synonyms for starbucks



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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They’re Probably Not There to Make Friends, or, Should You Talk to That Person at the Next Table?

First and foremost, the only circumstances under which it is okay to talk to a person wearing headphones and staring at a screen are: A. they are on fire, B. a lion is about to eat them, C. they are physically blocking you from something you legitimately need, like an outlet, a table, or your baby (indicate this as quickly and simply as possible, with hand gestures instead of speech if you can).
You don’t know their life, they could have ten minutes to write a eulogy for their Aunt Edna, they could be sending instructions on how to defuse a bomb. Or they could be writing the stupidest fanfiction of all time, but that’s their right. They don’t want to talk to you, that’s the important thing.

But what if they’re still settling in? What if they’re not wearing headphones and seem to be spending just as much time looking around as looking at the screen? Well, maybe. I’ve listed some of the reasons you might talk to someone sitting alone at a coffee shop, and graded the acceptability of each.

1. There has just been an earthquake. When there is an earthquake, even a small one, everyone in the coffee shop becomes close friends for 1-6 minutes. You make speak to anyone during this time, but be aware that when they start posting on twitter and facebook, you’re all strangers again. A+
2. You want to hit on them. Ugh. Just don’t. Okay, sure, it’s possible they’re your soul mate or someone who would be totally interested in making kissey faces with you, but statistics call it unlikely. At the very least, play the long game. Make eye contact, smile, then let it be. Take off your headphones, leave the newspaper on the corner of your table so they can ask for it, whathaveyou. Maybe you’ll see them next week again, and exchange smiles, and then be in the line at the same time and can talk about the parfaits, and eventually it’ll happen and you’ll get married. If you’re perfect for each other, you can wait a week or two. But err on the side of not being pushy about it. Look at it this way: If you don’t hit on them and they wanted you to (but were too shy, or you both read this blog) then you both might miss out on getting all kissy face. That’s one bad outcome. But if you do hit on them and they didn’t want you, they may feel awkward and want to leave sooner than they’d planned, or even feel uncomfortable about going back to that coffee shop. It really is truly unpleasant to have someone aggressively hit on you when you don’t want them to. You feel guilty, or scared, or both. If nothing else, your desire to be polite keeps you from whatever you sat down in the coffee shop to do. I’m sorry, but that’s a lot worse than maaaaaybe missing out on just-barely-possible kissy face. F-
3. You want to ask about their incredible keyboard/laptop case/whatever. I kind of love it when people ask me about stuff. My AlphaSmart 3000 gets lots of attention, and I’ve more than once stopped what I was doing to show people how my wireless keyboard connects to my iPad through the magic of Bluetooth. But I’m possibly the exception. So, if they’re not already hard at work, go ahead and ask, but let them guide the conversation. You can ask what it’s called and where they got it, but let them decide if they want to go into how it works and what it cost and whether they wish they got it in red. B
4. You just got great news/They just got great news. I was in a coffee shop when I got the call telling me I had the job I’d been hoping like crazy for. I hung up, glanced around, saw a person next to me who wasn’t wearing headphones or looking busy, and said, “I got the job!” I felt like I HAD to tell someone. She smiled, congratulated me, asked me a question or two, and we went back to what we’d been doing before, both smiling. Another time, I was sitting at a counter next to a young man. He finished one phone call, quickly dialed another, and said “Mom?! I’m hired! I start Monday!!!” When he got off the phone, I smiled at him and said “didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but congratulations!” He was just so happy, it made me happy. He told me about the wonderful dream job he’d landed, and we went back to what we’d been doing. The key to all this is brevity and reading the room. Make it quick and keep it upbeat. And again—if they have their eyes fixed firmly on something else, go post on facebook instead. C
5. You have a screenplay formatting question. I am often tempted to do this in L.A., because you just know someone sitting nearby has the answer. But, yeah, just don’t. Look it up online, or wait till you get home. No grade, because come on, you weren’t really going to do that, were you?
6. Something creepy or bizarre just happened, like a loud argument between two adult sisters, or a drunk guy singing “My Way.” Nah. That’s what meaningful eye contact is for. D
7. You want them to watch your stuff. This is pretty much okay (although I almost never have the nerve—how do you know they are not a thief??) but you absolutely MUST be back within twelve minutes, no exceptions. NONE. A/F—(grade down for every two minutes over five, additional minus sign for every minute over twelve minutes)
8. They are doing something obviously incredibly inappropriate, like using five tables and six outlets or deliberately, I don’t know, pouring stuff on the floor. Look, don’t get in any fist fights, okay? A lot of places have a policy that if two people get in a fight, and the staff wants to kick out/ban one of them, they pretty much have to kick out/ban both. First, decide if it’s really hurting you/ anyone else, or just driving you up the wall (happens to me all the time; it’s what baseball cap brims and headphones are for). The best thing to do, probably, is point it out to the person as if you 100% assume they are doing it by mistake and are about to be really embarrassed (but don’t be condescending, okay? More like you’re being helpful. It has to be totally sincere-sounding). Then, if they continue to do it, go talk to someone who works there. You can also tell them if they ACTUALLY did something by mistake, like dropped something. In fact, just go ahead and assume anything they might be doing was a mistake, at least at first. B
9. You think someone is being bugged by another patron. This can be really difficult. If you see someone being touched who clearly doesn’t want to be touched, intervene at once, and do it loudly. “EXCUSE ME IS THIS PERSON BOTHERING YOU” will get the attention of nearby people. But if it’s not that overt, it can be a lot harder. If, for instance, you absolutely can’t tell whether the man leaning over the woman’s computer and getting closer than seems quite right is a stranger or her boyfriend. What I try to do in those situations is give her an easy out to move to a different conversation. This is can feel really awkward but isn’t too hard—just say, apologetically, “Excuse me, can I interrupt, is that a [such-and-so laptop, purse, phone]? I was thinking of getting one…” It would possibly be rude if you weren’t secretly doing it to help the person, but as it is you get a pass… only they don’t know that and if they ARE friends and he/she doesn’t turn to you with great relief, you might feel embarrassed. Or maybe not, maybe she’ll answer briefly and go back to her nice conversation. Whatever, do it anyway. It’s another of those worst case scenario things. Be a hero, and maybe someone will be a hero to you at some point. A+
10. You really, really, really don’t want to start writing yet. I understand, I truly do. But you’ve got the whole internet, and it’s there for you. There’s also windows to stare out of, laptop bags to organize, and hey–isn’t it time you made a really good to-do list? D

There are different rules, of course, if it’s several people talking. If you want to contribute something to the conversation (NOT because you want to hit on them, but because you’re interested or have something of value), well, play it by ear. Remember that they’re not there for you, and no one owes you their time and attention. But occasionally you can go for it. If you hear they’re about to go someplace you lived or just visited, tell them about a great guide book or museum. But err on the side of brevity. It’s pretty much always better that way. In fact, I’ll just go ahead and say ALWAYS.


If you make your coffee shop a nicer place, your coffee shop will be a nicer place.

Picture it: You’re sitting in a packed Starbucks, all the tables taken. You were lucky enough to grab one, but now you see a fellow writer, coffee cup in one hand and laptop case in the other, morosely checking the corners for an empty spot he knows he will not find. You realize your table is not tiny, so you move some things around and wave him over with a smile, offering the free seat and half the table space.
At the very least, when you do this, you’re making someone’s day a little bit brighter, and that in itself is probably worth it. But really what you’re doing is way bigger than that: you’re creating a person MUCH MORE likely to share his table in the future. The next time he’s in a crowded coffee shop he might remember you and offer half his table to a stranger, who will in their own turn think of sharing theirs, and six months from now you walk into a standing-room-only Starbucks and a person you don’t even realize is your Great-Great-Great-Grandchild-of-Sharing smiles and points to their table.
And it’s not just the person you share with who can be influenced by your kind gesture. People sitting nearby will see you do it, and it will occur to them that that’s something they could do as well. Maybe next time they will (thus creating another sharer of their own). Or someone who has only just started dragging their laptop to Starbucks will see you and assume that this is an obvious part of coffee shop culture. So they’ll do it, next time they have room and see someone in need.

It’s not just sharing, either. Letting baristas know about empty containers at the condiments bar, or keeping your voice down when you’re on the phone, or just smiling at people: all these things make that one moment nicer–so if you do it enough, you’ll have a lot of nice moments. But more than that, being helpful and cheerful spreads out to the people around you. We each have the ability to change the mood of a room for better or worse, and we can infect people with our consideration.

That whole idea that if we put good into the universe it will come back was always a little too magical for me to take seriously, but this is solid: If you do something nice, then at least once person did something nice. And if you influence someone else to do nice, then there are two people out there doing nice things. That makes everything (a little) nicer.
(One note though: when you do your good deeds, make sure you don’t do them as loudly and smugly as possible, while looking around to make sure everyone notices and talking about how you guess you’re just a super nice person. No one will want to be like you then.)