Why Starbucks continues to interest me

One of my pet hates is when people converge on a target, such as a corporate coffee shop, and lambast it as being akin to worshipping the devil for no good reason other than its success.

I cite Starbucks here, which may be a controversial choice given its recent headlines in the UK for tax shenanigans, but it’s also a fair example of a company large enough to have become a target for simply being ‘big’. This is despite quality assurances, passion for its products and using its money to move coffee trends in the right direction.

I’m a fan of ‘local’ and ‘independent’ if the local, independent outlets get it right and don’t try to rip me off. They often get it wrong because there’s a lack of training for baristas, and they charge way too much for a simple cappuccino (which usually comes out as a flat white).

I was in Amsterdam recently and made my way to the Starbucks concept store at Rembrandt Square. It’s a fantastic place to chill out and learn a little more about where your coffee comes from via tasting sessions and a ‘Reserve Bar’.

It’s an artfully presented, yet casual setting for being by yourself or being social, decorated with a nod to its cultural surroundings and kitted out with some interesting furniture and coffee gadgets.

At this particular branch is a Clover coffee system, created by MIT and handled expertly by master barista Evert. He showed the machine at work and we got to taste the coffee, which was absolutely delicious.

I’m all for being critical where criticism is due, but Starbucks tends to still fascinate me where others often beguile.

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