Starbucks Spreads Its Wings

Full Discolure... we're in a sitting in a Starbucks right now. We spend a lot of time at Starbucks... too much. We'll admit it. Yes, probably daily visits... and part of it is just the experience of going there, hanging out, bringing the laptop or a book or a magazine and just chillin' out with our little baby. It's an American take on cafe' society, I suppose. Cities like Houston don't really have hordes of cafes where one can sip an espresso and watch the world go by. So, for us in the States, Starbucks will do quite nicely.

But... what do you do when you encounter a Starbucks overseas? I think it's a bit of a quandary. I can unequivocally say that I wouldn't dare set foot in a Starbucks in Italy. No way - it would be like eating McDonald's in Italy. Just so wrong. Now, Canada? I felt no qualms about it - we did it quite a bit while in Ottawa. Then there's places like London...

According to my boss, there are more Starbucks in London than there are in New York City. I think he's telling the truth - from what we saw during our New Year's Eve trip to London, Starbucks was everywhere. There were two within close walking distance in Marylebone. You would usually find a competing Costa Coffee across the street. Well, I guess we just didn't have a big problem with it in London, as you can see from my wife's cup. We grabbed some before taking a train to Hampton Court.

Some people see this as a blight to foreign countries. I don't know... much of me tends to agree. I can't imagine getting a Starbucks in Buenos Aires - yes, it has arrived in Argentina. It just doesn't seem right in BsAs. Same goes for Italy, as mentioned. Now, what about China? Starbucks is starting to expand like crazy in China. Singapore is full of Starbucks stores. Apparently the locals don't mind. The Starbucks in Al Khobar, according to my business associates, is full of young Saudis enjoying a taste of western culture.

At the end of the day, the way I tend to look at it is this - the more "english" the country, the less I mind Starbucks. The more traditional European (i.e. France, Italy, Spain) the country, the less I like the idea (but don't tell anyone we had Starbucks in Madrid - I'm somewhat ashamed but dang it helped with jetlag). I guess it's personal choice. For me, it's remains a quandary. Just know this - Starbucks + Italy + me will never happen.

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