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Venti Americano

It’s almost like being a kid again; living abroad for the first time. There are many new experiences to have and discoveries to make along the way. Join me, as I uncover things about the city of Zurich and myself. My monthly series will be an editorial observation laced with facts, humor and opinion.

Greetings, or Shall I Say, “Grüezi mitenand”...

Welcome to my monthly blog. I am a recent Los Angeles transplant, now living in Zurich, Switzerland. Once-upon-a-time, I worked in movies and television as a Writer and Assistant Director. Somewhere along the way, my ship went a bit off-course and I found myself immersed in the world of business start-ups and consulting. Now, with an effort to forge ahead towards new horizons, I have set sail on a different course. Yes, once again I’ll be writing, but it is not screenplays, nor for the love of Hollywood. It is for the love of life and the written word, friendships, and all of the new discoveries along the way. Here, I will be contributing my observational thoughts as the Venti Americano.”

Setting Expectations

As an American who has not traveled in Europe before, I will be sharing stories with you that will be hopefully both informative and entertaining to Expats and Locals alike. If I used the words, “to inspire” here, it might be a bit of a stretch. Anyway, the stories will be about my adventures here in Switzerland and throughout Europe. Why Venti Americano? Quite simply, I am a Starbucks Head who happens to be 6’ 4”. That is 195cm to all you Euros out there who can’t understand feet and inches. Back in the US, I wrote and drank a ton of coffee at Bucks’. It was pretty much my home away from home.

“The Eagle Has Landed”

After the long flight from LA to Zurich, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a delicious cup of Starbucks Coffee. With my suitcase in hand, I saw that beautiful green, white and black sign ahead, shimmering in the distance; it was a sign of hope and prosperity. I happily approached the cashier and said the magic words, “a Venti Americano please.” Immediately, the cashier smiled and asks me where I was from? “Los Angeles,” I answered. “And your name?” “Christopher,” I said. Inside, my little voice told me, this is going to be great! They have my coffee here, they speak English and everyone seems so nice and friendly. “That will be 7.90, please.” I paused for a moment as I didn’t recall ordering any food. Hmmmm…I glanced up at the large menu board posted behind the Barista, and sure enough, it read, “7.90.” Seven Ninety. Seven Ninety? Wow, this must be one hell of a cup of coffee, I thought. Oh yes, I had forgotten, I was in the main train station, that must be the reason for the exorbitant price. “Christopher,” the barista called out. And to my lips, that beautiful Americano touched, and it was so…

An Imposter

Wait, wait a second I thought, this is not an Americano. It didn’t even taste like the Americano back in the States. It didn’t have the same flavor and it tasted watered down! Then of course, there is the sticker shock (the Zurich Venti Americano is 3 ½ times the price). Maybe it is just this one store I thought, but believe me, as I now sit and write this story, there have been many visits to multiple Starbucks cafés here in Zurich. All have rendered the same result! Realizing that my precious Americano is not the same here and priced like a bottle of wine, I had to try something new, something different, perhaps not Starbucks but just a regular old Café Crème that you can order at any café or Bäckerei. Ohhhhh…Delightful! Wait a second! This is just a regular “Cup of (European) Joe.” And it is better than any overpriced Starbucks coffee? Wait until Starbucks hears about this! Oh the drama…      

“See You at the Coffee Shop”

I realized that my Venti Americanos are just not the same here. And that’s ok because there is plenty of great coffee out there. So, I will continue to wander the streets of Zurich looking for the ultimate cozy place that offers wonderful coffee. You may find me there tapping away on a keyboard, sipping something warm and tasty. And yes, I will still visit the occasional Starbucks, but with the purpose of letting it be a little reminder of home. I will begin trying out different coffees there and trying out some different “Starbucks names” just to see the different reactions of the baristas and the patrons. Come on, for paying those prices, I deserve a little entertainment too. That reminds me, do you have a “Starbucks Name” that differs from your given name? Until next time, please feel free to send me a personal message about anything you want to talk about!


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Andrey Vasilyev

"I was able to connect with other expats in Zurich who enjoy cycling as much as I do and organize weekly rides."

Elin Gustavson

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