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I love Starbucks, but not for the Coffee

Starbucks is a wonderful invention. Coffee house for those who need a coffee house, meeting place for those who need a meeting place, and mobile office for those of us who like to work and meet people in a coffee house. I spend about $200/month in Starbucks, not including the funds I add to Starbucks cards used by others. Many of the Barista’s know me by name and drink, even across the nine or so different Starbucks outlets I frequent. One time I got a frantic client call from a client on my cell, about an urgent “opportunity”. I said I’d call back in 5 minutes from my computer, because I was confident I was not farther than 5 minutes from a Starbucks. In Seattle, I doubt I am ever more than 2 minutes froma Starbucks, but I had to allow for bootup and log in time.

I sat at an outside table at the next Starbucks, opened my ThinkPad and dialed the cell. As I started with the client, a Barista came outside and said “Hi John” and asked if I wanted my regular. Wow… awesome service, but no, thanks, I was only stopping for a minute, but really appreciated it! Talk about being treated like a King! That  is a great customer experience. But that’s not the end of the story.

The client call went overtime… as everything does… nothing takes less than 30 minutes these days… and about 40 minutes later I was still there, still on the phone, and oblivious to my surroundings. Someone then placed a venti half-decaf drip coffee (my drink) onto my table. I looked up. The Barista smiled and said “You look like you’ll be here a while; this one is on the house”.  Outstanding.

Keep it up Starbucks. I’ll continue to pay $6 for the egg salad sandwiches,  $18 for the travel mug, $4 for the half-decaf soy no-foam lattes, and $30 a month for the t-mobile even though there are a dozen open routers on any given block, a government test of municipal wifi, and a community wifi project under full steam. And remember, this is Seattle – I don’t go to Starbucks because it’s the best coffee in town.