As cults go, the cult of Mexican Coke is relatively benign. This cult doesn’t perform human sacrifice, nor does it perform any strange rituals. Its only belief, outside of the mainstream of American thought is that Mexican Coke is better than American Coke. Before I go any further, I should clarify this one point; I’m speaking about Coca-Cola and not cocaine. Yes, I know that Coca-Cola at one time contained cocaine, but that was then and this is now.
Mexican Coke cultists claim that Coca-Cola bottled in Mexico tastes better, because it is sweetened with sugar. Coca-Cola bottled in the United States is sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. I was surprised to learn that Coca-Cola’s secret formula allows for ingredient changes. Coca-Cola has explained that its franchised bottlers are allowed to make substitutions in ingredients to accommodate local markets. Coca-Cola has further explained that switching from sugar to corn syrup causes only an imperceptible difference in taste.
Not only is Coca-Cola aware of the cult of Mexican Coke, it encourages it. Under the guise that Hispanic immigrants prefer their childhood formula, Coca-Cola has worked to ensure that national distributors make it available. Mexican Coke sales in the U.S. are a win-win situation. Cultists get the beverage that they desire and Coca-Cola makes a little money too, right?
Starbucks turns 40 later this month, and is not missing this wonderful chance to celebrate its rise from a single Seattle store to its present mega-chain of 17,000 stores in 55 countries. As part of its month-long party, it has rolled out a new company logo. This is the fourth logo in the evolution of Starbucks mermaid. Over time Starbucks’ mermaid has become more stylized. In this latest iteration, the previous logo’s ring naming Starbucks Coffee has been eliminated; the mermaid’s image enlarged to fill the void and then tinted green to hold on to the previous generation’s color scheme.
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the original Starbucks Coffee shop, in Pikes Place Market, Seattle. Its décor was totally different from my Starbucks store. The Pikes Place shop was all dark wood paneling. My shop is all airy and light. The Pikes Place store was small and without seating. Mine has plenty of room and couches and tables too. There were similarities though.
The Pikes Place Starbucks was crowded with both tourist, like myself and then the regulars. All drink orders were taken in sequence, but the barista delivered the beverages out-of-order. I’ve experience this same phenomenon at my Starbucks, and I attribute that to the natural efficiency of my Starbucks team. They know my order, and often place it before I can. This can put my drink before someone who had ordered earlier and is sometimes awkward.
Garrison Keillor once quipped that Starbucks was dedicated to answering the question, how much would some people be willing to pay for a cup of coffee. I must admit, that I’ll likely be one of those people who find out first hand. I must also admit that I still miss the Café Paradiso, the local shop that was superseded by my Starbucks. It was immensely more satisfying then, than even the best that Starbucks can do now. To be served your beverage, while still standing in line, before the guy in front of you, could even place his order, now that is paradise.