Breaking News: Europeans Hate Shitty Coffee

Alas, poor Starbucks–I knew it, Horatio.

While many of us are desperately wishing for a melancholy Dane to ponder over the bleached skull of the most irritating corporate force in America, those mad geniuses behind your burned coffee are seeking to conquer that Dane’s homeland–think of them as Fortinbras with a Frappucino.

Starbucks is embarking on a multimillion-dollar campaign to win over more of Europe’s coffee aficionados — with a upscale makeover of hundreds of stores to cater to an ingrained cafe culture, and adjusting beverages and blends to suit fickle regional palates.

Yet despite the full-court press Elsinore is, for the moment, safe:

After eight years spent setting up 63 French Starbucks stores, the company has never turned a profit in France. And even in the parts of Europe where the company does make money, sales and profit growth lag far behind results in the Americas and Asia.

Europe’s debt crisis and sluggish economy are a factor. So are high European rents and labor costs, which impinge on profits more than in any other region in which Starbucks operates. But the biggest challenge may lie in tailoring the Starbucks experience to appeal to a variety of European tastes.

Ah, I see–young Europeans aren’t yet used to the idea of a soul-killing career for a company that does not pay a living wage. But there is hope for the ‘Bucks, and that hope lies within the simulacrum:

“In markets where there is an entrenched coffeehouse culture, like Paris or Vienna, I was expecting to hear more requests to be like them,” Ms. Gass said. “But I heard the opposite — people want the true Starbucks experience.”

Presumably this desire for “the true Starbucks experience” necessitates a surly barista, a urine-soaked homeless person, and some asshole with a clipboard whose resume lacked the civic activities required for admission to Harvard Law.

Ultimately, Starbucks will conquer Europe. McDonald’s, that other beacon of American food corporatism, eventually found traction and so will the ‘Bucks. Whether it’s Eurotrash hipsters desirous of lemon pound cake and a watery latte, or bloated American tourists too afraid to try a local cafe, people will make their way into the black and green empire of aestheticide that is Starbucks.

On the other hand, the British need Starbucks: shitty or not, it’s likely the only passable cup of coffee you’re likely to find on that entire miserable island.

Super Bikini Coffee Party!

Having lived in Anchorage, I was well aware of the “hot women selling coffee in modified trailers” trend. Hell, there was even a news story about it on Channel 2 once upon a time. That’s like Hollywood for Alaska!

However, I’ve been away for some time and I did not realize that the Singularity had appeared, thus codifying years of hot-chick-in-a-trailer-selling-coffee evolution by reducing the amount of clothing required. Now, hot chicks sell coffee while wearing bikini tops! And sometimes lingerie! And it’s cold outside, so you can imagine what happens when that cold air hits! Huzzah!

Natasha Thompson, the genius behind Java Junction (and Lingerie Friday), realized during a downturn in business that sex sells. Please do not confuse her with Don Draper, the fictional advertising genius. According to Thompson,

“Women can be astronauts, women can be firemen, women can make coffee in bikinis,” she said standing in the cart in her “Alaska Girls Kick Ass” shirt. “We can do anything we want.”

Suck on that, Gloria Steinem.

One of her employees, Ashley Holder, a former business student at UAA, has apparently quit several times, citing the outfit at least once. However, Ms. Holder’s other job as a receptionist for a funeral home just did not break the fun barrier:

That was all death and sadness, she said. It made her cry and think about her parents getting old.

So she returned to the coffee cart, where according to ace reporter Julia O’Malley, “it smells like coffee and coconut belly balm.”

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