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This conversation is gathering the steam of a morning cappuccino!

Chris -- in Italy, il caffe' is a social experience, just like meals. What would be the point to be on your lonesome self, hugging a plastic item that could never possibly hug you back?

Sherry -- going for the exported chain experience will deprive you of adventurous encounters. So why visit? And going into a Starbucks does not guarantee the same experience anyway. People who travel from the US to Italy are not as plentiful as advertised, and generally are more cosmopolitan; they think out of the plastic cup.

I love this topic because it hits close to home here in Des Moines, Iowa where locally owned shops ignited our taste for good coffee and then the chains like Starbucks came in. Unfortunately, there are some who will always prefer a guarantee of the "same experience" rather than an original one so they like the chains that dot cities and towns.

The coffee cafes in Italy we experienced embodied the value of small business perfected because people seem to identity with them so much. I wonder though if tourists from the United States will influence offering coffee "to go" cups. We never saw them offered when we've been there. It would be a shame if shops did offer "to go" but they'd probably sell a lot of coffee to tourists from the United States! We like to walk around with our styrofoam cups all day.

Well, if Italians *really* want the American coffee experience, I'll be happy to sell it to them: styrofoam cups; sickly sweet creamer made of who-the-hell-knows; watery coffee unspoiled by crema or anything that reminds you its beans once grew on a mountainside somewhere; surly service dispensed by a bored employee in an embarrassing branded ballcap; and glaring fluorescent lighting designed to keep you from settling into a rock-hard, too-small plastic booth for longer than 20 minutes.

Yeah, it'll suck. But each store and menu would be exactly the same from Modena to Rome, and there's a lot to be said for a consistent consumer experience.

Right? ;-)

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