I’m currently at Starbucks working on a restaurant review, and the baristas are in an extra-jolly mood because they’re getting off early today. (Presumably they are less jolly over at the larger Starbucks down the street, which is open all day today and tomorrow.) I ordered a peppermint mocha (why not?) and was told that whipped cream is required on all drinks today.

“Does Santa want you to leave him low-carb cookies? I think not,” said the barista. I took not only the whipped cream, but the peppermint sprinkles.

In Bangkok there’s a coffee chain called Coffeebucks, or at least there was a few years ago; they may have been quashed by The Man since then. I liked the name enough that I’ve been calling Starbucks “Coffeebucks” ever since. I’m sure corporate is thrilled. Iris recognizes the logo and says, “Iris going to Coffeebucks, drinking some almond.”

“Almond” is steamed milk with almond, Iris’s daily beverage. Usually we make it home, but it’s available at every espresso bar, so we often get it out, too. Once Iris was going for a walk with my dad, and I told him to stop at Starbucks for some almond. Later I asked Iris, “Did you and Pops get some almond at Coffeebucks?” and she replied, “No, just Starbucks.”

Starbucks is a good place for almond because they only charge $1 for it, although sometimes they charge extra for the almond syrup (this is completely random). Recently, Iris and I were down at Pike Place Market doing some Christmas shopping and we stopped at the Seattle’s Best on Pine, across from Sur La Table. We saw someone getting peppermint sprinkles on their mocha, and of course Iris requested sprinkles on her almond. I poured the drink into her sippy cup, making sure that she saw the sprinkles before I closed it up, and she took a big slurp and said, “Iris tasting the sprinklies.”

In case I sound like a corporate tool, I did write an article recently about why Starbucks is good for local coffeeshops. It’s because they don’t serve beer.

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