SBD in the ATX

It’s news so old, it was probably first blogged on parchment how to gauge your Starbucks Density (SBD) by going to the Starbucks locator and searching within a 5-mile radius. Downtown has 14 franchises within striking distance, which sounds like a lot until you compare it to the 86 near Fuzzy’s home in Chicago or the 170 in Manhattan. Poor sods.

delocator.gifSlightly less ancient is the idea (courtesy of the Chicago Metblog) that you can now easily find the oft-sought and much-loved independent coffee houses using a similar tool. The Starbucks Delocator suggests there are 28 alternatives within the same 5-mile radius, although I count at least six duplicate entries. Oh mighty Interweb, how can you ever be wrong?

Some friends argue that Starbucks is “great” because you can always find one nearby and get the same drink served in the same cookie-cutter-cool environment (to paraphrase). Which, while true, says that a universally average experience is preferable to a selectively great one. No way, Bubba … vive la difference, as the Frenchies say. Part of the fun with coffee shops is finding the spot that fulfills whatever you need that day.

Speaking of, my current mission is to find the best Chai Latte in Austin’s urban core. 360 Uno serves the best I’ve had yet, but it’s in Davenport Village off Loop 360 … much too far away for my morning fix. Any advice?

4 Comments so far

  1. ttrentham (unregistered) on April 19th, 2005 @ 9:19 am

    I’m a big fan o’ the Chai as well. I think Spider House has the best that I’ve had so far. The only others that I’ve tried are Jo’s and Ruta Maya. I wouldn’t recommend either of them.

  2. Fuzzy (unregistered) on April 19th, 2005 @ 11:57 am

    The best chai I’ve ever had was in Austin, at some coffee shop that wasn’t too far from Esther’s Pool on Sixth Street. But this was 5 or 6 years ago (I was in town for one of the Big Stinkin’ Improv Festivals, which is why I know it was near Sixth Street), before chai was so popular that all those pre-packaged mixes were available. It was just a pot of milky, spiced tea that came with honey on the side.

  3. Mason Campbell (unregistered) on April 29th, 2005 @ 10:23 am

    Yeah, but you gotta respect Starbux for innovating.

    You chai latte lovers, who do you think invented the Chai Latte. Or at least popularized it? If your coffee places (and austin’s coffee places are all poser joints, sorry, but true) were so balls-hard, they’d laugh at your Rilke-reading poser face and offer you the door, a cup of filtered or one of your handful of basic espresso drinks.

    Dude….the soy latte? chai? frappucino? white chocolate caramel goo? All thanks to sbux. Back in the day, boyo, when Quack’s ruled the roost on the drag. That was the last era of decent coffee in Austin.

    People dont’ even take goo care of their machines. They give you crap cups and glasses. They don’t tamp the grounds. They over-pour the espressos, over-water the americanos, over-milk the cappucinos and generally make everything too big. Super size that expressso pardner so that it tastes like bitter dishwater pretty please.

  4. halph (unregistered) on April 29th, 2005 @ 11:32 am

    [originally posted April 20, 2005]

    note, starbucks, almost all anyway, are not franchises, they are corporately owned and operated.

    the best chai latte is at jo’s coffe on congress, bar none. they use that good ‘kashmir green tea’ chai, i take mine with soy. i’m not even a soy person, but for some reason chai latte’s with soy are tastier than with cow’s milk. i’ve heard other non-soy people express this same preference.

    also, progress coffee is a really cool, new coffee shop on the east side of 35. does anyone else think that the whole eastside is going to be developed and turned into the new westside?

    little city’s coffee is very inconsistent and, considering they roast their own beans, not as good as you might expect.

    i think the best cups of simple, american coffee can be found at peet’s coffee and tea on guadalupe and jp’s java on san jacinto.

    anyone know of a better cup?

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