My, how things have changed: That socially conscious musical poetry’s now a Paul McCartney exclusive, and that beatnik has been replaced by dozens of commuters, businesspeople, students, couriers, priests, rabbis... basically anyone who drinks coffee. Which is more or less everybody, thanks to Starbucks' unleashing the first wave of the “artisan” coffee movement that seemingly took over the world, planting a mermaid-emblazoned flag in every city, township, and country mile around the world. Then another one across the street.
Starbucks paved the way for other chains -- Biggby, Gloria Jeans, Tim Horton’s, Peet’s, Seattle’s Best, and others among them -- to start brewing better coffee for the masses, and made fancy stuff like the cappuccino the norm in small towns and metropolises alike. It is the inescapable architect of modern American (and, now, world) coffee culture, to the point where words like “grande” have replaced “large” in many people’s vocabularies. While there have been some casualties along the way (RIP, several places called The Elbow Room), coffee culture became what it is today the minute the 'Bucks started expanding. Without it, there would be no Central Perk, no hilarity in hearing your grandma talk about “cuppu-cinis,” and no last line of defense against bad gas-station coffee