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And by the way, we still don’t drink coffee

Shorel and Sandra
When Shorel and I were in grad school, we both worked at Starbucks. Neither of us are coffee drinkers. But for full medical, dental & visual insurance for only part-time work, we couldn’t resist. We became “partners” as Starbucks liked to call us.

I’ve always liked the smell of coffee. It’s the first thing my Papaw does every morning: turn on the coffee pot. However, after working an 8 hour shift, I would come home smelling like coffee. Thank goodness my roommate, Amy, also liked the smell of coffee. Once in the shower, I would literally become fresh brewed as the water soaked into my hair.

I’m a tall, sugar-free-vanilla, steamed soy.

Shorel’s a grande, no water, breve’ chai. (Alas, there’s no Starbucks chai in Asia.)

This person came to me several times a day. “Oh, I need my Starbucks” they would declare though they would never make eye contact. Meanwhile, rummaging through a big shoulder hand bag cringing at the thought of not having enough cash to buy a latte. “Well, just charge it.” They’d say. Then, we saw their mood swing from the cash register to their final destination: the “bar”.

They would hunch over and gaze at the $25,000 espresso machine on which you just punched a button to “pull” a shot of espresso. (Too many partners had carpal-tonal from twisting their wrist on the traditional machines.)

We are both “bar” certified. That’s probably the only bar exam I’ll ever take.

Perhaps the highest compliment I ever received was “you make great foam”.

All day I heard…Iced vente 2 sweet n’ low Americana…quad cappuccino…short no whip kids hot chocolate…grande half-soy, half-water “Refresh” tea with two equals in a vente cup…and so on.

All these flashbacks came to me as I was sitting in Starbucks, Shanghai. Me with a tea, Shorel with a hot chocolate, on a rainy afternoon, watching tourists and Chinese exchanging Renminbi for brewed beans in a cup. Starbucks…addicting the world one cup of coffee at a time.


1. Beijing, 47 stores
2. Changzhou, 1 store
3. Dongguan, 1 store
4. Guangzhou, 8 stores
5. Hangzhou, 5 stores
6. Hong Kong, 34 stores
7. Kunshan, 1
8. Macau, 1 store
9. Nan Jing, 4 stores
10. Ningbo, 2 store
11. Qingdao, 1 store
12. Shanghai, 53 stores
13. Shaoxing, 1 store
14. Shenzhen, 8 stores
15. Suzhou, 3 stores
16. Tianjin, 9 stores
17. Wu Xi, 1 store

And spreading…

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