cover image Everything But the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks

Everything But the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks

Bryant Simon. University of California Press, $25.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-520-26106-8

After five years of on-site investigation, including Starbucks locations across the country and around the world, author and history professor Simon (Boardwalk Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America) has produced a less-than-earth-shaking examination of the coffee chain's influence on America (and its American influence abroad). Simon's hodgepodge of observations are heavy on the obvious (""Lots of people, I learned from my many hours of observation, used Starbucks as a second place, as a work space and meeting room""), and light on revealing details or investigation (""After making its five-cent donation to the world's water-deprived"" per bottle of their Ethos water, ""the company still gets an extra twenty to fifty cents... of profit""). Those who frequent Starbucks will enjoy Simon's range of topics, from business matters to the music played to the (very American) concept of ""self-gifting."" Though Simon's knowledge of the brand is obvious, his insight is sparse and his in-person observations lack color (though Starbucks deserves some of the blame for that).