I hate to start any of my writing with a disclosure (funnily enough, I’m writing this while listening to the music group Disclosure), but I know this topic will be seen as totally dumb and such a #firstworldproblem to write about, but I also figured for how ever many people think it’s irrelevant, there will be a bunch of people who would like to know the difference. With that being said, here are the US/UK differences I’ve found out about my beloved Starbucks.
On my last study abroad adventure, I hadn’t really become a Starbucks fan, so I can’t remember going there enough to have noticed any differences. The only thing I do remember is the fact that, while most of the UK doesn’t drink egg nog, and you can’t find it anywhere, Starbucks is the one place that will have it. But since 3 years ago, I’ve grown a very large affection for this corporate chain, and have spent many hours there blogging, as well as drinking their coffee. I was assuming since it’s a global company, the coffee would be the same quality in the UK as the US… I was wrong to assume that.
Half & Half vs Skim Milk
In the United States, it is common to put half & half or cream in our coffee. We are also used to having many options of milk-like products to put in our drinks. It’s definitely not a burden to the barista to put soy milk, almond milk, or even non-fat milk in our coffee. But in the UK, the only options out for pouring are skim milk and semi-skimmed milk. When I asked for cream (or pouring cream as they call it), it’s rarely available. They do have full-fat milk, but I’ve gotten the sense that it’s a task to ask them to put it in my drip coffee.
Quick Heat Oven vs Panini Press
I am so used to asking for a breakfast sandwich or a scone and having them throw it into their oven to warm up in 30 seconds. It’s so wonderful to get a quick meal that way. Not only are the food choices at the UK Starbucks completely different (lots of toasties, croissants and cookies), they don’t use the ovens, and instead use panini presses, which can only warm up the sandwiches and take a lot longer to get a meal from. If I order a muffin, it means I have to eat it at room temperature, which having an option of making it warm would’ve been nice.
Strength vs Weak
I order drip coffee (or brewed in the UK), because it’s cheap and is normally a strong taste that I enjoy drinking. I can not get on board with this weak flavored water they like to brew over here. I guess coffee really is an American thing, or maybe I’m spoiled being from the coffee capitol of the world, Seattle, but I expect my coffee to taste better. So far, it’s been bitter and rarely savable with sweeteners and milk. It’s almost undrinkable to the point that I’m thinking I might have to force myself to give up coffee unless I make it myself.
Splenda vs Sweet & Low
I hate Sweet & Low. I’ll say it. It doesn’t taste good. It’s horrible. Spenda actually is a good sugar substitute that enhances a drink when you’re trying to stay away from real sugar. I have not found Splenda anywhere here yet. I may have to have my mom mail me some. It’s a bit frustrating to be stuck using Sweet & Low, especially when I know there are better sucralose products out there. It’s a tiny problem, and I know we have Sweet & Low in America too, but I never use it… Because it’s gross!
So now, you probably think I am a complainer. I feel like I get to complain at least about one thing. That’s fair, right? I’ve really liked everything else about the UK so far, so unfortunately my comfort drink of coffee has disappointed me greatly, which is sad, because when you’re so far away from home, it’s nice to have something to depend on, but oh well. I’ve tried the coffee at Costa and Pret a Manger, but they don’t aid my tastebuds either. I’ll have to suck it up and find an alternative, or else give up coffee, I guess. Wish me luck through this coffee transition. It probably doesn’t help that I am a former barista/coffee snob, but I can change!