Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Sterilization of Starbucks

The Sterilization of Starbucks

Whether you are a coffee drinker or not, you will turn into one after a while of living here (in Seattle). Most of my friends can attest to the fact that I am not a coffee connoisseur. I have low expectations, and typically drink one of three coffee variations: regular coffee, vanilla latte, or some mocha type of concoction.

Despite the fact that I've never been a huge coffee drinker, I've always chilled at Starbucks, and a couple of other coffee establishments; however, Starbucks had always been my favorite, because I'd get to know the Baristas and they wouldn't chastise me for my lack of coffee culture, and the environment had always been cozy and inviting; HAD being the operative word.

Prior to my move to Seattle from Denver, I had been seeing a rash of updating of the Starbucks in the area. Hey, I'm all for updating and staying "fresh." The problem comes when the cozy, comfy leather chairs and odd sofas are replaced by cold and uninviting furniture; which does NOT encourage lingering. Hmmm, maybe that's the point.

About a month into living here in Seattle, I scooted into one of the Starbucks that was close to my house. There was a sign on the door that read (paraphrasing), "We'll be open during our remodeling. Please continue to frequent our location during our remodeling process." I stepped inside and chose a space that was a long, bench like seating, covered in a soft fabric, with several single tables next to one another. It's one of those situations where you have to squish between the tables to sit down, and you hope your rear-end isn't in someones face before you plop down.

I hunkered down into my seat, and began working away on my computer. A short time later, a perfectly coiffed lady in her late 60's sat next to me; curled her legs underneath herself, and pulled out her Kindle (or could have been a Nook...I'm not sure). She glanced in my direction and gave a light smile. I returned the smile and continued working on my computer. 

About thirty minutes later she put her device down and looked around the place. It was humming with a lot of energy. The loud hissing of the steam machines; idle chatter, and heated discussions surrounded us. She turned to me and said, "You know this is all going to end don't you?" 

I cocked my head to the side and said, "How is that?"

"All of these places [Starbucks] are getting 'renovated.' They are taking the heart away and making it, Corporate. I mean, I know they are big time, but it's sad to see what they are doing," she uttered in a melancholy voice.

I replied, "Yes, it's a sterilization."

She perked up, "That's the exact word. Sterilization," she sighed.

We chatted a bit more, and then she settled back into her reading, and I returned to my work on the computer.

Now, with that being said, it's forced me to branch out and not seek out the comfort of a place I'd been going for sometime, but to try new places. I'm delighted to report that while Starbucks definitely has a tight grip on the coffee locations in this city; there are countless coffee shops and café's that are, and have been giving them a run for their money. I have a couple that are starting to become my "go to" places too, and I will share a bit about them as I venture out and spread my wings.

Bottoms up!

*Photo taken by That Chick Té