Wednesday, 9 June 2010

It's The Small Things

When you're an intern, surviving the daily grind of photocopying and phone-answering, there are few things in life to get excited about.

Which is why I like to look at the small things to brighten my day.

And today, that small thing is the Starbucks in Soho Sqaure.

Now, call me a materialist, call me a coffee whore, but I'm going to come right out and say it: I like Starbucks. I like the reassurance; the feeling that no matter where I am in the world, whereever there is a Starbucks, I can feel at home. I remember on a trip to Madrid the Boy and I got so sick of eating Spanish food that on our last day we positively fled to Starbucks, basking in the familiar green and the welcoming aroma of generic, Capitalist coffee. I like frappucinos, even if they are a bastardy of Italian in a manner that no Paulo or Graziella worth their cafe solo would be proud of. I like the fact that my coffee can come with vanilla or hazelnut syrup, in sugar or sugar-free varieties. Hell yeah, I'm not afraid, I'll say it again: I like Starbucks.

And I like it even more because, despite their obvious commercialism and cut-and-paste sites, if you go in there enough times the staff start to treat you like on of the family.

Case in point: My current boss is very particular. He likes the same thing, at the same time, every single day. This includes a particularly complicated coffee order which contains at least five words which took me at least five days to remember without having to write it down.

Starbucks doesn't really have that many staff members, so it's likely that if you're in there at the same time, every day, ordering the same thing, they'll eventually remember you. It starts off with an awkward "of all the coffee shops in all the world..." type smile. Then you move on to the "ah, we meet again" type hello. That hello makes you feel special. That hello says, "hey, you're not just an ordinary customer, you're a regular."

But today - oh, today - I hit my personal best. The barrista sees me comes in, points a finger at me and recites my order without even blinking. I'm remembered. I'm somebody.

And that is what has made my day. A barrista in Starbucks remembering an order that isn't even for me.

Wow, I really need to get a job. 


  1. I"m not going to rant about the 'evils' of Starbucks, but....

    I'm pretty sure your office is pretty close to mine right? And we are in spitting distance of some of the best independent coffee shops in the country (never mind London). It seems a shame to give Starbucks your (or your boss's) when you have the likes of Tapped and Packed, Foxcroft and Ginger, Lantana, Flat White and lots of others on your your doorstep.

    Kaffeine on great Titchfield Street serves amazing coffee, and the people who work there knwo what they're doing when it comes to customer service. It's about a 6-7 minute walk from my office (past lots of other chains) but it's worth it fore the chat, the smiles the coffee and (yesterday) the free brownie they snuck in front of me as I was having a work meeting.

    You don't get that in Starbucks no matter how many times you go.

  2. Hi Linus,

    Thanks for the recommendations - I will certainly check them out for myself, although I think The Boss is a bit of a stalwart (plus an American - patriontism, right?).

    Any other local coffee recommendations? I like to plonk myself somewhere and write/read, so requirement would be comfy seats and no air conditiong (if I wanted to sit in a freezer I would...)


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