The Curious Thing about Starbucks

Alright, I’ll admit it. I spend a significant amount of my time at Starbucks.

Every morning in London, I would get up, rain or shine, shuffle two blocks down to the nearest Starbucks in my flip-flops, PJs and a pullover, order my usual – grande latte, for here – and snuggle up in one of the massive and ridiculously comfortable couches to read.

If I were to analyze why I do that, the answer would be simple: Starbucks is more “homely” than home itself. I love the “living room” environment, and I’m so used to the grande latte that I’m just not ready to take on the day without one first thing in the morning.  And then, because I go there so often, the counter staff know me and I don’t have to place an order.

Familiarity breeds a sense of home.

Some other friends had the same thing to say about Starbucks & home:

H, in Shanghai: “I’m the kind of person who likes to get up in the morning, walk into my Starbucks shop and if everyone in the Starbucks shop knows me, I feel very happy. […] It’s a very kampung [village] feeling, but that’s what I like.”

L, in Singapore: “You know, I want one of those big cushy chairs that you have to fight for in Starbucks, I want that just in my house, you know!  And the right size table, with an outlet right there and everything.  And it would be that feeling of…ok this is a space for contemplation, for reading, for one of those things, because we have the benefit of that space.”

M, in New York: “So I have places to go on those days, when I need to escape. I do have those cosy places.  One of them is Starbucks. Those are my second homes.  Where people know me and I walk in and they’re like yeah how’ve you been?  And I think that’s great.  And even when they turnover staff, I get to know the staff because I’m there every week.  Just hangin out.   And they know what I want, I don’t have to order.  They start making it when I come through the door, you know what I mean?  So I like the familiarity, like that sitcom Cheers from back in the day.  You know, sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name!  I do! I like that!  And that’s a sense of home, right?”

Its curious how the line between domestic space and public space is so thin as to be indistinguishable, such that Starbucks feels more like home than home itself.

It’s curious also, that even though more than 50% of the world population now lives in cities, we all really still want to live in villages where everybody knows each other by name…

Alright, time to head out for a coffee.

About Kennie Ting

I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.
This entry was posted in Culture & Lifestyle, Home, Sociology & Urban Studies, Travel & Mobility and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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