Re: Talking in a coffee shop at all is basically begging everyone else to listen anyway.

1

Did you see what drink she had ordered?


Posted by: Vance Maverick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:20 PM
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Sounds like the Facebook/MySpace thing. Or maybe Twitter, because no one (i.e., everyone) uses Facebook now.

Consumer goods have always been used as class signifiers ("He's a gentleman: look at his boots"); citing studies makes the noting of such sound less aristocratic and more sciencey, I guess.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:21 PM
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1: I think she had a regular coffee, and they were referring to some chi-chi drink their boss gets sometimes. Maybe? I really ought to have been nosier.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:23 PM
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Brand association-- sexy/rich/tasteful people consume X. A cheap way to get the social or possibly aspirational benefits of being sexy/rich/tasteful is to consume X yourself. There's a great book href="http://www.amazon.com/Adcult-USA-Professor-James-Twitchell/dp/0231103255"> Adcult USA that filled in many details of this process for me.

Or maybe you meant why Mocha/Latte is a suitable stratifier? I would guess because it's subtle-- crude tokens are easily imitated.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:26 PM
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Sexy people post working links


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:28 PM
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A cheap way to get the social or possibly aspirational benefits of being sexy/rich/tasteful is to consume X yourself.

Except that really doesn't work, usually.

Or wait, I take that back I mean, it works well to sell product (which is the real point), but it doesn't get the people falling for it the social or possibly aspirational benefits they're aiming for.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:30 PM
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Stanley stalks people in stores.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:38 PM
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Will buys lunch for people who stalk him in stores.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:39 PM
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Taking lots of sugar in your tea is a class marker of old--similar, I think.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:39 PM
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While we're talking about trivial things that bug us in coffee shops, here's my own: coffee shops that refuse to use plain English for the drink sizes. I don't care if the employees speak English with an accent or prefer a different language entirely, what bugs me is when they use words like Humpty Dumpty does. If something that's tall is big, then why is the tall coffee at Starbucks the smallest of your options?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:41 PM
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why Mocha/Latte is a suitable stratifier

Because Mochas are sweet and thus more palatable to those who lack the money or inclination to acquire a taste for good coffee?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:43 PM
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78% of all statistics...


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:45 PM
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"...what was her point?"

If you drink lattes, reverse magic will raise your income.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:47 PM
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I'm fairly poor, and I drink mochas. Spooky!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:49 PM
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10: It made me happy the other day to be getting a coffee in SB (airport, what do you do) and hear the counter staff translating the stupid sizes back into small/medium/large when passing on the order.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:49 PM
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On a related note, I got a laugh when scrutinizing that sleeve used to keep coffee in a thin paper cup from burning your hand. It said "degradable." Not "biodegradable," just "degradable." Like, ready and waiting to be insulted.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:53 PM
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I'm fairly poor, and I drink mochas. Spooky!

They've got you pinned, DS. No sense in fighting it, just do as they say.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:55 PM
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Mochas are always more expensive than lattes.

I suppose if you don't treat yourself to a Starbucks coffee very often, you might want to go all out for something that looks like it was worth spending all that money on - a big foaming mug of chocolate flavored with espresso and a mound of whipped cream on top. And that way, you can hardly taste the vile Starbucks coffee so it's a win-win!

10: An ex-barista at Starbucks put together this chart which is so much clearer and better-explained than the official Starbucks page: a handy guide to basic Starbuckian offerings. I'm especially fond of the part which describes the Graveyard of Discontinued Drinks, but then I'd much rather read this than drink at Starbucks...


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:55 PM
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I like Starbucks just fine. This marks me as low class, I imagine.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:57 PM
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Friends don't let friends drink at Starbucks, Di. You're not a Quaker, apparently.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:00 PM
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doesn't work

Aspirationally at least, I think that this is complicated. People imitate what they wish to become without regard to marketing and advertising. The impulse has been hijacked, but there is more going on than marketers manipulating an unwilling audience. I really liked Twitchell, though I found him too credulous about the cost:benefit of this.

Sumptuary laws are another branch of the same behavior, with the closest modern corollary being sniffiness about expensive leased cars and clothing. It is apparently possible to lease very expensive handbags, for instance.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:01 PM
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You're not a Quaker, apparently.

No, but I do like oatmeal.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:02 PM
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Keep eating the oatmeal, Di. You'll become Quaker eventually.

That was neat, Jes. I liked the part about serving temperatures.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:04 PM
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why is the tall coffee at Starbucks the smallest of your options?

They do have an unadvertised "short" size that you can ask for. It's mostly useful for cappuccinos, which are absurd when ordered in larger sizes.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:04 PM
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Are you sure it wasn't David Brooks in drag?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:06 PM
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Also, if you ask for your latte "animal style", they grill the onions and add a different sauce.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:07 PM
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25 ==> Stanley, not to Matt F re: short cups.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:10 PM
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People imitate what they wish to become without regard to marketing and advertising.

Agreed. What I meant is more specific to things like latte/mocha split --- by the time the OP conversation is happening, the `European Coffee Shop' idea has been thoroughly commoditized and marketed. It's a solidly middle class signifier dressed up as a (SES sense) elite product, and so chasing it as such is self contradicting.

This is very common. Which isn't to say the effect your talking about doesn't exist in a purer form.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:10 PM
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which are absurd when ordered in larger sizes.

and have far to much milk to be reasonably called a cappuchino, I think.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:11 PM
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Talking in a coffee shop at all is basically begging everyone else to listen anyway.

This is why I always make sure that my coffee-shop conversation is witty, erudite, and instructive. I imagine I have inspired and enlightened many through this ministry.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:12 PM
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This is why I always make sure that my coffee-shop conversation is witty, erudite, and instructive.

I just turn on the "read page aloud" function on the laptop, and point it at unfogged while I drink my coffee.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:14 PM
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10: There's glory for you!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:24 PM
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I like 30 a lot.

31 is great in light of the interleaved nature of long threads:

298: blahblahblahblahzizekblahanalyticphilosophyblah
299: blahswippleblah
300: blahzizekcockjokeblah
301: Kobe!
302: Dammit!

Fin


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:35 PM
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Everyone knows that poor people are all fat slobs who like everything with lots of sugar and fat, coffee included.

If something that's tall is big, then why is the tall coffee at Starbucks the smallest of your options?

There actually was a time when your size choices at Starbucks were "short" and "tall" and there was none of this frappucino nonsense to be seen. Also, dinosaurs roamed the earth. And what MattF said in 24: many, but not all, Starbucks stores will still make you a short cappuccino if you ask for one.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:42 PM
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On the SB translation front, I was amused over the weekend when I ordered an iced coffee with skim milk. The cashier shouted the order to the barista as "nonfat" milk, and the barista shouted it back as "skinny" milk.

I'm under the impression they're supposed to say "nonfat", but I have no idea why.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:52 PM
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heck, if you go back far enough Starbucks was just a nice local place in and around Pike market, unlike the bucket of suck it is today.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:52 PM
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Consumption patterns drive much ontology of US citizenry. _Less Than Zero_ was the first place I noticed this.

Next week in the metro section, D. Boyd will report:
Facebook users drink Sant Ambroeus or Torrefazione; Myspace users drink Dunkin.


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:54 PM
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It would be totally out of line to suggest that calling the smallest drink "tall" is intended to appeal to the fellas who like to conceive of the littlest things as "big."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:55 PM
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It would be totally out of line to suggest...

sure, but nothings stopping you here.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:56 PM
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Okay, and I really just don't get the intense animosity to SB. Is it the best coffee ever? Certainly not. But it is a long ways from the worst.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:57 PM
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24/34: Meh, thanks for the tip, but 12 oz. is fine. I guess it's nice to know about the unadvertised option, for some possible day when I want a hot drink but only a small one. Why have the option at all if they aren't going to advertise it, then?

32: Exactly.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:57 PM
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Consumption patterns drive much ontology of US citizenry.

Big spenders are generally anti-realist about numbers.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:57 PM
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Okay, and I really just don't get the intense animosity to SB.

It's a class marker.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:58 PM
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intense animosity to SB

It's a class marker.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:59 PM
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But it is a long ways from the worst.

You can easily get worse coffee, sure.... often at 1/3 the price or less.

I think it gets picked on as a class marker as much because of the ubiquity, as for the solidly mediocre product at a high price. That and the more inane parts of the marketing strategy based around bringing a high buff polish to a faux finish.... "let's armtwist america into say "venti" and that will make the experience of a european coffee shop an american franchise sooo much more authentic.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:05 PM
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I guess it's nice to know about the unadvertised option, for some possible day when I want a hot drink but only a small one.

I thought the point is more often that the ratios are all messed up unless you order the smaller amount, but I could be wrong.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:07 PM
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I really just don't get the intense animosity to SB

My animosity is based on SB's relentless assault on all other coffee shops. Is it really necessary to open 2 SB's on the same block to drive the pre-existing shops out of business? (I'm not exaggerating. There were 2 just south of Dupont Circle in D.C., though I think the second eventually closed after the other coffee shop did.)

The coffee is certainly drinkable, but is somehow super-caffeinated. It makes me incredibly jittery, which I've never experienced elsewhere, even after drinking 3 or 4 cups. Other people I know have the same reaction.

Also what soup said in 45.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:10 PM
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We are losing our horrible coffee. Horrible cafeteria coffee was a very important social glue growing up. We'd all grab cups of horrible coffee and then complain about how horrible it was. No matter how bad one's day was, it was better than the coffee. And then another refill.


Posted by: Mo MacArbie | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:10 PM
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Also what Sir Kraab said about predatory market squeezing.


48 is probably right, in that SB has a big role in exposing the dreadful end of american coffee drinking practice to the elements, and letting them die there.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:14 PM
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46: Exactly. Espresso, milk, and froth should be added by ratio, not volume. A "tall" cappuccino at SB (and lots of other places) is watered (milked?) down. Which is fine if that's what you want, but really annoying if you want a proper cappuccino.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:14 PM
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A lot of the people who genuinely love Starbucks, like my sister, are annoying. She thinks of the opening of a new Marriott in some foreign city as a sign that civilization has finally arrived and that she can visit that city in comfort, and she thinks of the opening of a Starbucks as a very similar sort of indicator for a neighborhood within a city.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:14 PM
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51 makes me sad.

50: And asking them to make different ratios doesn't work. I don't know if that's training, or pre-measured amounts, or what. All I know is the only thing approaching a `proper' cappuchino I've had there was a short one.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:18 PM
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36: By the time I encountered them they were a local chain, but I don't remember their having any stores outside the Seattle metro area yet. I think they introduced the grande size when I was living in Ballard, which would have been the 90-91 school year.

I guess it's nice to know about the unadvertised option, for some possible day when I want a hot drink but only a small one. Why have the option at all if they aren't going to advertise it, then?

My guess is that they keep the short cups around for kids' hot chocolate and make the occasional coffee drink in them to placate people who have been patronizing them long enough to remember. And the purpose isn't to give you a small hot drink, it's to give you a coffee drink that tastes a bit more like coffee and less like milk (which isn't necessarily a smart thing to do at Starbucks these days, but they still have their moments).


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:19 PM
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48: So true. Drinking horrible cafeteria coffee in college was an important ritual, though it also misled me into believing for most of my life that I only like coffee with a lot of sugar.

While we were drinking crappy coffee, we also practiced opening sugar packets with one hand and poked holes in the cream containers so that you could squeeze them and feel just like a milkmaid. Good times.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:20 PM
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Huh. I guess I haven't noticed the market squeeze out this way much. Not that there aren't Starbucks all over the place, but there's a bunch more along the way, too. (My non-homemade coffee consumption is governed primarily by which route the morning's traffic patterns send me along. But now that there's an Argo tea shop arguable on the way from the train to the office, I find traffic patterns miraculously lead me that direction more and more... So I can pay too much for tea instead of coffee.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:21 PM
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53.last thoroughly pwned.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:22 PM
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My animosity is based on SB's relentless assault on all other coffee shops. Is it really necessary to open 2 SB's on the same block to drive the pre-existing shops out of business?

Some people contend that the expansion of SB has actually been good for the mom and pop coffee shop.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:28 PM
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57: I think it's a tricky issue. Starbucks and it's emulators (or in some sense Peetz and it's emulators, I guess) has doubtless changed the face of coffee marketing in the US, and expectations.

So a mom-and-pop store can benefit from a larger buying public, thanks to these chains. On the other hand, that can be pretty hard to keep in focus if there are five of them within sight of your mom-and-pop, I'm sure.

It will be interesting to see who weathers the recession better. SB is getting beaten pretty badly from what I've heard.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:33 PM
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I wish Bipartisan Cafe were a whole lot closer to me. Or occasionally vice versa.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:35 PM
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I think it is interesting how SB recapitulated the story of McDonalds.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:36 PM
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57, 58: On point.

I put this photo from one of my local coffee shops up in the Flickr pool a while back.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:36 PM
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60: although to be fair, although I said "franchise" above (in a snarky way?) I don't think they do this at all, do they? It was more the methodology I was thinking of. They have a very different cost structure, so hardly surprising they keep things in house.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:47 PM
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62: They franchised their Hawaii stores and maybe some international, but AFAIK all of their US mainland stores are company-owned.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:54 PM
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62: exactly. there are confusing uses of "franchise" possible here, and I didn't want anyone to think I was suggesting they grew quite like mcd's because of that, is all, because obviously wasn't the case.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:55 PM
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On the horribleness of Starbucks -- I like coffee, but I'm mostly not fussy about it. I'll drink horrible gas station coffee and not mind it much, so long as it's got caffeine. Starbucks bothers me because (a) somehow burnt-tasting espresso is worse than just regular bad coffee, and (b) it seems like an awful lot to pay for coffee that's not actively good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:58 PM
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Huh. I meant that hating SB is a class marker, like loving really great sandwiches or stand mixers.

I agree that the coffee's very caffeinated and not that great, and I love my caffeine.

I'm basically grateful that SB exists, because even bad espresso is better than vile drip for a heavy drinker. The biggest downside IMO is social not corporate, which is that SB and clones have displaced neighborhood bars as a place to have a quiet conversation or read in many places.



Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:07 PM
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Starbucks are useful third places. You can pretty much stay there as long as you want as long as you want if you buy coffee or something. They have bathrooms that the public can access. And, they are all over the place even in areas unserved by other coffee shops.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:07 PM
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Huh. I meant that hating SB is a class marker.

It works that way too, I think. There is a break line somewhere in the middle class, I guess. And maybe regional variation.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:12 PM
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Starbuckses really do occur in astonishing concentrations. There are downtown blocks in my burg where there's literally a Starbucks one block's walk in every cardinal direction.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:16 PM
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I was in a meeting on Monday and we were trying to decide where to go for coffee. She said, "Oh, let's just go to Starbucks," and we both turned in opposite directions. I forgot that there were three of them within one block. O Midtown!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:23 PM
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I don't hate Starbucks coffee, as I will drink pretty much anything, even burnt-tasting swill. But I almost never buy Starbucks coffee, because paying four dollars for burnt-tasting swill continues to shock me, even in 2009.

What I do hate is the Starbucks music -- the music that they play on the PA and sell in CD racks in front of the cashiers. I think the last time I was there they had like Bob Dylan, Feist, Seun Kuti and Vampire Weekend, or some similar horribly tasteful combination. The artists and songs are always unobjectionable, and often likeable, but deployed in a combination them seems designed to send me the message that the Starbucks Market Research Team Has Your Swipple UMC Yuppie Ass Figured Out Back To Front. It gives me the fucking creeps. I hate KCRW for the same reason.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:33 PM
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Huh. I meant that hating SB is a class marker, like loving really great sandwiches or stand mixers.

I gather that this kind of discussion has been had here innumerable times, but we're not talking socioeconomic class, right?

There are your populist, Dunkin-Donuts-loving SB haters; there are your grad student, need-a-coffee-shop-that-plays-the-Silver-Jews SB haters; there are your "I have Jeeves import my beans straight from Morocco" SB haters, etc., etc.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:35 PM
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And there's your answer, Di. SB just has a lot of directions to `hate' it from.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:38 PM
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I gather that this kind of discussion has been had here innumerable times, but we're not talking socioeconomic class, right?

There's another kind? Publicly hating Starbucks shows how refined your coffee taste is and possibly how much you hate Corporate America.

I agree that their coffee isn't the best in the world, but when I'm on the road out in the sticks it's probably a lot better than whatever the local gas station has to offer. And when I want a coffee and a shortbread at 9:30pm, the one down the street is reliably open.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:47 PM
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I'm on the road out in the sticks it's probably a lot better than whatever the local gas station has to offer.

Not to my taste -- at least, I like sucky gas station/deli coffee better than bad espresso.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:49 PM
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Horrible cafeteria coffee was a very important social glue growing up. We'd all grab cups of horrible coffee and then complain about how horrible it was. No matter how bad one's day was, it was better than the coffee.

Move to England. Coffee is the one thing even Jesurgislac admits is not far, far worse in the US.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:50 PM
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Publicly hating Starbucks shows how refined your coffee taste is and possibly how much you hate Corporate America.

No more than publicly deriding Starbucks the same way you would deride "pre stressed" designer jeans shows how much your working class common sense rejects getting pulled into wasting your hard-earned money on stupid consumer fashion.

Hence the confusion.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:51 PM
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We'd all grab cups of horrible coffee and then complain about how horrible it was. No matter how bad one's day was, it was better than the coffee.

This ritual still exists in academic departments across the land, by the way.... it's hard to overestimate the horribleness of lowest price point coffee service drip machines.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:55 PM
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No more than publicly deriding Starbucks the same way you would deride "pre stressed" designer jeans shows how much your working class common sense rejects getting pulled into wasting your hard-earned money on stupid consumer fashion.

True enough, I suppose. "Starbucks sucks" is a class marker, but unless you add the "because the coffee is undrinkable / because who the hell spends $4 on a cup of coffee" you don't know which class?

We should have a Veblen book club.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:55 PM
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"Veblen book club"

I bought my Veblen Book Club at the Sharper Image before it went under. Solid gold handle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:01 PM
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Re: 74

There's another kind?

At first I thought you were rhetorically asking whether there was another kind of discussion around here. . .

Some people might take "person of class X" to mean "that sort of a person"--i.e., the sort of person with those sorts of tastes that group one in X. I don't think hating SB reliably tracks socioeconomic class, and I don't think it really reliably tracks one sort of person either. For example, when you say

Publicly hating Starbucks shows how refined your coffee taste is and possibly how much you hate Corporate America.

I don't think you account for all of the "real men don't drink lattes" or "what kind of person pays $3.50 for coffee" sort of SB hate.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:01 PM
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But what are the demographics of moolatte drinkers?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:02 PM
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someone cue Sir Kraab to tell about starbucks efforts to avoid unionization.....


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:03 PM
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(for another vector of slagging on SB, I mean)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:04 PM
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71: send me the message that the Starbucks Market Research Team Has Your Swipple UMC Yuppie Ass Figured Out Back To Front

Yes, I think hating Starbucks is in some ways related to our contempt for pigeons. They both have our number.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:06 PM
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Ah, pwned.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:11 PM
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Lewis Black on Starbuck across the street from another Starbucks. And that ladies and gentlemen is the end of the universe.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:16 PM
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87: It's common enough that I suspect they took that play from the people who build identical restaurant/gas station stops on either side of a freeway.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:21 PM
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I don't think you account for all of the "real men don't drink lattes" or "what kind of person pays $3.50 for coffee" sort of SB hate.

This would be hate for coffee shops in general of which SB would be the most widely known example, not hatred of SB in particular though. Hatred of SB in particular is more likely a how refined your coffee taste is and possibly how much you hate Corporate America class marker.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:21 PM
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My animosity is based on SB's relentless assault on all other coffee shops. Is it really necessary to open 2 SB's on the same block to drive the pre-existing shops out of business? (I'm not exaggerating. There were 2 just south of Dupont Circle in D.C., though I think the second eventually closed after the other coffee shop did.)

FWIW, when I was talking to the owner of an independent coffee roastery/coffeshop in the town just north of us (one with a national reputation for high crime and poverty), he said that nothing would make him happier than having a Starbucks move in right next door. I'm guessing that's because it would be a highly-visible marker that the neighborhood wasn't scary, and so traffic in general would increase.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:21 PM
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66: The biggest downside IMO is social not corporate, which is that SB and clones have displaced neighborhood bars as a place to have a quiet conversation or read in many places.

Although I did appreciate that aspect as a parent of teenagers; my youngest did almost all of his high school homework with friends at either Caribou Coffee or Panera. They provide decent environments for that. Did Starbucks pioneer that at the national chain level? Borders?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:26 PM
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For the cost/healthiness, I've been eating Starbucks oatmeal for breakfast a couple of days a week. I should probably just purchase instant oatmeal and dried fruit, but that would require me to remember things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:27 PM
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92: You clearly remember to go to Starbucks, you corporately-brainwashed zombie.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:29 PM
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I still like Standpipe.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:33 PM
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93: It's right by my office. How could I forget? Of course, I do have to walk past a locally owned independent coffee shop to get there. And another chain shop.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:35 PM
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You have a hard time remembering where your kitchen is?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:37 PM
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understandable, before you've had coffee.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:38 PM
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No, you have to get the location of the kitchen hardwired into your brain so you can go there and make coffee.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:41 PM
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96: If I'm at home, I won't make instant oatmeal. I'll either get it at Starbucks or (if I ever remember to keep it there, the office). At home, I'll make steel-cut oats. But that requires me to get up more than 1/2 hour before I'm supposed to be at the office.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:41 PM
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I've resolved to get one of these for the office. It should remove the need to visit any of the chain coffee shops. I considered splurging on an espresso machine for a few years, but it doesn't suit the times to be thinking that way.


Posted by: Charlie | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:45 PM
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Here's where I reveal that I never, ever drink coffee*. Bought a beverage once in a Starbucks, it was some fancy schmancy triple-variety hot chocolate (tasted pretty good actually), so they still've got my Swipple UMC Yuppie Ass Figured Out Back To Front.

I get my caffeine the way God intended, via Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:49 PM
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99: Call me unreasonable, but I'm still thinking there's a simple solution lurking in there somewhere.

100: Please tell us how it works if you do. I like my moka pot and use it pretty much daily, but it's not as good as real espresso.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:51 PM
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Also, muesli.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:52 PM
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they still've got my [...] Ass Figured Out Back To Front is really grossing me out.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:53 PM
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Please tell us how it works if you do

Ditto.

Re: muesli, it was recently demonstrated to me that grated apple is also a pretty glorious addition to granola. This is obviously a less healthful combination, but no pre-soaking needed.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:55 PM
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104: Uranus Probe Returns Detailed Data


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:00 PM
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Never back-to-front! Always front-to-back!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:04 PM
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Timesaving breakfast people: why not just learn to like (rolled) oats au naturel? They're the major component of muesli, after all. Then just add your grated apple, or whatever else is handy.


Posted by: Charlie | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:06 PM
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It depends on which way you're facing.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:07 PM
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I'm not clear on what, if anything, separates steel-cut oats from Quaker old-fashioned oatmeal, but the latter is far superior to instant oatmeal and can be made quickly (add extra water to the kettle that's going anyway for tea; pour boiling water onto oats; microwave 45 seconds; stir; microwave another 30 seconds). Possibly this is old news, but I was pretty excited to (re-)discover it, so I'm sharing.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:10 PM
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110: Not bad, but as a committed Taylorist I have to point out that there are some microwave opening and closing operations in there; also, some stirring and button pushing. I'd like it better if you could keep a door-less microwave running while you stir with a plastic spoon, or something like that.


Posted by: Charlie | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:15 PM
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Steel cut oats are a different shape (they're chopped into little cubes instead being rolled), resulting in a different texture (obviously), and take longer to cook.

I've recently re-embraced rolled oats via Bob's Red Mill "thick" ones, which are somewhat more substantial and toothsome than Quaker. Recommended! Instant oatmeal gives me the whimwhams, I have to confess, which is too bad, because it's certainly quick and easy.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:15 PM
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What you know as old-fashioned oatmeal is rolled oats; steel-cut oats are, well, cut.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:15 PM
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I've switched to muesli for the summer because (I disgust myself) granola tastes too sweet. I try not to think about the mark-up on the oats.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:16 PM
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Strange.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:16 PM
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You could switch to foraged twigs, Megan.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:18 PM
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113: But neither are shot from guns. (I seem to recall a Quaker Oats ad set to the tune of the 1812 Overture.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:20 PM
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110: You have to actually cook the steel cut oats. I use 1/2 milk, 1/2 water, but it takes ten minutes or so. They are also called (or nearly the same thing as) Irish oats. It is a very different flavor than rolled oats. Sort of nutting and the texture is much more chewy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:22 PM
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How to make oatmeal in the morning without slowing yourself down:

1. Bring water to a boil while making lunch.

2. Add oats and dried fruit; lower heat to simmer.

3. Go take a shower.

4. Return and eat oatmeal.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:22 PM
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Foraging every weekday, before breakfast? That's ambitious.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:24 PM
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I get my caffeine the way God intended, via Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper.

Hear, hear!

(Or, sometimes, tea. But not coffee. Dunno, just never got into it, even with people telling me it's a prerequisite for having a successful career.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:26 PM
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1. Bring water to a boil while making lunch.

Assumes facts not in evidence.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:27 PM
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111: You can skip the stirring steps if you have broad, flat bowls---soup plates rather than cereal bowls. (If you use a narrower, taller bowl, the stirring step is essential, as you'll discover at about 0:56 when your quick and easy oat-making process suddenly gains a microwave-cleaning step.) You do still have to open and close the microwave at the beginning and end, I'm afraid.

112, 113: It all makes sense now. And thanks for the Bob's Red Mill recommendation, rfts. More substantial is definitely good.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:29 PM
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99: you can make them in a slow cooker the night before. Just put your oats and milk/water in before bed and awaken to a pot of steamy goodness. I tend to double the liquid since it's in there all night. And cleaning out the pot can be a pain. But it does solve the need to get up early problem.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:30 PM
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(I wish I knew how to change the equilibrium to "everyone bring what they like for lunch and gather somewhere comfortable to eat it" rather than "everyone sort of wander out of their office at noon-ish, bump into others, and go to the nearest place to pay way too much for substandard food.")


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:30 PM
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122: You can substitute "make coffee," "check Blackberry," "feed cat," or whatever if you're so inclined. Or just stand there for two minutes waiting for the water to boil; a cup or two doesn't take long.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:31 PM
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126: maybe it was the "while taking a shower" part that assumed facts not in evidence.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:34 PM
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Some people do shower the night before.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:36 PM
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You change the equilibrium by someone arranging that all the time. Even when the default was four of us gathering at the same picnic table every day with our own lunches, I still had to send out a confirmation email every weekday. Mostly it just said "Lunch at the table?", but if I didn't, I'd either get individual emails about whether it was happening or the same four of us would eat at our desks. Sadly, these things require work.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:39 PM
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So, apparently not hating Starbucks is some kind of mark of authenticity or some shit like that?

The coffee mings. That is all.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:39 PM
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115: You mean because of its use in TS?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:40 PM
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You mean because of its use in TS?

Because of the marked difference in meanings of plural and singular forms.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:41 PM
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When I'm in a rush in the morning I just piss in my mouth.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:42 PM
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while making lunch

I like that 'while'. It's a magical word; it opens a portal through which lies ... more work. Objections falter; you now have no reason not to do the thing. I think I'm going to make a deliberate effort to use 'while ...' around the office. 'While you're waiting for that, you could ...'


Posted by: Charlie | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:42 PM
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127: The italicized language in 122 suggests otherwise, as does 125, but perhaps you're right.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:42 PM
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128: thanks for making that explicit.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:42 PM
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Off to swim a meeting.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:44 PM
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135: Fine, I should have phrased it "another fact not in evidence.". What are you people? A bunch of pedants?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:46 PM
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124: Yep, it is the cleaning that stops me from going that way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:50 PM
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essear, would it help to arrange a potluck lunch one day? It'd give you a pretext to nudge people out of the usual routine and more towards your desired situation. Drop in a carefully offhanded "I don't know why we don't do this more often" towards the end of lunch and you're well on your way.

Of course, I say this as someone who totally fails to eat lunch with co-workers, so what do I know.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:52 PM
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I'd go for Starbucks helps, rather than hurts. There are now a zillion cafes in my SWPL/buppie neighbourhood, and no Starbucks. The coffee quality is typically that of SB a dozen years ago, but occasionally quite good. They also tend to be very pleasant hangouts with free Wifi. In Park Slope I think there's only one, and again, tons of cafes. They created market demand for espresso and cafes where non existed before. The fact that there was a (crappy) cafe in zombie downtown St. Joe and a really good one in the small town in NH where I did campaign work testifies to that.

Survey answer: mostly neither, but more often a mocha than a latte. A cappucino if it's made properly, or just plain old single shots.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:52 PM
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I miss oatmeal. After eliminating things like tomato juice and citrus from my breakfast, I was left with the inescapable conclusion that the oats were the source of the indigestion. Particularly the old fashioned oats which I loved. Making sure I cook it to goo helps, but ick.


Posted by: Mo MacArbie | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:53 PM
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Moby Hick, steel-cut oats sound delicious. If it's the nuttiness rather than the texture that appeals, it's worth pointing out that you can give (what I now know to be) rolled oats a lovely nutty flavor by pouring over ~1T top-quality cream. Yum.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:56 PM
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When I'm in a rush in the morning I just piss in my mouth

Speaking of being in a rush, aren't you getting married in the morning like any second now?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:58 PM
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Er, sorry, Mo. Didn't mean to rub it in about the delicious deliciousness of oatmeal.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:58 PM
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143: Do you have to burn it a bit like some sort of Scottish roux? (Though I think I'd miss the texture even I got the nuttiness.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:59 PM
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146: Nope. Just pour over and stir in.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:04 PM
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144: my car is completely full of champagne sparkling wine, if that tells you anything.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:08 PM
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Cream can even also be added to steel-cut oats! BIG WIN!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:08 PM
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148: Mine is filled with fortified wine.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:10 PM
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And let me tell you, we are the fucking champions of wedding wine selection.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:10 PM
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But more dishes!


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:10 PM
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re: 141

They certainly helped push a big expansion in the market in the UK, yeah.

Glasgow always had places where good coffee was available -- lots of Italian immigrants on the West Coast of Scotland -- but I definitely remember the rise of Starbucks influenced coffee bars starting around 1996. Ironically, the first to open that I remember was a transparent rip-off of Starbucks, with a Seattle themed name even, and there were several of those before Starbucks themselves even made it that far north.

I was quite disappointed when the first SB opened to find the coffee was dreck compared to the cut-rate rip-off chain that I'd been going to already.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:11 PM
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(152 to 149)


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:11 PM
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140 sounds like... work. But also a good idea.

I keep reading SB as "Santa Barbara" and being momentarily confused.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:12 PM
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I don't even drink coffee.


Posted by: JUST OPINIONATED | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:22 PM
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my car is completely full of champagne sparkling wine, if that tells you anything.

That you have a drinking problem?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:22 PM
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Non-instant oatmeal is definitely better than instant oatmeal, but I care so little about the quality of oatmeal if I'm eating it routinely that I just go with the instant. I don't eat oatmeal often now, but used to have it a lot while camping. I really like cream of wheat, or used to but it's been a long time since I had it.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:29 PM
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SB refers to Standpipe Bridgeplate or Santa Barbara. $B refers to Starbucks; *$ would make more sense, but is uglier.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:29 PM
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157: hardly seems like a problem.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:30 PM
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And congratulations Sifu.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:36 PM
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117: The 1812, and also a sound effect of a gunshot and ricochet. They never did explain what had been hit for the ricochet.

I forgot what old radio serial they sponsored but Google didn't: Sgt. Preston of the Yukon.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:38 PM
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53: "36: By the time I encountered them they were a local chain, but I don't remember their having any stores outside the Seattle metro area yet. I think they introduced the grande size when I was living in Ballard, which would have been the 90-91 school year."

When I left Seattle in 1986 there was just the one store which sold beans; they didn't sell liquids yet.

I believe I've been in one of their stores twice since then. This isn't a sufficient sampling to have any opinion; I just don't go out for coffee much, because I'm all poor and cheap. And a friend gave me a very nice coffeemaker a while back, to replace the utterly crap one I used for decades.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:39 PM
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I keep reading SB as "Santa Barbara"

Me too.

As for the lunch issue, I solve it by cooking too much, as I always do, and then bringing it to campus and inviting a friend to eat with me. It usually works out well.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:40 PM
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||Awful nice to see Papi hit a homer. |> Back to your coffee, Californians.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:43 PM
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Even though I don't the stuff myself due to my hyper-authenticity, I like that even well out in the sticks in northwest Washington you come across these roadside micro drive-up coffee huts. I assume they're decent?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:52 PM
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I make my daily brew with LaMill coffee in a Breville Cafe Roma. I am White People, hear me Like.

The machine was reportedly paid for with "whale-rape" according to one description of the chemical-industry career of the wedding guest who purchased it.

I have a double shot in the morning and a single shot in the afternoon. It's not very much coffee; recently I brewed myself a cup in the morning and was super-jittery.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:59 PM
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I forgot what old radio serial they sponsored but Google didn't: Sgt. Preston of the Yukon.

That was a radio serial? I remember it as saturday morning TV. Along with Sky King and his daughter, Penny. WGN, I think.
I liked Sgt Preston's doggie.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:10 PM
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"Down, King, down! Put me down, dammit!"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:39 PM
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"Down, King, down! Put me down, dammit!"

Indeed. I see by Wikipedia that King was a malamute. After reading Susan Conant's mystery stories involving malamutes, and her descriptions of the difficulties in training them, I chanced to see a malamute at an obedience trial. It did quite well until it got to the task where the handler threw the dumbell over the barrier, waited a moment, and then told the dog to fetch. The dog was expected to leap (not circumamulate) the barrier and retrieve the dumbell. The malamute sat there, looking around, quite obviously thinking "fetch? moi?? I didn't get the food treat after the last pointless routine, and you expect me to fetch? Have your people talk to my people, we'll do lunch sometime"


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:51 PM
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Re 165, this Californian just saw Manny hit the first home run of his return, off of K-Rod.

It's fun flipping between the Dodgers-Mets game and Bad Lieutenant, which heavily features a Dodgers-Mets game. Kinda ups the intensity.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:31 PM
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168: Yup, a radio serial first. Radio back then was like TV now, only for people with imaginations.

YouTube pops up the theme music and a clip of the start of the TV show if "Sgt Preston" are the search terms.

Along with this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDMN2Rc199I


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:13 PM
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I like that even well out in the sticks in northwest Washington you come across these roadside micro drive-up coffee huts. I assume they're decent?

Not a safe assumption, IMLE. I haven't tried many, but the ones I have tried caused me to swear off any espresso that can be obtained without exiting your vehicle (and without resort to ploys such as "child, fetch me coffee").


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:26 PM
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Radio back then was like TV now, only for people with imaginations.

No wonder it never caught on. Anything without a graphical user interface is, like, so 20th century.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:38 PM
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Anything without a graphical user interface is, like, so 20th century

Yah, graphics are SO much better than words. I especially like the tiny cryptic black-on-black ones faintly molded in the plastic on the back panels of electronic gear.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:47 PM
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Yes, I hear that black on black is the new black.

A friend of mine remarked on seeing a pictographic warning sign. He understood it to mean "if you fall into this machine you will come out the other end as a bunch of orange triangles."


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 11:16 PM
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#32 gets it exactly right.

Publicly hating Starbucks shows how refined your coffee taste is and possibly how much you hate Corporate America.

Of the two Starbucks closest to me, one bought the space previously occupied by a feminist bookstore and the other bought the space previously occupied by a hippie gift/head shop. I miss them both, but I still can't help being amused by such a caricature of corporate blandification. The bookstore Starbucks is in a lovely old '20s-ish building and I do go there, occasionally. Not so much the other one because it always smells like ass.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 7:47 AM
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A friend of mine remarked on seeing a pictographic warning sign. He understood it to mean "if you fall into this machine you will come out the other end as a bunch of orange triangles."

OT, did you see where that poor bastard in New Jersey fell into an eight foot deep vat of hot chocolate?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 8:00 AM
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