The awful truth about Starbucks

Until very recently, I had never set foot inside a Starbucks. Not for any particular ideological reason, but simply because there wasn’t one hereabouts, Costa having got here first and rather filled all the niches in railway stations and bookshops and suchlike. I’ve passed plenty in London but never stopped in one, for three reasons : When I’m in London with my sister, she likes Pret. When I’m there with my partner, we tend to be at the British Library, which has it’s own tea and coffee facilities. When I am in London by my self I like to lurk in my hotel room drinking wine scooped up from the M&S at Euston and muttering at the TV, because as I’ve mentioned before, I am not London’s biggest fan.

Other UK cities I frequent are either to posh for Starbucks and have proper tea shops, are not to posh but have been similarly colonised by Costa outlets, or are to nasty for Starbucks and have been colonised by Greggs and Bakers Oven outlets.

Of course, like everyone else, I’ve heard a variety of hippies, crusties, anarchists, anti globalists, Guardian columnists and various other forms of dribbling trot mentalist banging on about it. How depressing Starbucks is, how it somehow, just by dint of being a multinational is evil and robs people of their humanity.

From these rather scattered and appalling snippets of drooling hatred, you would think that their coffee was somehow manufactured in sweatshops and that they shipped in the water they use from awful labs where baby seals are tortured and made to cry bitter tears into vats.

Starbucks, however, has now colonised the niche once occupied by Music Zone in the local shopping centre, presumably they have now decided that our rising student population is enough to support them, and they seem to be right, as the outlet is usually busy.

So it was with some trepidation that I ventured in, half expecting to see formless, half human, wraiths robotically serving bizarre coffee confections to identifiably hostile global capitalist overlords, who would probably have brought their own babies to eat.

Actually, what I found was a pleasant shop with friendly, happy staff that did a really excellent cup of tea – TAZO English Breakfast for those that are interested – for no more money than most of the independent joints would charge for what tastes suspiciously like Tetley. Which is fucking good value if it really does contain baby seal tears. They also had the biggest chocolate money I have ever seen.

I got a loyalty card.

Stupid fucking hippies.


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