Posts Tagged ‘Starbucks’

FRAP HAPPINESS II

A different country, different speciality drinks at Starbucks – this is the Starbucks rule I managed to confirm on my Starbucks-hopping. Simply put, the US market had the loved-by-the consumers and hated-by-the baristas Unicorn Frappuccino, Indonesia is now tooting its counterpart of Popcorn Caramel Frappuccino. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Starbucks is treating its loyal customers to two special flavors, one of which is the Roasted Smores Frappuccino. Apparently, this one is back due to popular demand.

Roasted Smores Frappuccino

The scorching heat – 35 degrees is normal temperature each day in Quezon City – was a strong impetus for me to get Roasted Smores Frappuccino (tall size only) and throw caution to the wind. I would worry about the calories later when I get to the gym. Truly frap happiness with each sip, which was far from my imagined saccharine taste. Nestled at the bottom of the ice-blended Frappuccino roast coffee beans were swirls of chocolate syrup reminiscent of the chocolate sauce for chocolate sundaes bonding with swathes of marshmallow. Topping the iced beverage is a whirl of whipped cream sprinkled with bits of graham crackers. It is not hard to grok that it is pure frap happiness: a sip of it is a sweet (not cloying), gooey, and chocolatey goodness that momentarily quells the searing summer heat and uplifts the sadness in one’s heart.

It is a sugar fest with the Roasted Smores Frap and sticky cinnamon bun. (Imperial Suites,Tomas Morato branch)

IN CHARACTER

It was one afternoon while unwinding at Starbucks at the new Grand Metropolitan Mall, upmarket sister mall of Metropolitan Mall, when I noticed a store banner was on the floor. A man had nearly sprawled on the ground because his foot got caught in one of the spines. Luckily, he didn’t. He looked at the banner, his forehead furrowed in a frown, and walked away. Was he mad at the banner? And that is when I decided to observe humanity. Will anyone be mindful and, without being feeling put upon, pick up banner and set it up right?

 

Something is not right here. The banner is down. What should we do?

Something is not right here. The banner is down. What should we do?

Back in elementary school, my class mates and I were drilled endlessly in being mindful of the people and surroundings. We, for instance, always had to throw our trash in the rubbish bin; we also had to pick up the litter that we see and throw it in the bin. We acknowledged someone when we see them in the hallway by smiling and saying, “Hello” or “Good morning”. Naturally, when someone is carrying too many things, we’d offer help carry some. And when someone is injured, we’d rush to get the school nurse from the clinic.

A security guard walked on by. He was oblivious to the fallen banner.

Being mindful became second nature to us. It was part of our character. We didn’t need to be reminded all the time because parents and teachers were also mindful of good behaviour and right conduct. The adults had character too. There was cooperation between parents and teachers – if teachers took care of the children’s behaviour outside of the home, parents were undeniably in charge with the home front. Apparently, that cooperation has long since disappeared and the children have been left to wallow in the abyss of ignorance, which, at times, turns into a feeling of entitlement. Being mindful is now a thing of the past, which has resulted in my having to give a lecture every now and then on the concept of good character (read: being mindful) in between English lessons. Admittedly, it becomes tiring and frustrating because children seem to have been born with short-term memory and there doesn’t seem to be any support from the home front.

A throng of people chattering away missed the banner by a few centimetres. The banner still remained on the floor.

The reason given for unmindful is “Times are changing”. This statement has become the convenient answer for anything going wrong in the world. Times are changing, indeed, but it seems to be an ineffectual excuse for anyone with an iota of intelligence to use to cover up for one’s ineptitude and the utter lack of mindfulness. Is there a correlation between changing times and forgetting good behaviour? Are changing times a license to become boorish?

Two employees from an eatery in the mall spotted the banner on the floor. I thought they would solve the little problem. The other, pointing at the banner, nudged his colleague as if telling to pick it up. He simply gawked at it then they walked out of the mall.

My training kicked in. I stepped out of Starbucks and picked up the banner, setting it up right to greet would-be customers. Back to my Asian Dolce Latte and Dickens, I could see the smiling faces of my parents and teachers from JASMS. There is simply no excuse not to keep in character, not to be mindful.

It doesn't take much to be mindful and keep things in the right place.

It doesn’t take much to be mindful and keep everything in the right place.

CAFE RUN

While others have this urgent need to harvest their pumpkins which they planted together with the Smurfs, I have to have my café run, a habit that developed when I was living in the Garden City. Starbucks or Coffee Bean Tea Leaf was my refuge from the alienation, dislocation, loneliness etc that were building up inside and could be momentarily quelled by a hot drink. It was also my spot for marking papers (no one chased me away) and a meeting venue with close acquaintances and friends (it’s hard to miss). The crew I knew way back then was pleasant, their bonhomie disposition so infectious that I’d forget all the agitations of the day.

My favourite cuppa tea – genmaicha

Café run in Jakarta lends itself solely to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. It’s to assuage my feelings of deprivation with the absence of a Coffee Bean outlet in Kalimalang, which is definitely pro-Starbucks and pro-J CO area. Like in Starbucks but not like Starbucks, I have a cup of hot genmaicha. I like how the roasted rice taste lingers on the tongue and disappears without leaving an awful taste in the mouth. It’s a neat and smooth sip, and, trite as it may sound, all is fine in my world.

Indulging the sugar craving at Starbucks

It’s my me-time where I sip my favourite hot drink and bite into my current favourite cake. Starbucks is a de facto café for my café run in Bekasi being the only one in the area. Order of the day is a tall mug of green tea with granny apple pie or chocolate avocado mousse or the popular red velvet cake. The crew is very pleasing, which is quite refreshing as it’s not every day I can engage in pleasant repartee and not trip all over my tongue because of my meagre knowledge of Bahasa Indonesia. Located in Metropolitan Mall, Starbucks is a complete haven when the afternoon crowd has not yet streamed in. Its comfortable sofa chairs invite the bookworm, tempting her to sink in and get lost in her book with the mellow music wafting overhead. The serene ambience for reading, unwinding or simple people-watching lasts until the smokers troop in for their café run – coffee with a fag – which is my signal to leave and head on for home.

COFFEE BREAK

It’s one reason why I miss Singapore to a certain degree. I can walk down Orchard Road and find a little corner in Starbucks for my caramel macchiato or green tea or green tea frappuccino and let the world pass by. I’m not a real coffee drinker like other people I know but I like the momentary solitude sitting in Starbucks gives me amidst the cacophony of the blender whirring, the cashier shouting out the orders to the barista and the general din of the bevy of people chatting away and the sounds of hand phones while sipping my fave drink.

It’s different in Bekasi, Indonesia. Thank goodness for the one Starbucks at Metropolitan Mall but, unfortunately, the barista experiences a lot of mood swings so the drinks are not up to Starbucks quality (read: watery and bland) . Let’s not forget the smoking customers who have perfected the art of indifference, marring the solitude and purity of the air, and disturbing my peace. The branches in Jakarta, like in Plaza Senayan, are a welcome respite from the dearth of my favorite watering hole, rude smokers and the lackluster array of snacks-on-sale.

The Starbucks at Soekarno-Hatta airport is a good pit stop before heading to the departure lounge despite the warm temperature. I always get a drink before walking down to the lounge to wait for my flight. It’s an idiosyncrasy that I can’t let go – it’s a nice break from the tedium I know I’m heading for in waiting for the flight (delayed flights are not far from common).

A pit stop at the Starbucks at the airport in Bali is a good way to jump start a short weekend getaway especially if you land a few hours after sunrise. There’s no rush to get anywhere anyway so sipping a drink can be a very leisurely activity till you feel you’re ready to climb into the cab and head to your villa.