Thank Goodness Starbucks Wasn’t Open!

On our first morning in Puerto Rico, we wandered down Ashford Street from our hotel. This was really our first glimpse of Puerto Rico since we’d arrived at midnight the night before. We were getting ready for our tours to the rainforest and mine didn’t pick us up at our hotel, so we had to meet at the much larger Marriott a mile down the road. On the way, we hoped to find a breakfast spot, or at least a Starbucks so that we could get coffee. We were heading into the tourist area (as evidenced by all the police on patrol, even at 7am) so I felt confident we’d find a Starbucks.

We saw the familiar logo and stepped up to the door, only to find it closed! I must say, I was a little flabbergasted that Starbucks wasn’t open at 7:15am, but we noticed that Pinky’s, the diner next door was open, so we walked in.

Thank goodness Starbucks was closed!


Pinky’s turned out to be one of our favorite restaurants. It only had a few tables inside and a few more outside, but locals came in and out in a steady stream, many of them in scrubs on their way to work at the hospital.

First things first, we ordered coffee. The server brought us cups of frothy coffee with a head of steamed cream. It was delicious just like that, but she wasn’t done. She set down a small green Tupperware container of sugar. Brown sugar. She urged us to add it to our coffee, so we did, despite the fact that none of us usually put sugar in our coffee. But when in PR…

It was heavenly!

It changed the flavor so much. We couldn’t get over it. We drank a few cups there with our wonderful breakfast of mallorca sandwiches: ham, egg, and cheese on sweet bread dusted with powdered sugar. Later, we ordered coffee at other places and received the same creamy espresso with our choice of sugar: brown or white. Brown, of course! Defintely brown.

New brown-sugar coffee fiends were born. We bought several pounds of coffee to bring back with us to the States, thinking that we’ll get out the old espresso machines we used back in the 90’s and brew up some of our wonderful Puerto Rican coffee and then add a dose of brown sugar to flavor. But you know it won’t taste the same. We always try to recapture the flavors of our trips, but it never really works. These things never do.

Have you had coffee with brown sugar?


21 responses to “Thank Goodness Starbucks Wasn’t Open!

    • Me, too. We want to move there. It makes me wonder why anyone ever wants to leave there!

      We did notice that most people we talked to had moved away to the States and then returned. Smart.

  1. Wow, brown sugar? I’ve never heard of that before! Truth be told, I’m not much of an adventurer when it comes to coffee. I either like it black with some cream or as a latte. But seeing as how I have some leftover brown sugar at home…… πŸ˜‰

  2. When we were in Portugal’s capital Lisbon recently we noticed a couple of branches of Starbucks, but why anyone would want to drink in one when there are great places like the Pasteis de Belem selling not only great coffee, but also fantastic cakes, just a few doors down te road ia a bit of a mystery (see here for the cakes ) Have to say we never had a bad cup of coffee in Portugal

    • Yes. We usually look for local places but were in a hurry that morning and really needed coffee. We thought we’d save the local flavors for later, but lucked out.

      I hope to try coffee in Portugal someday. It’s one of my top picks for future places to go. Thanks for the cakes link. Sounds like a must!

    • It has been interesting to see how polarizing people feel toward Starbucks. I didn’t expect that.
      This Starbucks in Bali looks more like a tourist attraction than a coffee place. How beautiful! Was the cup of coffee an offering?? Seems fitting.

  3. I don’t know what it is about Starbucks, but I always find myself drawn to it even when I travel internationally. I’ve tried ones in Dubai, Hong Kong, Istanbul, and one at our hotel in San Juan and each was different, yet delicious! I also enjoyed the different food selections!

    As for coffee with brown sugar…never tried but am now curious!

    • I usually end up at Starbucks at some point. I love other, stronger coffees, but sometimes I need more than just a tiny espresso cup. It’s not just the flavor of coffee that I enjoy, but the experience of drinking it. I need a Venti, not a sip.

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