There are people who can remember a world without Starbucks, but I am not one of them. For as long as I have been conscious, the existence of the Green Siren has been a fact of being alive. “Oh, there is the sky,” you might think. “There is a tree. There is the bank. There is a Frappuccino.” I am not a Starbucks loyalist. I have no go-to order and own no Starbucks-branded collectible mugs and had not, until last fall, tasted a pumpkin spice latte. I would have said I had no relationship with Starbucks at all, but of course, that is wrong. To say I had no relationship with Starbucks would be like saying I had no particular relationship with the sun.
In the past decade at Starbucks, I have changed clothes for a job interview; interviewed for a job; conducted a job interview; used the internet; used the bathroom; taken a phone call; taken a pregnancy test. I have also bought coffee, especially in airports, and sipped coffee, especially before boarding airplanes. “The first 100 times I went to Starbucks,” a friend told me, “I only used the bathroom.” When he told me this, we were sitting in a Starbucks.
Starbucks is the biggest coffee chain in both the United States and the world. It is available in at least 78 countries on six continents. In the US, 40 percent of coffee shops are Starbucks stores. In China, which is now Starbucks’s fastest-growing market, a new location opens every 15 hours. There are roughly twice as many active members of the Starbucks loyalty program as there are residents of Michigan.