I love Starbucks.
Partly, I get a kick out of not hating a company so many others have a gut reaction to (don't get me wrong, normally I'm all kinds of visceral, anti-corporate froth). And I've no illusions about a good cup of coffee vs. what you get at Starbucks. But I love what they did to the US beverage market.
See, I hate carbonation. With a passion. As in, I will not drink it. Ever. For any reason. The last two times I did, I threw up. I do not understand why anybody would ever want their beverage to react in that way. And growing up, its was pretty much Coke or Water, kid. Occasionally there was orange juice available, but after college I can't drink the stuff without feeling an involuntary vodka twitch. Anyway, ever since I was a kid, if I couldn't find a milk shake it was pretty much trips back and forth to the water fountain.
As a teenager things started to change, mostly because I hung out at Waffle House and chugged coffee until 4 am. But again, at other times of day or anywhere other than a yellow booth (because who in the hell gets Waffle House coffee to go?) it was back to Coke-or-water. Until these silly little coffee shops started popping up all over the place. At first, they were mad elitist with the whole Seattle, grunge, French poetry and pretension vibe, and I guess Starbucks still tries to remind you of that with their decor and product placement, but no one buys it. I don't remember the last time anyone tried to explain their existential angst while my espresso brewed.
But anywhere I go in America, I've got an easy, convenient option beyond Coke and Water.