Queue for Coffee

May be everyone's just missing the TV show Friends, or just had a lot of free time this week. Since Starbucks opened this Wednesday, the line to get into the international coffee chain's first general outlet in the city stretched around Connaught Place's Hamilton House like a long and particularly patient serpent.

Once we finally vend our way down the bean-beaten road, we are confronted by a beaming gentleman in a Starbucks cap. The space is a large vaulted space split into two levels. The interiors are done up in an industrial design, with faint Art Deco traces. There are unfinished concrete walls replete with chalk sketching, high wooden ceilings banded by iron bars and hemp lamps swinging from them. The cacophony of the crowd all but drowns out the strains of jazz wafting from discreet speakers nestled around the café.

The self-service counters, which are thronged with people baying for beans, occupy one entire side of the space. Despite the masses of people, orders are expedited quickly and efficiently. Starbucks scores a big point here, as the baristas are among the most courteous servers we've seen, bright smiling and eager to serve. Our orders are taken down on a large indent sheet after which we are directed to a cash counter. Following this we move down the queue to pick up our drinks with yet another smiling server assuring us our food will be with us in minutes. It is.

We order a Caramel Frappuccino, a Chili Chocolate Éclair, and as the Murg Makhani Pie is over, settle for a Murg Kathi Wrap. The drink is refreshing — coffee blended with sugar, cream, a blizzard of ice chips and strong accents of caramel discernible in each sip. While the wrap is a disappointingly generic chicken wrap with nothing to distinguish it from any other, the éclair at least is interesting. While the combo of chocolate and chilli is hardly new, the drink stands out as the chilli is not at all tangible in the first few bites. It's only a few mouthfuls down that one becomes aware of the slight tingling on the palate and throat as the capsaicin kicks in, making it quite a stimulating dessert. All in all, Starbucks should make for a nice addition to the cornucopia of cafes in the city. At least once they open more stores.

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