This week Starbucks opened its first store in Hanoi, and was predictably instantly ringed with long queues and excitable locals.
I haven’t been in yet. I assume there’s no need – I went in several Starbucks in England, and they’re all the same. That’s the whole point isn’t it?
It’d be the easy option for me to lament lament about globalization, the dumbing down of anything remotely creative in favour of the banal and the plain. I’m not a fan of Starbucks or what they represent. I’m not a fan of the way that such global brands are turning cities all over the planet into mere potato prints of the last. But that’s all been said before, by people much smarter than I, and so I shan’t rehearse such arguments further.
What I will say is two things. First, it seems particularly offensive to see a multinational coffee shop open in Hanoi, where coffee shop culture is so strong, and where hundreds (nay, thousands?) of micro-business coffee shops daily serve up remarkably good coffee for barely 50p a pop. Hanoi got the roads wrong, they messed up the drainage systems and the electricity supply is a joke. But one of the few things they really have got bang on is coffee. This is the one place in the world which actually would have the right to ask ‘What do Starbucks know?’
And the second thing is – I’m fucked if I’m paying £3 for a cup of coffee. And you should be too.