Whenever I’m away from New York, my feelings toward coffee mutate. Those milky, poorly frothed and too hot cappuccini sound like heaven and Starbucks’ seasonal red cups enamor me. I guess it makes sense that I found my way to Busters twice during my time in Turin. Sure, a baroque cafe might have been an amusing spectacle, but Busters was able to provide something much more valuable: a sense of home.
Busters is Turin’s take on Starbucks, or at the very least an American cafe. For me — and I’m guessing for many other Italian university students given how crowded it was during both times I was there — the ability to sit for hours and study with a large coffee was a welcome change of pace. Instead of coffees that are drunk in two seconds, thrown back on your way to somewhere else, the cups here are large enough for lingering. Don’t worry though, they’re served in paper cups in case you’re running late to class but still want that caffeine fix.
I was super excited when I found Busters, but was doubtful about whether or not I really wanted to spend my money and time in Italy at an American tribute cafe. I did. During my first trip, I got an American coffee, which was good, but served black without the option to add milk yourself (I did ask for milk and got some, still, I’d prefer a bit more control). We’re not in New York any more, Toto (or should I say, Totò?). My second trip that was a breakfast that could have been straight out of a trip to an American suburb.
Sound bad? It wasn’t. It was fantastic. I got a yogurt with honey to which I was able to add a bit of muesli, cinnamon and peanut butter (!!!!). I had an oversized American style cappuccino. It was hot, milky and tasted exactly like it could come from Starbucks. No, it wasn’t great coffee, but it was a welcome change of pace that helped to remind me why I love cafes and coffee.
The American cafe certainly is incredibly unique and I’m only just realizing how integral it is to my life. I don’t love the American cafe because of the coffee they serve. I don’t even really love the New York cafe because of the coffee they serve there (though I do love it, obviously). Cafes are fantastic because they force us into a shared experience. Even if you’re sitting alone, even if you’re drinking tea or if you’re chatting with the barista, your friend and that person with the cute dog, cafes in America are about being YOUR type of social. They’re about sharing without rules. They don’t have a history, they’re making their own. Cafes in Europe have been around for so long, their history has become so highly codified, that it can be difficult at points to navigate between what you want to do and how everything has always worked and will continue to work.
So, yeah, I went to an American tribute cafe twice while I was in Turin. You know what? If I had the chance I would go again.
Besides, where else are you going to actually see a nineteen year old female university student eating a doughnut for breakfast? Nope, I don’t think we’re in Kansas, New York, Bristol or London anymore, Toto.
Do you enjoy visiting American style cafes outside of America? Or maybe you enjoy visiting them in America?