Global Frappuccino

Say what you will about caffeine-giant Starbucks. Because apparently, Prague is saying only good things.

In January, Starbucks opened its first location in the Czech Republic. The retailer is located in an 1874 building (which, appropriately, used to be a coffee house), and includes the building’s original flooring, “use of recommended paint color palettes, maintenance of all existing windows, and design and installation of subdued exterior signage in keeping with the ambience of the town square,” according to the Starbucks press release.

Said Cliff Burrows, president of Starbucks Europe, Middle East, and Africa: “We are thrilled to welcome the people of Prague back to the Palác Grömlingovský to enjoy Starbucks finest coffees in the location they have known and loved for years.”

Starbucks also announced a partnership with local Uhelny Trh Elementary School, saying that its employees will participate in “living library” events, restore the school’s reading room, and collect books for the school.

Would most Americans consider sipping a Starbucks chai tea latte in Prague an authentic travel experience?

Surely not. But the coffee house’s presence has gotten mixed reviews—Czech citizens mostly welcoming the store, and expats shunning it.

Regardless whether Starbucks is loved or hated in the Czech Republic, it got nowhere near the grief of its Forbidden City location in China.

After much debate over its presence in Beijing’s 587-year-old Forbidden City, Starbucks was forced to close its doors last year.

Xing Ba Ke (the Mandarin word for Starbucks)

opened its Forbidden City location in 2000 and tried to lessen protests three years ago by removing distinctive signage, but their efforts didn’t work. The campaign to shut down Starbucks escalated when TV anchorman Rui Chenggang wrote about his distaste for the store on his blog

and said that Starbucks’ presence “undermined the solemnity of the Forbidden City and trampled on Chinese culture.” His campaign succeeded, drawing over 500,000 signatures to close the store.

The Forbidden City location now houses Forbidden City Café, which serves coffee along with traditional Chinese teas.

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We don’t know exactly what local flavors Prague’s Starbucks will be serving, but so far it looks like regular coffee staples are all on the menu.

Photo: Michal Semela via Flickr

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