Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Coffee Excitement!

It's no secret how much I love Starbucks. I loved working there when we lived in the States. I totally enjoyed all of my training in learning to taste the differences between coffees from different parts of the world, and yes, I have probably long since "given back" to Starbucks all of the money I ever made working there!

So you can imagine my excitement, when after several years of rumors, it actually appeared that Starbucks was finally going to open some stores in our little ol' city of three million people. I stopped by the location before they were open in order to check things out, and received some coupons for future drinks as well as a free sandwich. I thought I had scored pretty big but then my dear, darling, sweet husband also "happened to" stop by one day, "happened to" meet one of the managers, and "happened to" get an invitation to a coffee tasting on the Sunday before the next Wednesday opening. Since John doesn't drink coffee, he gladly gave his place to me; I invited my friend Amy and we went together! What a plus!

The tasting was really fun! We got to meet some of the baristas, taste some Christmas blend, eat some cake, and get a few more free gifts including a keychain that I love using! They gave us cards to fill out to "share our stories" and Clara Anne worked hard on hers!
We all had fun chatting! The baristas were so cute, they wanted to get to know us and also check some of their English pronunciations. "Caramel Macchiato" isn't the easiest thing to say! "Decaf grande two pump extra hot with whip cream Caramel Macchiato" is even harder!

The smiles on our faces say it all. Woo HOO!

My friend Amy and I decided we had to brave the crowds and return for the opening a few days later. Amy arrived an hour before and saved our place in line; all together we waited about two hours before being served! I was so glad to have an orderly line; there were tons of employees keeping it organized and things flowed pretty smoothly. Look at that beautiful sign!

The employees were all wearing these cool city t-shirts with some city landmarks on them.

It was a pleasant day--not too cold, not windy, just pleasant. As well, free coffee was being served and the first 100 guests got a free gift! So the line was stretching down the street...LONG!

A special sign announces the grand opening of the first Starbucks in our city.

There was even a police presence, in case people started to get a bit unruly over coffee. You never know, it could happen!

Amy and I couldn't leave without getting our pictures taken in the Christmas banner.
A few days later, I treated my house helper to her first Starbucks ever! She liked it well enough, I ordered her a Caramel Macchiato and she was surprised that it wasn't bitter. "But I thought this was coffee?!" I tried to explain how they have a variety of drinks...not sure how much I communicated clearly. We had fun though! Christin accidently spilled most of my drink (actually by stubbornly refusing to hand the cup back to me and setting it down not carefully) but we were all so impressed that within a few moments there was someone there to mop up and someone there to inquire what I was drinking and make me a new one! Ahh, western-standard customer service! It's a lovely thing to behold.

Yes, my eyes are closed and the remnants of Christin's stubbornness are on her face, but it captures the moment!

Fun times at Starbucks! I'm so glad you're in my life again. Actually, it's been in my life all along in the coffee I brew at home, but it's wonderful to have a smoke-free place to go, have a great cup of coffee, relax and enjoy some down time.
And get this: I ran into my manager-friend that day and she told me that in the first day of sales on the 17th, they sold more than any other Starbucks has ever sold on the first day, anywhere in the was 84,000 local dollars. (A typical espresso drink is about 28-34 local dollars.) Wowza! That's a lot of coffee! The city mugs and Christmas mugs also sold like crazy, so the manager was pleased, to say the least, about the opening. John and I have long thought there was a market for more western stuff in our city, and it's definitely proving to be true. Since that day, another Starbucks has opened, a HUGE mall with an Old Navy, two more Dairy Queens, a Papa John's, and the usual KFC and McD's all inside! So, though it's a bit strange to see so many new western things in our city, I can't say I'm too disappointed. And neither is the rest of the city, judging from how busy these new places have been!
Welcome Xing Ba Ke!


Anna said...

So glad you got a Starbucks. Sounds like some great memories have been made there already! The burning question I have is whether they have the salted caramel hot chocolate.

Anonymous said...

Your post made me want some coffee! When I smell Starbucks it reminds me of studying for HOURS in nursing school at the Starbucks in the Highlands. I still love the smell and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a good carmel macchiato. Glad you have one so close. Kristie

Rachel said...

Anna, no I'm sorry to say no salted caramel hot chocolate. In fact, no chai lattes or peppermint mochas or several of the specialty drinks. Instead, we have things like: the green tea latte, red bean frappucinos, stuff like that, catering to the audience here. But the basics are still there, and for Christmas they do have the dark cherry mocha and the toffee nut latte.

Kristie, yes, the SMELL! I love coming home with the great smell on my hair and clothes! And caramel macchiato is my hands-down favorite of what we can get here.

Go have a cup of coffee, everybody!

sandra said...

I cannot believe that line! Congrats on having a Starbucks so close by. I can see you slipping away for a nice time of reading. If your city gets a Chick-fil-A or an In-N-Out then we will be on the next available flight.

Gretchen said...

yay for you! Love all the happy pics. :) Did you get a mug of your city? Those are the best!

Kevin and Becky said...

Just wanted to let you know that Kevin said we could buy the city mug AND the tumbler. Needless to say, I was quite surprised at his willingness to give Xing Ba Ke er bai duo kuai.