Yesterday was the follow-up to the first Coffee Safari, one of the workshops the Umbra Institute student services team offers. The workshop started out like the first coffee safari – a round ofPerugia’s center with explanations of the “personalities” of each of the cafés (intellectual, blue-collar, etc.), followed by a talk about coffee’s history and botany, and finally a tasting of several different kinds of coffee. But the discussion ended with an impromptu and rather lively debate about Starbucks and its popularity. Elon student Erika Furman got the ball rolling by giving a mini-exposé about the chain’s coffee, whereupon other students debated the source of Starbuck’s success.
If it wasn’t great coffee, what is it? The bohemian image? The comfy couches? The I-won’t-get-great-coffee-but-I-won’t-get-surprises effect? Or is it that Americans lack a common space, one which Italians can find in their piazza and so don’t need in their cafés?It was another example of the intellectual ferment that every school would like to propagate, and which Umbra (and Perugia) seems to foster.