Coffee Connections

Sitting in Cafes and Starbucks- Part 2

Kafa had a king called Matto, with three wives and three houses. As a present to the king, the wife of the gepetato taught one of them to prepare coffee fruits. The Manjo had their own king. He heard about the coffee and wanted to taste it. Manjo had ninety-nine wives and ninety-nine houses, and he told Matto, “I will give you forty wives and forty houses for your one wife that makes you coffee.”

Matto refused. But Manjo was desperate to taste the coffee. He hired some people to kill the king and kidnap the wife that knew how to make coffee.

An excerpt from the Chapter – Origins, from Where the wild coffee grows, by Jeff Koehler

Just like there is a difference between going to a Chinese restaurant in Delhi and in Shanghai, it is a different experience going to any café and Starbucks. I am not trying to pull down other café chains, but walking inside a Starbucks is a sublime experience. The aroma of coffee, the eclectic interiors(uber-chic, contemporary urban art with a touch of rustic realism from the source of coffee, maps, coffee trivia etc.), the quintessential Starbucks music(you could call it Jazz or Blues or Alt Rock, but it is Starbucks music for me), the mostly smiling staff(if they are not smiling, which is fine by me, they are focused on crafting a fine beverage or busy handling the long queue of customers), make Starbucks a place which is much more than just a coffee shop.

 

When I was a Starbucks Partner, during peak times, we ground and brewed drip coffee every 15 minutes, every 30 after peak. The espresso machine is constantly in motion, sending espresso aromas into the air along with the drip coffee.

We were not allowed to wear any perfumes, body spray, lotions, strongly scented laundry detergent or fabric softeners. All of that distracts from the smell of the coffee. It was immediately noticeable when a customer wearing heavily scented perfume or lotion walked in.

Just like Victoria’s Secret has a distinct aroma, so does Starbucks. They use a particular blend and brand of coffee beans, so that’s what makes it different from other coffee shops.

Kristin Wesley, former Barista(Partner) at Starbucks(2014-2016)

Due to the advent of the co-working space concept in all major cities in India, Starbucks has become quite a hot favorite with this community. Some of the outlets I frequent are chock-a-block with college students, freelancers, startup folks, and self-appointed CEOs pitching their groundbreaking ideas to someone at the other end of the phone or face to face. If I had a dollar for every new groundbreaking idea I have (over)heard while sipping a Kenya Medium Roast and trying to read a book, I probably would have enough funds to start an imaginary startup of my own.

Ironical as it may seem, Starbucks, a brand which pushes the coffee culture, science and history(albeit clouded in a veil of corporate Americana/ugly commercialization and a very Western globalization model), sees a majority of customers going for the heavily sweet or creamy drinks. This is one thing that makes me sad, apart from the fact that most of the people who occupy the tables never really order anything! If one just tries to look beyond the everyman Frappuccinos and Caramel Macchiatos, there is a world of coffee to be explored at this chain. I have learned about some of the best Arabica beans, brewing methods, stories from the respective growing regions, and of course enjoyed these great coffee flavors at Starbucks, and every time I do, I wonder why don’t more people do it…

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