Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Honoring the Starbucks Barista, Improving Dental Health, and Weighing in on the Issues Like It's 1705

In July, the news that Starbucks closed 600 stores rocked the coffee-drinking community (and stockholders). But, Starbucks is still a go-to destination. I was grateful that none of the locations in my community closed. We are surrounded by Starbucks and they are always busy. Starbucks is an important part of our community, and I was grateful that none of the locations in my community closed. I love my local baristas---they are some of the most incredibly friendly, well-educated people I’ve ever known. Between them, they are planning trips to Japan, waiting to hear about early-acceptance applications to NYU, traveling to Oregon to work in other stores, raising children, exercising strenuously at NYSC, developing their yoga practices, pursuing professional dance careers, quietly nurturing their dreams, and generally being exceptional human beings.

Starbucks is a consistently good experience. The service is top-notch, the communication is upbeat and straightforward, and the coffee drinks are really superb. And despite complaints about prices, the prices are consistent and not necessarily exorbitant. You sit as long as you like for the price of a cup of coffee (or a chai latte, misto, or whatever you're drinking). People complained about Pike’s Place---but it’s a decent cup of coffee. Now more than ever, we need a place to go, a place to read, a place to chat, a place to socialize. Starbucks is that place. It’s all about community. Starbucks is a direct descendant of the first London coffee houses, which were opened in the 1650’s. The London coffee houses are direct descendants of the coffee houses in Istanbul, which made their first appearance in the 1500’s.

Writing in the journal, Language & Communication (2008), coffee historian, Markman Ellis describes the London coffee houses of the 1700’s as a place “built upon principles of friendly and discursive sociability”. He describes groups of men hanging out, drinking coffee, reading, and engaging in energetic discussions about the topics of the day. Fast forward 300 years---and you’re at Starbucks, circa 2008. Starbucks recently introduced a new publication to help jump-start conversations about hot topics. The latest issue of Good focuses on HEALTH CARE. The layout is intuitive, clean and soothing---a palette of light chartreuse, cornflower blue, and black on clean, off-white recycled paper.

There’s a lot to learn here. A few of the big points:
  • The U.S. spends $2 trillion a year on health care
  • $559 billion of that is government spending on Medicaid and Medicare
  • 47 million people are uninsured (16% of the population)
  • 60% of employers offer health insurance
  • Antidepressants are the most frequently prescribed pharmaceuticals
  • 70% of money spent on healthcare treats chronic conditions
  • Obama endorses coverage based on the current plan for members of Congress, no exclusions for preexisting coverage, insurance portability, subsidies for the poor, and having employers who don’t provide insurance pay a fee or tax
  • McCain endorses health savings accounts, short-term tax breaks to offset the cost of coverage, no exclusions for preexisting coverage, and insurance portability.

Health care is a hot topic and staying healthy is an evergreen goal. By the way, coffee is also good for dental health. Italian researchers at the University of Ancona, led by Gabriella Gazzani, Ph.D, collaborated with researchers at the University of Pavia to analyze roasted coffee beans and how they might affect health. Amazingly, they discovered that coffee has antibacterial effects against certain microorganisms, particularly Streptococcus mucans---the main bacterial culprit that leads to cavities. The Italian researchers were pleased to discover that coffee reduces potential cavity development by inhibiting the adsorption of the offending bacteria by up to 98.1%. Apparently this antibacterial activity is not caffeine-related; rather, the researchers suggested that a water-soluble component of coffee, called trigonelline, which is largely responsible for the taste and aroma of coffee, contributes to coffee’s anti-adhesive activities.

Smile…You’re drinking coffee!

1 comment:

essay on time review said...

I myself is a huge fan of starbuck.Not only its coffee is yummy but I like its cinnamon roll as well. This is my one of the must go places.