August 2007


I am 83% Addicted to Coffee

How cool is that? You check out your coffee addiction levels and get the award to boot – and pass on the ad, of course. I’m probably only on 83% because I’ve never roasted my own beans. And this morning I couldn’t even grind them, because – disaster – we were still running on empty. Since I’ve gotten into the habit of grabbing a pot, er cup, on my way to the computer before sunup, I was a tad frustrated that despite sticks and carrots the beans hadn’t magically appeared. You might get the impression I went looking for relief online, but the fact that this little quiz here came from a singles dating website has no relevance whatsoever to my state of mind. In the name of research…

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Unless you are a fellow fan or an absolute loather, you probably won’t understand why people spend quite so much time blogging about the world’s largest coffeehouse company, and you probably don’t care… 

Well, I happen to adore the whole coffee shop ambience, the choice of outlets and knowing that coffee the way I like it will be served there. After all, since they’ve done away with the semi-manual coffee machines that once lent credibility to black apron baristas, any espresso beverage dealt by any Starbucks machine in the world must now surely taste equally good. The newer shops also print off your order on little adhesive labels, so the partners no longer have to memorize the abbreviations, freeing them up even more to serve you better and ever more quickly! I recently witnessed some barista training and was impressed at how a specially designed game makes the precise order in which a drink must be registered more fun. Thus the person on the counter develops his or her interpretation skills so that the most complicated of orders can be quickly and meaningfully translated to the colleague at the bar. Clever folk, those marketers back at the green mermaid.

So next time you are recognised by name or by the drink you order, remember, it’s part of the experience you pay for!

What was I thinking when I accidentally clicked a little pink fish and a virtual undersea world into existence on Facebook this week? A lonely, gawping pink flipper that will singly haunt my screen for days unless I send in the clones. The renewable coin scheme is a lure, as is the chance to win a further 2,5000 “free” coins to collect a whole school of goofy fishies. Free, meaning you fill in all your data and answer some e-generated surveys. Not that applications experts can’t already use your Facebook details to get under your skin – that’s the beauty of viral marketing in this virtual space.

Take the bookshelf feature, for example, which I can’t get enough of. Amazon.com has cleverly, though not without kinks, provided the software to whet the reading appetite of thousands. You get the lowdown, you get the usual recommendations, you get to click and buy! Personally, I think content tests should be issued before people are allowed to add such outrageous numbers of books to their shelves – that might give me a better overview from which to choose and make the application platform more reliable, as I keep finding myself timing out and being encouraged to “come back in a few days”. Another kink is in the fact that different purchase options, such as the entire boxed set or the paperback version of the same book are listed individually, and that due to the US-heavy Facebook community, chiefly US titles and cover pages seem to feature. Hence Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights is entitled The Golden Compass while Harry’s Philosopher’s Stone appears as a Sorcerer’s Stone and the colours are all much more vivid than I remember them.

Hey ho, I’ve just been thrown off my bookshelf one more time than I can take. Time for a coffee, methinks and back to feeding the real fish. We recently inherited a fish tank from friends on the international move, and as the goldfish in it already hate me, I’ve a good mind to introduce a little pink friend to them!

What luck – I’ve found a link to all the free wi-fi joints in Greater Vancouver: beats the quietness and caffeine-limiting bounds of the Richmond library. Not that the library isn’t within easy reach of 22 Starbucks stores (including the latest addition on Bridgeport & #3), but the snag is no free Internet access. You’d think that after years of drip-feeding the Starbucks coffers, I might be eligible for a complimentary wi-fi account…

So when Laptop and I are on the road, we have to make the choice between a decent dose of caffeine or boundless access to the world out there. Today you guys win, especially as it’s time to commit to this CLOG of mine. For years I’ve been ranting about the advantages of my flexible workplace, such as the sheer number of world-wide locations, being alone in a crowd without feeling odd, the snippets of conversations I get to overhear, the opportunity to meet fellow coffee-office workers, playing musical chairs to the amusement of the baristas, as you hop closer to the only socket in the place, being in the right place at the right time to sample a new pastry or the season’s latest drink, having a place to get together with friends. 

So when one of my Colorado Coffee Colleagues, Margo, recently reminded me of all the good times we’d had at The Office, I realised I couldn’t deny myself the truth any longer – I’d been having itchy fingers to write it all down. Not that every conversation is going to find its way onto these pages, but the culmination of experiences is certainly feeding these thoughts.