[Taylor] Clark is frank about his bias: “Starbucks diminishes the world’s diversity every time it builds a new cafe, and I can’t help but feel troubled by this.” But when Clark looks at whether the towering Mount St. Helens that is Starbucks, with its volcanic eruptions of store openings, has buried the competition, he has the grace — not given to every pundit — to look at what he’s actually seeing. Clark informs us that in 1989 there were 585 coffee houses in America. Now there are more than 24,000. Fifty-seven percent of these are what Clark calls “mom and pops.” “Paradoxically,” he writes, “the surest way to boost sales at your mom-and-pop cafe may be to have a Starbucks move in next door.”'
--P.J. O'Rourke, NYT, on why Starbucks has been good for local cultural flavor