There was a time when I disdained Starbucks*. In fact, those feelings still pop-up now and then when I'm stuck using some ridiculous combination of words ("iced venti doppio," ugh), when I really just want two shots of espresso in a large cup. But it's hard not to admire the company -- all that venti shmenti business notwithstanding. They sell a remarkably consistent product, and in most Starbucks, the service is friendly and fast. Their ubiquitousness has been bad for my favorite Mom and Pop coffee shops, and good for folks looking for a quick visit to a ladies room. 'Bucks has been particularly good to Michael Gates Gill, author of How Starbucks Saved My Life. The son of the late New York Times critic Brendan Gill, he grew up around snooty coffee types (he once petted John Updike's hair). But years later, he found himself out of a job, a relationship, and worst of all -- health insurance. When a Starbucks manager offered him a job, he took it (and the health insurance the company offers), and turned his life around. (While he tours with the book, he's still planning on working one day a week! One wonders what will happen when the movie comes out?!) Mike Gill will be here to take your questions... and possibly your orders.
*Not to be confused with Starbuck of BSG fame, whom I completely adore. Though the show and the shop have some weird nomenclature stuff in common. Can you order an iced Viper, I wonder?