What is it with Starbuck's, anyway? What is it with "venti" and "grande"? We had breakfast at Starbuck's yesterday, and again today -- the first time I've been in a Starbuck's since February, and then we were in Madrid in a suburb where it seemed to be the only cafe. We had breakfast there because it was right across the street from our hotel, the Tremont, and we thought well, why not, who's going to see us.
Both mornings the orders got scrambled. I think it's partly because of those ridiculous names for the sizes -- no grown man wants to order a "venti" or a "grande." I order "medium" or "tall," and of course they hear "tall" as "small," and so it goes.
Giovanna tells us her favorite neighborhood cafe, the formerly excellent Torrefazione, is being closed. Torrefazione started in Seattle, as did Starbuck's for that matter, but distinguised itself on a number of points. The coffee, to begin with: excellent coffee blended and roasted in the Italian style, which seems to my taste not at all to be the case with Starbuck's.
Then too Torrefazione served their coffees in nice faence crockery imported from Deruta, which gave the eye and the touch as much pleasure as the coffee itself offered the nose and the tongue. And Torrefazione seemed to find Italians to work the machines, or, barring that, training American kids to pay attention to what they were doing.
Starbuck's bought Torrefazione, of course, as they have bought Peet's, and (I think) Seattle's Best. They seem to want to own it all. That would be okay with me, I guess, if they'd respect the differences obtaining among all these cafes. In Giovanna's neighborhood there were Peet's, Starbuck's, and Torrefaziones with a block of one another, and each seemed to find its own clientele. Viva pluralism!
But one morning the beautiful heart-shaped design was not traced on the top of Giovanna's cappuccino -- the baristas had been told to stop doing that, because it proved that the milk had not been foamed dry enough. Never mind that every decent cafe in Italy makes its cappuccinos thus.
Torrefazione had already been made to stop using Deruta. Too expensive, no doubt. And now the cafe is being closed altogether.
It's just another demonstration of what's wrong with globalism, with NAFTA, with international cartels. More LCD, and I don't mean liquid-crystal display: Least Common Denominator. I say, to hell with Starbuck's. I'm not going back.