Despite spending the past two years in the city that invented free-trade-faux-hipster-froo-froo-fuckin’ coffee drinks, I don’t really care for Starbucks. That’s not because I’ve got some “stick it to the man!” anti-corporate sentiment. Although I do think Starbucks’ recent “we’re not really Starbucks” business plan might be the height of douchbaggery.
I just don’t like coffee.
On the rare occasions I buy a coffee, I tend to order some triple mocha, extra steamed milk, lots of whipped cream and caramel concoction that essentially has no actual coffee in it at all. Even that only happens maybe twice a year.
That said, Byrant Simon’s new book “Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks” has me asking: Are you serious? Not wanting to talk to total fucking strangers while waiting for a latte isn’t exactly a new (nor an unreasonable) concept. Simon has clearly romanticized some fictional ”good ol’ days” when spontaneous debate and compelling conversations just popped up in every library and public park - “I was walking the dog when this homeless guy started sharing all these great insights on Schopenhauer. That’s why I’m both late for dinner and reeking of urine!”
I mean, I don’t think this imagined community of stirring intellectualism happened even before the internet and/or Starbucks came along. Maybe you got something close to it back when newspapers only came out once a year, and the entire town had to share one, but even then, I think most of the “debates and conversations” were along the lines of “you done with that nice thin piece of paper?” followed by a meaningful look at the town outhouse.
Basically, it sounds like Simon’s entire book is “People are surfing the internet instead of talking to me! If I ran a coffee shop I wouldn’t let them do that!”
“And he conceded he probably won’t open his own coffee shop. But he said he knows what would make a good one. “People want these conversations, people want to feel connected,” he said. “I’m pretty sure about that.”
Just…no. Sorry. People want a fucking cup of coffee and a wifi connection. Maybe they want a hot barista in tight black pants, too. But they definitely don’t want some desperate creepy dude trying to talk to them while they’re sending out resumes or waiting for an 8 dollar froo-froo coffee drink.
I don’t think they ever did. And that’s nothing to blame on Starbucks, no matter how douchebaggy they might occasionally be.