“I visited the Pacific Northwest quite a bit in the early 1990s. Seattle struck me as having a definite coffee hue, just as many other cities have a predominant colour (the piss-green of Paris springs to mind). A coffee hue, and a coffee smell. Starbucks began frothing in the 1970s, and the chain was set to lash out across the US and then the world on the cusp of the 1990s. But this year, Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz, announced that there would be significant closures among the approximately 700 Starbucks in the UK, and ruefully admitted that the business had expanded far too recklessly.
“I should cocoa. Time was when you couldn’t turn your back on a family-run cafe without the twin-tailed corporate siren – a logo, incidentally, that was once replaced with a crown to facilitate market penetration in the Islamic world, which was offended by the display of the female figure – snaffling it up. Starbucks operated at a loss, saturated local areas, doubled up franchise and company-owned outlets and exploited loopholes in planning laws. The headline in the US satire ‘zine, The Onion, said it all: ‘New Starbucks opens in restroom of existing Starbucks’.”
Read the rest of Will Self’s Real Meals column at the New Statesman.