I’m not afraid to say it: I’m a massive fan of Starbucks. I know this may not be PC, but bear with me.
I’ve known it for a while but it came all the more clear on my recent trip to Shanghai. You see I’ve been living here in Guilin for around 2 months and beautiful as Guilin and its surrounding scenary is, it is a small city and there is no Starbucks here. Or Costa. Or any international supermarket chain. Nor Subway.
For some, that may make it a dream away from the bore of Western brands and globalisation. But there is something wonderful about walking into a place, no matter where you are in the world, and it looking exactly the same, serving exactly the same coffee, and service with a smile.
The funny thing is that at home I may well choose an independent coffee shop for an afternoon coffee date, or even Costa for a nice big cup of tea (stay away from the English breakfast at Starbucks!). Or even more likely stay at home with my favourite ‘New York’ Starbucks mug (soon to be joined by my brand new shiny ‘Shanghai’ mug) and my espresso maker. But here in China, Starbucks is a little haven.
Throughout my year in Nanjing, about once every fortnight I would take a trip to Starbucks/Subway/Ikea for a little indulgence and a taste of home. Much as I would like to say I am a free spirit who can make my home anywhere and lives for the out there experiences, in fact I’m a true home girl who likes nothing more than a quiet cup of coffee. And right now, away from home for 6 months and counting, I love nothing more than pretending I’m just around the corner from home, sipping exactly the same soya latte with vanilla syrup, and having a bit of me time.
Another incredible discovery in Shanghai was Marks & Spencer, my favourite British department store, which even had a food hall where I bought many a pack of salt and vinegar crisps and chocolate biscuits!