Friday, May 09, 2003

:: Desperately seeking Starbucks ::

As a confessed coffee addict, I was impressed to see even the simplest cafeterias and cafes sport at least one espresso machine each. But admiration quickly turned to dismay when I realized that every cafeteria and café and bar and restaurant had only an espresso machine. I like my coffee American style, taking it slowly while working or while talking with someone, and I take espresso only rarely. Well, it turns out that the only coffee you can get here in Pamplona is espresso.

At least they offer you different ways of taking it. You can take a café solo, which is espresso without milk or sugar; or a café con leche, which is espresso with a shot of milk; or a café cortado, which is an espresso with additional water. You can also choose to ask for a empty glass with ice, so that you can pour your espresso into the glass after putting in the amount of sugar you desire and thus have a café con hielo.

Last year, when I asked if there were special coffee outlets like Starbucks here in Pamplona, I got quizzical looks. And then a question: Why would anyone want to buy coffee from Starbucks? And finally the answer to the question: The coffee we have is better! It’s strong, full of flavor, not like the watery brew that passes for coffee served by the Americans!

While in Madrid I saw two Starbucks outlets, but we were always on the move and I never had a chance to ask for a tall coffee of the day and sip it slowly as I sit on the sidewalk, savoring coffee just the way I used to take it back in Manila. Sigh.