Best of Silicon Valley 2001 - Readers' Picks

[ 'Best of' Index | Metro Silicon Valley | Metroactive Home | Archives ]

[whitespace] Starbucks cup
Play Grounds: It may not be local anymore, but Starbucks promises a good cuppa Joe almost anywhere in the country.

Readers' Choice:
Bucking Trends

Best Coffeehouse

various locations

SO, OUR READERS speak. But were they really speaking, or just mumbling the first thing that came to their caffeine-soaked brains? These are the questions that rattle editors from their beds in the night. Because, to apply the wisdom of writer Anne Lamott (who has pointed out that there are so, so, SO many good reasons not to write), consider this: There are so, so, SO many good reasons not to love Starbucks.

First off: selling tap water. Who didn't quiver with revilement upon reading the report of the snippy barista who refused to give free water to rescue workers after the World Trade Center attacks? A corporate mea culpa campaign has corrected all this, and now you can't get out of a Starbucks without someone practically grabbing your head and thrusting it under the faucet. But we digress.

Before this recent flap, of course, Starbucks was merely hated for being a voracious corporate giant with a penchant for moving in next door to the neighborhood coffeehouse. Corporate philosophy: we're not stealing customers, we're simply creating more coffee drinkers for everyone to enjoy.

But if there is a sparkle of good in Starbucks, surely our readers have found it. Firstly, as our own Christina Waters once pointed out, who hasn't been marooned in an airport in some Godforsaken Midwestern city and practically wept with relief at the sight of a Starbucks in the terminal? Secondly, the Frappucinno. This three-gram-o'-fat milkshake with a kick has no Western equivalent. And finally, as Seattle Weekly writer Bruce Barcott divined in 1997, a strangely compelling case can be made that Starbucks saved the great American city. After the death of the soda fountain, where in the world did people congregate for conversation and refreshment? Nowhere. Starbucks reinvented the hangout--good any time of day, for any kind of person. Retired guys. Moms with strollers. Paramedics on break. Editors on the way to work.

Which brings me to a final point: I met my partner in a Starbucks. It's a little embarrassing, yet I am forced to admit that if I hadn't met Mr. Right in Starbucks, where would I have met him? I still occasionally wander in under the green and black insignia of the goddess with the locks, and raise a nonfat latte to ponder what Bob Dylan calls: a simple twist of fate. CA

Best of Silicon Valley 2001 Table of Contents

[ Silicon Valley | Metroactive Home | Archives ]

From the October 18-24, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit