Do you take your Schadenfreude with caramel flavouring or short and black?

I belong to that category of people who have never in their life bought a coffee from Starbucks. I prefer to make my own (drop into the office someday and we can chat over brew from my desktop espresso machine) or buy it from any of the gizzillions of good cafes with which Melbourne is blessed. My guess is that 99% of my fellow Melbournians would fall into this same category.

Importing Starbucks to Australia was not simply a “coal-to-Newcastle” scenario–it was an attempt to impose an inferior and overpriced product upon an already existing and far superior cafe culture.

News of the failure of the Starbucks invasion in Australia is therefore not only no surprise, it brings with it a certain delight and a “serves-you-right, you-imperialist-barstards” attitude. Otherwise known as Schadenfreude, I understand.

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0 Responses to Do you take your Schadenfreude with caramel flavouring or short and black?

  1. Christine says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more, David. Here in the US of A I’ve never bought Starbucks. I prefer the good java we make at home!

  2. Joshua says:

    Yes, I've been to Starbucks precisely thrice:

    1. While living in Melbourne, I went purely out of curiosity on opening day, to 'treat' myself to a pissweak coffee that was humungously overpriced and took forever to order and obtain. I was cross!

    2. & 3. While in Sydney on WYD, out of charity to American friends – Andrew doesn't drink coffee, but needed the excuse to use the wi-fi Internet access there! (To be fair, the coffee there tasted fine.)

    I do hope that little Sydney CBD branch is still open – and that the wretched Melbourne one has either shaped up or shipped out.

    BTW, one article I read remarked that Aussies, having grown used to European style good coffee since the post-WWII immigration boom, drink coffee three times stronger than them Yankees do…

    Now Hudsons, that's a homegrown coffee chain I like – pity me, over here in WA it isn't around, and I do find it much harder to get good coffee, which is an absolute must after work (especially with the complimentary newspapers I'm too stingy to buy otherwise).

  3. Catholic Audio says:

    Not that I ever liked them, but there are plenty of reasons why I won’t buy a Starbucks, and just as many reasons I’m also enjoying their (gas prices = less $$ for “status coffee”?) implosion.

    God Bless,

  4. Past Elder says:

    I think there’s two issues here — how one likes coffee, and culture.

    Even if they served the finest coffee in the world at the lowest price, I would hate to see a corporate chain replace a local cafe culture, as you put it.

    McWorld, or Wal-World. Drives me nuts. Even here in the US, all kinds of retailers have been put out of business by chains.

    All the apologists point to that’s what the market wanted or they wouldn’t have bought there, it’s a global economy now, it’s a good thing to go two thousand miles and find the same stuff, etc.

    Which would be find if an alternative were available, all those locals still around. But they’re not.

    Works both ways though. When I was in Europe, I couldn’t believe these Americans looking for McDonalds or American style food — I flew across an ocean to eat what I eat at home, not experience something else?? — but then looking around here’s all these European kids acting like Americans with blue jeans and rock music, so what the hey.

    BTW, when I was in England, the land of my ancestors, coffee was generally served pouring coffee and cream equally into the cup. You guys do that? Anyone there ever drink Latin style coffee? Man, after hanging with the Cubans in Miami regular US coffee seemed like warm brown water!

  5. Joshua says:

    By ‘cream’ do you mean milk?

    Remember, Aussie coffee comes from our postwar Italian migrants, in the main: so it’s very much like coffee back in Italy.

  6. Past Elder says:

    I can’t remember Italian coffee, even though I was in Italy for about a week!

    I probably do mean milk by cream re English coffee. After a day or two, I got to liking it that way — maybe its a roots thing, although at the time I didn’t even know I was English by descent, but then again maybe that makes it a real roots thing.

    All the more reason for me to hop a place to Aussieralia — though that will likely never happen, as travel for me now is one end of the Omaha metro to the other, and I travel, as it were, by Internet. Still the prospect of hanging with you and Herr Schuetz and Lito (we’re trying to get old Dave to pick up the tab for dinner, but I think that’s even less likely than my buying Qantas tix!) is enticing, not to mention watching the drains drain backwards. Which is not sarcasm, I would really enjoy watching the drains go the other way, having spent all my life, travels and all, North of the Equator.

  7. Joshua says:

    PE, see you at Madrid for WYD! ;-)

    (My priest wants to set up “World Old Day”…)

    Leaving aside proximity to one looking like Antichrist (as Newman put it), think of the benefits: what with all those Moors and Socialists prowling about España, we could all be martyred for Christ together.

    Oh, and none of us Aussies speak Spanish, our national language is English: so come on, PE!

  8. orrologion says:

    Starbucks closing 70% of its stores in Australia has less to do with whether it was going to be successful in Australia and more to do with a company-wide reorganization and the reversal of a failed strategy under the previous CEO, Jim Donald. Starbucks is closing 800 stores in the US, too. The real impetus behind all this is the SBUX stock price which has fallen due to increased competition in the food & beverage sector SBUX basically created. In the US, Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds, as well as other regional competitors such as Caribou Coffee, have taken a bite out of the Starbucks monopoly. Additionally, supply chain issues and a misled equation of SBUX with 'America' in a world with a decidedly 'anti-American' tone (whether rational or hysterical is in the eye of the beholder) has made things difficult for SBUX worldwide, and not because local cafe culture has triumphed on its own merits.

    Personally, I don't like their coffee. I will pay high prices only in exchange for a comfortable place other than a bar or restaurant to hang out, personally or professionally. Otherwise, I'll get coffee at the little coffee carts all around Manhattan or at a deli.

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