Isn’t Starbucks –probably together with McDonald- one of those typical American icons? To me Starbucks was so American that I wouldn’t even consider going to one outside of the US. It’s like eating French fries (in case you don’t know, they are Belgian) in other countries and expect them to taste the same. Impossible.
Not that I had the opportunity to do so : 3 years ago there was no Starbucks in Belgium (now there are 3), but even when I moved here it wouldn’t have come into my head to step inside and get a café late.
That was until I met my American friend. He came to Buenos Aires to learn Spanish and I met him in class. He was so addicted to Starbucks that he had chosen his apartment to be close to one. And he took me there. Once, twice, and at the end of his 6 months stay : every single day of the week.
Whatever they put in the drinks, it worked. In the end I was as addicted as he was, and when he left, I didn’t stop going. I started taking my husband which was -believe me!- quite a challenge. He hated Starbucks, he hated the paper cups, the plastic lids, the coffee that isn’t spectacularly good, and he didn’t hesitate telling me so. But then it happened to him as well… We had both become addicts.
I seem to always have my eyes open to spot the green logo, and I see new ones shoot up like mushrooms. Every new one is nicer than his older sisters : who ever owns the Argentine chain has taste. This weekend we went to the really nice one in Puerto Madero, and today I passed the one located in the old Confiteria l’Aiglon (Callao/Mittre) which I thought is the nicest ever. I didn’t go inside as I still had the cup I had bought in Viamonte/Callao in my hand, yes it looks like a real invasion, you can go from one of these coffee shops to another without ever being without a drink. I was thinking I will have to go back, and immediately regretted that this is one is so far from my house. Or should I try to persuade my husband to go for a long morning walk just to get our cup of coffee?
But when I came home I did some research, and I came across this blogpost by Maria Virginia Gallo, who wrote a romantic story about the old confiteria, and all of a sudden I realized that, however nice this new Starbucks is, nothing can probably beat the old fashioned charm of a pre-war coffee shop, with old fashioned little wooden tables, old(er) waiters who know their clients, where people go for a drink and to meet their friends. And imagining a romance.
Although in Argentina, much more then in the US, people go to Starbucks to meet friends, even have business meetings, to sit down and enjoy, rather then take their drinks outside in their rush to the office, it can’t be compared to how it used to be. But well, times changes, I suppose we change too -let’s not get nostalgic- but let’s just enjoy treading stories like the one in this blog. Whilst zipping a cafe late in one of the new Starbucks’ in Buenos Aires.