Finding a cafe away from home

It’s Saturday morning and I’ve just set myself up at a coveted table with powerpoint in easy reach at Starbucks near my house. There are about four cafes with wireless within walking distance and about 78 million more within a short skytrain ride, and here at Starbucks I begin the journey to find my favourite. 

Early polling suggests a favourable approval rating. 


  1. Shameless amounts of whipped cream added to coffee,
  2. Christmas music*,
  3. aforementioned powerpoint,
  4. speedy wireless access.


  1. the Thai love of the iced frappucino, there is a lot of noisy ice-blending going on, 
  2. expensive wireless access. 

That’s four favourables to two unfavourables and the whipped cream is worth two points, so Starbucks is doing well. Of course, it’s still a one-horse race so we’ll see what the next competitor has to offer.

*I need to qualify adding Christmas music as a Pro because I can see that I’ll be taunted for it. I like to think this blog doesn’t shy away from the controversial stance so here I go. 

My friends have told me that Thais will celebrate any holiday, as was demonstrated at Halloween. The shopping centres are elaborately decorated (elaborate doesn’t even come close to describing the decorating style at the fancier shopping centres. It’s a site to be seen and I’m sure a whole army of illegal migrants must have been involved in the construction). Shops will devote 50-70% of their floor space to holiday-inspired sale items that they couldn’t expect to sell more than a small portion of. But that doesn’t seem to matter because it’s a holiday to be celebrated at all cost. 

Needless to say then that Starbucks (and probably every other Starbucks in the world, which kind of negates the need for that earlier explanation of the Thai love of holidays) is already well and truly Christmas cheery, with the Dark Cherry Mocha Frappucino and the christmasy mugs and chocolate eggs (…?)  The thing about it is, and this is where I get controversial, the elaborate decorations in the shopping centres or the string quartets playing carols in the atriums, don’t inspire any Christmas cheer in me at all. Maybe it will in, oh say, December, but for now it seems so blatantly commercial that I’m not that excited. Not bothered, by not excited. But, Christmas music in Starbucks…it just makes me want it to be Christmas right now! I sing along and get warm and fuzzy inside. I have no idea why…but naturally I have a theory. Two, in fact.

1. Starbucks favours Nat King Cole and jazz classics for Christmas which I think may have super powers to melt even the scroogiest heart.

2. The music and the rushing around and the noise remind me of Angus and Robertson days! And now that the long hours running and the angry, frazzled customers, and the worried looks as people whip out their credit cards again are all a thing of the past, I just remember the fun we used to have as we slowly lost our minds, working the 14th day in a row, singing to the silly songs, fighting over which CD to play, and of course, the times when we wore our pajamas for the 24 hour trading days at Chadstone. 

Regardless of expensive internet, I think there might be a few more trips to Starbucks in my future…Until December 26 at least.


2 thoughts on “Finding a cafe away from home

  1. Josh

    Now, this particular reader’s button has definitely been hit and hit well and fully – Christmas music – two words, one reality, and Earth becomes Heaven. It needs no defence, no qualification, (…yes we can…) the carols are timeless, the feeling: irreplaceable. It is only the ‘Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer’ variety of “carol” (like the blasted ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’) that gives Christmas music a bad name and brings to mind the cheap and hideous commercial side. But even they I dare say can be enjoyed.

    For my part, it’s – need I say it – King’s College all the way… and, (off hand), Hark the Heralds, Hallelujah (no, not the Mr. Cohen song), God Rest Ye Merry, O Come All Ye Faithful… it doesn’t get much better than that. And the wonderful thing is they always sound new and you don’t even know what song you’re hearing, and somehow in one year you’ve forgotten them – bit like Christ. Even Starbucks starts to sound attractive from this point of view.

    I’m not sure how many ‘jazz classics’ dealt with the story of Jesus, but I’m sure Starbucks know what they’re about and know what they’re doing. In fact, though I know this isn’t what you meant, all of Miles Davis musical attitude could be summed up as “following the star of Bethlehem”.

    If Starbucks hadn’t closed on Lygon St, why I might step up there for a sweet giant cappucino right now and say, “In Thailand they’re playing Christmas carols, why not here?!!”.

  2. Elisa

    Ah, the Hellmouth.
    I’d like to think I had reached your enlightened state of being in which the hectic pre-Christmas days of retail in all their public sleepwear glory could be looked back upon with warmth.
    Alas, I am so scarred that I still haven’t set foot inside Chadstone again, all these years later.
    Although I do think that had Sufjan Stevens released his 5-album Christmas collection just a wee bit earlier I would have been much better armed for the annual Charity Christmas CD smackdown. Take that, Human Nature!

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