Yet another sign the Apocalypse is near: Starbucks is closing more stores and laying off more people.
The java giant established its Canadian beachhead in Vancouver back on March 1, 1987.
It’s approaching the 22nd anniversary of the opening of its first store in the Sea Bus terminal.
It would not be too much of a stretch to argue that all this world class city nonsense started when it became clear that what was once a very hip outfit decided Vancouver was the logical place to invade Canada.
Admit it; despite all the grumbling about U.S. domination and the threat to local coffee sovereignty, we were delighted.
We were even delighted when, in a monument to franchised excess, Starbucks established two stores at the same intersection, Robson and Thurlow; so you don’t have to cross the street when you’re at the epicenter of the Robson Street stroll.
Starbucks has become as much a part of Vancouver folklore as the steam clock or the hollow tree.
But hard times are fine-grinding the Seattle-based firm: CEO Howard Schultz announced this week the company is laying off 6,700 people and closing 300 stores on top of the 600 underperformers already earmarked.
You could argue this will hardly make a dent in the Starbucks landscape, especially when one source counts 363 Starbucks locations in B.C. alone.
Well, a year ago who thought the world’s largest insurance companies and banks would turn into a bunch of corporate welfare bums? Nothing is certain, not even Starbucks.
And, as I drain my third cup of French blend (dark roast), I’m left pondering the grounds at the bottom of my (Starbucks) mug, looking for clues and portents.
Many of us have acquired a taste for dark-roasted coffee that would have left our forebears clutching their throats and gagging.
We can blame Starbucks for turning us into a city of coffee snobs who pretend to know the difference between beans from Ethiopia or Indonesia.
We can’t even order a cup of coffee anymore … make mine an Americano.
We also have to admit that Starbucks has done nothing to stifle local coffee creativity.
Delaney’s, Bean Around the World, JJ Bean, Artigiano, and Blenz are just a few successful emulators of the Starbucks model.
But the real legacy of Starbucks is the cost of a cup of coffee.
Thanks to its audacious marketing, an ordinary large cup of coffee (charmingly referred to as a “Venti”) costs nearly two and a quarter.
Even the ghost of Tim Horton sells his so-called extra-large for $1.68.
Call me old-fashioned, but I remember when a cup of coffee cost a quarter, hold the toonie, refills for free.
Maybe, all that venti-misto-americano woo-hoo aside, that’s all it’s worth.
Meanwhile, I raise my extra-hot low foam, triple grande non-fat latte in a salute to Starbucks.
Whatever happens, Vancouver will never be the same.