses in neighborhoods. And they even lead to more independent coffee houses as well.

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But I've learned, here on egullet, that McDonalds now has a stake in Pret, (as it does in Denver-born  Chipotle).

I danced down our local high street when Chipotle closed its doors a few weeks ago. They opened less than a year ago, on a street where there were already seven Mexican restaurants within ten blocks.

And, to get back to the coffee topic, Peet's is going in where Chipotle was. I'm in heaven! Perhaps they will put the kiddie-corner Starbucks (one of two on the street) out of business!

Note to Kikujiro and LML: there IS a possessive apostrophe in Peet's!

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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Peet's is going in where Chipotle was.  I'm in heaven!  Perhaps they will put the kiddie-corner Starbucks (one of two on the street) out of business!

Hardly non-corporate any more, though, surely? Or do you just prefer the coffee?

True, yet not trying to take over the coffee world. And perhaps, as others have stated but I have not noticed, their product has suffered slightly due to their expansion. But I do like their coffees. Their barristas are well-trained. And I'm looking forward to having them within walking distance!

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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I'm a real espresso lover, but in my experience in London's coffee shops I have only found deception.

90% of the time I leave my cup full, feeling robbed of the obscene amount of money I spend for some poison- tasting dirty water. First of all, why they call espresso a cup containing 1/2 liter of the vicious drink? It should be short, strong and with a top layer of 'cream', but is not, so again they are abusing the terminology of the Italian gastro-dictionary. Starbuck in not exception. They're cappuccino is albino, and you can only get a proper one after you ask for several shots of espresso. Not too mention their stupid terminology: where the hell are they getting it from? Not only it doesn't mean anything, but also makes even more confusing ordering a coffee with their unprofessional baristas-hell. I hate it.

I should probably open my espresso bar, where people can only get medium size, half skimmed milk and avoid pointless queuing. And if someone asks me for an "extra-large skinny double espresso shot cappuccino with marshmallows" I will simply tell them to get a life.

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Starbucks thoughts:

People now call out the temperature for their milk (I assumed). (A 135 low foam latte.)

I once overheard a kid on a date at an Indian restaurant order "Chai" at the end of the meal. When the waiter asked "masala tea?", the kid got snotty and said "chai!" The waiter asked again, "regular tea or masala?" The kid got rude and said, "I just want chai." A guy at the next table leaned over and said, "chai just means tea in Hindi -- this isn't Starbucks." (Repeated anecdote.)

They don't have cashiers, they have register associates. Seriously.

I ran into some Europeans (Swiss and Danish), who like Starbucks because they're allowed to sit and drink coffee as long as they want. They claim that regular coffee shops will force them to buy food or such. (Repeated anecdote.)

Small, medium, and large was good enough for the boys at Valley Forge, why not for the trend-os at Starbucks? Or is $1.65 for a cup of coffee more palatable if they try to work Italian into the name.

Off-topic -- I'm certain that Pete's puts herion into their coffee.

Edited by Stone (log)
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And if someone asks me for an "extra-large skinny double espresso shot cappuccino with marshmallows" I will simply tell them to get a life.

Wouldn't -- Fuck off! -- be more satisfying?

Well, that's what I really thought of, but I just didn't want to be rude! :biggrin:

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