Reflections on Starbucks and chipped Javanese

by Stefmanovic


Starbucks, glorious Starbucks. Once I would only visit it when I was abroad. It reminded me of those silly pretentious independent American films with young and hip actors who weren’t cool enough for the mainstream crap. It reminded me of Henry Rollins explaining us that a tornado would pass by and blow one Starbucks into another one.

Know your place

I enter the Starbucks, a cute girl is standing behind the cash register. She smiles as I place the order: some random Frappuccino (it doesn’t matter, they all taste the same). In the ‘kitchen’, where the coffee is made, Starbucks keeps its less attractive employees. A larger, almost bovine, girl, is working her ass off to make sure the clients get their drinks. Years of cheap deep fried meats and potatoes have left her body overweight, and her skin covered in acne, something she is trying to hide with makeup.

“What’s your name?”, the pretty girl asks. I know she isn’t trying to flirt with me or anything. Starbucks staff ask the names of all their clients, to give them that sort of ‘personalized’ feel. A very American custom, they do a very similar thing in South American fast-food restaurants such as MacDonalds or Burger King.

More people enter the place, young and hip fellows, probably would-be students who are visiting Utrecht to see if this is going to be their new home for the next three to four years. Their accent betrays they’re from the east of the country. Like the girl preparing the coffee, they too have defiled their bodies with deep fried foods.

The Noble Savage

“Step Han? Stephon? Steven?”, I fucking hate it with people call me ‘Steven’ of ‘Steve’, the bovine really knew how to irritate me. “I always have a hard time pronouncing the names of exotic fellows”, she says as she gives me my drink. I smile, imagining her perception of me: the noble savage (I’m wearing clothes and am not covered in blood) originating from the jungles of whatever Third World country that has never been introduced to the wonders of modern civilization, where people worship fertility statues in the shape of naked fat ladies and sacrifice their firstborn to some solar deity.

I take my drink and leave, hoping that this wasn’t all for nothing. I almost prayed (which is quite hard for a person who does not believe in a god) for this Frappuccino to be different, to be mind-blowing, and to provide me with an explanation to why people love Starbucks so much. I take a sip from my drink, apparently this one was called ‘Java Chip’. Sadly enough I didn’t taste any chipped Javanese. Not that I’m that much into the idea of cannibalism, but I was hoping for something special; all I got was mashed ice cubes with some whipped cream, chocolate and a vague notion of coffee.

Fuck, I got ripped off again…