I totally have double standards when it comes to Starbucks: I love it in the U.S., but I hate the idea of Starbucks in Italy.
In the U.S., I like Starbucks because there’s nothing better when it comes to convenience. Starbucks is always available and consistently reliable like a best friend. Those little paper cups are very convenient for my American on-the-go lifestyle. That’s the thing you do in the U.S.: take coffee to go. It’s a sense of comfort for me, getting a hot cup of joe to go on my lunch break or when setting out on a road trip to California. Fall is that much more exciting because it means Pumpkin Spice Lattes are coming (although I consume them sparingly now that I found out there’s 50 whopping grams of sugar in a grande!). Some of my best memories were made possible by Starbucks, like the time my mom, best friend, and I sat on a pier at Donner Lake to watch the sun rise with our Starbucks coffees and scones.
I’m not opposed to Starbucks. I’m just opposed to Starbucks in Italy, for one big reason:
I prefer Italian coffee. The preparation, the way of drinking it, the flavor, everything.
If I’m in Italy, there’s no way I’m going to seek out a Starbucks. I spend all my time in the U.S. pining away for an Italian caffè. I got started on coffee in Europe while studying abroad, which is probably why it’s more difficult for me to adapt to American coffee than vice versa. A couple swigs of a rich espresso satisfies me more than a venti sized drip coffee (or a sugar coma inducing flavored latte) ever could.
I thought Starbucks was like McDonald’s: everywhere. But when a friend of mine had me search for a “You are here” Starbucks mug from Italy, I was secretly happy to find out that Italy had managed to remain Starbucks free. When I first heard that Starbucks was invading Italy (coming to Milan circa early 2017), I let out an inner slow motion “Noooooooooo!”
Part of the fun of traveling is experiencing the culture of wherever you are.
If it were the other way around and an Italian bar (a bar is actually a coffee shop in Italian!) were opening in my city in the U.S., I would be thrilled. Maybe that’s the draw of Starbucks abroad: curiosity of a foreign commodity. (Arnold coffee, “the American coffee experience” is a popular hangout in Florence). It’s exciting to have a glimpse of another culture through food or drink when traveling there is not easy or convenient. I totally get that. I just know that I won’t be drinking Starbucks…in Italy. I like the fact that I can miss Starbucks when I’m in Italy, and I can miss Italian coffee when I’m in the U.S.
When in Rome applies to coffee too.
(At least in my book!)