Friday, March 19, 2010


 I'm in "my office" this morning known to most people as Starbucks Coffee, and while this is my office, Barnes & Noble is "my church".  I come here to read, write, edit photos, and watch people, the last is my most favorite pastime. 

This morning people are lined up three-deep at the counter ordering every sort of caffeinated concoction, feeding the American coffee culture.  This fascination with coffee is not something that we necessarily share in large degree with the rest of the world.

Many years ago I was living in Santiago, Chile doing the bidding of Queen and country, and in Chile, like most LATAM countries at the time, coffee came in tiny cups that looked like they were part of a little girl's tea set. The Chileans just didn't eat much of a breakfast so the idea of morning coffee was a bit foreign to them.  Coffee was something that allowed them to stay up into the wee hours attending dinner parties.

Down the street from my apartment, not far from the U.S. Embassy (a brilliant idea) a Dunkin Donuts prepared to open for business; this would be the country's first, and I can't describe the excitement that streaked through Santiago's ex-pat community.

On the first day that the shop was open I steered clear because the line was outrageous.  Ex-pats wanted a taste of home, and Chileans were morbidly curious as to what the excitement was all about. From all accounts it was an authentic Dunkin Donuts and the Americans, especially those from the northeast, were beside themselves with glee.

The very next day I made sure that I was first in-line when the door opened in the morning.  I strode in all giddy and excited to have my first massive styrofoam cup in well-over a year of American-style joe.  I placed my order, however the Chilean attendant frowned and told me that the coffee wasn't hot yet, pointing to the urn positioned underneath the brand new brewer.  I politely asked him how that was possible, as "The coffee comes out hot", I exclaimed .  He tapped the metal urn and said, "No, todaiva no".  It then hit me, he had left last night's coffee in the urn and had simply turned on the hotplate and was waiting for it to get hot.  Yea, I can see we still have a ways to go.

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