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Author: Michael Gates Gill
272 Pages
Publisher: Gotham; Reprint edition (September 2, 2008)
ISBN: 978-1592404049
Price: -




"Double Tall Skim Latte?"

"Decaf Grande Skim Two Pump No Whip Mocha?"

It can be tough even for us to pick up the coffee jargon initially let alone a 63-year-old man. But Michael Gill Gates manages to do just that and more.

Born into a wealthy family in New York, Gill was formerly a successful white-collar advertising executive with J. Walter Thompson, a company which he served faithfully for 25 years after he graduated from Yale. But his comfortable life went into a spiral when he received the pink slip one day. This book written by Gates himself traces his journey from a depressed man pondering over his future over a cup of latte to the present day, serving coffee as a barista in a Bronxville, Starbucks outlet.

Gill was a blessed man since the day he was born, better than any of us in fact. He was the son of the late New Yorker critic Brendan Gill, lives in a big mansion, gets to rubs shoulders with acclaimed writers such as Ernest Hemingway, E. B. White and John Updike just to name a few and he threw away his $100,000 inheritance to champagne.

The man has never serve anyone in his life (except his company of course), never see the need to do his maths (he claims he’s poor with figures) and of course never need to wash any dirty bathrooms. However Gill have to start from the bottom at a Starbucks outlet carrying out the above chores at the old ripe age of 63 all because the famous coffee outlet provides health insurance to 'partners' (a Starbucks way of calling their staff).

We can sincerely feel Gill's gratitude to the coffee company as the book sounds at times similar to a recruitment pamphlet. We get to know that Starbucks offer free health insurance, education funding and even try to relocate you to an outlet which is closer to your home.

Despite living alone in a rented house, divorced with 5 kids, Gill feels he’s never been happier, finally finding his worth working in Starbucks. From donning a Brooks Brothers suit to a green apron, Gill’s story plod along like a personal memoir with too much mundane stuff to fill the chapters. Nevertheless, it’s a feel-good book of a man who once had it all to serving lattes, scrubbing bathrooms and still feels on top of the world. One obvious lesson you learnt: You can’t take things for granted these days.

P.S. The film rights to "How Starbucks Saved My Life" have been purchased by Tom Hanks and Universal Pictures, Hanks is tentatively slated to star.


Yet my total availability to Starbucks was a kind of gift for me. The challenging work, the daily struggle to learn and get things right, filled my life with so much stress and activity that I was hardly ever lonely. I approached the job at Starbucks as a question of survival and I was totally engaged. I had no time to feel sorry for myself and even the guilt I felt at hurting others was mitigated by my focus on doing well each day in this challenging job.

So the 'total availability' I had given to Starbucks had helped to save me from myself and my anxious thoughts of past and future."


A candid, sappy trip. Just don’t be too offended by Gill’s constant drilling of how good Starbucks is.

Review by Linus Tee


. The Last Lecture (Book Review)



"How Starbucks Saved My Life"
is available in all good bookstores


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