Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Starbucks and Argentina

This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army of the battlefield, and the battle takes place. Things remembered arrive at full gallop, ensuing to the wind. The light cavalry of comparisons deliver a magnificent deploying charge, the artillery of logic hurry up with their train and ammunition, the shafts of with start up like sharpshooters. Similes arise, the paper is covered with ink; for the struggle commences and is concluded with torrents of black water, just as a battle with powder. ~Honore de Balzac, "The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee"

This quote was actually about drinking a concentrated coffee on an empty stomach and its effects on the author as he sits down to write. It did remind me though of all the passion that the topic of coffee brings up when you mention it to local Argentines and expats.

The locals don’t really like what is normally consumed in the States (drip style coffee) and the expats don’t really like the coffee beans that are available in Argentina. When the topic of coffee comes up both sides just don't understand each other. Now just to clear things up a little. There is one local type of coffee that is virtually undrinkable unless you were brought up on it. I make this last point because it is the majority of the coffee available in the supermarkets so someone is buying this stuff. This is called Torrado and basically what it means is that they use sugar in the roasting process. This does not mean that the coffee made from these beans is sweet. It is an awful sour tasting concoction that results from roasting sugar and coffee beans together. It’s just plain nasty.

Argentina does have a strong and healthy coffee culture (not built on that Torrado crap thank God). There are many old style coffee houses. The city of Buenos Aires has even put together a list of cafes that have a historical relevance. And they have some newer modern coffee chains, kind of like Starbuck’s. The most important players in this category being Café Martinez, Bonafide, The Coffee Store, Havanna Café, McCafe and Aroma Cafe. The demand is so great for this that even the gourmet ice cream shops have gotten into the coffee game. Freddo offers coffee and tea and in some cases shares a store front with Aroma Café. Persicco and Volta offer coffee as well. Chungo does the same and basically just about all the gourmet ice cream stores do this.

So why on earth can’t you buy a decent coffee bean to take home? This is what most expats are complaining about. The only chains that offer coffee beans for home grinding are Café Martinez, Bonafide, The Coffee Store, La Bolsa del Café and Estación General de Café. Some of these businesses have been around for a long time like Café Martinez and Bonafide but the current day concept of gourmet coffee shops are fairly new. I mean those businesses started out as importers of coffee and eventually morphed into what they are today. This is still relatively new to Argentina. My impression is that most people only go out for coffee. There has been little demand for that gourmet mono-source coffee bean from Guatemala or Jamaica, but I also see that changing. Bottom line is they make their coffee with espresso machines here and sometimes they will cut it with milk. That’s pretty much the two main variations and they go by either “un café”—no milk, straight shot, or “cortado” –for the one with milk, or “lagrima” –mostly milk with a little bit of coffee, or cappuccino. There is one more variation that is called “café con leche” and this is normally served in the morning. It is the only one that comes in what would approach an American sized cup-a-joe and it is more like half milk, half coffee. Some places even leave a container of milk and a separate one for your coffee and you mix it yourself. For the other coffees, they are served in small cups that can be ordered a bit larger by ordering a double or “doble”. You can forget about drip style coffee. I have never seen it offered.

So why does Starbuck’s want to be in Argentina? I am sure it’s the same reasons why you would find that gas stations, car washes, movie theatres, ice cream stores and even some furniture stores all trying to get into the coffee market here. Just about everyone goes out for coffee. Argentina should actually be a no-brainer for a brand like Starbuck’s to be attracted to it. The real question is where will Starbuck’s fit into this local market? Are they a little late? Will locals go to Starbuck’s? I am not in the coffee business but I do supply it with baked goods. My impression is that there is room enough for another player in the market. Starbuck’s should be a catalyst for a lot of healthy competition among the gourmet coffee segment. Their focus should be on offering high quality gourmet products as well as integrating some of the local staples like medialunas and reacquainting the local Italian segment with their beloved cantuccini while offering authentic chocolate chip cookies to those American expats and tourists. They will be held to a pretty high standard so they will not be able to get away with giving out cheap products with their coffee like some local chains do. However, their main sex appeal will be there never ending variety of coffee drinks. This will be a novelty because no one has tried that approach here really. It will be interesting to see how locals will take to some of these new novel coffee drinks added to their current short list of coffee options. That I think is a crucial key to Starbuck’s success in Argentina.

If you would like to see some of the posts and comments regarding this topic I have collected several posts from other bloggers in Buenos Aires and an article on the subject. There were many comments flying around the expat sites as well but I can not publish those here. The topic makes for some interesting passion filled reading….
Expat Argnetina - Time to Cry for Argentina... Starbuck´s is Coming!

Cafe Culture in Buenos Aires - Not a Starbuck's in Sight.

Do Argentines Love Coffee or the Experience of Drinking it?

Your Set of Works - by Yanqui Mike

Yanqui Mike on Coffee Beens

Starbucks abrira en dos meses. - 283 comments and counting (in Spanish).

A Texan in Argentina: Confessions of a Former Starbucks Addict

Picture of Starbuck's coffee with brownie I found at this site.


99 said...

Frankie Sugar, I sense a cultural barrier here.
As I told you (at your post) we porteños don´t care about the coffee flavor, we care about the "cafecito" experience.

No matter how sophisticated the flavor, it will never replace the experience of sitting down at a joint with a friend to have a "cafecito". That´s what coffee means to us.

Of course chains like Starbuck´s know a lot about market penetration and taste standardization. All Starbuck´s drinks have the same name and taste in any branch. So you know what you´re getting just like at McDonnalds. You don´t even have to know the local language to ask for them, you can just point at the standard marketing picture even if you´re in Myanmar or East Africa. In addition you can always count on clean restrooms :o

And you´re right, there is room for them here. I imagine tourists and downtown yuppies actually running in and out to get a coffee to go in a paper cup. (The last ones would like in proportion to the visibility of the logo although the tourists won´t trade it if they visit El Tortoni first)
But I can´t imagine a tanguero or a gaucho or a porteña house wife or two friends in a Buenos Aires neighborhood doing that.

I guess people just like what they like...
(and I like your "pan dulce")

Unknown said...

Hi 99!

You are right. There is a very large segment that doesn´t care where that coffee bean came from and how many different types of beans are mixed to make that final cup. They are there to chat first and foremost. I also see a change in people taking an interest in their coffee. That has been happening with the modern local coffee chains. I am willing to bet that there will be quite a few locals mixed in with the foreigners at those places. It is something so new, even though we are talking about a coffee house. There approach will still be a novelty here. Besides, I also know that this market is not like the American market and will not react the same. I see Starbuck´s moving ahead with care and not with reckless abandon. One way to see how they will probably do thins is how they are working out in Brazil. Since take out coffee is a huge business for them it will obviously be part of their business here but I can also see them packed with people having their coffee at their seat-in area with ceramic cups instead of paper or plastic cups. Call me crazy, but I think they are getting pretty good at adapting to new markets.

Unknown said...


Oh, and I am very glad you like the pan dulce. I have some more things for you to try. That one was mainly for you since in Chicago we do not have a history of consuming pan dulce. Next ones are more yanqui oriented.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with 99, but I still feel that Starbucks can make a difference. I don't drink coffee, and I always believed that Starbucks was extremely expensive for what they offer, nevertheless, Starbucks has 'created' and 'perfected' the coffee experience in the US. A coffee shop, with tables, comfy sofas, chairs, ambiance, music, internet access - etc. It's still different from the classic Argentinian coffee place but its also target to the experience more than the product - Let's face it, they also sell bottle water for almost double that any other place-
I'm sure they'd have to adapt if they want to capture a share of the market, but perhaps its strategy will be focus in something else completely - Friendly consumers that are already aware of what Starbucks stands for... Time will tell...

Unknown said...

Hi Argonaut,

You both are right and I also agree with 99 regarding her "cafecito". You also agree that there is a space here for them. I think so because the local market has been slowly moving towards that. There is a time and a place for everything and the "cafecito" will always be around, but there is something new coming down the pipe and people are curious by nature and there are also many people who did travel, do travel and they have liked Starbuck´s and some other specialty coffee places in the States and Europe. They are not going to be at every corner. That sort of experience is something you will see in the States, but I don´t think it will be seen here.

I think they will have to be a very upscale place. And just like you said, they also target the experience not just the product. They will have very picky customers but if they deliver with their "coffee shop experience" as well as their product then they should be okay.

Unknown said...

Ok, start writing: Domino's Pizza, Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts,Cookies CO., Wendy's, KFC,Burguer King just barely makes it, and that's because the Bembergs are so rich they don't really care.Just 1 made it Mc Donald's and almsot sucumbed.This is a very, very strange country, and PALATES are PALATES. My kid worked for Starbucks in boston,guess what, he would never ever drink that funny concoctions again, you can call it a Macciatoo, a Frangeploploi, or whatever the ridiculous Italian name u want to call a coffee, but an espreso is and always be an Espresso, with or without a little or a lot of milk. We MEET for coffee, and most of the time don't care about the taste, alltough 95% of the time it tastes great.Remember 905 of our people is either form Italian or Spanish descent, thus we have about 150 years of Coffee history. Schultz will probably do great in 1 2, 3 locations at the most, only if he sets up incrediobly trendy places, at reasonable prices, and replaces ridiculous sweets for local ones,and that will be quite hard, just consider that the Florida St store they wanted to rent was 40,000 U$S a month, olus emplouees olus expenses, taht comes to probably 75.000 a month, or 2.500 a day, : how many gallons of coffee do u have to sell in order to pay just 2500 dls a day to open the door? Forget it.Of course Market Gurues, marketing big fishes and the likes will put their brilliant ideas on the table, and the MExican owners of the Franchise will fork a copuple of milliosn to start this adventure I am telling you right now the name of the only winner in this movie: Carlitos, he owns the property on the 900 of Florida. See you, and to tell u the truth, nothin gwill replace the old Cortado , specially standing by the bar.

Unknown said...

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for chiming in. I would rather just talk about Starbuck´s than bring all those other guys into the conversation. Although I do see your point that the local market does not accept foreign foods or tastes. I have to differ on you a little bit on this one. Markets change and we are seeing a change taking place right now. How many foreign types of foods are represented in Palermo Viejo alone? I came in 1999 and I see many more ethnic restaurants than I did back when I first got here. People are starting to branch out a little and giving their palates an education. As for why those fast food places did not survive, they would probably be topics that could be handled on case by case. I don´t think they all did exactly the same thing.

I also understand if your kid, having worked there, does not like Starbuck´s anymore. I am not going to assume that it is a given that every ex-employee is going to be unhappy with their previous job. I was reading, buried in all those messages, in the last link that I supplied at the end of the post, and there was an ex-USA Starbuck´s employee writing and asking where she could contact Starbuck´s in Argentina because she wanted a job here. Just like everywhere and every job, you are going to have happy experiences and unhappy ones for a myriad of reasons. Sorry it wasn´t that way for your kid.

We all seem to agree that a great portion of the local population likes their "cafecito" and could care less about how it got to their table. I say that there is a growing segment that is a little bit more curious and has a growing adventurous mind set regarding their food, and their coffee, and even their beer. I don´t see anything wrong with that.

99 said...

Hey Frankie, you´re stretching porteños patience by saying that Starbuck´s is going to educate our palates.
I congratulate you in your new partnership but hold your horses.
Their seat-in areas are completely soulless and snobby. Curious and adventurous minds are going have a hard time to not be bored like hell.
If you think that is just a porteña saying it, take a look at Sexy Spanish Club and read Maya´s observations. She´s American.

The restaurants that you see popping up at Palermo Viejo are not chains and they compete in a fair way. (In this point you´re touching somehow the political side of the small businesses economy and chains penetration. Also remember the political opposition that Starbuck´s had in the US for their purchase procedures. We can talk about that whenever you feel like it)

Unknown said...

Hi 99,

I never said that Starbuck´s was going to educate the Porteño palate. I said that Porteños are doing that all by themselves by branching out and trying new things and I mentioned all those ethnic restaurants as an example of this.

I am also aware that they are a huge buyer of coffee and their practices have a global impact. However, that has been brought out and was not within the scope of what I was trying to say. That would have to be a post all it´s own.

That company is coming to Argentina. They are not coming to erase or do away with Porteño coffee culture, they are coming to serve a segment of the market that will have them. I think there is a segment for them without there necessarily being damage done to what is already here. They are not going to compete with Cafe Tortoni for example. They will compete with Cafe Martinez or The Coffee Store for another example. Those stores are more like Starbuck´s than they are like Cafe Tortoni anyway.

Thanks for reminding me about Maya´s post. I will have to add that link to my post.

Also, thanks for your comments. I appreciate your contribution to this conversation.

yanqui mike said...

♫♪To the invader go the fruits of war,
he misses home and his boots are sore,
he has not got no roots no more,
he comes for your gold...
but watch out for your soul!♪♫

It's a touchy subject... free markets are controversial... cultural hegemony and cocacolonización are not just figments of the imagination.

It's got all the ingredients of a terrific discussion but I think it's too much to swallow and digest for the average cyber-fulano.

It would be great if I was wrong about that!

Unknown said...

Hi Yanq,

We may even be able to talk about it over some beer one day.

SaltShaker said...

I'd note one think Frank, in that you pointed out that Freddo "shares" storefronts with Aroma... that's kind of an off target point. Aroma is a 100% owned subsidiary of Freddo. Originally it was a partnership between Freddo and McDonald's, but McD's sold out their share to Freddo when their McCafe's started taking off.

I also don't think it's new that helado shops offer up coffee and tea - you can go to almost any old line helado store and they have coffee available, though some of the fancier places have expanded on that to also offer things like medialunas and other pastries as well.

Last note, and just a picky one - "Establecimiento General de Cafe", not Estacion... and they have some excellent imported coffees, plus they roast to order if you're willing to wait a day or two for something to be blended and made the way you want it.

Anonymous said...

Well, in first place everybody can decide for themselves if they like it or not - no reason to get tense about porteño coffee culture etc.pp.
E.g. many porteños go to McDonald's otherwise there wouldn't be that many here. That's something I find freaky with all the great food here, plus, I despise Mc&Co. anyways.
And I love to have my café con leche between my classes in one of the cafés here.
BUT: Two reasons I will go to Starbucks:
Chai Latte and COFFEE TO GO!!
If any other place ever offers the two, I will go there, I promise, and support porteño coffee culture full-heartedly ;)

I also want to add to 99's comment that their seating areas are soulless and snobbish, that's not generally true. I went to one in Manchester and they had that area downstairs, it was like a living room with old comfy chairs and couches and low tables and really nice details such as individual lamps and art on the walls and all - a very comfortable place indeed.

Anonymous said...

Just a little detail I forgot to add: It's not exactly nice to tell one person to hold their horses for one comment and at the same time say that the "tourists and downtown yuppies" will go for the coffee to go or that one that gets it could hardly be curious or adventurous.
I'm neither a tourist nor a downtown yuppie nor boring and I will go anyways.
I really don't like this "don't say a word about the locals, you stupid foreigner"-attitude.
Nobody is better or worse for coming from one place or going to another - even if it's Starbuck's;)

Unknown said...

Hi Dan,

Thanks for the clarifications. I had to pick the coffee chain with the best reputation to mess up on their name. You are right. For those picky bastards that have to have their Italian roast or French roast beans they can go there. I have yet to try the beans and it's on my list of places to try.

I still stand by my example of Aroma and Freddo though. Yep, they share owners, but they decided to share storefronts because they thought it was a good idea not because they were trying to save on rental costs (that's an added benefit not the main reason though). That would be a win win for them all the way around. Freddo, if they did not have Aroma, would offer coffee on their own; the stores that don't have Aroma incorporated actually do that now.

You are right in that this practice is not new. I stand corrected on this. It goes back a while and it's the ice cream parlors' way of attracting customers in the winter when consumption of ice cream drops. It makes perfect sense though since, like I mentioned, everyone goes out for "un cafecito". Some places even incorporate chocolates like Volta.

Thanks again for clearing things up Dan. I truly appreciate it.

Marc said...

I remember years ago that Bonafide had a special edition line of ground coffee from around the world that was quite good. I still have the cans--Ethiopia, Tanzania, Guatemala, Indonesia, etc.

Speaking of Bonafide, on most days, down here in Rio Grande at least, it is practically standing room only at coffee/tea time. The other cafes are quite full but there is high demand for Bonafide; or at least their concept. I don't know, maybe it's the isolation, but people here love anything different than the perceived norm.

I went to Starbucks twice in my life and never went back. Regular coffee seemed weak and watery. The ordering system of "I'll have a latte half no-fat low-fat mocha frappa-crap hazelnut slim tall flying-@#%& scared the living sh*t out of me.

That being said, it'll be interesting to see what happens to Starbucks here. Obviously they want to see if they can open multiple stores to increase growth and thus please shareholders but I don't know if that will happen. This is really not the time to test the local market IMHO. Sure a store or two will appease to the curious locals, immigrants familiar with Starbucks, and tourists, but will they be able to sustain more than that? Who knows.

I do know that a bunch of tourists will ditch the local cafes because they just HAVE TO HAVE STARBUCKS every day or else they will shrivel up and die. Just like those people in the airports who have to run as fast as they can in the terminal in order to grab a frappa-crap before they board their plane.

Yeah, I'm a Starbucks hater hehe.

Unknown said...

Hi 99!

I was just rereading some of the comments and I realized you made a reference to my new "partnership". I just wanted to clarify that Starbuck's is not a client of mine. I hope one day they will be but right now I am just waiting around to see what happens.

I have been introduced and we have talked and they know who I am, but this is going to take a while. I guess we have only just said hello.

Tina said...

I personally loved the beans available in Argentina - they are right on par with Italian coffee, if you ask me. And yes, the experience is what it's all about.
I wrote about Starbucks coming to Italy, in my Pecorino e Miele blog if you care to look... :-) I wasn't as eloquent as you though...

Unknown said...

Hi Coog,

I have also been in some nice looking stores as well.

Funny thing about the last time I went to one in Chicago. I was there for business and the wife and I had to get up early and head out the door. We decided to stop by Starbuck's for a cup of coffee and a muffin. When we paid we realized that the cost of two coffees and that muffin would have been enough to buy us both a full lunch back in BsAs. We didn't go to anymore after that, but if we could have afforded it we would have.

Sometimes when we are out with the kids we actually wish we could have a coffee to go and that way we could be at the park watching the kids play while drinking coffee. Sometimes we have to drive around with them because it is near there nap time and it would be great to be able to stop somewhere and grab a cup and keep going towards our destination. We don't drive around the whole time they are sleeping, it's just that sometimes we have to plan out the timing of our activities so that nap time coincides with transportation time.

One local chain tried coffee to go here and maybe is still trying. I wont name names but we both thought the coffee was awful. This is a place where we would normally have coffee sitting down. We never and will never try that again. I would equate the experience to drinking torrado style coffee.

For a good description of what that style is like go to Yanqui Mike's post on coffee beans.

Unknown said...

Buona sera Bellissimatina,

You made me blush, thank you for the compliment. By the way, I though it was just an unsubstantiated rumor. Are they really going to Italy? I am so out of it these days.

Your aunt Debbe was right on the money about how they operate. Seattle stays in Seattle, and outside the borders they give country franchises.

Stay away from rice cakes, even if they are covered in Peanut Butter. That is the ultimate boring food. I say that knowing many rice cake eaters and being related to many of them. I know, I know they are healthy for you. I just can't get excited over them.

Oh, and I really liked your posts for Anyone reading this you should check them out here.

Now I have to go see if they are really going to Italy. Tina! I should be sleeping right now.

Unknown said...

Hi Marc,

Thanks for chiming in. Sorry I didn't see your comment earlier. There seems to be a lot of haters and lovers and in-betweeners. Yeah, I just made that up.

Anyway, I never tried those specialty Bonafide beans. I have tried Bonafide and liked it.

Good coffee is so expensive. I think I might try and change my morning habit to something else. Think of the savings!

99 said...

Sorry about the partnership talk Frank. I misunderstood the point maybe because I truly wish you the best success in your business.
On the other hand, I don´t pick up fights in somebody else´s blog/house. This is as far as I´m going to go on the matter at your place. I have my opinion on the subject dough.
Take care.

Unknown said...

Hi 99,

I did not think you were actually fighting with me. In fact, your genuine well wishes did come through and do come through in your messages to me. I did joke about the fighting with Yanqui Mike, but I was just having fun.

Coog took offense at the labeling of future patrons because she is most likely going to be one. I am too but then again I don´t feel that strongly about any given company. I know I am not a yuppie and I am definitely not a tourist either. I will also still frequent the quaint little cafes that I normally go to. It´s just that as a citizen of Buenos Aires, I will soon have more choices and I will be able to enjoy the city in a slightly different way (mentioned in another response about going to the park with the kids and in the car for example). I also understand your reasons for not liking that company.

There are a couple of companies that I really like because I love their products. Two that come to mind are Apple and Leap Frog for example. Funny enough, Apple is another company that has a camp of haters and admirers. But I really love the way those companies have come up with ideas that have helped enrich my life.

Nancy (aka Dalila) said...

Hi Frank, wow, what a conversation! Great post, by the way. As a porteña, I can only tell you that Starbuck's offered me the best coffee I could find as a tourist in the States. I agree with the fact that what matters is the experience of sitting down with friends but I really hate when the coffee is bad. So, let's see what they will offer here in BA. I liked their Mocca Frappuchino to go. Anyway, I believe that for locals, the price will make the difference since we have very good coffee here, at least for our taste. Saludos!

Unknown said...

Hi Nancy,

Wow, can I tape you saying that. I think it´s the first time I have heard an Argentine say that they found good coffee in the States.

There are many little specialized coffee places around. One has to just look. Starbuck´s happens to be the easiest one to find.

I remember hearing my sister-in-law complaining about restaurants in the States and then she clarified that was the case when she visited Disneyworld. We went with them once and then they mentioned going to Denny´s for breakfast. I realized why she hated the food. I wouldn´t eat at the places she mentioned.

God I miss breakfast places in the USA. Also, it is a given that it is difficult to find a good meal at/around Disney.

Anyone have any recommendations by the way while we are on the subject?

Nancy (aka Dalila) said...

Ha ha, it was at least the only coffee I could drink, and yes, there was a Starbuck's almost everywhere, at least in Manhattan. I also ended up in Denny's once in Fort Lauderdale but only because it was the only place open at 9:00 PM in the area. That is also an issue, different eating time habits...

Unknown said...

Yeah, I hear ya. Luckily for me here in Buenos Aires that is an advantage in my case. At 8pm we normally have the restaurants to ourselves and the service is always great compared to later in the evening. Before the smoking ban it was the only time also that we could eat without all the smoke getting in the way.

Anonymous said...

Hi Frank, el café torrado está entre nosotros desde la invención de la máquina express y ambos provienen de italia. Aquí también hay diferencia entre un blend y otro siendo digno de destacar Cabrales; el gigante Marplatense, por cierto un cliente potencial para tus cookies y demás. Sin lugar a dudas hay un nicho para todos pero no siempre el tamaño del mismo satisface las expectativas de quienes invierten.
La 99, Yanqui Mike, Tina y en especial Daniel han reflejado a mi juicio el meollo del problema.
Los snobs de siempre se pasearan con un vaso de papel y algún turista hará lo mismo para sentirse cerca del hogar, todo válido pero no necesariamente un buen negocio. Mi consejo, muy porteño por cierto, para la gente de Starbucks es "no te arregles las medias que la foto es carnet"
Excelente blog, gracias por compartir tus experiencias y mis mejores deseos de éxitos.
Juan F.

Unknown said...

Estimado Juan,

Muchas gracias por escribir y por los deseos expresados. Comparto las observaciones de Cabrales. Por suerte yo encontré satisfacción con respecto al café en estas partes y es una de las marcas que disfruto.

Quizás a Starbuck´s no le llegara a satisfacer el tamaño de su mercado o quizás sí. El solo hecho de que alguien valla a consumir en sus locales no debería brindarlo un snob, yuppie, boludo, etc. Que vallan muchos de los nombrados es probable pero no es requisito.

Yo tengo que admitir que cuando lleguen seguro que voy a ir. También puedo admitir que no voy a cambiar mucho mis hábitos de consumo. Simplemente va a ser una opción más en este maravilloso país.

Así, que para mi, que se arreglen las medias y los calzones también. Tienen una cita con Argentina y hay que vestirse bien y tratar de conquistarla. Ojo, estoy hablando de conseguir el mercado disponible y no de que tienen que instalar un Starbuck´s en cada esquina—cosa que ya mencioné no creo que pase así que tranquilos gente. Y sí, vuelvo a declararlo, pienso que hay mercado.

Gayle said...

Hi, Frank, love your absolutely authentic blog. I live in the "interior" and have missed my usual US coffee experience, be it Starbucks or Seattles Best or Peets or my own home brews. I am undecided about Starbucks in Argentina but would like to be able to buy really good coffee beans out here from anyone who wants to sell them. Meanwhile I love the Tortoni. . . and here in San Nicolas, the Savelli restaurant waiters are just great when I want coffee--they bring me three little pitchers, one with hot coffee, one with cold milk, and one with chocolate sauce. Then I make my own special mocha with lots of refills. You can't beat the personalized attention here! By the way, my chocolate chip cookies and brownies get rave reviews here, though I just make them free for family and friends. So glad to knowyou are doing your part to diffuse culture there! I thought about opening a little cafe with soups, salads, cookies, teas, etc., but am a little too busy coaching right now and everyone says it would never work this far from GBA... Oh well. Hope to visit your shop some day.


Unknown said...

Hi Gayle,

Thanks for your input. Your little coffee shop sounds divine. I also like your idea of opening up your own shop. Since I have no knowledge of your community I can't really offer any kind of concrete reply. I can only offer enthusiasm from a distance.

I also like those unique coffee shop experiences and I don't think Starbuck's will place any of those unique places into jeopardy. I am sure that Starbuck's will go after the segment that already goes to the modern coffee shops. This is the segment that I think they will do pretty good because there is not much "uniqueness" about them. I sense that there is room for growth in this one and you are going to start seeing these companies falling over each other to try to outdo the other one.

It's going to be fun watching, and in an indirect way taking part in it, hopefully.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I've commented here before but from my Italy blog (as bellissimatina)... I totally forgot!
Well obviously I'm not as mad at Starbucks as I was before... :-)

Unknown said...


That was you? I think I may have commented on that blog of yours as well, but I can't remember exactly.

Now I have you on my Google reader at least.

Juan said...

i now i am postin really late, but i think they won't do too well down here, since lots of people are used to their own 'cafes' where they already know ppl and they usually go there on a regular basis for the company rather than the coffee itself. Starbucks will be pricing their products way too much for the local market and once the starbucks fury is gone they will have to adjust to the argentine economy/reality.

Something similar happened with pizza hut, they couldn't compete against the enormous amount of pizzerias and closed a lil after the pizza hut fury was vanished.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your POV on café torrado. I thought I was the only one who hated that stuff. It's vile!

I know this is a post from last year, but it looks like Starbucks has caught on and is expanding. And they always seem to be full of people.

For me, it's the only place where I can get a decaf latte with soy milk, so I'll probably be a customer forever down here.

Unknown said...

Hi Holly,

Thank you for the comment. You will have even more places to find a Starbucks since they are opening up a few more locations. Up next, a Kosher store in Abasto. We are working on Kosher cookies for them.

Brady Stump said...

Enjoyed the read.