petite anglaise

July 26, 2004

coffee republic

Filed under: city of light — petiteanglaiseparis @ 11:29 am

Starbucks recently opened their first Paris coffee shop a short distance from my place of work to great fanfare. I have been secretly hoping it would fail, as I rather like Paris the way it is, that is to say without too many global brands repeated ad infinitum on every shopping street.

However, I gave into temptation this morning on the way to work as I was feeling a bit low and managed to convince myself that a cockroach-free medium skinny caramel latte to go would help cheer me up.

The French have clearly missed the point of Starbucks. First of all, un café latte moyen avec lait écrémé, et sirop de caramel à emporter s’il vous plaît takes rather a long time to say. Then, after ordering, the experience is similar to French MacDonalds in that the global concept of fast food (or drink) has been translated in France into a “service” which is anything but. I was tempted to get behind the counter myself to speed things up.

The Frog in a suit in front of me wanted a café crème. When asked what kind of milk/coffee/sized cup he wanted and where he wanted to drink it, he looked vulnerable and lost, and stammered that he just wanted a café crème.



  1. I imagine that Parisians are as likely to understand starbucks as Lisboetas are. “HUH? you want chocolate/caramel/vanilla/hazlenut/cinnamon/ANYTHING in your coffee? WHY?” would be the likely response here. ah well.
    Vitriolica Webb || 07.26.04 – 4:50 pm

    Comment by Vitriolica Webb — October 8, 2004 @ 8:32 pm

  2. true vitriolica

    07.26.04 – 10:12 pm

    Comment by be — October 8, 2004 @ 8:32 pm

  3. Hey, you should let french people get used to the satrbucks and vice versa… You should try french restaurants in Washingtonm you would be hugely surprised…

    Oh BTW this is fun : I m french and I post on an english blogsite, and you re english and you post on a french one..and both speak of Paris ….

    negrito | 07.26.04 – 11:45 pm |

    Comment by negrito — October 8, 2004 @ 8:33 pm

  4. Hello! Found your blog on the Paname Ensemble” website, and it’s excellent! I’m adding you to my favourite weblogs. :o)

    TheGreenPlant | 07.27.04 – 11:18 am |

    Comment by The Green Plant — October 8, 2004 @ 8:34 pm

  5. Ugh, Starbucks. I used to live in Portland, Oregon, where there was one on every corner, like the convenience stores. This small town in Montana is blessedly Starbucks-free except for the college coffee shop that serves Starbucks coffee, but at student prices!
    Emily | 07.27.04 – 6:40 pm |

    Comment by Emily — October 8, 2004 @ 8:34 pm

  6. I can relate to that baffled Frenchman. I am a Portuguese living in Edinburgh who feels bombarded by too much information everytime I go into starbucks. My Scottish boyfriend does not understand why am I so reluctant to say all those starbuck’s made up names like Grande, Venti, whatever (he’s very proud of having all that lexicon on the tip of his tongue). Because I just want to say small, medium large. Because tommorrow, when i go into the next branded coffeshop, they will have made up their own Extra, Tiny, Average names. Who said convinience culture made life easier? I want my words back!
    claudia | 07.28.04 – 4:16 pm |

    Comment by Claudia — October 8, 2004 @ 8:34 pm

  7. U said “the Frog”, as French, i always wonder if Rosbeef are insulting us when they say so

    Shane | 07.30.04 – 2:19 pm |

    Comment by Shane — October 8, 2004 @ 8:35 pm

  8. Shane – the Frog is the name I chose for my Frenchman in order to preserve his anonymity. It is not intended to be offensive, nor to imply that he is an amphibian. It’s quite affectionate actually.

    petite anglaise | 07.31.04 – 1:27 pm

    Comment by petite anglaise — October 8, 2004 @ 8:35 pm

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