Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A quick note on coffee.

We have a coffee maker in the house here.  But every Tuesday morning I have my Japanese Lesson.  To make sure I'm coherent and alert for my lesson,  I use Tuesday lessons as an excuse to treat myself to Starbucks.

I'm fairly convinced there are as many Starbucks in Nagoya as there are in the entire US.  It's a two minute walk from where I get off the train, to the building where I have lessons, and I pass not one, not two, but THREE STARBUCKS on my way.  

Now, I know there are coffee snobs who might see I'm patronizing Starbucks and give me some kind of grief about corporate monopolies destroying the American Dream, or just pout that S-Bucks coffee isn't the best coffee that's ever occurred because it's not made by a hipster with a french press, topped artfully with artisanal whip-cream into an artful design, while a ukulele plays in the background.  I don't care.  I will continue to give Starbucks my money on a regular basis here for two very important reasons:

1.  Smoking in restaurants is allowed in Japan.  Nowhere is this more obvious than a small cafe, where getting a cup of coffee involves wading  your way through a wall of smoke so thick they should install a light house above the cash register so you can properly navigate inside the store.  But Starbucks is an American company, and they have banned smoking in their stores WORLD-WIDE.  So it's a coffee store that smells. like. coffee.

2.  A tiny country full of tiny people serves equally tiny portions of coffee in their cafes.  But Starbucks continues to have GIANT, Venti (20oz) cups of drip coffee (hot, no ice because ice is not caffeinated and it just takes up space in the cup!) which I can buy to get a reasonable amount of caffeine into my blood stream without twelve refills.

That said, Starbucks did take on Japanese customs in a few ways.  Like the to-go bag.

I start to drink my coffee as I walk to class, which is seen as fairly strange here.  In fact, my Japanese teacher called me out for it this week.  She didn't have a real good explanation for me besides taking the time to enjoy your coffee once you can sit down and relax.  So yes, Starbucks will put your to-go cup of coffee in a paper bag for you so that you might carry it to work before you enjoy it.  In any case, this conversation between us involved a great game of charades where I messed up my hair and put my glasses on askew to convey how badly and quickly I need coffee in my morning.

So this is another one of those areas where I will happily take the "weird American" card and just hold it high.  Which I can do, because I have enough caffeinated energy in my system to keep my arm up in the air.

How do you take your coffee?  Tell me in the comments!

today's little language lesson
benti, hotto, duripu ko-hi, onegaishimasu.
venti, hot, drip-coffee, please.

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