Saturday, October 6, 2007

Confessions of a Former Starbucks Addict

My daily Fuel

Man, Starbucks comes to town and now everyone can talk of nothing but coffee. It seems that every expat blog in town has been heralding Starbucks' arrival and/or predicting their demise here in Buenos Aires.

The event has inspired introspection on what the coffee culture means here. There was even a lengthy discussion on the sorry state of coffee found in the supermarkets to make at home on the BA Newcomers Yahoo group. Ironic given how passionate porteños are about their café.

Frank summed up the coffee situation here the best in his post. And of course, Yankimike was quick to weigh in with his thoughts in another good post.

For me, I am proud to say I just don't care that Starbucks is coming to town. You see, I'm a recovering Starbucks addict. Yes, I was a Triple, Vente, Non-Fat, No-Foam, One-Splenda Latte addict. I could not function unless I had at least one every day. I admit it. It was wrong and I have moved on.

In prepping for my move to Argentina, I tried ordering a machiato or a douple shot of espresso knowing that was the main way coffee was offered here. Boy is the espresso nasty at Starbucks. I couldn't drink the stuff. I thought I was in for trouble down here if that is what I had to drink everyday to get my fix.

Once I arrived, I was surprised to learn how great coffee (espresso) should taste. The corner cafe has broken me of my Starbucks addiction and shone me the true light.

For a recent post, Yankimike asked me to provide a picture of what I used to make my cofee at home, I sent him the pic of the empty espresso cup above.

I had to explain to him that I didn't have anything to make coffee at home. Why would you make the crap they offer at the supermarket when I can go to the corner and have bliss in a cup? Besides, as any Argentine will tell you (and expats like Maya), "café" is not about the coffee as much as it is the experience of hanging out in the café.

Thank you Argentina for showing me what true coffee is. Anyone else out there need a 12-step program for ex-Starbucks addicts?

6 comments:

Edward S. Isaacs said...

Fascinating story. I'll follow your blog for as long as you keep posting, the main question remains: Why?
Regards,
Ed.

David Wilbanks said...

Edward:

Why am I an ex-starbucks addict? The coffee in the cafes here is much better than Starbucks could every offer. Here, coffee is meant to be enjoyed lingering in the cafe reading the paper. Not slammed in a cup for you to run out the door.

The taste is the biggest factor though. A doble (double espresso) here is a much lighter roast than what Starbucks used to sell back home. Starbucks actually burns their beans by way over roasting them. Hence the bad espresso experience at Starbucks.

Someone recently posted that a study was done on caffeine levels in various coffees. Starbucks was through the roof. Don't have any direct proof but I suspect they spike it with extra caffeine making us all caffeine addicts.

With the much lower caffeine levels here, I can afford to have coffee throughout the day with no worries.

Edward S. Isaacs said...

Hi David,
Sorry I wasn't specific about my question, it was in regards to your move to Buenos Aires.
The coffee stuff is really cool though.
Regards,
Ed.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I recently did a study of most of the cafes here in Santa Barbara, California:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qFo6mcssWU

I was really surprised to learn that the Starbucks doble was the only truly horrible one in town. Never went back to the SBUX after that.

Blake

David Wilbanks said...

Edward:

I haven't figured that question out yet. We just had the opportunity and went for it. Call it a mid-life crisis if you will.

Buenos Aires is a wonderful city. A little trying at times, but on the whole a great city in which to live.

David Wilbanks said...

Blake:

thanks for link. I noticed how starbucks cheated you out of a few ounces of coffee.

The first time I ordered a doble there, I had to go back to the counter and tell them they only gave me a single. They said no, that was a double. I accepted it, but always felt I was being cheated.