Starbucks brews a decent cup of coffee, but it stinks as a place to work when I need one.
Look at the store designs, and the lines. Every Starbucks store is made to move people in and out as fast as possible. The pitching, foaming espresso machines may as well be screaming at me to get my drink and leave.
But you wouldn’t know that from management’s comments. In March, a spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that changes to its menus and pricing were meant to give Starbucks the feel of a coffeehouse.
Um, no. Have you seen the furniture? No way does Starbucks doesn’t want for me to think of its stores as a destination, an office away from my office. Choose from a cushion-less, wood Gestapo chair or the surrounding comfort of a sofa chair? Something’s going to suffer — either my back, or my hands. (You try alligator-arming your way through a story from a sofa chair.)
And that’s annoying. Days like yesterday are when I need Starbucks most. Days like yesterday are why I pay for a monthly subscription to AT&T’s Wi-Fi service. Starbucks serves Ma Bell’s particular brand of wireless brew, providing an oasis when my own network breaks down.
Or at least that’s how it would be if I were welcome at Starbucks. I’m not.
So when I found myself connectionless yesterday morning I went first to Stella’s, a Denver-area coffeehouse that has spacious tables, chairs with cushions and at least some back support, free Wi-Fi, friendly service, and a lot less noise. Stella’s, in other words, is everything Starbucks isn’t.
Well, almost everything. Stella’s suffers from inconsistent Wi-Fi service. Welcoming chairs and tables and friendly service don’t mean much when I can’t file my scribblings or reach my editors. Starbucks really should be my go-to when I need a break, or when my network breaks. It isn’t.
Dozens other Denver-area Wi-Fi hotspotters are better suited to my needs, including McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Barnes & Noble, and best of all, my local library. They won’t break my back, my hands, or my bank account.
I loathe you, Starbucks. And that can’t be how CEO Howard Schultz wants it.
© Copyright 2009, Tim Beyers.