Panic: Starbucks Closed for 3 Hours

“Starbucks will close the doors of all its American establishments for three hours on February 26 in order to train its personnel on how to make the best cappuccino. That way the company will stay ahead of the competition,” she told coffee-addicted Americans. “Thus make sure that you stock up on the needed shots ahead of time.”

For New Yorkers, the news meant more than the prospect of a couple of miserable hours of caffeine deficiency. The thought alone of a Starbucks-free life is sufficient here for many to experience a panic attack.

I know people who dare not wander outside their “Starbucks zone,” the area within which you can get a fresh cup of coffee within ten minutes. They consider the logo with the Greek siren to be the symbol for human civilization.

The coffee chain is for New Yorkers, in addition to being the purveyor of their daily caffeine shot, also an indispensable compass in the jungle of stress and success. When baristas draw cheerful-looking bird nests, spring is in the air. As soon as the words “Pumpkin Latte” appear on the menu boards, bankers, yuppies and students know: it has to be fall. And New Yorkers consider the Christmas season to have arrived only when Starbucks serves cappuccino in red mugs with snow crystals.

The coffee chain that has managed to get millions of Americans to say Venti instead of Extra Large, additionally gives its clients every day a portion of worldly wisdom. On each mug there are interesting trivia, poems, or short statements to stimulate the brain.

The (Royal) purveyor to the hurried career makers also functions as a signal for investors. Home buyers know that they are doing well when the sign with green letters is raised on their street.

For new arrivals, a visit to Starbucks counts as the unofficial citizenship test. Because, only when one can, without stuttering and without delaying other customers, order a “Double grande skimmed hot dulce de leche latte extra caramel and whip,” can one call himself or herself with any decency a New Yorker.

During these elections, political analysts use the brand also as a gauge of people’s opinion. Starbuck clients, Americans learned last week, are more inclined towards voting for Barack Obama than other voters. They now have a name: Starbucks-liberals.

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