Sir, I like the headline to Gary Silverman’s Comment ( “Big businesses aim to brew the right thing”— March 21), only I am afraid that it might turn out to be a dangerous brew. For Starbucks to stir up a conversation on a hot social topic makes sense because of the nature of its business. Coffee stimulates talk. Ideas come to mind. Coffee houses in old Europe have served a purpose: they incubated Viennese modernism and Parisian art, for example; and in my native Bulgaria the sipping of hot Turkish coffee over backgammon brought down the Ottoman Empire, and more recently brought in perestroika with a hum that grew to a roar and produced results.

What if Starbucks’ new initiative “to promote harmony and understanding” backfires on it? When people start gabbing about what’s wrong with the world in small groups, the coffee houses’ history tells us there could be a revolution bubbling up in the brew.

Elizabeth Rohwer

San Diego, CA, US

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