It is not so often that a coffee house gets to tell so much about culture. Think about a Russian coffee house that can tell foreigners about our lifestyle and our character, about things that are important to us in business and in personal relations, in gastronomical tastes and political affairs… I would not dare to name one. Yet when I think of American culture, I marvel at how interestingly it is reflected in Starbucks, the most famous and the largest coffee and coffee house chain in the world. It all started in 1971. Two teachers and a writer (Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegel and Gordon Bowker if you care for names) started the Starbucks company, which was at first not even a coffee house, but a high quality store of coffee beans and equipment. As far as roasting the beans was one of the companies primary occupations, it is very likely that the famous Starbucks roast, now proudly displayed in many coffee houses, was developed in those remote days. Although the Starbucks roast itself deserves applause for the intense, rich flavor it brings out in coffee, it is not the roasting technique that paved the company’s way to greatness. It is the coffee houses with their unmistakable atmosphere and high-quality drinks that led Starbucks to success. Today there are more than 16 000 of them all over the world. They may be condemned for Americanizing the world or may be hailed for bringing a piece of genuine American culture to other countries and finally giving it a more elaborate image than the greasy genetically modified McDonald’s burger.
Everything about Starbucks seems to be astonishingly American. Even the name of the company originates in the very core of American culture. It comes from the book, which is claimed to be the second best-seller after the Bible, Melville’s Moby Dick. It is said that originally the founders wanted to name the company Pequod, in honor of the ship from the novel. However, it was a big question whether anyone would want...
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