synonyms for starbucks

I WRITE IN COFFEE SHOPS A LOT.


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Tools for Writing in Public: the iPad and Wireless Keyboard

ipad and keyboard3Most often when I write in coffee shops, I use my iPad and a wireless keyboard. I know a lot of people who get special cases for this, that make the iPad look a lot like a laptop. I don’t, because for me the absolute best possible way to type is with the screen on a table and the keyboard in my lap. Most tables are a little bit too high for me, and my shoulders start to ache after a while if I try to reach up to one to type. Of course I still use my laptop often, with it on a table, but usually that’s when I’m editing and there’s as much reading and highlighting as there is typing. If I’m going to sit and type 5000 words straight, I’m much, MUCH happier with my keyboard in my lap. Also, I tend to change the angle of the keyboard depending on the lighting conditions where I’m sitting. My case lets me set it so sometimes it’s almost flat, sometimes it’s standing on its side, and sometimes it’s standing on its end. The combo cases are a lot more restrictive.

Pros:

  1. Keyboard runs on double-A batteries; I always carry a spare set in my keyboard case and never have to worry about running out of power. In my experience, at least, iPads take forever to run out if all you’re doing is typing. I have more than once spent nine hours typing nonstop and still been at 30% power.
  2. Super light. The keyboard weighs nothing and the iPad weighs next to nothing (as long as you don’t get a super-heavy case for it. Why? Why would anyone do this?).
  3. If you’re somewhere where you don’t feel like hauling out the keyboard, you can leave it in your bag and write on your iPad with your thumbs.
  4. Easy to throw into your bag when you get up to use the bathroom. Unlike the laptop, which is a whole thing.
  5. When you hook up your keyboard via bluetooth, you get to see the names of the bluetooth-enabled devices around you, and they’re often adorable.


Cons:

  1. If you forget to disconnect the bluetooth before packing everything up, you’ll knock your keyboard in such a way that iPad’s volume will be turned all the way up, and then you’ll knock it again and music will start playing. Or an audiobook, which is somehow even more disconcerting. The best is when this happens but you’re listening to your ipod with headphones and have no idea why people are looking at you funny.
  2. The fact that it’s segmented means it’s very difficult, maybe even impossible depending on the size of your lap, to use without a table. So if the only chairs at Starbucks are the big comfy easy chairs, you’re kind of out of luck.
  3. Turning on the bluetooth takes a minute. It’s not a huge thing, but it can be annoying. It’s incredibly annoying for me, because somehow I banged the keyboard and the power button got stuck. At first it wouldn’t turn on but I fixed that by following instructions online and, with an exacto knife, shaving away some of the metal holding the button down (only cut myself a few times!). Now it won’t turn off, and while it’s usable, the batteries drain fast. So, I turn it off by taking out the batteries and turn it on by putting them back in, and I have to kind of time it with the setting up bluetooth. Because it is still usable, I feel like buying a new keyboard would be an entirely unforgivable expense. I’m pretty sure I’m right about that. But it’s kind annoying.


Four Splashes of Soy Milk (out of five splashes)

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Schrodinger’s Starbucks

The dilemma: I’m going to a party about thirty miles away from here. The party starts around 4, and I’m thinking I want to get some writing done beforehand. Now, the question is, do I go to the Starbucks near my house, write for a bit, then leave… Possibly misjudging the time it takes to get there and losing out on valuable writing time?
OR…

Do I go to a Starbucks near the host’s home? This Starbucks is a completely unknown quantity. It might be awful; tiny and crowded with no tables or only one and it’s wobbly and weird people keep sneezing on me and the bathrooms are broken. BUT it COULD be the best Starbucks ever!!! Roomy and quiet and warm and the perfect place to write and write and write… And I could keep writing until five minutes before I need to be at the party.

I’m frozen with indecision.


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The Best Book on Writing I’ve Ever Read: The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen

The thing about The Productive Writer: Tips and Tools to Help You Write More, Stress Less, and Create Success by Sage Cohen is that it’s not so much about how to write, or at least not about how to improve your craft.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter how well you write if you never write. We all know those people, or are those people, or have been those people, who want to be writers but never really finish anything. I once spent roughly five years with a short story I was going to turn into a novel. I did lots of other things during that five years, of course. Creative, productive things. But I sure didn’t write. Or, I often wrote—I’d do those delightful writing exercises like “What if rain were sticky, and you were a duck?” that possibly helped me to be a better writer, but I never actually completed anything. Ever.

The Productive Writer is about finding the time to write, how to get yourself to sit down and start typing, how to figure out the small steps that lead to big goals, how to make little bad ideas become big good ones, and how to organize your writing career. It drastically changed my writing habits and how I thought about writing. It made me realize I had more time to write than I’d known, helped me figure out which habits worked for me (even if they never would for others) and showed me how to redesign my goals and plans in ways that made sense. It also made extremely clear the ways I was stopping myself from moving forward. I’d already been concentrating for quite some time on changing from being someone who wanted to be a writer to being someone who wrote… This book supercharged that process for me.

five splashes of soy milk (out of five splashes)


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My Dream Coffee Shop

Went to a different coffee shop than usual this morning; I don’t like going to Starbucks before 10 a.m. because the line is always out the door, so I went to the Corner Bakery Cafe where they have self-serve carafes. It was fine, but they don’t have soy milk and there is only cinnamon powder, no nutmeg or cocoa (I feel like there’s sometimes cocoa, but none today). It didn’t ruin my day or anything. But it got me thinking about what my dream coffee shop would be.
I already know my perfect office: Either a bungalow in the Garden of Allah in 1928, or a small studio apartment in an old building with ceiling fans and windows that face the front, sharing a floor with several other writers in studio apartments, on the second floor with a drugstore on the first floor, the sort of drugstore that has a lunch counter with cheap but surprisingly good food, on a street lined with shops (mostly foot traffic, maybe a two-lane road) and a coffee shop directly across from my building.
But what would the coffee shop be like? I made a (probably incomplete) list:Coffee_Shop2

My Dream Coffee Shop:

  • Either self-serve carafes, or an express line for people who just want brewed coffee, nothing fancy, but also no judgment if you feel like standing in the regular line so you can ask questions about things
  • A condiment bar with: cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and soy milk
  • Soy milk (I said it already but why the gosh darn do so many places not have soy milk?
  • Plenty of outlets, and then some extra outlets just in case (maybe two outlets per chair), including some in the floor if there are tables in the middle, so people don’t have to stretch cables across the floor
  • Free refills. Yes, I’m cheap; I’m also broke and absolutely can not afford coffee shops where I only get one cup of coffee for my two dollars
  • Shades or tinted windows. The Starbucks I most often go to has a two-hour period in the afternoon in which the sun hits all the cars in the parking lot and having your face turned anywhere towards a window is agony. Even if you manage to sit somewhere facing completely away from the window it isn’t safe, because anything reflective (include a wooden chair) becomes a pool of ocular hell. I always get a crick in my neck from trying to sit in such a way that my cap brim blocks out the light.
  • No music. All right, I like music playing in the background as much as anyone else, but there’s a caveat that I bet most people share: it has to be music I don’t absolutely hate. And there’s so much music I hate. There’s a certain type of singer popular these days, who strains her voice to hit high notes till it becomes all breathy, and it makes my ears bleed. I know for a fact some people hate the music I love just as much. No coffee shop music is going to make everyone happy. Of course I can wear headphones, and I do (although around xmas time they often blast the damn carols so loud I can hear them through my headphones this should never happen) but it still makes me sad if I’m waiting to order or setting up. Why not just turn it off? Why not, darn it? Or, okay, how about Vivaldi? Played at a reasonable volume. Compromise!
  • Napkins at the counter where you order. When I give the barista my re-usable cup, I have to take off the lid and carry it around with me until my pour-over is done. It is always covered in coffee, which I want to wipe up as soon as possible. Anyway, what if someone spills something? Why is this not already a thing?
  • Decaf all day long. I know Starbucks wouldn’t stop brewing decaf after noon if they hadn’t been losing money doing so, but it’s so weird. You have to wait for a pour-over, or the barista convinces you to get an Americano and promises free refills but when you go back for your refill it’s a different barista and they’re all like ‘no refills for Amercano, that’s for brew only’ and it’s a whole thing.
  • Free parking.
  • A place to wait to pick up coffee that is not in the way of where people are going to obviously want to walk.
  • Double-sided condiment bars. Places that have these are the best. Everyone’s so much happier.
  • Well-paid, well-treated baristas. People who are happy in their jobs, who are paid properly, given benefits, and treated respectfully by their managers, do their jobs better, and are nicer to interact with.
  • Customers who don’t jiggle their legs. I understand this might be somewhat outside management’s control. But it’s my dream coffee shop, and this is an important one. I have a horrible time blocking out movement in my peripheral vision, and while I wear a baseball cap it’s not always enough; if I’m looking at my screen and the person next to me is jiggling their leg, I can not block it out. I have to twist around all weird, and if the person on the other side is also jiggling, there will be no writing. People just don’t realize how much harm jiggling can do.
  • Straight-backed, well-padded chairs with good lumbar support. I’m at that age.
  • A requirement that any one person waiting in line to get six complicated drinks for six complicated people hold a sign that says “this line is much longer than it looks.”
  • Pero, or similar. It’s a grain-based drink that tastes a lot like coffee (they claim it tastes exactly like coffee but, well, it comes close) but has no caffeine. I’m not supposed to have caffeine and even decaf has too much for me sometimes. The only tea I like also has caffeine. I’ve honestly wondered if I couldn’t bring in Pero and ask them to charge me for a coffee but just give me hot water.
  • Snacks of the sort you’d get at a 7-11; m&ms and dry cereal and stuff like that. People who sit and write for eight hours in a coffee shop do not need to be munching on muffins all day, especially if they’re not supposed to have sugar. Also, regular food like French fries and things. And soup.
  • Warmth. Man I hate being cold in a coffee shop. I feel like half the time I’m in one I’m shivering uncontrollably. Thermostats controllable by management, and a separate cooling system behind the counter so the baristas aren’t sweltering while we’re freezing.
  • Rest rooms. I shouldn’t have to say it but there’s a Starbucks on Melrose that does not have a public rest room. I don’t go there, obviously, but imagine going to a place like that by mistake.
  • Customers who look just like the people I’m writing about at that moment. Again, I realize this might be outside management’s control. But it’s so nice when it happens.
  • Some regulars who are probably good in a fight. A few months ago, when I was at a Starbucks I go to a lot that is also frequented by a bunch of large Eastern-European men, a (probably mentally-challenged) guy came in and started aggressively harassing a girl near me. At once, five men at nearby tables stood up, and the guy quickly left. Then they sat back down. It was awesome.
  • Posters and paintings on the walls that are conducive to daydreams, and that change regularly. I’m thinking mainly street scenes.
  • A few more tables than are ever needed. Man I hate getting all the way to Starbucks and finding all the tables full. I just hate that so much.
  • A separate section for people who want to be noisy. Or, I guess, for people who want to be quiet. Like the no-phone cars on trains.
  • An information desk with people who know about screenplay formatting and how long boot camp lasts and how much it cost to ride the subway in 1945. This is my dream, damn it.
  • Community chargers (phone, iPad, laptop, etc.) for anyone to use.
  • Mobility. You know how Baba Yaga had a house with chicken legs that followed her around? Something like that. This coffee shop should always be a block away from me, unless I need exercise, in which it should be just under a mile away.
  • Open 24 hours. Obviously.

I know I probably forgot stuff. I’m going to thinking up new things for the rest of the day. That is understood.
edited to add:

  • Trained massage therapists who give five-minute $2 shoulder rubs. Can not BELIEVE I forgot this one.
  • Free wi-fi I guess this has become so common I don’t even think about it anymore. Except every now and then you’ll be in a place that doesn’t have it and it’s totally discombobulating. Of course the best is when you don’t need a password; it takes forever otherwise (I’m looking at you, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf).


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Review: The Starbucks App

It makes no sense that I only just got the Starbucks app, but when it first came out my phone wasn’t smart enough, and then when I got my Android I just… forgot it existed. I don’t know. Anyway, I have it now. starbucksandroidapp

I think the iPhone version might be fancier, but there are three sections in the Android app: Rewards, Cards, and Stores.
The rewards section tells you how many more stars you need to stay a Gold member, which is kind of weird; you only need to buy one coffee a month to stay a member and I don’t really see anyone bothering to download the app if they don’t go to Starbucks at least once a month? It also tells you how many free drinks you have and when they expire, which is great for me because I always feel like I should save my free drinks for something fancier than brewed coffee, except that’s really all I drink (not being allowed caffeine OR sugar kind of limits one) so my free drinks tend to expire. Now I can keep an eye on it. So that’s nice. Not so much so that I’d pay money for the app, but it’s a free app.
In the Cards section you can see how much money is on your cards, but much more importantly, you can pay with your phone. When I heard about this, I really just didn’t get how INCREDIBLY awesome it would be. I always have my phone in my hand when I’m standing in line at Starbucks anyway, and digging out my wallet seems to be the hugest pain in the world somehow. Which it isn’t. I know it isn’t. But it feels like it is. I would pay as much as a dollar for this app, just for this convenience. Then I’d feel guilty for having spent a dollar on something so minor, so it’s good that it’s free. ****Important**** Immediately after typing all this I went to pay with my phone and the app crashed and I had to dig out my wallet for my card and everyone glared at me for not having my card out ahead of time only I totally would have if I’d known the app was about to crash god damn it.
The Stores section finds nearby stores, which I love, and most importantly, tells you all sorts of things about them, like if they’re the fake Starbucks inside grocery stores and when they’re open and whether they have fireplaces (around here, of course, the answer is no—never any fireplaces). Also you can search according to what amenities you want or have it only show you stores currently open. Obviously, the best thing in the world would be if they told you whether you were going to turn up at the Starbucks only to find that the line was out the door and every table was taken, but I do understand that sort of thing changes too quickly to be feasible. I would happily pay $50 for this feature, but only within twenty seconds of showing up at a Starbucks and finding it closed inside a grocery store. The rest of the time I wouldn’t pay any money for it because come on.

Four Splashes of Soy Milk (out of five splashes)


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Specific Reviews of Specific Places in Which I’ve Written: Starbucks, Alameda & San Fernando, Burbank

I’ve only recently started coming here to write; there are four Starbucks closer to my house and the place is TINY. Just seven tables. But, I don’t know, I really like it. It’s cozy and everyone seems sort of relaxed and happy. Besides, it seems to do mostly to-go business, so while it’s always kind of bustling I’ve never had any trouble getting a table (the one closest to me has 20+ tables and about half the time I go there every chair is full). There’s a little patio outside that has another four tables, but as we’re in a strip mall the only thing to look at is a parking lot. My only real complaint about this Starbucks is that it’s a very long, narrow store, and the condiment bar is at the opposite end from the pick-up counter, with the ordering counter in between, and the only napkin dispenser is at the condiment bar. I don’t understand how these things happen.

Four-and-a-half Splashes of Soy Milk (out of five splashes)