Starbucks closings: Has America rethought its coffee?

A few years ago, while visiting relatives in Boston, I began to notice a trend: every block, without fail, had a Dunkin' Donuts at the corner and a Starbucks halfway down the street. As I saw this phenomenon endlessly repeated, I had to laugh. My little town in southwest Virginia didn't have a single Starbucks or Dunkin', but this area had one every 100 feet.

Later that year, the first Starbucks opened in my area. Located in a Barnes and Noble bookstore, it was not a full-sized cafe. Still, it did a brisk business, and it wasn't long before my area had two more Starbucks. While I'm not the world's biggest coffee fan, I somehow found my way down to the store a couple of times a week for a frothy, whipped-cream covered potion of some sort. I couldn't really afford to spend $10 a week on hyper-sweetened, strongly caffeinated diabetes-bombs, but there was something about Starbucks. Between the calm atmosphere, the comfy chairs and the efficient service, I was hooked.

When I moved to the city, I broke off our relationship. It was just too hard. First off, in midtown Manhattan, where I worked, there's a Starbucks on every corner, so it was impossible to escape the siren-song of pricey cappuccinos. Second, between the coffee and the sweet snacks, I was starting to bear a slight resemblance to Luciano Pavoratti. Finally, the place was just too damn expensive, and I realized that I was facing a choice between Starbucks and regular meals. With a heavy heart, I bid Starbucks goodbye and began getting my coffee from the local corner store, where it was $0.75. Now that I work from home, it's a lot easier -- there aren't any Starbucks in my area, and the local bodega serves outstanding coffee for $0.60 a cup.