Are All Starbucks the Same?

Are All Starbucks the Same?

Have you ever noticed that no matter which Starbucks you go to, the furniture is always the same? As in literally the same. Sitting in any Starbucks coffee house, you could be in London, Berlin or Buenos Aires. Nothing alters, apart from the language, but even then most of the drinks aren’t translated: Quiero un pumpkin spiced latte por favor...

Right now I’m sitting in a Starbucks, enjoying the newspaper and a decaf Pumpkin Spiced Latte. It’s a sunny day here. The air is crisp with that autumnal odour and the ground outside is covered in a sea of red, bronze and yellow leaves. There’s hardly a cloud in sight, the sun is shining, but it’s cold enough to lounge comfortably in a hoody.

I’m sitting on of one of those armless lounge chairs. There’s another one opposite me with a round coffee table positioned in between . Perpendicular to me there’s a fake leather sofa – you  know the one with the really short arms. It’s big enough for two people to sit cosy next to each other – or hygge, as the word cosy is now out of fashion…

As I look around me, I realize I’ve been in this situation before. It was in a Starbucks in Argentina. Sitting on a cosy – sorry, hygge – chair with a little coffee table in front of me,  both then and now with my MacBook on my knee, my phone half under my leg and the strap of my bag wrapped around my ankle. Only a few weeks early my bag, coat and laptop had been stolen in a Starbucks in Buenos Aires. I wasn’t going to risk it again, and I still don’t to this day, even though I’m back in the UK.

Back then, just like now, I find myself looking around the café, observing the people, the decor and the furniture. It almost seems as though all three are identical in every Starbucks: the same soft seats for the book readers and groups of friends, the hard table and chairs for the startupers, yuppies and hipsters, and the coffee-to-go for the business execs and the fitness freaks who have neither the time nor the urge to hang around.

The last group of people are particularly interesting. Despite being keen to show off the Starbucks mermaid logo cup in their hands, you’d think their unwillingness to hang around were some sort of shame. Starbucks? Wouldn’t be caught dead in there… but I’ll drink the coffee to go. Well, that’s how I imagine them speaking about it.

All the yuppies have a MacBooks. The wannabe entrepreneurs have their iPhones. The hipsters have a notepad and pen. I have all three, so I’m not sure what that makes me – a hybrid?

Looking around the people and the venue, I can’t help but wonder, how is it possible you can travel across the world, from hemisphere to hemisphere, pole to pole, continent to continent, and still be in the same place?

How Hard can it be to Blog?

How Hard can it be to Blog?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself all weekend. Largely out of frustration, if I’m honest.

It was brought to my attention earlier in the week by a friend that the blog needed a face lift: new logo, new theme, new coding. Unfortunately, a lot of these things come at a price – quite a significant price at that.

So this week I’ve learnt about the challenges of blogging, both financial and aesthetic challenges.  Continue reading “How Hard can it be to Blog?”

A Faustian Pact with the Devil

In history and literature, those who have had an insatiable thirst for knowledge have been described faustian.

The word comes from the name of Faust. Immortalized in literature by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and other great writers, such as Christopher Marlowe, Faust sells his soul to the devil in exchange for more knowledge than any man before. Continue reading “A Faustian Pact with the Devil”

Deciding to Take the Night Train

The Night Train to Lisbon is a story about a man who finds himself at a turning point in life. After decades of learning and teaching ancient languages, to the detriment of his own love life, he finds himself alone in the world. He has neither partner nor lover, and he is viewed by his contemporaries and his students alike as nothing more than an unemotional, heartless encyclopedia of Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Yet in a single moment, his life changes forever. Continue reading “Deciding to Take the Night Train”

Coffee Mate

Coffee for me usually involves nothing more than ordering an Americano to go. No fuss. Simple. Pay and out. That’s mainly because of the crazy hours I work – can’t be away from the desk too long before the e-mails and papers start building up.

However, this week hasn’t been as intensive as others. So twice this week I’ve been out for coffee. That’s right – sat down in a café and enjoyed a smooth café-au-lait. Not once, but twice in one week! Continue reading “Coffee Mate”

The Irony of WiFi on Trains

British rail companies will do anything to make as much money as they can. Unfortunately for passengers, increasing profit margins hasn’t come from industrial business but out of squeezing as much as possible out of the traveller.

A fine example of this is charging standard class passengers for wifi access. Leaving aside the fact that accessing the Internet is pretty much a basic right these days, it is absolutely impractical to charge standard class passengers for access. Well, at least using the method most train operators do. Continue reading “The Irony of WiFi on Trains”

Czy będzie Wojna Nuklearna?

Czy będzie Wojna Nuklearna?

Według artykułu w anglojęzycznych mediach “Antimedia” zagrożenie ataku nuklearnego ze strony Stanów Zjednoczonych rośnie z dnia na dzień. Pomimo obietnicy Baracka Obamy w orędziu prezydenckim zmniejszenia rezerwy broni jądrowej, Stany posiadają dziś więcej głowic jądrowych niż w całej historii Zimnej Wojny. Continue reading “Czy będzie Wojna Nuklearna?”