Coach John wonders whether the Basque capital needs or wants Starbucks.

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Useful Vocabulary

  1. branch: (n) a local division of a business, library, or other organization
  2. take over: (v) to get into one’s possession
  3. relentless: (adj) not giving in; unrelenting:
  4. bland: (adj) lacking in special interest or liveliness; dull, boring, nothing special
  5. beverage: (n) any liquid that can be drunk, esp. a liquid other than water
  6. union busting: (v) the actions of a group of persons hired by a company to disperse picketers,end a strike or job action, etc., esp. by violence or intimidation
  7. sue: (v) o bring legal action against; bring a lawsuit in court
  8. infringement: (n) an act of interfering with someone’s rights


It has been reported that the US multinational coffeehouse chain, Starbucks, will be opening a branch in Vitoria-Gasteiz. The company, which is headquartered in Seattle is taking over the premises of the much loved city-centre Café, El Mentirón.

As of November 2022, the company had 35,711 stores in 80 countries, 15,873 of which were located in the United States. Of Starbucks’ U.S.- based stores, over 8,900 are company-operated, while the remainder are licensed. There are only around 150 Starbucks in the Spanish state and the planned opening in Virgin Blanca will be the first in the Basque capital.

Personally, I have always been proud that VG has resisted the relentless march of coffee globalisation represented by Starbucks. Up until now there has been no place for Starbuck’s bland brand in a city with customers who demand a high standard of the beverage.

VG even has an annual, ‘Semanas del Café’ when the best coffee establishments are chosen. In 2023 the ‘Orange Coffee’ of O Nest cafe in Salburua was chosen in a public vote as the best drink in the city.

I can’t imagine a Starbuck’s ‘Flat white’ or ‘Americano’ will win the popular vote in 2024.

There are other reasons why Vitorianos may be questioning the arrival of Starbucks. The US workforce have been conducting a union drive to improve their conditions. Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks makes $9,637 an hour while Starbucks workers get an average of less than $9 an hour! Schultz and management oppose a real $15/hr minimum wage for workers have conducted union busting activities for decades.

Starbucks and the union organising its workers are now suing each other in federal court over a social media post that was sent out by the workers’ union supporting Palestinians in light of the Israel-Hamas war.

The company sued Starbucks Workers United in federal court in October alleging trademark infringement after the union sent out a social media post saying “Solidarity with Palestine!”

Starbucks is now facing a boycott and there have been protests outside branches in New York with people accusing the company of supporting genocide in Gaza.

Personally, I don’t think we need Starbuck’s coffee or ‘values’ in Gasteiz. What do you think?

Let’s chat about that

  1. Give a summary of the text to your coach and/or classmates.
  2. Which famous premises is Starbucks taking over in VG?
  3. Why do you think VG has resisted the invasion of Starbucks so far?
  4. What does John think of Starbucks’ coffee? What is your opinion?
  5. What is the ‘Semanas del Café’? Which are your favourite establishments in VG?
  6. How do you like your coffee?
  7. What problems do Starbucks have at the moment?
  8. Will you be boycotting Starbucks?.