Back in Vancouver, it was a morning ritual for me and I am sure numerous other Vancouverites to have their morning coffee or perhaps even two… After a stressful morning, one may have even gone out for an afternoon cup!? Whenever the time, the day just isn’t the same, at lease for me, without that cup of coffee to get me going. I am not saying that your morning coffee HAS to consist of a cup from Starbucks, but of all the places available, it was the most convenient back home for me and I find their coffee pretty darn tasty.
Being an avid traveller, I knew Starbucks was going to be readily available in Taipei. My first thought was that being a franchise outside of North America, the cost for a coffee may be more and I would be correct as it is $1.00CDN more to be exact. If you were to frequent the local 7-11, OK, or Family Mart shops, then you would find a coffee for less than half the price. I am sure you’re probably thinking, “7-11? Hmm…” I was a little sceptical as well considering their coffee back home is terrible, but it isn’t that bad. I still go to Starbucks now and then just to get the feeling of being back home, but there is the odd difference between the Starbucks crowd here in comparison to home.
I remember this discussion in my sociolinguistics class, and it was the history of the coffee houses. Originally, we learned that the coffee houses were a social house for those upper class citizens to drop by, have a coffee and discuss anything from gossip to current events. Not much of this has changed, from Vancouver to Taiwan. The social scene for people to visit the coffee houses, in every country, are still in tact. What I have noticed however, is that although coffee is available (perhaps not on the ready) the majority here in Taipei prefer their cold drinks to hot coffees. Since coming here, I usually end up getting an Americano because the Starbucks daily coffee is honestly, quite terrible. I have yet to try a cold drink, but it’s far too expensive for me to give in and buy one.
Knowing a few baristas back home, they would probably go mad having to create the vast amounts of cold drinks they do here. I have waited as long as 20 minutes for an Americano, which seems a bit ridiculous, and have witnessed line ups literally out the shop and down the street. I love my Starbucks, but I am really not that desperate to wait for a cup of coffee. The difference I have found between Vancouver and Taiwan is the reasoning as to why one ventures to Starbucks. Although there aren’t as many in such close proximity as there are in Vancouver, the popularity of the brand is what brings the clients back for more. It isn’t necessarily the coffee but the fact that Starbucks is so well known and it is a popular place to be.
Perhaps to some, Starbucks coffee might not be the most delicious coffee in the world, but the smell, atmosphere, music and surrounding environment is what brings a person back for more. At least for me it does. (^_^) In Taiwan people don’t even buy a cup of coffee and you’ll have a hard time finding a place to sit amongst those that are just there to simply hang out or are sleeping. One of my big pet peeves here… (T_T);;; In the end, if I could describe what Starbucks is in Taiwan, it would probably be best explained as the LV or Gucci of coffee houses… Every one either wants to be seen with a cup in their hand or be in the premises of such a popular and trendy place. Guess that means I am pretty cool! Nah… I’ll always be a geek at heart.