I am officially opposed to Starbucks. I’ve always been very clear about that. Like all right-thinking Bay Areans, I drink Peet’s and view Starbucks patrons with a certain amount of disdain.

Everything changes, though, when I travel into areas without a reliable source of heavy caffeine. This week, for instance, I have been driving with my dad through Iowa and the Dakotas. The first morning, the coffee at the Super 8 was so weak that my system wouldn’t even acknowledge it. Every cell in my body craved a fix for the rest of the day, and I am ashamed to admit that every time we passed through a decent-sized town, my eyes reflexively started scanning for the green circle logo. In vain, as it turned out.

Yesterday was a lucky day: We improbably found an independent coffee boutique in a random northern Iowa town. And this morning’s cup of Kona from the “Get’n’Go” was surprisingly both tasty and potent. But that didn’t stop a big, goofy grin from involuntarily spreading across my face as we rolled into Bismarck, North Dakota this afternoon and found a Starbucks conveniently located about a hundred yards from the hotel. As a matter of fact, I am drinking a triple grande mocha right now.

I hate myself.