This morning I went to Starbucks (only because the good downtown coffee houses are two miles and a traffic jam away) and it hadn't changed. What was all that free publicity about? All those news reports about the three-hour re-education camp for their employees last night? All that corporate foam about regaining "the soul of the past"?
Just make a decent cup of joe, for chrissakes, and stop giving them fake Italian names. Charge a little less, no, a lot less. And give James Taylor a break.
It was just the same in there. The same commuters, fueling up on burnt-tasting brew. The same unappealing brown pastries in the plastic box. The same soundtrack telling you to get out before you start yearning for elevators.
Of course, the only reason Starbucks closed down simultaneously all across the nation, like some kind of coffee brown-out, was for the publicity. (Florida was blacked out from Daytona to the Keys, and that got less publicity.) The fact is, Starbucks had to do something, what with their stock dropping, stores going belly up and the failure of their plan to put four green Dilbert-traps at every intersection and addict the nation to caffeinated hot, sweet milk priced at $5,000 a barrel.
That's what they're selling, not their coffee, which tastes like eau de ashtray.
If you want the soul of the past, go to Caffe Trieste in North Beach (or even its Sausalito branch). Or go to any coffeehouse where the only uniforms worn by baristas is inked skin and a studded nose. Hell, I even went to a Dunkin' Donuts when I was back in Massachusetts and (talk about the soul of the past) the coffee reminded me of my youth working night shifts, recovering from concerts and pulling all-nighters for exams.
Alas, I hear Dunkin' Donuts is introducing caffe lattes, or as they call them in venti-doppio land, "lattes." It just means "milk," people. It also means trouble. I want my cops drinking coffee regular. Make that "cawrfee regulah."