Sunday 17 December 2017

Anyone for a fresh cup of pretension?

As Dublin gets its 51st branch of Starbucks, Donal Lynch looks at where our love for coffee went out of control

Late last month the 51st branch of the American coffee chain in the capital moved into Avalon House. Photo: PA
Late last month the 51st branch of the American coffee chain in the capital moved into Avalon House. Photo: PA
Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

In the window of the Avalon House on Aungier Street, in Dublin's city centre, the Starbucks mermaid glows like a secular sacred heart in the window.

Late last month the 51st branch of the American coffee chain in the capital moved into the front part of the building, which also houses a hostel. There was a time when this would have been seen as a welcome sort of gentrification, back when Starbucks still conjured up images of Seattle and internet start-ups and the cast of Friends. It was our new "third space" then. But in the intervening decade since the first one opened here, the chain has become more of a McDonald's for the middle classes.

People slowly cottoned on that the coffee itself wasn't far off what you'd get in a petrol station and the food was like something they might serve in an American prison. It also endured the PR disaster of looking like it was avoiding tax in a time of austerity. And so there is outrage at the thought of expensive lattes being served on the site of a hostel.

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