Slightly surreal Starbucks

Unlike many coffee shop afficianados I don’t have a big problem with Starbucks. In the land of the cheap caff, the one place to get a vaguely decent coffee is king and all that. I’m not about to bemoan the complete lack of independent coffee shops near me though (well, at least not right now anyway). As long as Starbucks maintains their fair trade alternative I’ll shop there, until something better comes along.

Some visits to Starbucks are more memorable than others. The one when they’d completely run out of Rocky Road definitely sticks in my mind as a bad one for example. I don’t think I’m going to forget today’s in rush though.

It boded well from the off. Not only were they actually promoting their fair trade coffee (bit of a shocker I know) but they were even giving away free samples of it. Wonder what the Starbucks project websites would make of that?

One of the attractive things about Starbucks (admittedly this isn’t restricted to just Starbucks but to coffee shops in general) is the range of people they attract. They’re a real microcosm of society. Right now I’m sat between an old married couple (doing the traditional old married couple behaviour of not talking to each other) and a heavily pierced goth. Just across from me is a Moleskine writing, Razr toting fashionista. Sharing the table with me are 2 of the most competitive and self obsessed sloaney ladies who lunch that I’ve ever eavesdropped on (this conversation was brought to you by the expression “Yes, its the most expensive one they do.”). Then, of course, there’s me, sitting here blogging. Bizzarely all these very different types of people feel at home here. What’s that about then? The coffee shop world is truly surreal.

I’m settled in for the afternoon to catch up on some writing, while others come and go. Queing for another coffee I realise I’m standing next to Blackburn manager Mark Hughes, who is complaining at the size of his take out being too big. As the Barista said, its not like you can’t afford it Mark and you don’t have to drink it all anyway. Perhaps he’s not read all the blogs posting about the arcane secrets of the Starbucks short coffee. What’s he doing here and not on the training ground anyway?

The shop begins to empty, meaning that anyone new comes in has a too much choice dilemma. No, not what to drink, but where to sit. 2 bag laden shoppers play musical tables before finally settling on their choice.

The sloane rangers get up to leave. One asks me if I’m writing a book. Not having the balls to say to them “No, I’m bitching about your conversation” I say instead “No, I’m blogging”. I can’t work out whether or not she is disappointed or confused. Blogging may be important (to other bloggers at least) but it doesn’t seem to have infiltrated their world yet.

There’s always a story at Starbucks. You’ve just got to be prepared for it to be a slightly surreal one. Just like reality I suppose.

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