There are no Starbucks coffee shops in Baghdad (that I know of). Here in the embassy, we have Green Beans. The staff is friendly, the selection is decent, the music is either Beyonce/Akon, or weird new-wave spoken word music, and best of all, the internet is free and (mostly) unblocked.
From what I can tell by the signs adorning the coffee shop (which is next to a Subway and Pizza Hut), some of the profits go towards helping military families. I just learned from their website that there are several U.S. and international locations, including Djibouti, Qatar, Afghanistan, and Kyrgyzstan (what a coincidence!).
Obviously all of their products and ingredients are imported, but they do buy fair trade coffee. The atmosphere leaves you wanting, especially when some creepy dude decides to start watching Asian karaoke videos right next to you…without headphones.
Regardless, Green Beans does its best for being an American-style coffee shop in Baghdad. I’ve adopted the espresso chai latte as my “regular” (the three employees knew that after only a few visits), and they make cute designs with the steamed milk. Usually its a heart-shaped blob, sometimes they go for the gusto and make me a smiley face!
The best part about the coffee at Green Beans is that it is soooo much better than the free coffee that’s provided in vats at the office. And since I don’t have a ceramic mug of my own, I can only transport the free coffee in styrofoam cups…which melt when there’s hot liquid in them. So its nice to drink good coffee in a container that isn’t disintegrating in my hands.
(hint! if anybody wants to send me a mug, I would love you forever!)
Today I decided to roll the dice and try a pastry. My choices were limited, either a blueberry muffin or some unidentifiably-flavored scone. I went with the muffin.
As far as coffee shop muffins go, it was good enough. Sweet, cakey, with that mass-produced sort of blueberry taste. But as far as Baghdad muffins go, it was heaven. I liked that it wasn’t the typical oversized pastry you find in some coffee shops, or striped with sugary glaze. It was simple and just what I needed after weeks of cafeteria food. There are a few Green Beans scattered around the U.S., and I think there’s one somewhere in DC? Who knows, but if you happen to see one, buy a cup of coffee and support your troops! (or me!)