Once you leave the St. Louis area on the way to Chicago, there are no Starbucks-es until you reach our Illinois state capital: Springfield. Not an easy distance, I traversed 60 miles on zero caffeine convinced that I’d see a siren along the way, to no avail. So this Grande Misto was one of the tastiest I’ve had in a long time – if for no other reason – because it happened to be my first cup of the day…..
In fairness, this Starbucks was clean, fast, and friendly. They didn’t overfill my personal cup, which has happened a lot lately. Right next door to the Starbucks is the adorable Sgt. Pepper’s Cafe, where they make good and crispy hashbrowns and use little yellow submarines all over the place for decoration, but don’t have very good coffee.
So, if ever you find yourself in Springfield, IL and highly under-caffineated, go eat some hashbrowns, and then cross the flower bed for a great cup of coffee.
There haven’t been too many opportunities for an overpriced, high quality cup of coffee on my journey cross-country to Sturgis, but an excursion to visit friends in Gillette, WY afforded an entirely different landscape, a scamper through the mud for charity, and not one but TWO Starbuckses. Gillette boasts all the typical sites of a small American town – the Wal-Mart, the Applebees, and the Quizno’s, but there’s something different about it. The people are genuine, the sunsets are out of this world, and there’s a refreshing underbelly of liberalism. I don’t quite know why Gillette is the shining star of the high plains that it is, but in any case the iced coffee was a good one.
I wasn’t AT ALL expecting to come across a Starbucks at the Black Hills Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, SD. A five dollar latte just doesn’t really “go” with the whole – tough guys, topless women, Harley scene at the rally. So I literally squealed when I saw this little green flag with that beautiful siren proudly flying on Main Street in Sturgis. It wasn’t exactly a Starbucks, it was a beverage vendor who “proudly serves Starbucks coffee.” Usually I would scoff at this, but the vendors were a really nice guy from Michigan and his dad, and he gave me this vanilla frappuccino free just because I’m from the Midwest. So that gets you a healthy tip, and a big thumbs up from me.
A late evening iced coffee to curb my food coma. Actually, this store in Sunnyvale (not to be confused with the Hellmouth) turned out to be amazing. Since they were closing up and out of iced coffee I couldn’t hide my #sadtrombone face and thought I might just pass. The barista swooped in, and in true superhero fashion comped me an iced americano instead. Well done. Truly legendary.
Side note: The great Terri Hilton, who took this picture, was saddened when she only just learned of my Starbuckian pursuits at 8pm. She insisted that had she known earlier she would have easily added 12 more stores within the span of our day together instead of taking me on a walking tour of Stanford. Next time, Terri.
Ok. So, being two blocks from one of my five jobs, I visit this Starbucks quite frequently. But this particular visit was purely for personal gain and healthy snacks from the adjacent Jewel prior to a day’s car trek to St. Louis. I made it one of my standards… Iced coffee with a pump of peppermint and soy milk (try it! it’s delicious!). I was delighted to find one of my former students behind the counter, who not only gave great service but informed me he was running four races this season (2 of which are half marathons). Way to go, Alex! And way to pick an honorable place of employment that gives nice benefits, free coffee, and a snazzy apron. Even though it was packed when I walked in, the line moved fast and overall the South Loop store gets a thumbs up from me.
An ominous sky hung over the Ohio turnpike on the return trip from Cleveland to Chicago. I was fairly hyper-caffenated already, but this being one of my last opportunities for a Starbucks before the Ohio state line made the stop imperative. I should add that I’d much rather pee in Ohio than in Indiana; the famed swing state is notorious, in my experience, for roadside rest cleanliness. No disappointment here, and since I was already 3 cups of coffee down from breakfast with friends I opted for the over-priced, but super delicious Iced Soy Chai. There were three lovely Midwestern Grannies running the floor – which made me rather giggle inside – and when I asked one of them what town I was in her reply was a confident “Well, you’re near Clyde, Ohio.” Well done, desolate rest stop at not-on-the-map-but-near-Clyde. Well done.
Elkhart, IN proved to be an ideal rest stop en route to my first stay in Cleveland. In an effort to escape the NATO summit, it took two full hours in an un-air-conditioned sedan to get past the Chicago Skyway that overlooks scenic Hammond, IN. As such, Elkhart was as far as I could make it before needing a toilet and a refreshing specialty coffee beverage. Aside from asking if I wanted whipped cream on my grande coffee frappuccino (silly, the plain coffee ones don’t ever get whip), legendary service with a smile with a side of fries and stuffed crust pizza to boot from the neighboring Burger King and Pizza Hut (I kid, I kid).