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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Croatian Cafes, Starbucks & Coffee Socialism







Coffee socialism in action. Image: www.cheaphotels.org.





This one is perfect.  A topic I've touched upon here and there.  I read recently also how how Starbucks put on the backburner their plans to set up shop in Croatia, and I wasn't surprised either. Everything the author is explaining is true.  I recently came back from a 3 year work/school stint from Calgary AB and the Starbucks talk below is so true. In Calgary there's a Starbucks around every corner downtown, they're in the grocery stores, 2 or 3 in the same mall, in the book stores, every strip mall, at the college I was at, blink and you'll miss a Starbucks opening up, and I'm not exaggerating either, Calgary is totally Starbucks coffee shops country. That's where I also found out there's alot of Serbian fuckos in Calgary too.  Some of them even think that the Starbucks that they frequent is actually their turf, sometimes they get together with other obese, pleated pant types and go out of their way to show it's their turf, play serbo-Fucko games, follow you around, start spreading rumours and lies. Nothing new in that dept, the one Serb was going around saying I had 'Aids" because...well...because I was my ideal body weight according to the body mass index and because I smelled nice...I think I was using Alfred Sung or Diesel at the time, it could been Hugo Boss actually. (I use the correct medical term whenever called for now if you've noticed, years ago some medication made me gain some weight, this bitchy nurse kept reminding me that I was over my ideal body weight, never mind that it was the pills that made me retain water and slowed down my metabolsim, I was above my ideal weight and so therefore according to the medical charts I was technically obese. (The nurse though sort of looked like the Michelin woman herself, almost like Jabba the Hutt actually, so figure that one out). This then extended to their Portuguese pals, so much so they they call everywhere I go , to tell people to spread rumours that I'm sick. This was going around here, in Calgary and now back here again? (The magics of the cellphones). They actually called their pals out in Frankfurt in summer 2011 on my Croatia trip, to go to the airport and do their "he's sick" shtick shit. Such a very Serbian thing to do, that's why they get along so good, same people. They really need to look in the mirror and their own peeps here in Little Portugal, fucking greasy disgusting, total opposite of these Zagreb, Rijeka, Split, Zadar and other cafe pics. (Word of warning to the Frankfurt Hrvati, stay away from the Portuguese as well as the Serbs, they're sick people, they worship the same Serbian Jesus afterall, just shitfuckery you don't need or want). I've been  back to within my ideal body weight for a long time now but I use the correct term if it applies from now on,  one has to use the correct medical term afterall. Not fatty, not blimpy, not behemoth, lardass or any of those descriptions.  Did you know that many health professionals consider obesity a disease btw? an illness that brings on other illnesses? sad but true ) For instance, from a post a few days ago, see this pic? (they're not sick) this pic? (they're not sick) this pic? (they're not sick either) these people? (they're not sick at all) this chick? (well, she's sick, tee hee hee)

This was especially the case for me because I arrived there shortly after my summer '09 Croatia trip, and the Serbs were confused and their noses got all full of snot because I guess they thought a few souvenir stickers on my laptop actually had something to do with them. (Possibly because maybe I wasn't wearing one of these tee's or stickers. As in, they actually thought (this part is funny but true) ...they actually thought that I traveled all the way to Croatia to buy some stickers in Zagreb, Karlovac Split, Rijeka, and the island of Krk, put them on my laptop, and then actually and specifically and immediately flew all the way to Calgary with the sole intention of going into "their" Starbucks and use my laptop in "their" vicinity, and sit there looking at fat hairy asses.(male and female) while shooting off resumes. Silly stupid obese fuckos. For many of them however, that's the only world they really know. Life' has been reduced to just kawfee shop games now. Very, very sad and pathetic, and of course plain fucko. (They're one of those Calgary types who've never missed a meal in their life or put on ski's in their whole life, hardly anybody skis in Calgary btw, trust me I know)  Well, that and where to get the best deal for bucket o' bacon (proof Here) and how to get a great dungeon tan. maybe.

Anyway, back to Zagreb cafes. I agree that the coffee drinking culture is different, I saw many instances of what the writer is talking about below.  People waiting in long lines for up to 15 minutes who then give their coffee order (sometimes involving 5 to 8 or more names..."Venti, sugar-free, non-fat, vanilla soy, double shot, decaf, no foam, extra hot, Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with light whip and extra syrup… Please.”) and then get the hell out of there.  Sometimes they go to their laptop or just do some pixel-counting on their phone. Lately people don't even go inside anymore, it's all drive-thru's now. (that's progress afterall)  In backward Croatia the hostess comes to your table, you never stand around in lines, and you even get a complimentary glass of water right from the start usually. (The longest lines you'll see are for concert tickets, sporting events, movie theaters and I guess airports too)

The only thing the author didn't touch upon is the subject of "drinking coffee outside". (Keep in mind, this and the above points apply to all of Croatia, not just Zagreb cafes)  If it's a warm day, if it's hot, heck, unless it's  a blizzard or pouring rain..people like to sit outside to drink, smoke, talk etc. (Quite a few of the bars and pubs are like that too, they have seating areas outside if you prefer). People there don't like to coop up inside and stare at the hostess filling up the sugars and cream dispensers or emptying the garbages, they don't want to listen to the never-ending lines of people giving their orders.  They want to be outside...observe things, look at something, life, the sky, the birds, trees, the cat-walk going on right in front of them, that guys stupid looking shoes and haircut, that funny looking dog or cat, that new jacket in the store display, that new billboard across the street featuring Kate Moss...pfff..whatever. (Although on the flipside I can understand why in some cities here, in some areas, people prefer to sit inside on a gorgeous day.  It's specifically to NOT look at the people and things going on outside, the coffee shop in those instances is used as an oasis or temporary refuge to forget or get away from the "outside people" and the "outside world" etc). Franck kava is the coffee monolith there, the Croatian version of Maxwell House, Folgers and Nabob put together.




 A personal pic I took at a Calgary Tim Horton's location showing the religiousness almost of spending even half of your lunch break in line to buy a Tim Hortons coffee. (There was a "Second Cup" coffee shop just around the corner that was empty almost. I waited for about 5 minutes, saw how slow the line wasn't even moving, but took this pic before I left. Besides, because there was nowhere to sit outside on this particular warm day, there was no fucking way I was going to sit here listening to feller jibber-jabber and watching pleated pant asses parade in front of me. Besides, that guy in the middle and a few other ones in front of him just would not shut the fuck up even to take a breather, everyone one within 50 feet was forced to listen their boring stories and chuckling about oil/gas portfolio jokes, the great seats he has for the game and their local underage boy toy and bla bla bla bla bla. Fuck that shit. (It's because of people like them that Calgary is Canada's capital of homegrown muslim terrorists)





The one thing the blogger didn't touch upon either is line-ups, which Tim Horton's here in Canada is known for.  The US doesn't have that many, and I've only come across a few over the past few years in Calgary. It's unreal, people will waste half of their lunch break standing in long lines to buy a "Timmies" as they are lovingly called.   I've seen massive line ups in malls, people lining up right through the doors many times and around the block even.  It's mental. Line ups for coffee that would boggle your mind.  (No coffee is worth that) You could have 2 or 3 other coffee shops, even a Canadian chain coffee shop like "Second Cup" right next door.  It could be empty too, but these people will not budge.  So anyway I'm back in my original non-Starbucks surroundings for a short time where Tim Horton's is king, lord and saviour and Starbucks is anathema and practically non-existent, there's only one and it's close to the city limits. I've seen plenty of Tim Horton's that make this Tim Horton's actually seem like a fancy-shmancy Starbucks.  (I'm not gonna even touch that one though, Tim Hortons coffee shops around here are a different world, not even remotely related to the Starbucks scene I came from, it's disgusting at times.  One extreme to the other basically. Enough blabbering on my part, on with the added blog post which I found interesting.) 


(You may want to check out another similar blog piece HERE that I came across which revolves around the topic of Zagreb bakeries. It was made from an American tourist perspective also. A post done after this one also touches upon this topic:, scandinavia-embraces-croatian-tourism. I go touch upon similarities between Croatia and the Scandinavian countires in that one)











Having coffee in Croatia or "Idemo na kavu"






Source: zablogreb.blogspot.ca


The opening of the first Starbucks in Croatia has been delayed... INDEFINITELY! Wha? Huh? But, Croatians love coffee! Here’s some empirics. According to a 2009 survey on tportal.hr (a fantastic website by the way) Croatians annually drink 5 kg of coffee per person, that’s 22,500 tons of coffee per year, and they spend 2.25 million hours having coffee each year, that’s half an hour a day per person. Within a five minute walk from my apartment there are nine cafes, and I don’t even live in the center of the city. If I extend it to a 7-10 minute walk we balloon to 22 cafes (and that’s just counting off of the top of my head).

So why is Starbucks a bit apprehensive about opening a store in Croatia? To answer that question we return to our old friend culture. In this post I explore the cafe culture in Croatia and ... well... the TOTAL lack of it in America (sorry guys, but its true. You’ll see).

Croatians love coffee, but more than that coffee in Croatia is where everything gets done. Its where friends meet, where deals are made, its how favors are asked, its how people are hired, fired, introduced, married, divorced, everything. Everything involves coffee. Even when it doesn’t. Invited to someone’s house for dinner? Bring coffee!!!

BUT, having coffee in Croatia is very different than in the US. As you might have guessed coffee in Croatia is a social function. In the US, coffee is less about being social than it is about having a boost to work harder. Let’s look at some examples.





 Image: www.flickr.com


This is your typical cafe in the heart of Zagreb. Notice all the tables are occupied by more than one person and they all look like they are talking to each other. Not just sitting and playing with their smart phones, but talking, conversing, sharing in the company of friends, hangin.’








Now let us turn to a picture of your typical American Starbucks. (in the good part of town - editor's note)








Please notice that everyone, E-V-E-R-Y-ONE is ALONE. Don’t let that illusionary couple in the back fool you. If you look close you’ll see he is just sitting at a different table in front of her, and she is typing on a laptop. No one is talking. They’re all probably listening to their ipods. And they all seem engaged in some kind of work. (I’m sure my three Croatian readers are recoiling in horror! Thinking, you don’t go have coffee to work! You go to talk, meet, relax a little, but not to sit and listen to Arcade Fire on your “earbuds” while cramming for the final exam for your course “Intro to the formless forms of Postmodernism.” In Croatia that’s what libraries are for, duh!?!)

After living in Croatia for some time I’ve learned that coffee for Americans is about the same as gasoline for cars. We drink it so we can get going and keep going. Just look at the amounts it comes in. 12, 16, 20, 31 ounces (354 ml, 473 ml, .59 , and .91 liters! Almost a liter of coffee!!) We also like to put lids on our coffee so we can go back to work, walk or jog while drinking our coffee (Jog while drinking coffee? Yes).

Another reason for the varying sizes is that they serve as a status symbol (somewhat akin to the black Mercedes in Croatia). The bigger the cup, the more important you are. YOU ARE SO IMPORTANT YOU HAVE ONE BILLION THINGS TO DO AND YOU CAN ONLY DO THIS BY DRINKING ALL OF THIS COFFEE!!! AAAARGH!!! (When I was in grad school I thought a good way to set myself apart from the undergrads was to order the biggest coffee I could find and then shove a huge stack of thick books under my arm and walk around the campus with an air of rushed importance.)

Here some examples of Starbucks coffee sizes:








 Now I will show you the largest cup of coffee in Croatia. Ready. No peeking.


BEHOLD!...












No. This really is the biggest size you can get... anywhere. Now, to our American readers you might be laughing like Crocodile Dundee when he shows that punk kid a real knife. In your head you’re all like: That’s not a cup of coffee. This is a cup of coffee. But I should tell you that this cup actually has more coffee in it then it appears. Not really, it has a very, very small amount of coffee in it, but in the hands of a Croatia its magic. Nearly endless. A Croatian can make this coffee last for two, maybe even, three hours. THAT’S HOW LONG PEOPLE HERE HAVE COFFEE! I drank my first coffee in Croatia in about 5 minutes. Then I looked around and saw everybody else had full cups and I thought: Oh boy, we are going to be here awhile. Remember having coffee is not actually about the coffee its about the socializing.

So you can see why Starbucks is reluctant to open a store in Croatia. Its seems its entire business model is getting as many people to drink as much coffee as possible, as fast as possible. For all the people occupying their tables alone there are probably just as many people coming and going with huge amounts of coffee. They are probably not ready for the bulk of their Croatian customers to sit over AN espresso with milk for two hours. Here are some other things to consider as well. Few cafes in Croatia sell food (this could help or hinder Starbucks, since its not normal to have a coffee and eat something). Another thing is that coffee and cigarettes go together in Croatia like peanut butter and chocolate in America. To open a strictly non-smoking cafe could also be a disadvantage to a company like Starbucks.

Having coffee in Croatia is one of those things that sets the country apart from everywhere else I’ve ever lived. Its also one of the most enjoyable aspects of living here. Not just having coffee yourself, but seeing people having coffee is even a pleasure. On a January evening the winter gloom is only illuminated by the bright lights of the city’s innumerable cafes. You pass them in the cold, but inside you see they are warm, inviting, filled with life, men and women, young and old, gathered two to four to a table talking, laughing; you feel that the city is alive, and walking past each bright cafe you long to be a part of it. And this feeling stays with you, tugging at you, tempting to pull you into the nearest cafe. Until finally a friend calls you and says: Idemo na kavu. And like it was the greatest thing in the world, you say Da.


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