My distrust of and disdain for Starbucks is is not new, but I recently wrote about their efforts to further confuse their products with actual Italian coffee culture, and I also wrote about efforts by Italian-American businesses to push back on their desires to encroach on the beautiful Italian Culture in the North End in Boston.
While I've never liked their dilution of actual culture, is hasn't always been obvious what tangible effects this could have, beyond confusing customers and running small coffee shops out of business. Well, that was true until very recently...
On a trip to NYC, we ate a fabulous meal at one of our favorite restaurants, Ribalta. Their pizza is true Neapolitan style, the wine selection is fantastic, their service if great, and if you go at the right time you can enjoy a Calcio (soccer) game with a very spirited and lively crowd. We try to go whenever we are in town, and this recent trip was no exception. At the end of our delicious meal, we ordered some dolci and a couple macchiati. The waiter took our order for dessert, stopped and confirmed with us that the coffee we wanted was a shot of espresso. Confused, we responded "yes", but I though to myself: "as opposed to what?"
Again last week, when my wife went to a coffee-shop and ordered a macchiato, the barista confirmed with her that she was expecting an espresso drink. My wife said yes, but noticing the confused look on her face, the barista explained that many people order a macchiato and aren't expecting a real one, they are looking for one of those nasty sugar and whipped cream disasters that they serve at Starbucks. When they are served a real macchiato, they're disappointed.
This is a clear example intentionally fostering confusion with customers as to what very specific Italian products are in order to attract a larger, if ignorant, client base. Starbucks seems fine with this, but I'm not. Please learn what a true macchiato is and buy those, or of course you could make them at home with our delicious Italian coffees and stove-top espresso makers. I realize this might come off as self serving, but this is the reason we're in this business. Because we're passionate about Italian Coffee Culture!